Enhancing and Measuring Organizational Capacity: Assessing the Results of the U.S. Department of Justice Rural Pilot Program Evaluation


Mitchell Brown is associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Auburn University and research director for the Institute for Community Peace in Washington, D.C. Her broader research agenda focuses on the empowerment efforts of marginalized communities, particularly those enacted through organizations. From 2006 to 2009, she served as co–principal investigator of the evaluation of the Rural Domestic Violence and Child Victimization Enforcement Grant Program Special Initiative: Faith-Based and Community Organization Pilot Program.


A significant goal of public administrators in this era of shrinking public funds has been to find ways to enhance and measure organizational capacity and sustainability with minimal outlays of resources. One attempt to address this goal was the Rural Pilot Program, funded by the Office of Violence Against Women in the U.S. Department of Justice. Based on the evaluation of the program, this article (1) describes how capacity was measured, (2) discusses the validation and utility of a self-administered instrument, and (3) examines whether and to what extent organizational capacity is enhanced by an intermediary funding model. Modest positive changes were found in two areas—organizational staffing and information technology—but no changes were found in other areas. The article concludes with recommendations for designing future programs to enhance capacity and sustainability and for public administrators and grant makers in utilizing self-administered capacity instruments.