A Guide to Five Dimensions of Organizational Capacity

Support for Realizing Your Agency’s Potential

Child welfare systems strive to implement, strengthen, and sustain effective practices that will improve outcomes for children, youth, and families. Capacity building can play an important role in supporting systems’ efforts to achieve their goals. This guide introduces a framework for understanding organizational capacity used by the Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative (the Collaborative). It also describes key capacity building concepts and provides information and links to resources on different aspects of organizational capacity.

The guide is designed to support child welfare professionals to:

  • Understand organizational capacity and its various dimensions
  • Set a foundation for assessing organizational capacity needs and gaps
  • Think about capacity as part of agency and program improvement initiatives

You can read the guide in its entirety or focus on specific dimensions of interest.

Key Dimensions of Organizational Capacity

The Collaborative has organized different aspects of organizational capacity into five categories or “dimensions.” Each of these dimensions has multiple subdimensions.

Organizational resources logo gears

Organizational resources:
Concrete materials and assets


Organizational infrastructure logo

Organizational infrastructure
Organizational structure, protocols, and processes


Organizational knowledge and skills logo

Organizational knowledge and skills:
Staff expertise and competencies


Organizational culture and climate logo

Organizational culture and climate
Shared beliefs, values, and attitudes that influence behavior


Organizational engagement and partnership logo

Organizational engagement and partnership:
Intraorganizational and interorganizational relationships and connections



Related Resources

Child Welfare Organizational Capacities
Summarizes five dimensions of capacity, provides examples of each dimension, and describes the importance of each dimension to an organization. This 2-page brief serves as the first in a series of four that describe the work of the Collaborative.

Building Capacity to Manage Change and Improve Child Welfare Practice
Describes the Collaborative’s evidence-informed approach to the change and implementation process. This process has five phases: (1) identify and assess needs; (2) develop theory of change; (3) develop or select solution; (4) plan, prepare, and implement; and (5) evaluate and apply findings.