Selecting Organizations for Strengthening Matrix (SOS)

Beryl Levinger

The Selecting Organizations for Strengthening (SOS) matrix is designed to provide support organizations with procedures for assessing and selecting nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) for capacity building support. Organizations are measured against four metrics: fit, program attractiveness, coverage exclusivity, and competitive advantage.

The SOS uses a scale of 20=low, 40=moderate, and 60=high to score and compare prospective organizations as exemplified in the illustrative graph presented at the end of this package.

The four parameters for decision making are:

A. Fit, or the degree to which an organization reflects the support organization's development priorities. Determinants of fit include:

B. Program attractiveness, or the degree to which an organization is attractive to the support organization from a cost-effectiveness standpoint. In other words, we are interested in knowing whether capacity building support for this particular organization represents a sound investment of the support organization's current and future resources. Determinants of program attractiveness include the following:

C. Coverage exclusivity, or the extent to which other organizations provide similar services as the organization being evaluated. If there are no comparable organizations, then the program is classified as "highly exclusive." If there are just a few similarly positioned organizations, then it is considered "moderately exclusive." If there are many other organizations offering similar services, then its coverage exclusivity is deemed "low."

D. Competitive position, or the degree to which the organization has a stronger capability and potential to deliver specific services of interest to the support organization than other institutions. Competitive position is a reflection of the organization's effectiveness, quality, credibility, and market dominance. Determinants of a strong competitive position include:

In general, support organizations should not consider providing capacity building assistance to organizations which score low on either fit or program attractiveness. Limited program attractiveness augurs poorly for sustainable change. Limited fit suggests that the organization under consideration does not have a legitimate claim on the support organization's resources at the present time. Organizations 3 and 4 in the graph below fit this profile and would be dropped from further consideration for capacity building support from the support organization.

In contrast, organizations that score well on fit and program attractiveness but only moderately on the other two categories represent prime targets for assistance as they have valuable threshold competencies and the internal capacity to benefit from additional institutional strengthening investments. Organization 1 in the graph below fits this profile.

Organizations which score high on all four categories may also be considered for additional institutional-strengthening support although in general they are not a high priority group since they probably have the capacity to sustain their own internal development. Instead, such groups should be targeted as potential agents for sharing their capacities with other institutions under appropriate partnership arrangements. Organization 2 in the graph below fits this profile.

Finally, organizations that score high on fit and program attractiveness, but low in the other categories constitute a lower level institutional development target group for support organizations because of the large initial investment that must be made in such organizations. Organization 5 in the graph below fits this profile. Networking and other informal approaches may be used with such institutions until they become stronger targets for support organization investments.

Legend: 20 = low; 40 = moderate; 60 = high


Low scores in fit and/or program attractiveness: eliminate from further consideration (Organizations 3 and 4).

High scores in two remaining categories: facilitate opportunities for organization to share its expertise by promoting appropriate partnership opportunities (Organization 2).

Moderate scores in both remaining categories: give first tier priority to organization for future capacity building support (Organization 1).

Mix of moderate and low scores in both remaining categories: give second-tier priority to organization for future capacity building support.

Low scores in both remaining categories: give third-tier priority to organization for future capacity building support (Organization 5).