Exploring power building capacity at the ecosystem level: A case study of a justice-oriented organizational network.

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Evaluation and program planning


oregon; core; diversity; Humans; Ecosystem; Capacity Building; Program Evaluation


Community organizing and base building groups operate as part of a larger ecosystem of organizations, each with complementary capacities necessary to build power and achieve social change. Analytic approaches to assessing power in organizational networks can generate data to inform strategy, identify gaps, and help nurture organizational ecosystems that support communities in building and exercising power. This article uses a network of 43 justice-focused organizations in the Bay Area, California and their 267 reported connections as a case study to assess the feasibility of measuring power building capacities using social network analyses. We evaluated network capacity for different power-building capacities and explored the relationships between organizations' positions in the network and their access to capacity. We found that justice-focused organizations were more likely than their connections to have mature capacity for creating alliances and coalitions and for research/legal strategies, whereas their connections were more likely to report mature capacity for community organizing. Most participants in the network were connected within one degree to an organization that was mature in organizing and base building. These results highlight the potential to assess community power building capacities within networks of organizations to identify ecosystem strengths and weaknesses and opportunities for strategic development.


Population Health