Grantee MEL capacity assessment

This resource, part of the MEL Toolkit for Grantmakers and Grantees, provides a simple discussion/interview guide to assess grantee capacity across several components of MEL.

This resource is part of the MEL toolkit for grantmakers and grantees resource collection.

Authors and their affiliation

Jay Locke and Megan Colnar - Economic Justice Program MEL Team, Open Society Foundations

Key features of the Grantee MEL capacity assessment

The MEL team in the Open Society Foundations’ Economic Justice Program wanted to make sure that they were supporting strong MEL practices among their grantees while also recognizing that organizations were at different points in their “MEL journeys.”

To help facilitate tailored and “right-fit” capacity support, the team developed a simple discussion/interview guide to assess grantee capacity across several components of MEL. These elements included theories of change, indicators, staffing, evaluations, and a culture of learning. The purpose of the assessment was not to score or rate organizations; instead, it provided important information to both OSF and the individual grantee about areas for growth. OSF used this information to provide support on the areas in which grantees wanted to improve.

How have you used or intend on using this capacity assessment tool?

The EJP MEL team used this simple assessment tool to understand how and in what ways capacity for MEL varied among the program’s many grantees across several core components of MEL. The results showed us that grantees were all at different points in their journeys towards better MEL. This baseline data enabled us to identify gaps and initiate discussions with grantees about where and how we could support them as they strengthened their own capacity. can be used both as a baseline to help understand where organizations are starting in developing their MEL practices and to identify gaps that donors and partners can help to support to strengthen MEL in their partners.

Why would you recommend it to other people?

This tool can be used by organizations that looking to assess their own MEL capacity or the MEL capacity of partners across several core MEL components. Rather than being used as a scorecard that judges the current status of grantees, it can provide data to help organizations spot gaps and invest in areas such as staffing, building a culture of learning, or data systems to improve their MEL practices.


Locke, J. & Colnar, M. (2022). MEL capacity questionnaire. Retrieved from

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