Capacity Institute

Capacity Institute

Are you helping your participants achieve their goals?

How effective are your programs, really?

How do you know?

Are you improving each year?

The Capacity Institute  helps community-based organizations that engage youth and families increase their effectiveness by learning to manage to improved outcomes in the lives of their participants.  We help them build performance management systems over two years.  Performance management refers to the systems and processes that an organization uses to measure its progress and improve its performance, in this case on intended outcomes.  Ultimately, the goal of the process is for the participating agencies to demonstrate the practices necessary to achieve improved outcomes for their participants.  Here is more information about performance management for nonprofits:

Outcomes are the profit of the social service sector.  If a nonprofit gets very clear on why it exists, for whose benefit, and what outcomes it helps them achieve, then it can measure specific data on those outcomes and learn to manage to improve those outcomes. 

The Capacity Institute works!  In 2010 to 2012, the Capacity Institute worked with 15 agencies in the pilot cohort.  Here are the results:

  • 15 of 15 agencies completed the two-year Capacity Institute and built their own performance management systems.
  • 13 of 15 agencies say the quality or outcomes of their programming has already increased because of the work

Here is the list of cohort 1 agencies and their contact information.  They are eager to tell their stories of success in the Capacity Institute!  Please feel free to reach out to them directly.

An independent evaluation found that these agencies “reshaped their programs to be more results-focused and their management practices to reflect the principles of performance management.”  Defining the Bottom Line:  An Evaluation of the BMA’s Performance Management Capacity Institute Pilot, Carl Sussman and Kim Comart, January 31, 2013. (Click title for link to evaluation document.)

Cohort Two agencies and investors wanted now!  The Capacity Institute seeks to work with a second cohort of fifteen small to mid-size agencies in metro Boston to develop 17 organizational practices that compose the performance management system  These practices answer the following questions:

  • What are we holding ourselves and our participants accountable to accomplish?
  • How well are we doing?
  • With whom must we partner?
  • How can we improve?

As of fall 2013, the Capacity Institute approved and secured needed funding for eleven of the fifteen agencies (see list here).  We have space for four more eligible agencies to be added in 2014. 

Learn more:

For more information, please contact Ellen Bass at 617-445-2737 x 113 or