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Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston Inc

 2010 Columbus Avenue
 Roxbury, MA 02119
[P] (617) 445-2737
[F] (617) 445-3557
Amy Malkemes
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 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 04-3499852

LAST UPDATED: 12/13/2018
Organization DBA BMA
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years Yes



Mission StatementMORE »

Our mission is to provide spiritual nurture to clergy, strengthen advocacy and program services for the larger Black Community.

Mission Statement

Our mission is to provide spiritual nurture to clergy, strengthen advocacy and program services for the larger Black Community.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2018 to Dec 31, 2018
Projected Income $874,965.00
Projected Expense $874,965.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Capacity Institute
  • Teen Cafes / Youth Jobs
  • Victory Generation Out-of-School Time Program

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

Our mission is to provide spiritual nurture to clergy, strengthen advocacy and program services for the larger Black Community.

Background Statement

The Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston (BMA), established in the early 1960s, is an alliance of over 100 faith-based and community-based organizations with a 40+ year history of serving the Black community in Boston. The BMA’s mission is to provide spiritual nurture for clergy, and advocacy and program services for the larger Black community. As part of its mission, the BMA demonstrates its ability to create positive change in the Boston area.  

Today, the BMA is one of the most diverse and active organizations in the city. The BMA has active participation from churches representing over 20,000 parishioners. We are a convener of resources, acting as a clearinghouse that collects and redistributes funds and technical assistance to build the capacity and strengthen faith-based and community organizations. Current investments in the BMA have served over 100 faith-based and community-based organizations which in turn have impacted over 10,000 youth and families in Boston’s poorest neighborhoods.

Impact Statement


Our top accomplishments include but are not limited to...

Since 2004, youth enrolled in our Victory Generation Out-of-school time program have achieved improved school outcomes defined as: an average of 89% achieve a "B" grade or better in core Math and English Language subjects, and 90% are promoted to the next grade on time. We will continue to operate this program in 2017 with six partner sites and serve 500+ low-income children and youth with academics, social and emotional programming, health, recreation, and the arts to help them improve their grades and move along the educational pipeline of success.
Since 2006, our Teen Cafes/Youth Jobs program has employed over 350 youth in collaboration with 30 different agencies in Boston. Nearly 9,000 youth have participated in peaceful alternatives to violence through our Teen Cafes.
The BMA launched a special campaign in 2016 to bring Vacation Bible School (VBS)- including arts and crafts, Biblical instruction and recreational activities directly to low-income children and youth who did not have other constructive summer activities. We partnered with local churches, helping underwrite the costs of their VBS programs particularly in the Humboldt Avenue "corridor" in Roxbury, a documented "hot spot" for violence. Our goal was to provide eight consecutive weeks of free VBS Camps throughout July and August. In our pilot year we partnered with four churches and only provided four weeks of service. In 2017 we plan to expand to eight weeks of VBS activities in two different high crime locations. 
Annually the BMA operates a Dinner and Awards Gala in 2016 we surpassed our $100,000 goal with the help of a hard-working gala committee. These unrestricted monies are critical to the core operations of the BMA. In 2017 we plan to build upon these successes and surpass this goal again.
In 2016, the Board of Directors brought on their youngest and their first ever female President in the BMA's entire history. Rev. Arlene O. Hall is a dynamic
faith leader in the Christian community in Boston who is helping move the Board and its members in the right direction.
In 2017 the BMA also brought changes to their Board of Directors and brought on four new candidates and three candidates transitioned off the Board. In 2017 the Board and Executive Director are developing a new strategic plan. 


Needs Statement

Our top five pressing needs include:

1.    General operating funds to support the administrative work that undergirds our programs and services; Victory Generation Out of School Time Program, Vacation Bible School, Clergy Women United, Capacity Institute, Teen Cafes/Youth Jobs program, and our Members program.  The general operating funding will help us explore new, collaborative initiatives which may be very helpful to our community and for which there no other funding.

2.    Funding for non-profit organizations and/or churches who would like to participate in our Capacity Institute, a capacity building program to develop performance management systems including outcomes for non-profit organizations and for ministries.

3.    Funding for our Teen Cafes/Youth Jobs program. Our previous funding sources are unable to fund us for 2018, so we have scaled back our program to serve fewer youth than in previous years. 

4.    Volunteers: including those who may be interested in being a Board member, a gala event committee member, administrative and program volunteer at any seven of our programs.

5.   To be determined.



CEO Statement


Board Chair Statement


Geographic Area Served

Greater Boston Region-All Neighborhoods
Boston's inner-city neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan.

Organization Categories

  1. Religion- Related - Alliances & Advocacy
  2. Human Services - Alliances & Advocacy
  3. Human Services -

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)

Under Development


Capacity Institute

The Capacity Institute provides individualized technical assistance over two years for youth agencies to build performance management systems composed of 17 discreet practices that enable them to measure and increase long-term youth outcomes.
Budget  $235,000.00
Category  Youth Development, General/Other
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) At-Risk Populations
Program Short-Term Success 
The program's short-term successes include:

Agencies' programs are able to align with Positive Youth Development outcomes, and the agencies articulate a clear theory of change.

Agencies complete a logic model.

Agencies learn the ability to identify measurable indicators.

Agencies learn to identify data collection procedures. 

Agencies have an outcomes database in place.

Agencies are able to analyze and learn from their data.

Agencies have an outcomes-based human resource performance appraisal system. 

Agencies develop common youth referral protocol.

Agencies develop partnerships with schools and/or employers.
Program Long-Term Success  The program's long-term success is achieved when the agencies are able to demonstrate improved long-term measurable youth outcomes over time.
Program Success Monitored By  The Capacity Institute's program success is monitored by quarterly progress / coaching sessions and level 4 score (scale of 1 to 4) on 17 practices measured by a Benchmark Assessment Tool.
Examples of Program Success  All agencies have now adopted theory of change methodology, which focuses on aligning the organizations mission with its youth outcomes.

Teen Cafes / Youth Jobs

GOAL 1: To provide meaningful summer youth enrichment jobs that help youth to learn positive work habits, and focus on job skills.

Youth gain new job skills, as the program offers young people, some with minor CORI records, opportunities to work and to learn new job talents and abilities, which for the majority of the participants are their first legal jobs. Youth employed are trained to fill real positions in nonprofit agencies, and learn a variety of job-skills like, work habits training, dress code, how to apply for employment, resume writing, banking and money management etc.

GOAL 2: To sustain the innovative Teen Café program sites as safe havens and positive environments for youth in Boston to socialize and thrive.

Cafés operate during non-traditional hours, Friday and Saturday evenings from 5:30pm to 10:30pm, when most youth services are closed. According to Boston Police, who participate in the site locations, 29 of the 51 homicides were in Dorchester and Roxbury which had the highest amount in all of Boston's neighborhoods. Also, 22 of the 51 were youth homicides were under the age of 25.

GOAL 2: To sustain the innovative Teen Café program sites as safe havens and positive environments for youth in Boston to socialize and thrive.

Cafés operate during non-traditional hours, Friday and Saturday evenings from 5:30pm to 10:30pm, when most youth services are closed. According to Boston Police, who participate in the site locations, 29 of the 51 homicides were in Dorchester and Roxbury which had the highest amount in all of Boston's neighborhoods. Also, 22 of the 51 were youth homicides were under the age of 25.

Budget  --
Category  Youth Development, General/Other
Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years)
Program Short-Term Success 

GOAL 1 OUTPUT: 60+ youth will be recruited and employed by BMA collaborating agencies.

OUTCOMES: a) 90% will retain their summer jobs

b) 90% will attend joint job site work habits training sessions

c) 75% will open a bank account

d) 75% will demonstrate responsible time management skills

e) 75% will demonstrate job skills required for their summer jobs

f) 50% will demonstrate communication and problem solving skills

GOAL 2 OUTPUT: 1,000 youth will participate in Teen Café activities.

OUTCOMES: a) 100% of the Café sites will be located in "hot-spot" areas identified by the Boston Police

b) 90% of the youth enrolled will not be arrested or detained while in the program

c) 80% of youth will have trusting relationships with youth across different races or backgrounds

d) 70% of Teen Café Peer Leaders will attend the banking training and open bank accounts

Program Long-Term Success 

Long-Term Goal 1: Youth will exhibit job readiness by seeking, obtaining, and maintaining age-appropriate employment.

Long-Term Goal 2: Youth will demonstrate fundamental financial management skills by opening and maintaining a bank account.

Long-Term Goal 3: Youth will demonstrate leadership skills and be positive role models as community leaders.

Program Success Monitored By  --
Examples of Program Success  Since its inception in 2007, our Teen Cafes/Youth Jobs program has been very successful and employed a total of 315 youth with summer jobs, and provided opportunities for over 8,000 young people to develop peaceful strategies to youth violence. Over the years we have focused our activities in Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury and have assisted many individuals and faith- and community-based organizations in reaching high-risk youth with activities and programs to help deter crime and mentor youth in the right direction.

Victory Generation Out-of-School Time Program

The Victory Generation Out-Of-School Time continues to be a thriving collaborative managed by the BMA in partnership with eight faith- and community-based organizations; who all share the common goal of improving the academic performance, enhancing the self-discipline and maximizing the potential and opportunities available for youth ages 2.9-18 years old, living in Boston’s low-income, densely populated neighborhoods.
Budget  $265,000
Category  Education, General/Other Afterschool Enrichment
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) K-12 (5-19 years) Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success 
Program Affiliate curriculum is aligned to Boston Public School framework and Common Core State Standards.
Program Affiliates use their technology to incorporate Verizon Foundation’s web-based content, which is aligned to state and national standards.
Program Long-Term Success  Since the 2004-2005 academic year, 98% of all students enrolled improve academically by at least one letter grade and 90% to 100% of the children served were promoted to the next grade level.  In 2010, evaluation data and report cards show that 90% of enrolled youth attained a B- or better grade in English language arts, science, and mathematics.
Program Success Monitored By 

The Director of Education for The Black Ministerial Alliance

The Department of Early Education and Care

Program Affiliates measure their success using the APAS system

Parent and student surveys

Examples of Program Success 
Outcomes Focused Approach
Family Engagement
Increase collaborations across sites
Increase collaborations across agencies
Partnerships with neighboring district or charter schools
Provide greater opportunities for youth – e.g. year round services, including school vacations
Student selected to participate in Spelling Bee
Oratorical contests leading students to debating clubs in school and college
Students enrolled in college, return to program affiliates they were students at

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

CEO Comments

The BMA is helping faith-based and community-based organizations partner together to address some of the critical challenges of our community.  While there are certainly many, the BMA is committed to helping houses of worship with community organizations and government agencies to improve outcomes for our youth and families in the areas of education, health disparities, and high risk youth.  We see this as a high-leverage/high touch strategy.  It is high-leverage because houses of worship are located in many areas of the city; even those without public or private programming or activities.  As a result, partnerships can create the co-location of needed services (health screenings, summer jobs forums, tutoring programs) right where people need them most.  It is high touch because the goal is to have churches directly and actively engaged with the youth and families of the community.  As such, we endeavor to build trust and relationship so that, working together with the community, we identify and implement the most practices for successfully addressing these issues. 


Part of the DNA of our focus is to ensure predetermined outcomes and clear measures to ensure that we are not just doing things, but actually accomplishing our goals.



CEO/Executive Director Rev. David Wright Esq.
CEO Term Start Nov 2004
CEO Email
CEO Experience

David Wright, a native Bostonian, is a graduate of the Boston Latin School and holds degrees from Harvard College, cum laude, and Harvard Law School.  Rev. Wright is a bar certified attorney with skill in litigation, contract and employment law.  From 1999 to 2004, he served as the president and CEO of the African American Federation of Greater Boston, Inc. (the “Federation”) a collaboration of 35 community-based organizations located in inner-city Boston.  In this capacity, Rev. Wright worked with boards and organizations to build infrastructure, do strategic planning, develop and strengthen boards, and obtain other resources critical to the sustainability of community organizations.  In October 2004, he took the deputy director position at the Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston, Inc. (the “BMA”).  In this position he oversaw day-to-day operations, as well as the Victory Generation After School Program and the Education Action Project.  He also served as the director of BMA’s Black Church Capacity Building Project, an initiative to strengthen the social ministries of churches through capacity building and expansion grants.  In October 2007, Rev. Wright was chosen to lead the BMA as its executive director.  In this capacity he is now responsible for all aspects of this dynamic, faith-based organization.  His responsibilities include setting vision, developing the program directors, implementing board priorities, and ensuring the fiscal and programmatic success of the BMA.

Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Mrs. Ellen Bass Director, Boston Capacity Tank --
Mrs. Amy Malkemes Director of Development --
Mr. William Scally CFO --


Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --


Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? No
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --


Boston Ten Point Coalition
Promise Neighborhoods
Communities Empowering Youth
Shannon Grant Network
Healthy Futures 
City of Boston
Mothers for Justice and Equality
CVC Unido
Diamond Girls Boston 

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 0
Number of Part Time Staff 8
Number of Volunteers 110
Number of Contract Staff 3
Staff Retention Rate % 100%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 5
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 2
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 1
Other (if specified): Cape Verdean
Gender Female: 5
Male: 3
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers --
Management Succession Plan No
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes
State Registration --

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually


Board Chair Rev. Arlene Hall
Board Chair Company Affiliation Deliverance Temple Church of God
Board Chair Term Sept 2016 -
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Rev. Laura Ahart United Baptist Church, Jamaica Plain Voting
Rev Arthur Gerald Twelfth Baptist Church, Boston Voting
Rev Arlene Hall Deliverance Temple Church of God Voting
Rev Ray Hammond Bethel AME Church, Boston Voting
Ms. Lori Nelson Governor's Office Voting
Mrs. Louise Packard Trinity Boston Foundation Voting
Rev. Dr. Emmett G. Price III Community Love Christian Fellowship Voting
Rev Charlotte Prigden-Randolph Newton United Methodist Church, Newton Voting
Mrs. Talia Rivera Council on Foundations Voting
Rev. Dr. Wesley Roberts Peoples Baptist Church, Boston Voting
Rev Kenneth Simms New Hope Baptist Church Voting
Pastor Matthew Thompson Jubilee Christian Church, Boston Voting
Min. Veronica Truell Morning Star Baptist Church Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 12
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 1
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 7
Male: 6
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 6
Board Meeting Attendance % 60%
Written Board Selection Criteria Under Development
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 85%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation No

Standing Committees

  • Audit
  • Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
  • Education
  • Executive
  • Finance
  • Housing and Community Development
  • Legislative
  • Nominating

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

The BMA has reorganized its Board to bring on women directors, and is working toward diversifying by adding more from the corporate community. It continues to intentionally recruit members who are committed to community transformation with a focus on BMA's three priority areas: (1) Education, (2) Health Disparities, and (3) High-Risk Youth. 

Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Total Revenue $1,318,275 $1,160,513 $1,806,880
Total Expenses $1,150,006 $1,161,224 $1,859,144

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- $0 --
Individual Contributions $795,876 $369,056 $426,867
Indirect Public Support -- $0 --
Earned Revenue $410,721 $683,460 $1,282,918
Investment Income, Net of Losses -- $0 --
Membership Dues -- $0 --
Special Events $111,678 $107,997 $97,095
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other -- $0 --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Program Expense $919,080 $890,456 $1,445,130
Administration Expense $150,545 $185,870 $288,961
Fundraising Expense $80,381 $84,898 $125,053
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.15 1.00 0.97
Program Expense/Total Expenses 80% 77% 78%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 9% 18% 24%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Total Assets $491,809 $355,132 $377,522
Current Assets $483,026 $354,599 $365,007
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Current Liabilities $15,405 $46,997 $68,676
Total Net Assets $476,404 $308,135 $308,846

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy --
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? --

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 31.36 7.55 5.31

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in charts and graphs are per the organization's IRS 990s. Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.


The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.

1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

Capacity Institute helps nonprofits improve long-term participant outcomes as a measure of mission effectiveness.  For example, a violence reduction nonprofit helps more men live in safety and keep jobs.  A college access nonprofit helps more students enroll in and complete college.  The target population is large and small nonprofits (budgets $200,000 and up), which are committed to growing participant outcomes or changes in their lives (not only delivering quality services).  Capacity Institute intentionally recruits nonprofits led by people of color, to help elevate their profile, influence, effectiveness, and access to resources in the sector.

By the end of the two-year Capacity Institute, 20 of 20 clients are clear on their intended benefits to community/ mission commitment:

  • 20 of 20 are clear on program strategy needed to achieve mission
  • 20 of 20 measure and analyze outcomes data

One year after project completion:

  • 50% use data to inform improvement, sustained after 3 years (other 50% subsequently changed their strategy)
  • Of those 50%, 83% increased revenues

Four years after project completion:

  • Clients increase long-term participant outcomes by 428% (compared with before the Initiative)
  • Clients increase intermediate participant outcomes by 212% (compared with before the Initiative)
Any nonprofit that commits to improve participant outcomes can develop these practices and make these gains.  

2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

The Capacity Institute works with 10 nonprofits in a cohort over two years to deliver 20 hours of group training and 200 hours of customized coaching to learn and implement Theory of Change and nonprofit performance management practices.  
What makes us unique: 
  • Nonprofits clarify their mission commitment through Theory of Change
  • Nonprofits improve their results through nonprofit performance management practices
  • Nonprofits manage culture change after project completion to sustain practices
  • Capacity Institute is accountable for nonprofit practice change and improved outcomes
In year 1, nonprofits create a complete organization-wide Theory of Change and performance management system.  In year 2, they try out and adjust their system; align it with development, partnerships, database, and human resource operations; and practice learning from and using data to inform better decisions.  The Initiative helps nonprofits learn and implement the following 17 essential practices, which are necessary to improve program performance and participant outcomes: 
  1. Model programs on effective research basis
  2. Clarify theory of change
  3. Clarify program logic model(s)
  4. Develop and implement outcome measurement plan
  5. Develop or select and pilot measurement tools
  6. Design/build/use database
  7. Develop effective job descriptions/supervision/staff development
  8. Align development initiatives
  9. Design outcomes report
  10. Strengthen strategic incoming referral partnership
  11. Strengthen referral partnerships for ineligible participants
  12. Strengthen referral partnerships for enrolled participants
  13. Strengthen referral partnerships for graduating participants to achieve long-term outcomes
  14. Measure outcomes
  15. Analyze data
  16. Use data to inform decisions
  17. Plan to sustain culture change after the two years is over, leading to improved long-term participant outcomes
Each of these practices results from a limited dosage of training content (20 hours total), combined with customized organizational coaching over time (200 hours total) to help the nonprofit and its staff and leaders learn better ways of managing operations to meet the mission.  Few nonprofits have mastered any of these practices; almost none have mastered all of them. While all nonprofits are expected to learn and demonstrate all the practices by the end of the two years, the activities are tailored to fit the unique culture, program structure, strengths, challenges, and schedule of each individual nonprofit. Nonprofit leaders receive the coaching support they need to address all the challenges that may arise to keep them from implementing these practices, for example in organizational structure, capacity, or planning.  After the two years is over, each nonprofit participates in quarterly check-in sessions in Year 3 to monitor progress on using the practices, and annual check-in calls afterwards to ensure that participant outcomes are improving.

3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

The Capacity Institute developed from the ten-year capacity building track record and learning of the Boston Capacity Tank, which was formed in 2002 at the Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston, in partnership with the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, Emmanuel Gospel Center, and Boston TenPoint Coalition. The Tank raised and distributed more than $10 million over 10 years to build the capacity of more than 300 youth agencies in Boston, in leadership, organizational development, community engagement, and program development, to make them more sustainable and effective. The Tank leveraged the expertise of more than 40 diverse consultants in these disciplines to provide a workshop series, individualized technical assistance, capacity building grants, and several program networks. A random assignment evaluation of the federal program found that the non-profit organizations that received capacity building services under the program experienced significantly higher levels of growth in each of the five critical areas examined compared to organizations assigned to the control group, when contributions of all of the measures for the area are considered together. Out of 60 intermediary organizations funded, the Tank was one of 10 featured in the White House's publication of promising intermediary practices. The Capacity Institute represents the best learning and practice from this ten-year experience, to promote a clear, single indicator of nonprofit effectiveness ("improving long-term participant outcomes") and pathway to support nonprofits to reach that destination, in the 17 benchmark practices.

The Capacity Institute and the Boston Capacity Tank have been housed at the Black Ministerial Alliance for more than 15 years. This home provides rich connections with diverse community leaders and nonprofits across faith and secular communities. David Wright, Executive Director, has served in nonprofit leadership roles in Boston for 20 years, with a BA and JD from Harvard University. Ellen Bass, Capacity Institute Director, has led nonprofits across the US to clarify and measure program outcomes for 23 years, with an MBA from Boston University and AB from Princeton University.

4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

The Capacity Institute uses a pre-test and post-test assessment of the 17 nonprofit performance management practices required for improving outcomes (listed above under strategies), with level 1 indicating the practice is not in place and a level 4 indicating the practice is fully in place. The objective is to bring nonprofits to level 4 practice on all 17 of the nonprofit performance management practices. Realistically it takes most nonprofits 5 to 10 years to attain this goal, so we want to get them as far as possible within the 2-year project period and ensure they are committed to continuing this journey after the project ends. By the end of the two year project, our goal is for each nonprofit to increase their average scores on the 17 benchmarks by at least 1 point out of a 4-point scale. This is consistent with increases of previous nonprofit partners. 

Of the 20 nonprofits who have completed the Capacity Institute to date, all 20 are clear on their intended benefits to community/ mission commitment:

  • 20 of 20 are clear on program strategy needed to achieve mission
  • 20 of 20 measure and analyze outcomes data

One year after project completion:

  • 50% use data to inform improvement, sustained after 3 years (other 50% subsequently changed their strategy)
  • Of those 50%, 83% increased revenues

Four years after project completion:

  • Clients increase long-term participant outcomes by 428% (compared with before the Initiative)
  • Clients increase intermediate participant outcomes by 212% (compared with before the Initiative) 

5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

Since 2011, the Capacity Institute has supported 28 nonprofits to complete its two-year initiative, with 13 additional nonprofits completing the first half of the initiative.  The full two-year model consistently improves mission effectiveness, transforms nonprofit operations, and dramatically increases measurable participant outcomes.   The first cohort's success was documented by a external developmental evaluation.  On an ongoing basis, the pre-test and post-test scores showing improved practice are validated by an external evaluator. 
Of the Capacity Institute's current six nonprofits, five have committed to the first year of the project only, designing the performance management system, and have opted out of the second year, implementation coaching, alignment, and adjustment.  Consequently, their scores on the year 1 practices are almost all 3s and 4s, while their scores on the year 2 practices are almost all 1s and 2s.  Our past experience tells us that many of these nonprofits will return several years later to build capacity in year 2 practices.  It saves them time and frustration to complete the two years together. 
One might be concerned about nonprofits losing capacity over time due to staff and board turnover.  However, as we've checked in with leadership annually, the commitments and practices seem to have become so thoroughly embedded into nonprofits' cultures that they bring the new staff and board members along on the journey.  We've also observed nonprofits that dramatically shift their mission or strategy after the two years do need supplemental coaching to re-do those portions of their tools; they cannot create them from scratch alone. Many have capacity to make small tweaks in tools as their strategy evolves, while others want a "tune-up" of sorts on a few specific tools.  All would like to have ongoing quarterly light support from the Capacity Institute and their peers to continue to grow their skills and improve their performance.  
Along with the model's clear success, the present barriers to long-term success include:
  • Need for more nonprofits who are ready to commit to the work and change of the two-year initiative
  • Need for a national organizational home which is strategically aligned with the vision to transform nonprofit effectiveness
 The Capacity Institute can help any nonprofit committed to improving participant outcomes. We have learned that some nonprofits are not ready for this initiative:
  • Nonprofits with budgets less than $200,000/year do not have the capacity in place to master all 17 practices, but they can attain selected ones.
  • We no longer work with churches; since their operations, strategies, and outcomes differ significantly from other nonprofits.
  • Nonprofits in financial crisis need to focus first on financial capacities; once those are in place, they can consider this work.
  • Nonprofits whose missions are focused on delivering quality services and meeting basic needs deliver great value in our communities and can measure and improve their performance.  However, the Capacity Institute has chosen to focus on those nonprofits who are committed to improving participant outcomes.