Which of these challenges bothers you most?

We can't improve the quality of our programming; we don’t have resources to hire the people we really need!

We are drowning in data! There must be an efficient way to manage all this data, but we don’t know where to start.  

We don't believe our real value can be measured anyway. How can we capture the heart of our program?  

We don't have enough cash to cover payroll this Friday!! I can't prioritize anything besides fundraising.

We can help your team chart a clear course to mission improvement!

 Credit:  Photo by Paul Dunn for YES! Magazine

After six years, Capacity Institute nonprofits achieve:

Nonprofits using the Capacity Institute's tools are significantly improving their mission effectiveness!

 Yours can too!

Our Services

Our Approach and Expertise

Nonprofit performance management is using your data to improve your operations, so that your participants reliably achieve meaningful, measurable, sustainable outcomes.  Over two years, client nonprofits make these Theory of Change agreements:
  • Who is our target population?
  • What participant outcomes do we commit to reach?
 Learn more....

Capacity Institute Process

Cohort agencies receive 11 group learning sessions and 300+ hours of individualized consultation, equipping your nonprofit to:
  • Year 1:  Build a comprehensive measurement system based on Theory of Change.
  • Year 2:  Implement, fine-tune, and align your system with existing operations.
See what's involved...

Learning Sessions

Looking for something less intensive than the two year Capacity Institute? Our introductory workshop sessions are engaging, informative, and help your team move toward readiness together....   Explore the topics....

Is your nonprofit ready

To invest in performance management practices?
Find Out Here!

The City School Success Story

The City School develops and strengthens youth to become effective leaders for social justice....  By using Capacity Institute tools, The City School increased their long-term youth outcomes success rate from 11% in 2011 to 51% in 2016!  Now every year 17 more young people are sustainably engaged in social justice work in their communities after completing the two-year program.  Click here to learn how they did it...

See more success stories here!



Sam Casseus, The City School board member and program graduate

Some of our Clients

What our clients say

The trust we built up gave us the freedom we needed to make mistakes, to learn, and to become the best we can be for our young people. Now we are relaxed, we are not anxious about the things we need to do; we know how to get there.

Nikki Flionis

Nikki Flionis

Executive Director, Mission Safe

This project made us more intentional and strategic about what we are trying to accomplish.  The theory of change session postures you to think differently…everything else flowed from that session.

Rev. Dr. Virginia Ward

Rev. Dr. Virginia Ward

Co-Pastor, Abundant Life Church

The comprehensive process helps organizations figure out where they want to go and how to get there.  It helped us to shift the culture here, in a way we could not have done on our own.  It empowered us to implement changes we had been talking about for awhile but were afraid to make.

Maria Dominguez Gray

Maria Dominguez Gray

Executive Director, Phillips Brooks House Association

The process helped us push ourselves to achieve an increased sense of clarity, by creating space to put our issues on the table to talk about them.

Reena Matthew

Reena Matthew

VP Programs, Trinity Boston Foundation

The process pushed us to come up with a realistic solution that would really work for us.  You met us where we were at.

Joe Hungler

Joe Hungler

Executive Director, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell

Organizations should understand that this is not a grant, it’s an organizational change process.

Jesse Leavitt

Jesse Leavitt

Training and Evaluation Director, Phillips Brooks House Association

Some facts about us

Years Per Cohort
Cohort Group Sessions
Customized Coaching Hours Per Client
Nonprofits Graduated

Our Clients’ Skills

By the end of two years, Capacity Institute clients achieve high or vastly improved performance on these essential skills. In the three years after the project concludes, clients continue to strengthen their performance on analyzing and using data to drive outcomes improvement.
Logic models:
Measure- ment tools:
Measure outcomes:
Analyze data:
Data-driven decisions:

Meet Ellen!

Ellen Bass launched and directs the Capacity Institute, which helps nonprofits improve participant outcomes as a measure of mission attainment, by building and implementing their performance management systems over two-years.  Nonprofits have improved intermediate outcome success rates by 198% and long-term outcome success rates by 291%!  For twenty years, Ellen has taught and coached staff from more than three hundred nonprofits how to use logic models and outcome measurement to strengthen participant outcomes, programs, staff, strategy, partnerships, and fundraising.

Ellen also founded and leads the Nonprofit Performance Management Consultant Network, to improve the effectiveness of human service nonprofits nationally by engaging consultants, nonprofits and funders to invest in performance management practices.  In an effort to advance nonprofit performance management at a national scale, Ellen engages groups in dialogue and training on related topics.  Ellen is a member of the Leap of Reason Ambassadors Community, which includes more than 130 nonprofit thought leaders and practitioners who advance nonprofit high performance as the norm. Ambassadors share the belief that mission and performance are inextricably linked. She serves on the Board of Directors of Idealware, which helps nonprofits make smart technology decisions.

Previously, Ellen was the first director of the Boston Capacity Tank at the Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston, where she raised and redistributed more than $10 million in grants and capacity-building services to nonprofit youth agencies in Boston.  The Tank also measured capacity-building outcomes from its workshops, consultancies, and grants.  With an MBA in public and nonprofit management, Ellen has served in resource development for twenty years and in program development for thirty-five years, in both secular and faith-based organizations that serve youth in the Boston community.

Ellen and her husband Jeff live in Boston; they have two grown sons.  She loves coaching young women leaders, helping her church grow in discipleship and racial equity, bike commuting, cooking, and hot weather.

View my resume here.