Nonprofit Effectiveness

Nonprofit Effectiveness

Accelerate social change by strengthening Greater Boston nonprofit organizations and leaders



Massachusetts is home to an incredibly robust and diverse nonprofit sector. While there are almost 40,000 nonprofit organizations across the Commonwealth, we know that approximately 14,000 of these are doing active programming within Greater Boston.

The work of the Nonprofit Effectiveness cross-cutting strategy is focused on these organizations and leaders.  We believe that an organizational focus on advancing the 5 Elements of Nonprofit Effectiveness outlined below is a key part of achieving sustained social impact.

The Nonprofit Effectiveness (NPE) cross-cutting strategy strives to accelerate social change by strengthening Greater Boston nonprofit organizations and leaders via two core strategies: building infrastructure and providing resources.

Our Strategy

To support and seed intermediary organizations, tools, networks, and promising practices that support and enable Greater Boston nonprofits, leaders, and staff to advance the 5 Elements of Nonprofit Effectiveness.

To provide direct capacity-building support (Including, but not limited to consultant projects, skilled-volunteer support, and cohort programs) to Greater Boston nonprofit organizations, leaders, and staff to advance the 5 Elements of Nonprofit Effectiveness within their organizations.

The 5 Elements of Nonprofit Effectiveness

  1. New resource

    Directory cover image
    The Racial Equity Capacity Builder Directory provides a listing of consultants who can help nonprofits with their racial equity work
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    Commitment to Racial Equity
    • Organizations prioritize and support a race equity culture2 at the staff, leadership, and board levels
    • Leaders build trusting relationships to support and sustain race equity work over time
    • Leadership is committed, confident, and skilled at advancing racial equity within their organizations and beyond
  2. Strong Operations3
  3. Organizations have:
    • The operational ability to deliver effectively on their missions including leadership support and staff capacity to build and sustain strong systems and processes
    • Sustainability planning including around leadership and staff transitions, as well as board development
  4. Effective, Connected, and Representative Leaders
  5. Leaders are:
    • Equipped with the skills needed to drive accelerated social impact including, but not limited to, the ability to represent the organization externally, mobilize support for the organization, and anticipate future opportunities, challenges, and trends
    • Representative of, connected to, and supported by others within and outside of their organization (including in the communities they work) to learn, grow and collaborate
  6. A Learning Culture
    • Organizations prioritize and support a culture that values continuous improvemement of impact and ongoing learning at all levels of the organization, including from data and constituent experience
    • Organizations have the ability to set goals, track progress, and adjust as needed
  7. Financial Health
    • Organizations maintain strong systems for financial stewardship and accountability including:
      • Ability to meet financial targets for revenues and expenses
      • Clear financial goals, and strategies for building financial reserves

TBF’s 5 Elements were developed with input from our core Nonprofit Effectiveness partners: College for Social Innovation, Institute for Nonprofit Practice, Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, Social Innovation Forum, Trinity Boston Connect’s Racial Equity Leaders Learning Circle, and TSNE-MissionWorks.


Grantee Spotlight: Institute for Nonprofit Practice

INP Class

The Institute for Nonprofit Practice (INP) advances social justice by building a thriving and diverse nonprofit sector. INP equips nonprofits and public-sector organizations with the leadership and management skills, networks, and confidence they need to strengthen their communities and tackle society’s most pressing problems. The organization achieves this vision by providing comprehensive, academically distinguished, and affordable programs in affiliation with the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. The Boston Foundation has been a partner in this work since 2007.

Grantee Spotlight: YW Boston

YWBoston logo

Founded in 1866, YW Boston is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. The YW supports nonprofit organizations to create changes in policies, practices, attitudes and behaviors through leadership development programming, events and advocacy. The Nonprofit Effectiveness team is partnering with the YW to offer the Y’s InclusionBoston initiative for grantees and nonprofit partners. The purpose of InclusionBoston is to bring staff and leadership together to have meaningful conversations around racial and ethnic identity within the workplace and to create concrete action plans to achieve short and long-term race equity goals.

  Contact our team

For more information on the Boston Foundation's Nonprofit Effectiveness work, please contact:

Jennifer Aronson
Associate Vice President for Programs

Andrea Madu
Senior Program Associate, Nonprofit Effectiveness


1.  INTERMEDIARY ORGANIZATON – technical assistance providers or providers of other key assets to the field such as talent, marketing, or financial support that build capacity for and support the development of other nonprofit organizations (from Building Social Enterprise Intermediaries: A Guide for Governments and Donors)

2.  RACE EQUITY - The condition where one’s race identity has no influence on how one fares in society. Working towards a race equity culture involved the ongoing elimination of policies, practices, attitudes, and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race inside and outside of an organization (from Equity in the Center’s Awake to Woke to Work Framework)

3.  OPERATIONS – Internal systems and processes that support organizations to better deliver on their missions, including but not limited to communications, fundraising, human resources, and technology.