Aligning strategy,
identity, capacity, and facilities
with mission, vision, and values.


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Critical Issues #1: Why Plan?
The purpose of planning is not to write a plan, it is to increase your ability to serve your mission. That is why, despite shortages of time and money, planning is all the more important in challenging times.

Critical Issues #2: The Secret Life of Surveys
Surveys can be scientific instruments offering statistically reliable guidance for important decisions. This article is not about that. It is about communication.

Critical Issues #3: Untangling the Web
Oh, what a tangled Web... Not so long ago, a website was just a brochure, a bulletin board, or a fundraising portal. Now the interactive possibilities are boundless.

Critical Issues #4: On Boards
Nonprofit boards have been defined as ineffective groups of effective people. What does it take to energize and get the most out of a board?

Critical Issues #5: The Structure of Planning
There are many reasons to plan and many effective ways to go about the planning process. There are also some common ways that planning goes wrong, but a well-conceived structure can tilt the odds toward success.

Critical Issues #6: Financial Modeling
A financial model can help an organization to explore, predict and control the repercussions of its decisions. It sounds more complicated than it is.

Critical Issues #7: On Mission
Here’s my claim: a mission statement is a fundamental tool of strategy, focus, marketing, and identity. It provides the shortest route to your goal… for the simple reason that without it you don't really know (collectively) what your goal is.

Critical Issues #8: The Measure of Success
If the truly important things are qualitative, how can the real value of what we do be measured in any meaningful way? Quantitative measures are not a substitute for qualitative goals, but when developed and used thoughtfully, they are essential tools to assist in reaching them.

Critical Issues #9: Brand Identity for Nonprofits?
Focused intently on the services they provide, non-profit organizations are often unaware of the substantial asset they have in their brand identity. Not just a function of retailing consumer products, brand identity can offer reinforcement of mission, operating stability, and increased revenue, tying together diverse elements of strategy to produce real and lasting results.

Critical Issues #10: Mind your RFPs & Qs
A Request for Proposals (RFP) can be a useful tool in the hiring of service providers. As with any tool, the results depend on how you use it.

Critical Issues #11: Integrated Planning
We use the term integrated planning to describe a composite of activities that together provide the structure, direction and guidance needed by an organization.

Critical Issues #12: Business Planning
A nonprofit organization has the same need for a business plan as a for-profit company. Whether your mission focuses on social benefit or profit, business planning is about charting a course toward success and sustainability.

Critical Issues #13: Before You Hire an Architect
Facilities are an extraordinarily expensive solution to any need. If you need to build—or think you might—there are ways to reduce your costs, your risks and your stress, and increase the benefits of the project.

Critical Issues #14: Managing Change
The missions of many nonprofits focus on pushing for social change or preparing people to adapt to the larger forces of change around them. Other nonprofits preserve and share a cultural heritage in the face of change. Organizational change in its various forms, however, can be much less familiar and manageable. The need for it may be ignored or denied, the handling of it can be seriously disruptive, and the repercussions may be destructive.

Critical Issues #15: Strategic Action
Strategic planning is about organizational development and focused action. In this essay we look at how to create action items that will advance strategy and mission.

Critical Issues #16: All About Collaboration
It could be argued that collaboration is the quintessential characteristic of the nonprofit sector.

Critical Issues #17: Fear & Loathing of Strategic Planning
There has been a lot of talk in recent years about the death of strategic planning—that conditions and opportunities are in such flux today that in the time it takes to develop a five year plan it will become obsolete. These concerns are not entirely without merit, but when they are accepted at face value rather than taken as challenges to be met, they can erode the underpinnings of sustainability.

Critical Issues #18: Tools for Planning
Nonprofits can draw from a broad array of tools to help them connect the qualitative aspirations of their mission and goals to the measurable actions that will lead them there. We’ve illustrated previous Critical Issues with some of these tools, but this time we’ll look at a broader spectrum of them and frame them in a larger context.

Critical Issues #19: New & Renew: New Initiatives, New Facilities, Renewed Engagement
When we venture into unfamiliar territory we encounter pitfalls and opportunities that we are not prepared to recognize. In this issue you will find 37 ideas that could save you money, trouble and credibility.

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Archive of Other Articles

To Build or Not to Build
Development of facilities is a shared responsibility between governance and management. If the board is not fully informed of the issues and involved in the strategic decisions, there will likely be trouble down the road. Published in Trusteeship, the journal of the Association of Governing Boards.

Selecting an Architect
There are almost as many ways to select an architect as there are reasons for building. The trick is to find the right match between your objectives and your methods.

Client-Favorable Contracts for Design & Construction
Standard contracts protect the interests of architects and contractors, but put the client unnecessarily at risk and usually lead to higher costs. If used, they need to be modifed to better serve the interests of both parties.

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