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


Strategy and Identity are fundamentally about “Why?” Capacity is largely about “How?” Synthesis Partnership assists clients with organizational structure and governance, operations, change management, program and accreditation planning, and business planning and financial modeling.

Organizational Development

A mission, vision, and a plan are essential to a nonprofit, but its capacity to achieve its goals is a function of effective organizational development. A nonprofit starts with a board, which should have documented job descriptions for trustees, officers and committees, as well as written policies and procedures. Staff need a comparable defining framework, and both need a reference manual for ongoing guidance. New board and staff members need to receive an appropriate orientation to the organization and their responsibilities to it, ongoing education and training to enhance their opportunity to serve the organization effectively, and regular evaluations. When nonprofits struggle, the cause can often be traced to inadequate understanding by board members of the organization and by senior staff of how to best use the skills and talents of the board and staff.

Synthesis Partnership has worked on all aspects of organizational development, from advising on how to start a nonprofit, to guiding the development of an effective board of trustees, to consulting on ongoing board training, reorganization, and change management.

For more detail see:

Critical Issues #4 On Boards
Critical Issues #14 Managing Change
Critical Issues #2 The Secret Life of Surveys


Program Planning

Typically the board may need to approve a program plan, but except in the newest or smallest board-managed nonprofits, program planning should be the responsibility of the professional staff. Program planning can have many parallels to strategic planning in means of developing mission-based goals, supporting objectives and measurable results. Sometimes nonprofit leaders find it useful to ask for assistance in facilitating a program planning process, and in keeping it distinct from a concurrent process of strategic planning.

For more detail see:

Critical Issues #7 On Mission
Critical Issues #8 The Measure of Success
Critical Issues #15 Strategic Action

Education & Training

Web-based resources have created new, inexpensive, and flexible delivery mechanisms for training and professional development of staff and volunteers. We have brought our background in higher education, and our experience as consultants, trustees, volunteers and managers, to bear on this issue and have developed several different services:. We co-founded and for over 7 years directed Wednesday Webinars for professional development of nonprofit staff and trustees. Every week we hosted free webinars by experts in the fields of governance, planning, management, organizational development, fundraising, communications and technology. We drew thousands of attendees from all 50 states and 6 continents.

  • We produce and host webinar programs for organizations offering continuing education courses to licensed professionals. For these webinars we develop and send invitiations to a list provided by the organization. We use each list only for invitations to the hosted webinar. We collect data from registrants and attendees only for payment (when there is a charge for the webinar) and for sending certificates of attendance (when offered). We never use these lists again, nor do we share them with anyone else.
  • We work with nonprofits and associations to develop and deliver live and archived web-based training that assures uniform quality while reducing costs.

Business Planning

A nonprofit organization has no less need for a business plan than does a for-profit entity. We help clients to understand their market, competition, positioning, resource requirements, revenue streams and finances. While nonprofits must make clear distinctions among mission, programs and business, they must also understand their interdependence.

Increasingly, institutions are looking for opportunities to capitalize on the value of their resources, their expertise, and their name (or brand). They are finding that new services and programs can support their mission while also generating income to subsidize their established operations. We help to analyze new markets, plan entirely new ventures, or develop the documentation to achieve governing board approvals.

A substantial capital campaign presents other business planning problems, including the necessity of communicating complex financial options to trustees who have very different degrees of financial literacy, and coordinating unpredictable revenue streams with an assortment of expenditures that may have very disparate planning and commitment time frames.

Synthesis Partnership offers a variety of business planning services and tools to afford a prudent and cautious governing board the confidence to embark upon an ambitious program of expenditures while minimizing risk to acceptable levels and areas.

For more detail see:

Critical Issues #12 Business Planning

Financial Modeling

New programs or facilities — or even the many variables of annual budgeting — can raise complex combinations of options for an organization. Financial modeling can help to clarify financial implications and capacity, and to coordinate them with organizational goals. Simple financial modeling can be done iteratively with a spreadsheet program. Major variables can be laid out and critical decision points identified. Staff and board can test different options iteratively until a satisfactory approach is found.

For more detail see:

Critical Issues #6 Financial Modeling

Synthesis Partnership develops financial models for clients' strategic decision-making needs.

back to top