Skip to main content

Framework & Key Questions to Ask

By: Steve Zimmerman

Nonprofits across all mission areas and budget sizes have been forced to respond to the pandemic rapidly while holding true to their values.  With the future still uncertain the question remains: How do we adapt to this new world?

Crisis management may be ongoing, but leaders cannot focus only on short-term operations.  Rather, they must balance the short-term with planning for the future.

Some will view this crisis as an opportunity to reimagine their nonprofit organizations and to make the necessary – yet oftentimes difficult – decisions to strengthen long-term sustainability while learning from implementation. Along the way, these leaders will promote inclusion and engagement of constituents, staff, and board, ensuring that all voices are heard through the recovery.

reimagining your nonprofit organization

Reimagining your nonprofit organization involves three core aspects—impact, people and finances—all interconnected and influenced by a fourth: the needs and resources of the community.

While we will explore each of these components in greater depth in subsequent pieces, consider asking the following questions to guide strategic conversation and to take action now in your organization:





  • What is our desired impact and what outcomes and strategies are necessary to realize it?
  • What are our core values and how are they reflected in our impact strategy?
  • How do our current programs contribute to our desired impact?
  • What recent or new innovations hold promise for delivering greater impact in the future?
  • Are our staff and leadership reflective of our community and the people we serve?
  • How do we engage the voices of constituents, staff and stakeholders in redesigning our organization?
  • Are our practices equitable and inclusive and do they allow us to maximize impact?
  • What skills and capacities do we need to deliver on our impact?
  • What are the true costs of delivering our programs to create impact?
  • Who benefits or cares about our impact and how do we reach them to invest in our efforts?
  • Which revenue streams will produce the flexible income needed to be adaptable and sustainable?
  • What capacities do we need to generate income?
  • What needs do constituents, staff, and stakeholders have and how are we meeting them?
  • What other organizations are offering similar or complementary services?
  • Is this the best structure for us going forward or would our impact and constituents benefit form a partnership or merger?

What do we need our business model to look like going forward?

What action steps can we take to move toward our new model?