Fundamentals of Nonprofit Strategy

Welcome to our collection of articles, tools, and templates designed to support your organization in setting its strategic direction. The content below offers insights on strategic planning, intended impact and theory of change, program strategy, scaling, and more. You can also use the links above to jump to our other foundational content around organizational effectivenessleadership, and financial sustainability.

two people stand at a whiteboard planning

How Nonprofits and NGOs Can Get Real Value from Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is about deciding how best to use a nonprofit’s limited resources to achieve its goals. It sounds simple, yet many organizations struggle with the process, not knowing why, where, or how to start. This article can help. It shares four vital elements common to most strategic planning approaches and a number of common pitfalls to avoid. You can also learn more about Practical Questions Your Board and Team Might Ask About Strategic Planning as well as Useful Tools for Nonprofit Strategic Planning. We also include example strategic plans from Generation Hope and Living Goods

Beth Chandler talking with meeting guests

What Are Intended Impact and Theory of Change and How Can Nonprofits Use Them?

Strategy is all about getting critical resource decisions right. But developing a clear, effective strategy can be a long process full of difficult tradeoffs. One way to smooth the path is to clarify your nonprofit’s intended impact and theory of change. These powerful concepts can help your organization refine the goals it commits to achieve and map the road for how to accomplish them.

Two people writing at a desk

How to Develop Your Intended Impact and Theory of Change

Toolkit: The templates in this toolkit are designed to help your organization develop or refresh your intended impact and theory of change. They provide an overview of each step and worksheets that guide your team through critical considerations. 

Red pin stuck in road map

How Nonprofits Can Map Their Programs to Their Strategy

With a program strategy map, nonprofit leaders can make better decisions based on the impact and financial sustainability of their programs. This article provides an introduction to the program strategy map and how these maps can inform decisions about growing, improving, or exiting programs. 

Year Up alumni at summit meeting group photo

Transformative Scale: The Future of Growing What Works

A number of social sector leaders, philanthropists, and policymakers are experimenting with ways to deliver impact at a truly “transformative scale.” This article highlights nine pathways being explored by these pioneers in their efforts to solve social problems in the United States and abroad. 

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