Achieving Strategic Clarity

An online- and team-based program for nonprofit executives to clarify their strategy and articulate a path to greater impact
Program details
Who: Nonprofit leadership teams 
Application deadline: August 1, 2019
Timing: September – February; flexible pacing
Scholarships available
Grounded in Bridgespan’s deep experience, Achieving Strategic Clarity is a step-by-step program that helps leadership teams get clear on who they serve and how they serve them, so they can focus their resources and have the greatest impact possible.
Learn more in this three-minute video
  • Team-Oriented Icon


    Built for nonprofit leadership teams

  • Self-Paced Icon


    Average program duration is 12 to 16 weeks

  • Customizable Icon


    Structured yet flexible to meet your needs

  • Interactive Icon


    Combines live team workshops with online lessons

  • Supported Icon


    Includes 1-on-1 Bridgespan coaching

What You'll Get

  • A statement clarifying who you seek to serve and the impact that you want to have
  • A document that specifies how your organization achieves impact
  • An articulation of your organization’s unique value and qualities—your "secret sauce"
  • Criteria that will help you make decisions about which opportunities to prioritize

Who Should Participate

Most organizations can benefit from this program, but it is especially powerful for organizations that are: 

  • Starting a strategic planning process
  • Anticipating or experiencing a leadership transition
  • Experiencing significant changes in their field/environment, such as a shift in funding or policy
  • Seeking to bring a more intentional “equity lens” to their work and programs 

What Nonprofit Leaders Say

"There’s always a lot going on, and making time can be hard. Achieving Strategic Clarity helped us develop a practical set of criteria to make decisions about which potential projects we should take on. We now feel like we have the agency to say no to things that aren’t aligned with our theory of change." —Dave Paunesku, PERTS

"We were approaching the beginning of our strategic planning process, and we needed to answer some important questions before getting started. We tried to do it on our own, but realized we needed a structured process. Achieving Strategic Clarity helped us pull together a working theory of change that articulated how we see ourselves and the work we do, as well as where we want to go. The program set us up for success to ensure that our strategic plan is aligned with our long-term goals as an organization."—John Peller, AIDS Foundation of Chicago

How It Works


  • Step 1: Understanding the Importance of Strategy

    • Online individual work: You will become familiar with the tools of intended impact and theory of change and the role these play in supporting a great strategy. You will reflect on the decisions that you think could be aided by gaining strategic clarity. You will also reflect on and recommend a set of team norms.
    • Live team workshop: As a team, you will identify major decisions for which your organization needs strategic clarity. You will also share your individual reflections on the program’s process and decide on team norms.
  • Step 2: Defining Your Impact

    • Online individual work: You will learn about intended impact statements, which define who you seek to serve and the impact you seek to have. You will also learn about what makes an intended impact statement effective and review examples from other organizations. Then each team member will draft an intended impact statement to share during the team workshop. 
    • Live team workshop: As a team, you will review each other’s intended impact submissions and identify areas of agreement and difference. You will then work together to draft an intended impact statement for your organization that outlines who you seek to serve and the impact you seek to have.
  • Step 3: Developing a Theory of Change

    • Online individual work: You will learn about the key elements of an effective theory of change and review examples from other organizations. Then you will individually draft a theory of change, which outlines how your organization seeks to achieve impact, to share during the team workshop. 
    • Live team workshop: You will review each team member’s draft theory of change and reflect as a group on areas of agreement and difference across the submissions. Together, you will develop a first draft of your organization’s theory of change that outlines the work your organization seeks to do and the metrics that will help to evaluate your success. You will also identify key questions that your team will want to revisit later.
  • Step 4: Testing Your Approach

    • Online individual work: You will review your team’s intended impact statement and theory of change drafts against criteria such as the impact approach and support you’ll receive from staff, donors, and the community. Reflecting on these criteria and the urgency of the questions facing your organization, each team member will identify the open questions that you believe are most important to address as an organization. 
    • Live team workshop: Your team will discuss where you feel least confident about your intended impact statements and theory of change drafts, and where you feel learning is most critical. Together, you will identify three learning questions, or questions that require additional testing, research, and input, and assign questions to team members to explore and answer.
  • Step 5: Developing a Learning Plan

    • Online individual work: You will learn about different approaches to research and apply these to focus and refine the learning question you’ve been assigned. You will then draft a learning plan to get to a "good enough" answer to your learning question. (You may collaborate with other team members assigned the same question.)
    • Live team workshop: You will share your draft plan to make progress on your learning questions and solicit feedback from the team, including screening for biases and looking for opportunities to simplify the work. As a team, you’ll then map out your overall learning plan at a high level.
  • Step 6: Living Your Emerging Strategy

    • Online individual work: You will spend time reflecting on the process so far and hear from nonprofit leaders about how they have gained and maintained strategic clarity within their own organizations. Each team member will reflect on questions related to how your organization engages stakeholders and the specific implications of what you’ve learned to date.
    • Live team workshop: As a team, you will reflect on your intended impact statement and theory of change drafts and determine the implications for your organization. You will then discuss how you will engage stakeholders as you continue to refine your drafts and revisit the major decisions you defined in step 1, outlining the implications of your emerging strategy on those decisions and any other areas that surfaced during these discussions.
View Full Curriculum

Check out our frequently asked questions section to answer any additional questions


Achieving Strategic Clarity Coaches

Leslie MacKrell is a partner in Bridgespan’s New York office. She has worked with a range of clients in the fields of public health, urban revitalization, child welfare, juvenile justice, human services, faith-based programming, and education. Prior to joining Bridgespan, Leslie held strategic planning and fundraising roles at a number of social justice organizations. Leslie’s favorite parts of her job are coaching senior teams and exploring how organizational design and management practices can support new levels of impact.

Coach - Leslie MacKrell

Samantha Levine has 24 years of experience in nonprofit management, strategy, operations, and team development. Her focus has been helping nonprofit and mission-driven organizations increase their impact by getting clear on the strategic and organizational imperatives that will allow them to accelerate change. Nonprofit work can be hard, and Sam is dedicated to helping nonprofit leaders put their time and energy towards activities that best advance impact, while strengthening their organizations and teams.

Coach - Samantha Levine

Important Information

Pricing: $5,500 for leadership teams of up to eight members. For organizations outside the United States, or those teams with more than eight members, please email us.

Scholarships: A limited number of scholarships are also available to organizations led by people of color. Learn More>>

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Selected Clients

Maverick Landing Community Services (MLCS)
Narrative Initiative
Jewish Family Service of MetroWest NJ
HomeStart, Inc.
AIDS Foundation of Chicago