The success of SPI’s collaborative approach and the quality of its work have resulted in long-term relationships with many clients that involve successful collaborations on multiple and diverse projects.
Governance and Strategic Management
Do you need to strengthen governance?
SPI can work with your board or a board committee to identify areas for improvement and develop systems and tools that will strengthen the board’s performance.
We can help you review and revise your by-laws, recommend a board-committee structure suited to your board’s priorities, and help you develop or update governance policies that will provide a foundation for an effective board and good governance. At a minimum, governance policies should include job descriptions for your board, directors, and board committees; guidelines for conducting board and committee meetings; a code of conduct; a process for handling conflict of interest; and a description of the board’s relationship with, and delegation of authority to, the CEO.
Do you need help identifying potential directors and leadership volunteers?
The first steps in recruiting new volunteers for your board and other leadership positions are to determine the skills and experience you need and assess the capabilities of your current directors and leadership volunteers. This analysis will reveal the gaps that need to be filled and serve as your selection criteria. The next step is to identify potential directors who have the skills and experience your organization needs and the personal qualities that will contribute to positive dynamics around your board and committee tables.
In addition to helping you with each of these steps, SPI can assist in developing a list of potential candidates and conduct research to develop profiles that will help you determine which candidates are the best fit for your organization.
Has your strategic plan outlived its useful life?
The best strategic plans are not developed by consultants. They are developed by boards of directors and senior management working together often with the assistance of experienced consultants like SPI.
Our favored approach to strategic planning involves a steering committee that includes a few directors and the CEO. We consult with the steering committee and prepare a background paper that usually includes an internal assessment, information on the external environment, key issues and priorities, and recommendations on strategic directions and key steps.
The strategic plan background paper provides the basis for a board retreat that we will structure and facilitate to give directors and key management staff the opportunity to learn together, question, reflect, discuss, and ultimately decide on a strategic direction for key priorities.
After the retreat we will draft the strategic plan, review the draft with the steering committee, and support the committee in presenting the plan to the board.
Are you struggling to implement your strategic plan?
Strategic plans are great but too often they amount to nothing because the next step in the planning process – developing a multi-year business or implementation plan – has been skipped. SPI can work with you to translate your strategic plan into an actionable plan that breaks strategies into activities, assigns responsibilities, and sets timelines that you can monitor.
Once you start monitoring implementation you will be able to identify areas where progress is proceeding according to plan and areas that require attention – a different approach, more resources, or a rethink.
Are your vision, mission, and values statements getting tired?
Whether your vision, mission, and values need to be refreshed to catch up to changes that have already occurred or to begin a process of change, SPI can lead your board through a review of the guiding statements that provide direction and set the tone for your entire organization.
Is your organization facing a difficult decision or issue?
A comprehensive background paper can be a critical first step to making a decision on an important opportunity or challenge. SPI will consult with you, research your topic, and provide a background or discussion paper that outlines the situation, reviews the facts, and presents alternatives.
You can use the background paper to equalize knowledge among directors and senior managers and to establish a foundation for a productive discussion and solid decision.
Does your fund development program need a boost?
If yes, then the first step is to identify your program’s strengths and weaknesses and then develop strategies to address both. There is more than one way to approach this.
- SPI can assess your fund development program using information from your donor database, reports, and conversations with key staff and volunteers. We will use our findings to develop recommendations that will improve your program’s performance.
- An even stronger approach is to involve all fund development and other key staff – even a few key volunteers – in an onsite analysis of your entire fund development program. Over several days the group will look at trends in gross and net revenue; discuss the perceptions and facts underlying these trends; and consider campaign structure (volunteers and staff), marketing and communications support for fund development, your case for support, solicitation methodologies and donor stewardship.This second approach offers several advantages. It equalizes knowledge and fosters a shared understanding, generates buy-in for strategies that the entire group develops, and provides the basis for SPI to prepare a strategic, multi-year fund development plan.
Are you clear about your case for support?
A case for support is the general argument for why a charity deserves support. If you are not clear about your case you can’t expect donors to contribute to your organization. SPI will lead you through the development process and deliver the case you need to be successful.
There are two types of case.
- The first is for internal use. The internal case is a comprehensive source document for the board, management, campaign volunteers, fund development staff, and communication and marketing experts.The internal case highlights your organization’s history; its purpose and accomplishments; its governance, management, and finances; and its aspirations for the future including your priorities and opportunities for donors to invest to achieve results that are important to them.The internal case provides the information required for the external case and requires your board’s approval.
- The second type of case is for external audiences. The external case draws content from the internal case to create messages that will appeal to a specific audience.External cases take a variety of forms depending on the intended audience. For example, letters and proposals might be prepared for specific donors and brochures, presentations, and web content prepared for broader audiences.
Will your donors and the broader market support your capital/major gifts campaign?
You want to raise money for a capital project, endowment, or other initiative but are not sure that potential donors will embrace your campaign. You need a fundraising feasibility study.
When SPI conducts a feasibility study, we develop an abbreviated case for support and a customized survey that we use during interviews with a select group of potential donors jointly identified by your organization and Strategic Philanthropy. The study also involves an assessment of your organization’s internal readiness for a campaign.
At the end of the feasibility study, we will provide a report that tells you what potential donors think about your organization, whether they embrace your case and if not how to make it more appealing, how likely it is that donors will contribute to your campaign, and whether they think your goal is achievable. Our report will also include our assessment of your organizational readiness and provide recommendations to help you prepare for a campaign.
Do you need to know more about prospective major donors or identify potential volunteer leaders for your campaign?
If yes, then you need our research. We can take an existing list of potential volunteer leaders and donors or help you develop a list. Then we will do the research necessary to compile comprehensive profiles on each potential donor or volunteer.
Our profiles will provide the information you need before you approach a donor or volunteer:
- Contact information
- Personal information (e.g. age, family, education, professional designations, and interests)
- Business/professional career
- Directorships and business affiliations
- Community service
- Philanthropic giving
Do you understand the fund development market for your campaign?
A campaign’s success depends on internal factors such as the strength of your volunteer leadership, staff team, and case for support. Success is also affected by market conditions.
An SPI market assessment will provide information to help you decide whether the time and conditions are right for your campaign. Assessments often include the topics listed below in addition to topics of particular interest to a client:
- Trends in the philanthropic marketplace
- Current, emerging, and recently completed capital campaigns
- The largest annual campaigns
- Leadership volunteers and major donors with an interest in causes like yours
- Corporations and foundations that support causes like yours
Do you need help planning your philanthropy?
Making a single donation can be easy. Developing a plan for your philanthropy can be complex. Strategic Philanthropy can guide you through this complexity and the many questions you will need to consider:
- What is your history of giving?
- What are your philanthropic values? They will underpin your plan.
- What are your philanthropic goals – what are you seeking to achieve with your giving?
- Where do you want to direct your funding – to a field of service such as health, education, or social service?
- Do you want to give to one or a few specific organizations?
- Who is involved in the decision-making? Is a single individual, a couple, a family, extended family?
We can also help you select an appropriate funding vehicle – a private foundation, a donor-advised fund at a public foundation or outright gifts.
In addition to helping you through these decisions, we serve as an unbiased facilitator for discussions that involve family members with different viewpoints and help everyone reach consensus.