Our Management Consulting Approach

Balance your nonprofit's mission and financial health.

Balance your nonprofit's mission and financial health.

Public Interest Management Group's methods aren't simple, but are based on a simple idea: Great organizations have big visions, sturdy business models, a clear set of strategies and a rational course of action. They focus on work that both fulfills their purpose and succeeds financially.

Our consulting approach uses hard data to ensure that your bold plans are achievable and sustainable. This helps ensure you'll succeed on both sides of the scale.

We infuse principles of finance, economics and organizational development into a holistic methodology that empowers nonprofit enterprises to thrive in a competitive world. We’ve developed, honed and tested our methods over the past two decades. “Thriving” is partly about money. It’s also about people, infrastructure and, most importantly, tangible results. Our approach combines best practices in organizational development and business analytics. It's a powerful combination that can guide organizational transformation and advancement.

We use jargon from time to time, so here's a glossary to help clarify our terms.

Strategic and Business Planning

Organizational Strategy includes several essential elements—People, Culture, Operations, and the Business Model. As the figure below suggests, these elements are interconnected. We approach assessment, strategy formation and execution by systematically considering how these pieces integrate.

 
PIMG-method-graphic.png
 

We call our process Data-Driven Strategic Planning because we employ data throughout the process, ensuring that plans are based on substance, and that goals are tangible and measurable. (Here's an article where we discuss how this approach addresses common problems with strategic planning.) It includes several steps:

  • Systematic organizational assessment (see below)
  • Market research, considering service needs and the competitive environment
  • Establishment of a range of strategy alternative scenarios
  • Identification of a set of criteria leadership can apply to decision-making (drawing on the organization's priorities and values)
  • Facilitation of a decision-making group process
  • Analysis of data that helps you refine your strategy
  • Presentation of a Strategy Framework or Business Plan document.

We gather information -- and engage key stakeholders -- through structured interviews of staff, volunteer leaders, partners and funders. We gather detailed information through survey research and, on occasion, focus groups of constituents. We flesh out market research by gathering and analyzing demographic data and competitive position analysis.

A key analytic method Public Interest Management Group employs is Financial and Operational Modeling, which we've applied to nonprofits in the health, education, housing and environmental fields. Modeling allows us to test scenarios of possible future states of an organization. A scenario is a combination of parameters, including staffing, operational infrastructure, expenses, revenue sources and activity outputs. The model is based on a set of drivers for those parameters that contribute to your organization's business model. This allows us to build a model unique to your organization. It also allows us to quantify risks and returns on investment, as well as tangibly clarify how the organization can build scale or achieve financial sustainability. Sensitivity analysis allows us to identify how various drivers affect your business model, and where investments and changes can make the greatest impact. This process allows you to zero in on strategy alternatives that make the most sense for them--backed up by hard data, not theory or intuition alone. Financial and Operational Modeling is essential to minimizing guesswork in making critical decisions that can profoundly affect the organization's future trajectory.

As part of modeling, we analyze the full costs of programs and activities, to help further define a sustainable business model, including a mix of programs that will address mission goals and revenue sources that will achieve economies of scale and generate steady fiscal surpluses.

Plan documents - either a Strategy Framework or a Business Plan - are full of details that specify the course of action and rationale, make the case for funding, and lay the groundwork for implementation. Specific milestones and a balanced scorecard will help guide successful implementation.

Merger and Restructuring

Development of strategy for Merger and Partnerships often involves facilitation of negotiations. Negotiations between partner groups can effectively determine which partnership strategy is most viable, and how the partnership should be shaped. We systematically explore a range of possible structural arrangements, represented in the Partnership Matrix below, and the operational, fiscal and legal implications of each. Note that the there are many types of partnership (including 12 distinctnonprofit merger structures), and PIMG's deep content knowledge and experience here allows flexible solutions to many potential negotiation obstacles. We employ the method of Principled Negotiation, defined by Fisher, Ury and Patton in Getting to Yes.

 
             © La Piana Associates

             © La Piana Associates

 

Public Interest Management Group has also developed a formal process for Financial Due Diligence that helps one or more partner organizations evaluate the financial health and status of their counterpart(s) prior to entering into an agreement.

Organizational Assessment

Public Interest Management Group's organizational assessment methodology is called Success Factor Analysis. Developed specifically for nonprofits, it is a data-based process that frames evaluation of organizations on a wide range of factors in the five categories represented in the diagram above. It's our framework for working with clients to build High-Performance Organizations, which share a set of proven traits.

We collect data is through surveys of internal and external stakeholders, structured interviews of organizational leadership, and internal document review. This process allows us to quantify organizational performance and put evaluations in context of a broader population of nonprofits. Data also provides insight on how closely various practices are associated with organizational success. This provides valuable context for recommendation of strategies to improve operations, services or financial health. Assessment includes rating the a nonprofit's overall health, through the Organizational Success Index score. Key considerations in the assessment process are operational infrastructure and capacity, sources of organizational success represented in the diagram below.

 
 

For detail on this methodology, see the paper Success Factors for Nonprofit Organizations and supplemental resources listed on our Publications page.

Our consulting services are discussed here. We offer three "flavors" of assessment -- the 360 Organizational Assessment, the Business Model Assessment, and the Performance Audit, with different foci to meet varying client needs.

Contact us to find out how we can help your nonprofit meet its goals.