Nonprofit Sustainability

Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability

This book makes the case that nonprofits must operate more like businesses and takes you through the essential steps. Includes a wealth of tables and charts.

191 pages. ©2010.
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Reader Reviews for this Book


Review posted November 30, 2022


Lots of good information, but difficult to stay attentive to. I had to cross reference terms with other external content to gain a more comprehensive understanding.


Review posted November 2, 2022


A little dry and a little outdated, this is nevertheless a useful framework for longterm financial thinking.


Review posted July 14, 2022


NONPROFIT SUSTAINABILITY This book walks the reader through a practical process of choosing the right mix of programs for mission “impact” and financial sustainability. A great guide to solid sustainability. It explains mission impact and financial viability using “The Matrix Map” to provide strategic options for any organization. The book offers practical, concrete steps an organization can take to develop a unique path to sustainability. Truly and A+ read with a lot of substance.


Review posted July 4, 2022


I have reviewed many, many websites for info on starting a non-profit without much success. This book has so much info and has been very helpful in making decisions.


Review posted April 29, 2022


This is a good starter book for a new executive to review. Most nonprofits are far more complex, but the strategies presented are sound and good building blocks for growth.


Review posted March 7, 2022


This book came at a perfect time. Small nonprofits need to be strategic when it comes to financial viability. My favorite part of this book was the Matrix Map. This helped me really look at the programs and if they are going to profitable. It was difficult to hold off on programs that were currently on our list, but following the matrix, it did not make financial sense to bring that program to fruition at this time. Excellent book, very useful for all businesses.


Review posted February 15, 2022


Great non profit resource, especially in preparation for an unmitigated risk.


Review posted January 30, 2022


I found this guide very valuable in a strategic review of programs.

Linda K Joyce

Review posted August 18, 2021


We are a small non-profit and most of the book did not pertain to our library. Some chapters were helpful and the book will be a resource for our professional collection. Overall it was a worthwhile selection.


Review posted June 24, 2021


A very useful book.


Review posted February 18, 2021


I found many things in this book useful to the discussions in my organization. I wish the authors would write an updated edition, though. Many things have changed since 2010 and I would find some updated approaches helpful. The matrix exercises are still relevant and informative, and helped me articulate my position on some decisions. I am trying to get some of my fellow board members to read this book now.


Review posted December 11, 2020


Super helpful and full of amazing information - thank you so much!!


Review posted December 2, 2020


Great, simple step by step approach for non-profit strategic planning. Nice to have access to online worksheets as well.

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Review posted October 2, 2020


I have long appreciated that a nonprofit must be run like a business. I appreciate the viewpoints and the affirmation of my ideas!


Review posted July 9, 2020


This book provides an easy-to-use formula to help organizations make informed decisions. The author explores multiple criteria from mission alignment to financial impact to guide program and strategic planning. A great read for newer board members!


Review posted June 29, 2020


Straight forward and useful book that gives a great starting point for financial strategy for nonprofits. The Matrix they present for mission impact and financial impact assessment was awesome. Highly reccomend!


Review posted May 5, 2020


Great book


Review posted March 19, 2020


Great book for anyone new or already working in nonprofits. Provides ideas on how to make future decisions.


Review posted March 17, 2020


The middle chapters provide concrete tools and strategies to support nonprofit sustainability. The beginning and final chapters have relatively little substance.


Review posted February 22, 2020


Informative read.


Review posted October 10, 2019


Easy read and helpful to the fullest


Review posted September 12, 2019


I ordered this book because so many people say it revolutionized their strategic planning and management. I can certainly see why they said that. It's super easy to understand the stuff I didn't get before. If your nonprofit wants to be sustainable... why wouldn't you get this book?


Review posted July 24, 2019


This book gave me a few suggestions I can bring to the Board of Directors to make us more sustainable in the future.


Review posted May 25, 2019


Very pedantic, not enough relevant demonstrations (examples of methods - budgets, applications to situations). Not very applicable for our small agency.

Karen Carnival

Review posted May 20, 2019


This is a fundamental read for any nonprofit looking to stabilize its funding and plan for the long term. It explains different sustainability models and strategic imperatives, and provides lots of good usable tools.


Review posted April 3, 2019


Very helpful for any non-profit and for one looking to expand their business model. Recently hired as Development Manager to expand our capacity, this contains helpful tools on decision making, profitability and the impacts.


Review posted January 29, 2019


This book is a little complex for a very small nonprofit, yet I found some useful concepts that we can apply as we refresh our strategic plan and think about long term viability. I especially liked the strategic imperative matrix, the matrix mapping to give a visual and the impact assessment. It helped to differentiate heart projects, that don't make money but are important to the mission from other projects that may need to grow - or be discontinued.


Review posted November 9, 2018


This book provides comprehensive examples and frameworks for building budgets for projects and programs! Incredibly practical and useful


Review posted November 8, 2018


A clear, and straightforward method for measuring both financial sustainability and mission impact for nonprofit organizations! Helpful for organizations who are trying to focus on what's best and most effective for moving their mission forward.


Review posted November 8, 2018


This might be the most important book for my nonprofit. We're already starting to implement the analysis suggestions mentioned the the book and are going to be able to keep this project running a lot longer than we would have had we not


Review posted September 24, 2018


This book was most helpful in developing our strategic plan! Loving it!


Review posted August 6, 2018


A solid book if you are just starting out in the nonprofit industry. If you have been for a while you will likely have most of the concepts figured out already. Definitely read starting out, build your library if not.

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Review posted March 27, 2018


This book gave me and my colleague a mini-crash course in program evaluation. Using a grid to map the impact and expense of our programs and events is a great way to see at a glance the areas most in need of attention from the stand point of the bottom line as well as the stand point of getting our mission accomplished. Right brainers and left brainers both have something to love about that.


Review posted March 1, 2018


There is a lot of good information in here - but I work at a very small nonprofit with less than 2 FTE in total staff and 7-8 board members. Much of this seems out of reach and unrealistic for us and our scale. I think there are some useful pieces and ideas we can draw from this but not all of it will apply to us.

Vivian Ang

Review posted December 29, 2017


This book gives specific information that helps us with sustainability. The suggestions are very helpful for leadership and for direction for the board of directors.


Review posted August 30, 2017


Our board has been looking for a way to evaluate our programs and services. This book describes a fairly simple way to determine the 'profitability' and impact of programs. In the next couple of months we will be building the Matrix Map for our organization. In addition to describing how to create a matrix map the book lists questions that should be asked of programs that are: Low impact, Low cost (profit); Low impact High cost; High impact, High cost; and my favorite High Impact and Low cost. I am enthusiastic to start this assessment project using this book!


Review posted June 28, 2017


Very helpful and interesting. Will make the reader think about their own organization and how to be more strategic in their decision making in the future.


Review posted March 27, 2017


An interesting approach to planning. If you have an organization that is running several programs, or even if you want to assess the effectiveness of events, this and the online tool is a great analytical approach. The tool is formidable and not simple to get the data into, but once you find the right person to help you, and are consistent with data entry, you will get very simple and clear data back to help make decisions. This isn't for everyone, and will result in some core discussions and decisions around mission and ROI. But if you need to decide what to continue, start and especially stop doing, this book will help you out.


Review posted January 27, 2017


It was a good base for making your nonprofit sustainable. Could use a little more in depth examples but overall it was interesting.


Review posted August 31, 2016


Does a good job making the connection between the mission and the finances. The matrix map tool is invaluable.


Review posted August 16, 2016


The Matrix Model in this book is an invaluable tool for organizations as they move through the transitions that are normal in the nonprofit world.


Review posted April 23, 2016


This book is very helpful for developing a shared language around financial viability. The blending of impact and profitability is a helpful frame, especially when members of a management team may come with more or less experience in the nonprofit sector. I also like that it addressed different levels of decision makers - executive directors, other directors, finance directors, etc. I found it so helpful that my colleagues on our organization's management team all ordered a copy so we can't have a shared framework.


Review posted March 10, 2016


I've enjoyed the book. It makes the process of thinking strategically easier and straightforward.


Review posted February 27, 2016


The matrix map analysis was a useful tool. Easy to ready and accessible!


Review posted January 6, 2016


"Nonprofit Sustainability" will challenge how you think about keeping your non-profit afloat. The book really digs into business models and processes and is fairly technical. It can be useful for non-profits of all sizes, but really seems to be geared for large, urban non-profits. I found a few gems in it for my small, rural non-profit, but I would not call it a 'must read.'


Review posted December 31, 2015


This is a clear easy-to-read resource for non-profit business planning. The matrix map provides a visual way to make decisions about sustainability -- excellent!


Review posted December 22, 2015


This book really does a great job of bringing a board up to speed on what information they need to make accurate course adjustments to Core programs. The ability this book gives board members to make decisions with accurate assessments related to not only finances but impact of programs is invaluable. Knowing what you don't know is the beginning of wise decision making.


Review posted December 17, 2015


I've recently become involved with a struggling nonprofit organization, and having read through this book, I think we now have an excellent roadmap to moving toward long-term sustainability. The clarity with which the tools are offered is much appreciated, and I'm looking forward to seeing them in action.


Review posted November 11, 2015


This book was so helpful for strategic planning. It was recommended at Main Street conference breakout session and was so glad as it is helping our non profit build a better foundation.


Review posted October 19, 2015


For those of us who sit on a board with a good heart and great intentions and yet know not a thing, this book gives in plain English a framework in which board members, regardless of role, can look at the organization's programs and finances together. It shows how to draw up an organizational "map" not just in terms of dollars and cents, but also in terms of program(s) impact. This then leads the organization leaders to be able to make decisions that more responsible and more realistic on the nonprofit's behalf. Did I mention it was in plain English?


Review posted June 10, 2015


Very helpful!


Review posted May 29, 2015


excellent information for beginners and seasoned non profit staff looking to increase knowledge


Review posted April 27, 2015


The authors stress throughout the book that nonprofits need to be profitable. While this may seem obvious, it is a concept not always used by organizations as they plan budgets and make financial projections. Without surplus operating funds it is impossible for an organization to deal with unexpected expenses, inflation, or a need to increase services. However, the best concept in the book is the use of easy to visualize graphics, which the authors call a matrix map, where impact and profitability are charted. The quadrants of the matrix map are practical and easy to work with; high impact/low profitability; high impact/high profitability; low impact/low profitability; low impact/high profitability. Applying a value scale for impact and profitability make it easy for a board to assess programs and services. This is really a book all finance managers should read and all board members.


Review posted April 15, 2015


This book offers an excellent overview to understanding the importance of integrating the philanthropic mission of the organization into the business aspect of running a nonprofit organization. It provides several practical tools for integrating mission and strategic business planning. Every nonprofit leader and board member should read this book, highlight it, and keep it on the resources bookshelf of the organization.


Review posted December 2, 2014


I recently went to a grant workshop where some of the financial strategies taught came straight out of this book. Especially important and helpful were the figures and notes related to strategic imperatives, with programs needing to make adjustments to their high impact/ low profitibility projects in order to sustain as a business and as an organization. Very good resource and the figures within the text that explain moving towards a new business model are excellent.