Smart Stewardship for Nonprofits: Making the Right Decision in Good Times and Bad
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More About This Title Smart Stewardship for Nonprofits: Making the Right Decision in Good Times and Bad


A practical guide to effective decision-making frameworks and tools for nonprofits that ensure successful stewardship

The basic tenets of decision making for nonprofits are similar, whether you're growing, shrinking, or trying to think your way out of a box. Smart Stewardship for Nonprofits provides the tools to make the best stewardship decisions in these varied, but common, situations. Coverage includes the keys to smart stewardship for your nonprofit, the smart stewardship decision tree, understanding capability and capacity, making innovation the norm, understanding the true cost of growth, going to scale, and smart stewardship in bad times.

  • Features tools to make the best stewardship decisions in every kind of situation
  • Written for executive directors of nonprofit organizations, nonprofit board members, CPAs, and other financial counsel for nonprofits, development directors
  • Provides a website hosting a variety of online tools and materials
  • Also by Peter Brinckerhoff: Mission-Based Marketing, Mission-Based Management, Social Entrepreneurship, and Faith-Based Management

With innovative organizational change initiatives to foster new growth and effectiveness, Smart Stewardship for Nonprofits offers your nonprofit the critical guidance it needs to get there.


PETER BRINCKERHOFF is an internationally renowned trainer, author, and consultant to nonprofit organizations. He brings years of experience in the field to his work, as a former board member of local, state, and national not-for-profits, and through his work on staff and as executive director of two regional not-for-profits. Since founding his consulting firm, Corporate Alternatives, in 1982, Mr. Brinckerhoff has helped thousands of organizations become more mission-capable. He is the author of eight books on nonprofit management, including three that have won the Terry McAdam Book Award for Best Nonprofit Book of the Year. Mr. Brinckerhoff's titles include Mission-Based Management, Third Edition; Mission-Based Management Workbook, Second Edition; Social Entrepreneurship; and Faith-Based Management, all published by Wiley.


Acknowledgments xiii

CHAPTER 1Introduction 1

Overview 1

The Need for This Book 2

Who This Book Is Written For 4

The Benefits of Reading This Book 5

A Preview of the Book 6

Chapter 1: Introduction 6

Chapter 2: The Keys to Smart Stewardship for Your Nonprofit 7

Chapter 3: The Smart Stewardship Decision Tree 7

Chapter 4: Mission and Values 7

Chapter 5: Understanding Capability and Capacity 7

Chapter 6: Understanding the True Cost of Growth 7

Chapter 7: Innovation as the Norm 8

Chapter 8: Going to Scale 8

Chapter 9: Smart Stewardship in Difficult Times 8

Chapter 10: Final Words 8

Appendix: Tools and Resources 8

Our Three Case Organizations 9

Goodwill Industries of North Georgia (GING) 9

Lakeview Christian Church (Lakeview) 9

Peckham Industries (Peckham) 10

Recap 10

CHAPTER 2The Keys to Smart Stewardship for Your Nonprofit 13

Overview 13

It Always Starts with Your Mission 14

More Mission 15

Better Mission 15

More Effective Mission 16

More Efficient Mission 17

Your Mission Is, Far and Away, Your Most Valuable Asset 20

You’re a Smart Steward of Other People’s Stuff 20

Money Matters 21

Your Nonprofit Is Not a Charity. Your Nonprofit Is a Mission-based Business 21

Innovation Must Be Baked Into Your Culture 23

You Have to Engage Everyone 25

You Need a Common Strategy and Decision Process 26

Recap 27

CHAPTER 3The Smart Stewardship Decision Tree 29

Overview 29

Why Use a Decision Tree? 30

The Smart Stewardship Decision Tree 33

Question 1: Is This Choice Consistent with Our Mission, Values, and Strategies? 36

Question 2: Is It Something We Already Do Really Well? 38

Question 3: Do We Have the Capacity We Need? 39

Question 4: What about Money Matters? 40

Question 5: Can We Protect Our Existing Services’ Quality? 41

Question 6: Have We Done the Appropriate Business Analyses? 43

Question 7: Have We Consulted/Involved the Appropriate People? 44

Developing Your Own Decision Tree 45

Recap 48

CHAPTER 4Mission and Values 51

Overview 51

Your Mission: Your Most Valuable Asset 52

Get the Mission You Want 52

Use Your Most Valuable Asset 54

Values: How You Do Your Mission 56

Create and Sustain the Culture You Want 59

Create or Amend Your Values List Together 60

Make Your Values Analog, Not Digital 60

Talk about What Your Values Mean on the Ground 61

Proclaim Your Values 62

Welcome Values-Based Criticism 62

The Mission/Values Intersection 63

Peckham Values 63

Lakeview Values 64

Creating a Culture around Your Mission and Values 65

Recap 67

CHAPTER 5Understanding Capability and Capacity 71

Overview 71

Core Competencies: What Is Your Organization Really Good At? 72

Start with Data and Accreditation 75

Check with Your Customers 77

Finally, Take a Collaborative Vote 77

Choosing Core Competencies Going Forward 78

Story Telling 78

Embracing Technology 79

Capacity: Measuring Your Ability to Grow Your Mission 80

Are You Over Capacity Already? 82

Staff Satisfaction 82

Staff Turnover 82

Use of Sick Days 83

Use of Vacation Days 83

Remember: Cash Equals Oxygen 83

What about HR, IT, and Other Administrative Functions? 83

When Do You Add Capacity? 84

A Capacity Checklist before Growing 85

Recap 86

CHAPTER 6Understanding the True Cost of Growth 89

Overview 89

What Growth Does to an Organization 90

GING Growth 91

Peckham Growth 91

Lakeview Growth 92

How to Run Out of Cash 92

Predicting the Cash Cost of Growth 95

An Organic Growth Tool 96

How to Run Out of Quality 97

Is a No-Growth or Slow-Growth Policy Smart Stewardship? 99

On Going to Scale 100

Recap 102

CHAPTER 7Making Innovation the Norm 105

Overview 105

Why Does Innovation Seem So Hard? 106

Collaborative Innovation 108

Peckham Innovation 109

GING Innovation 110

Innovation Tools 114

Keep Minds Flexible 114

Book Clubs 115

Field Trips 115

Lead by Not Deciding 116

Listen for Partial Ideas 117

Ask the Ignorant 117

An Innovation/Problem-Solving Process 118

Baking Innovation into the Organization 119

Make Innovating and New Ideas as Safe as Possible 120

Embrace Innovations That Are Not Yours 121

Remember That Some Innovations Will Fail (and That’s Okay) 122

Celebrate the Attempts as Well as the Successes 122

Be Patient 122

Reward Carefully 123

Recap 123

CHAPTER 8Going to Scale 127

Overview 127

Can Your Mission-Provision Methods Be Duplicated? 129

The Truth about Models 131

What’s a Reasonable Growth Curve? 134

How Much Time, Talent, and Treasure Do You Want to Invest? 135

Time 136

Talent 136

Treasure 137

Does Your Market Really Want What You Have to Offer? 138

Models for Scaling 139

Lakeview Scaling 140

Going to Scale—A Checklist 140

Recap 141

CHAPTER 9Smart Stewardship in Difficult Times 145

Overview 145

In a Crisis, Start Here 146

Starting Questions 148

Strategic Issues/Actions 152

Tactical Issues/Actions 154

Inform Staff and Board Early and Often 156

Communicate, Communicate, and Communicate 158

Prepare for the Media 158

Leadership Issues 159

Am I Taking Care of the Leader? 159

Am I Putting Mission First? 159

Am I Leading Our Values from the Front? 160

Am I Asking the Hard Questions? 160

Do I Have All the Information I Can Get? 161

Am I Sharing Information Widely? 161

Am I Leading Optimistically? 161

Recap 162

CHAPTER 10 Final Words 165

Appendix 167

Books 167

Papers 168

Web Resources 168

Books by Peter Brinckerhoff 168

About the Author 169

Index 171