Below are sample case studies of few of our engagements :
1. Strategic Planning
Our client is a $0.5 Mil non-profit organization that provides camping experiences for underprivileged youth in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Our client was at an organizational crossroads. The President of the organization was in the process of retiring and the board of directors was aging. Moreover, the client recognized its need to improve governance and decision-making in addition to better financial planning and controls. Revenue generation was also a major issue as the organization was dependent on a single Bingo game for all of its income. The client sought help from CLASS to create a strategic roadmap that would allow it to transition its leadership while becoming a more professional and sustainable organization.
The CLASS project team conducted a full internal and external analysis. This included a capacity assessment survey, interviews with key stakeholders, competitive analysis, financial modeling, and a final SWOT analysis. From this analysis, The team defined goals and objectives for the next three years based on this analysis. Strategic action plans were then developed along with identifying and defining key metrics for success.
Human Resource Planning
- Outlined options and created a blueprint for hiring a full-time executive director. Trade-offs and estimated compensation for each option were provided.
- Developed a plan for tapping into the local community to harness/ recruit volunteers to address specific needs.
- Recommended a by-law review to modernize governance and set the stage for leadership transition
- Provided by-law template
- Uncovered and justified the need for annual and long-term budget planning via a board sub-committee
- Revenue Diversification
- Studied the opportunity for creating a sustainable private party rental revenue stream.
- Pointed out potential fundraising opportunities
- Defined techniques for spreading organizational awareness in the local community as a means of increasing private rentals
- Addressed need to improve visibility within the greater Optimist club network
- Created a plan for a website re-design
Metrics for Success
- Created a scorecard to track progress against goals
The CLASS recommendations clearly established realistic goals consistent with the client’s mission and within the organization’s capacity for implementation in a defined time frame. Through communicating those goals and objectives to the organization’s constituents, it will help align key stakeholders on the same page. The proposed marketing plan will help position the client’s brand in its competitive landscape. Human and financial resource planning will ensure the most effective use by focusing on the key priorities of the organization. The performance metrics provides a baseline from which progress can be tracked and measured. It will establish a mechanism for informed changes or adjustments whenever necessary.
2. Marketing Strategy
Our client is a foster and adoption services agency founded in 1996. It provides adoption, community training, parent advocacy, and behavioural health services to children and families at risk or involved with the foster care system.
The client’s mission is to empower children and families to develop the insights, life skills, and permanent relationships that promote their social, emotional, educational and economic well- being.
The client has approached CLASS looking for help in developing a marketing plan to support the long goals of the organization as well as providing specific marketing approaches for the upcoming gala event.
The client faced two major challenges that it hoped CLASS can help find solutions to:
- Limitations in availability and diversity of funding – The client’s revenue stream was dominated by government funding. This exposes the organization to significant financial risk in case of a cut in the government grant.
- Weak marketing infrastructure – The client did not have a marketing plan in place to support its fundraising and donor development initiatives.
The CLASS project team has worked closely with the client's leadership team to understand the key organizational requirements and the progress of various marketing initiatives undertaken, and to develop a detailed marketing plan. Data was gathered through a number of primary and secondary research sources spanning competitor websites, research journals, articles and media websites.
Our team has performed an in-depth analysis on the external and internal factors influencing the client’s environment to assess its existing situation and provide solutions to meet its goals and objectives:
Our analysis began by identifying various external Political, Economic, Social, Technological factors that may affect our client’s ability to achieve its mission and marketing goals. We then analyzed the marketing tactics employed by the client’s five key competitors to identify the areas of improvement in comparison with its competition. Evaluating various motivations, preferences, and requirements of the client’s three key stakeholders (Corporate donors, Individual donors, and social service agencies / volunteers / general public) revealed that the client needed to develop strategies specific to the various stakeholder groups rather than a blanket strategy with a single solution. Analysis on the various media channels used by most non- profits to promote their cause and reach out their target audience clearly shows that the growing importance of Website and Social Media over blogging, email marketing, and other traditional media such as newspaper. This leads to our conclusion that our client should primarily focus on leveraging various online and social media channels for enhancing the brand recognition by its donors, establishing creditability, and improving transparency with its target audiences. As a result of the various strategic analyses, we were able to identify the Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat of our client. Our findings provided a strategic direction for the development of a comprehensive marketing plan.
After evaluating the needs of the client, our team identified the areas where our solutions can best help. We clarified the client’s key marketing goals and designed a detailed marketing plan to help the organization in achieving its long term and short term marketing goals. Our team identified the target audience categories through stakeholders’ analysis and developed customized marketing strategies and tactics to reach the audiences. Tailored marketing initiatives were also recommended for the client’s upcoming gala event. Key performance indicators were outlined to monitor the effectiveness of marketing efforts and scorecard was developed to compare performances.
To supplement the client’s marketing plan, our team devised a detailed social media strategy. We identified the appropriate social media platforms for the client and benchmarked the best practices for effective Social Media marketing. At last, we recommended detailed Facebook marketing tactics to promote the client’s major annual events.
The client’s leadership team was very satisfied with the strategies and tools recommended by the CLASS project team and strongly believed they would be very useful in creating impact on its organization.
Our impact assessment survey indicates that the client has implemented 50% of the proposed solutions as of March 2016, including Marketing Plan and Website and Social Media Strategy. The client is working towards completing it within the next 6 – 9 months.
CLASS marketing solutions have helped the client attract over 30% more corporate and individual donors and over 20% more volunteers. The client has implemented the new campaign strategy recommended by CLASS for its two recent gala events and it was proven effective!
The client has added two new social media platforms as per our suggestions. Traffic to its website and social media pages have increased by 26-50%, so as the number of new supporters/donors. The client found Facebook was most effective in achieving its marketing goals.
3. Organizational Development
The client was founded in 1996 as a Foster Family Program. Since then, it has grown into a comprehensive foster care and adoption services agency, providing adoption, community training, parent advocacy, and behavioral health services to children and families at risk or involved with the foster care system. Their mission is to empower children and families to develop the insights, life skills, and permanent relationships that promote their social, emotional, educational, and economic well-being.
Our client was looking for ways to have a more structured and stronger organization. As the organization is growing and evolving throughout its start-up phase, the organization has become more interested in fulfilling some of its basic functional needs. Some of these needs include establishing a board of directors who clearly understand their responsibilities as well as ensuring continued success with the programs and activities the client organizes each year.
In order to identify the client’s critical challenges and their most needed areas in further development, the CLASS team has started the project by conducting a thorough need assessment analysis, followed by several informational/planning meetings with the client. The meetings focused on some key areas where the client requires guidance. These areas are: 1. Defining the client’s organizational structure. 2. Identifying and building a board of directors. 3. Setting attainable objectives and goals for its members.
Based on the needs and challenges faced by the organization, The CLASS project team provide recommendations in the following three areas:
Key area 1:
Designing the organizational hierarchy with detailed job descriptions, responsibilities, and qualifications for members of the board and executive director
Key area 2:
- Developing plan of action for the client’s programs - setting long term goals and objectives for activities and template that will lead to improvements related to the volunteers and clients
- SMART objectives (Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound), process flow, and guidelines for creating a plan of action
Key Area 3:
- Designing performance assessment system for board that assess its performance and achievements as a team and individually and will increase mutual understanding, trust, and communications among the board members
- The assessment system includes board member performance evaluation template, evaluation rating system, tips for best practices, and most frequently used terms for evaluation forms
With the tools and guidelines developed by the CLASS team, the client can create a proper organizational structure, which will help increase their overall productivity and build improved relationships within the organization as well as with their clients.
Our guidelines for creating a plan of action will help the client focus on achieving their SMART objectives, ensuring program success, and continuing to meet both the client and community needs. The objectives are the measureable steps that can help board members achieve their annual goals.
The evaluation form for board members provides a simple, yet insightful method to evaluate and motivate members of the organization. It showcases their current achievements and future goals. Our assessment tool and guideline can provide the board with a chance to reflect on and evaluate its areas of strength and weakness and an invaluable yardstick to prioritize its future activities. Such a review can optimally result in all directors contributing to setting goals of the board. This is a good foundation on which to build positive change. The commitment to the board's priorities and to improving board effectiveness makes those goals more likely to be completed.
Our recommendations for properly implementing the CLASS solutions will help the board avoid some of the common pitfalls in execution, ensure successful completion of the solutions, and improve the client’s other areas of interest down the road such as fundraising, community outreach, and partnerships within the community.
4. Financial Strategy
Our non-profit client was founded in 1989 to help underserved elementary and middle school youth to realize their dreams through academic achievement by providing mentorship and positive role models. Through their partnership with 65 schools [as at February, 2011) with a base of more than 100 volunteers, the organization reached out to 5500 youth in Santa Clara County, to teach them character development, goal setting and career exploration.
The client's operating cost is covered by its donation income. Donations to the client come in several forms: grants (corporate & foundations), events fundraising and donations from corporate and individuals. Key challenges the client faces include:
- Significant drop in donations revenue: Its key source of donation in the past had been from the real estate developers. The organization had seen a huge significant drop in donations revenue due to the recent economic downturn. Response to its fundraising events, mainly golf and poker, had also seen significant decrease in the last 2 years.
- Unable to keep up with expenses: Due to limited donations in the past 2 years, the client has been unable to keep up with its expenses. The organization has tried to close this gap through credit card debt, emergency loans and delayed payment to a major vendor for its fundraising event.
- Slow reaction to budgeting & planning: The slow reaction to impending budget issues and limited resource planning resulted in a drop in its reserves from $60k to $10k in addition to the debt accumulation.
The CLASS project team divided the tasks related to this project into 3 milestones:
- Collection of data and requirements
- Analysis of the client’s accounting systems, priorities, and interviews
- Financial KPIs
- Base version financial model
- Financial Planning Tools (P&L, Budget and financial parameters)
- Various strategic scenarios analysis & recommendations
- Valuation Analysis*
The primary and immediate need of the organization is to have a better view of its financial situation and better control of its finances through cash flow management, in addition to valuation analysis to supplement its discussions with potential partner organizations.
The CLASS solution provides the financial framework which includes the following areas:
- Better understanding of cyclical revenue streams and ongoing cash flow requirements to support the strategic plan
- A 5yr P&L and Budget statements to provides a clear picture of the financial situation
- Debt restructuring strategies and timelines for the same which helps build reserves back to target levels
- Key performance indicators identified to help monitor performance
- A 4-metric social value assessment system to assist with the valuations
The financial models and debt restructuring strategies provide our client a better view of its financial situation and the cash flow needs in future. The increased visibility trigger preventive actions in managing financial and human resources, resulting better control on finances. The organization has a list of KPI’s in place to monitor its performance. It is also equipped with tools that convey the social value it adds to the society.
As of November 2011, the client had announced to go into a partnership with another non-profit organization and receive their support for their Role Model program which helped reduce their operational costs while increasing the outreach through the partner’s network.