November 2019
July 2020
Bryan Orander, President, Charitable Advisors
Should we close that program? 
When talking to nonprofit leaders across our community, I often hear about tough conversations taking place in virtual and in-person staff and board meetings. During financial downturns, discussions of closings and mergers are not unusual for struggling organizations. However, they also provide an impetus for organizations to review and consider whether their current mix of programs is still appropriate.

How do you decide?

When evaluating programs, we often focus on fulfilling funder requirements and whether a given program is working. In the book Wisdom at the Top , D aniel L. Lombardo, President/CEO of Volunteers of America Delaware Valley, Inc., said “The toughest thing in the world is to close programs and services, but sometimes you have no other choice. When the rug is pulled out from underneath you or funding priorities change, what can you do?”

For some nonprofit programs, like employment services or job training, there is a tangible outcome. For others, like mentoring, it is much easier to measure activity with a presumption of longer-term impact.

But the decision to discontinue a program is much more complicated than determining whether it is producing good results. Even the mere mention of closing a program can set off emotional reactions from multiple stakeholders. Your team needs to be as objective as possible when considering which programs make sense and which do not. And keep in mind that even if your organization decides to discontinue a program, you may look to another organization to serve your clients and even hire your staff.

The McMillan Matrix
My favorite tool to provide a systematic approach to this program review is the McMillan Matrix, developed by Ian McMillian from the Wharton School of Business. Its process forces you to ask tough questions about each of your programs and to weigh their value and fit for your mission.

  • Fit: Fit is the degree to which a program "belongs" or fits with your mission, staffing, operations and the other programs you provide.  

  • Financial attractiveness: Ability to fund? Ability to deliver cost effectively. Whether it feeds other programs.

  • Alternative coverage: Where else could our clients receive similar support/services? How many other providers exist in the environment? If other providers offer comprehensive support in a certain area, keep in mind that your clients can still be served even if your organization decides to discontinue a program.

  • Competitive position: Is your organization objectively better at providing this service? Are we the best known? Are we the dominant provider by market share?

Have senior staff and board members discuss and rate each program, then place them in the MacMillan matrix for further discussion. Here is a great article that uses the McMillan Matrix concepts as part of a program-planning decision tree

To further support your exploration, I recorded this short video that further explains what the McMillan Matrix can look like in practice.   Watch video

To explore how you might apply this tool to your organization, contact me at or 317-752-7153

Bryan Orander, President                    
Great Board Member Education Tools 
Foellinger Foundation Videos

I have been a huge fan of the team at Foellinger Foundation in Fort Wayne for many years. In their typical thoughtful and forward-looking style, they pulled together a series of timely, high-quality video presentations by top experts in their fields.

June 22: Primed to Perform: The Basics of Serving on a Nonprofit Board – great overview through a legal lens by Ryan Waggoner of Ice Miller LLP

June 12: T he Survivability Series: Great insights with an introduction to the Sustainability Matrix with Steve Zimmerman

June 3: Hang on, Merge or Close: Considerations when facing some tough choices with Bob Harrington, MSW of LaPiana and Associates.

Charitable Advisors upcoming workshop

Turning fundraising data into meaningful, actionable information webinar on July 17 from 8:30 -10:00 a.m.  Strengthen your fundraising efforts. Charitable Advisors’ fundraising leader T.J. McGovern will share the Fundraising Report Card™ concept. Free. Register

We want to recognize board leaders
For most board members, board leadership roles come with a commitment and investment of time and resources to support a cause they care about. However, for the individual who steps up to serve as board president or chair, the role comes with the assumption of overall responsibility for the nonprofit and guiding the organization’s path forward.  

As we continue to share news of board leaders who have taken the helm, we encourage you to recognize and thank these individual for tackling the role, because as a community member you recognize the value of his or her investment to help keep the sector strong.  

If you want to announce your organization’s new board leader, please send name, position and a head shot HERE.

We are open to other ways we can support and recognize board leaders. Send us your thoughts or tell us a story about a board leader who has made a difference in your organization. Share your ideas with Bryan Orander , president.

State Representative , HD 98
Barbara Sacha

Labor relations manager,  ArcelorMitta

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