Sustainability…More than $$$

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 10.09.04 AM In September 2014, authors Zimmerman and Bell brought us, ‘The Sustainability Mindset’ in which they introduce their decision-making tool called, the Matrix Map. The tool helps non-profits explore their sustainability by acknowledging the interrelated and codependent nature of financial and programmatic circumstances. It’s quite common for nonprofits to focus mainly on their financial abilities to generate needed resources with less attention paid to program details and life cycles. This deep connectedness helps organizations to embrace the value of impact and not simply depending on the financial strength to pull them through hard times. Authors Bell and Zimmerman remind readers that sustainability is not a destination but an more an “orientation” or “way of being”. The model employs conversations as a tool to encourage open dialogue as the base to create the needed discussion concerning the program and financial impacts. The Matrix Map challenges Leadership and Staff to explore the financial and programmatic components that are working and not working by asking difficult questions to develop an understanding of the value contributed to the overall organizational system. Question such as: how effective is our revenue generating? Is the program worth our effort? How much does it really cost us? Is the funding appropriate for our needs and aligned with our values? Should we shut down the program and put our efforts somewhere more practical? The Matrix Map— Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 9.16.53 AM For a copy of the Sustainability Mindset Workbook Nonprofit Quarterly Listen to interview with Bell & Zimmerman  or read the Nonprofit Assistance Fund article,”Balancing the Mission Checkbook.


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