Organizational Development

Running a nonprofit organization can feel a lot like a circus – leaders are called upon to juggle multiple roles, requiring expertise on all aspects of the organization. Nonprofit managers set the strategic direction of the organization (with the Board), manage staff, direct programs, develop budgets, oversee finances, communicate with the public, and raise funds. Strong nonprofit leaders recognize that they can’t do all of these things on their own, and must share the responsibilities of running the organization with competent boards, advisory committees, staff, consultants or pro-bono advisors, and volunteers.

Nonprofit leaders have suggested some of the following tips to maintaining sanity in the midst of juggling roles:*

  • Identify where you need training and take the time to learn;
  • Reach out to other nonprofit leaders for advice and direction;
  • Find a trusted confidant to talk with when things get rough;
  • Develop a strong working relationship with your Board and specifically your Board chair.

*Tips were shared during nonprofit capacity building ‘community conversations’ held in 2019-2020. To learn more about these conversations, go HERE.

Extension Dane County’s capacity building work with nonprofit organizations includes the following initiatives:

Nonprofit Peer Learning Program: This training program brings together nonprofit leaders to learn from each other. We cover specific aspects of building and running a nonprofit organization, including leadership and community culture; developing a communications plan; fundraising; sustainability; and governance. In 2022, we will offer this training program as a series of month-long workshops, with sessions held weekly (4-5 weeks for each topic).

Non-profit Connect.  Extension Dane County’s Community Development Program puts out semi-regular (~Quarterly) e-newsletters with information on training programs, grants, and resources for nonprofit organizations. Please contact Sharon Lezberg at if you would like to be added to the mailing list.

Facilitation of Planning Processes: Planning is an important tool to guide operations, direction setting and program implementation. Planning processes vary according to purpose; each of the following processes sets a foundation for the work that needs be done:

  • long-range planning (looking at data and trends to anticipate needs in the future);
  • operational planning (day to day functioning);
  • project planning (identifying the outcome and targets for a project or initiative, and coordinating the scope and schedule);
  • strategic planning (Identifying goals and strategies for a defined period of time, setting a strategic direction to meet the organization’s goals);
  • communications planning;
  • fund development planning.

Please contact Sharon Lezberg at to discuss facilitation of planning processes including strategic planning,  strategic visioning, annual action planning, or building a project/program collaboration.

Board DevelopmentThe Board of Directors sets the tone and direction of an organization.  Effective board leadership and governance helps ensure that a nonprofit can operate to its fullest capacity. Creating an effective board is a continual process that includes recruitment, engagement and development. Follow this link to find select resources regarding Nonprofit Boards of Directors.