Scaling Up Nonprofit Capacity by Putting the Tools into the Hands of the Stakeholders
THESIS ABSTRACT UpScale’s pilot program was conceived in Spring 2018 to address the capacity-building issues of small arts-based nonprofits addressing social and cultural equality. Founded by creative visionaries, these organizations are passionate yet practical, small yet stable, with budgets under $250,000. These types of organizations face significant capacity growth challenges, as do the subjects of the pilot program, Cinema Tropical and IMPACT Repertory Theatre. My selection criteria included my ability to work on solutions from within as a stakeholder, and that the shared capacity issues and solutions should be universal enough to apply to similar organizations. The main inquiry of this thesis is: How to take the next step in capacity building and in what areas to concentrate. Additional questions I identified around this issue included: Is creating a home base space, and undertaking a capital campaign a priority? Will adding new board members solve board stagnation problems? Are their missions driving their programming and is their marketing in step? I identified governance, space and narrative as the components addressing these questions. The UpScale pilot program named, examined and addressed these issues through internal solutions created with the organizations’ key stakeholders: founder, director, board and staff. UpScale found success in its first phase based on positive results from the two participating organizations. In addressing the issues of governance, space and narrative, the stakeholders were open to dialoguing and creating new solutions. During this process, the need for cost-effective CRM tools and platforms emerged repeatedly, reinforcing that economies of scale could address this lack. UpScale’s second stage will be the development of a nonprofit ecosystem, which will allow participating organizations to take advantage of economies of scale as members solve their ‘Jobs to Be Done’.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Arts degree to the Gallatin School of Individualized Study New York University - May 7, 2019