The Nonprofit Life Stage Assessment is
a tool for determining what stage your organization is
in. (This tool is also included in the book, The
Five Life Stages of Nonprofit Organizations. It
may also be purchased
separately.) The tool helps you understand your organizations
strengths and weaknesses with respect to its particular
stage of development. It will help your organization
plan for future needs, make decisions proactively, anticipate
challenges, and determine what adjustments might be appropriate.
Additionally, knowledge about the stage your organization
is in will help you realize that some of the challenges
your organization is experiencing are normal.
Organizations may find the tool especially
helpful in the following situations:
Prior to embarking on a strategic planning process.
During times of high stress or challenge for the organization.
When engaging an organization development consultant.
Prior to an executive search.
As pre-work, discussion fodder, or action learning
tool at a board or staff retreat.
You can use the results of the assessment
on several different levels. On one level, your responses
to the assessment tool will place your organization in
a Home Stage that shows your overall location
within the model. On another level, it shows your organizations
strengths and weaknesses relative to its developmental
stage. On yet another level it can be used to compare
your organization against generally recognized practices
for high functioning nonprofit organizations.
While you will have a Home Stage that represents
the current functioning level of your organization, your
organization will also have elements of all four other
stages. As mentioned in the beginning of this book, it
is possible that your organization as a whole might generally
be in one Home Stage, but certain programs or arenas
might be in a different stage. As your Home Stage progresses
from Stage One to Stage Five over time, you must acknowledge
and pass through the previous developmental stages. The
knowledge, experience, and information gained at each
stage are needed to progress to the next stage.
The authors designed this tool:
1) to provide insights on the stages of development
of nonprofit organizations,
2) as a tool for executive directors, boards of directors,
and consultants who want to help nonprofit organizations
grow and develop,
3) as a discussion tool between boards of directors
and employees and
4) to provide benchmarks against which nonprofit organizations
can gauge themselves.
There are three ways to administer the assessment.
It can be used with an individual in a leadership role
in the organization such as the Executive Director or
Board Chair, and the results discussed with a knowledgeable
third party such as an organizational consultant. Alternatively,
copies can be distributed to a number of members of the
organization, and the results can be collated and presented
to interested parties such as the Board of Directors
or key staff. The tool can also be administered in a
group session, with a collective score for each statement.
All statements should be answered. We recognize there
is repetition of some concepts, however the individual
questions have different phrasing. This repetition is
important to determining the developmental stage of the
organization. We do not recommend answering only selected
statements within an arena or stage, as the results will