Nonprofit FAQs

The Compass Process

How do I know if I need a Compass Project? How can Compass help my organization fulfill its mission?

Read below for general information. For details about the application process and eligibility requirements in your city, click on the following links: Chicago, Greater Philadelphia, and Greater Washington.

What does the application process look like?

The Classic Project application opens each year in late spring. During the summer, we interview the Executive Director and the Board Chair of each nonprofit applicant. Clients are selected in August, and the projects begin in September. We also offer Micro Projects in Greater Washington and Philadelphia by invitation only. Micro Projects begin in January.

What are the requirements of Compass nonprofit clients?

Compass asks clients to sign an Engagement Letter, provide organizational documents for their team, attend two events in the fall: Client Orientation and Project Launch, complete a Mid-Project and End-of-Project survey, and attend the Volunteer Celebration in May. Clients must be accessible to their volunteer teams throughout their project.

Can former Compass clients apply for an additional project?

Yes, many past clients do apply for additional projects. However, most clients benefit from taking at least one year off between projects.

Selecting a Service Line

Is a Decision Support Project right for me?

What to consider:

  • Do I expect to make significant decisions and trade-offs over the next 12 months in response to the COVID-19 crisis?
  • Are the decisions likely to impact more than one area of my organization, e.g., funding, staffing, and programs?
  • Could I use additional information, analysis, and tools to make informed decisions in these areas?
  • Will I likely be ready to begin exploring and evaluating new opportunities post-COVID-19?
  • Can I use assistance creating a plan for communicating decisions?
  • Can I use assistance for planning for recovery and rebuilding?

Is a Board Development project right for me?

What to consider:

  • How active and engaged is your board?
  • Do you need more diversity on your board (e.g. ethnicity, gender, age, and tenure)?
  • Do board members understand their role in fundraising?
  • Do you have updated bylaws? Do you use board committees effectively?
  • Do you have term limits and a board leadership succession plan?
  • Does the board evaluate itself? Does the board evaluate the Executive Director?

Is a Funding Strategy project right for me?

What to consider:

  • Are you overly reliant on one source of funding?
  • Is there any risk to your primary revenue stream(s)?
  • Are you considering launching an earned income venture?
  • Do you see an opportunity to cultivate new individual donors or major donors?
  • Would you like to diversify your donors?
  • Do you use social media effectively?
  • Are you effectively communicating your impact externally?
  • Do you have a current strategic plan?

Is a Strategic Alignment project right for me?

What to consider:

  • Do your programs support your organization’s mission?
  • Are your organization’s resources (i.e. people, processes, and technology) aligned appropriately across your programs?
  • Do your resources support the programs that most fulfill your mission?
  • Are you considering launching a new program or expanding services?
  • Do you have a process for evaluating new program opportunities?

Is a Partnerships, Collaborations & Mergers project right for me?

What to consider:

  • Would you like to collaborate with other local nonprofits to accomplish shared goals?
  • Do you have a specific nonprofit(s) in mind as a potential partner? If so, would you like to explore the opportunities to work with that organization?
  • Are your funders asking you to find ways to collaborate with other nonprofits?

Is a Strategic Marketing project right for me?

What to consider:

  • Do you want to understand the opportunities to expand existing programs into new markets or deeper into existing markets?
  • Do you want to understand the opportunities to launch new programs into existing markets or new markets?
  • Is there an opportunity to strengthen your positioning in the market so your programs and services are clearly differentiated?
  • Do you have a strategic marketing plan in place?

Is a Strategic Technology project right for me?

What to consider:

  • Do your organization’s resources (i.e., people, processes, and technology) support the programs that most fulfill your mission?
  • Do you believe that better leveraging technology is critical to reaching your organization’s short and long-term goals?
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“As a nonprofit with very little access to funds for high-quality consulting, SEAMAAC could not have asked for a more stellar team than the one that Compass assigned to us. It would have taken us months to put a team like this together even if we had the funds to pay. The Compass Project may be potentially the most impactful project I have had in my 13 years as CEO.”