Nonprofit FAQs

The Compass Process

What is Compass?

We’re a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and our mission is to forge lasting ties between local nonprofits and local business professionals to empower thriving, equitable, resilient communities.

Our flagship programs include pro bono consulting for nonprofits, board matching, the Sorkin Summit annual conference, and low bono strategic planning.

For details in your city, click on the following: Chicago, Greater Philadelphia, Greater Washington, Minneapolis-St. Paul.

What is a Service Line?

Compass offers projects in different “Service Lines,” or topics. In the nonprofit application, nonprofits are prompted to select one service line for their project. We welcome the opportunity to discuss and help you select the most impactful service line for your project. Click on your Compass city to learn more and view the available service lines: Chicago, Greater Philadelphia, Greater Washington.

What are the requirements of Compass nonprofit clients?

Classic & Micro Projects – Clients are required to sign a Compass Engagement Letter, provide organizational documents for their team, attend a Client Orientation, complete our 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.

On Demand Projects – Clients are required to provide any necessary organizational documents to their volunteer, and to complete Compass’ End-of-Project survey. Clients must be accessible to their volunteer throughout the engagement.

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 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 Decision Support Project right for me?

What to consider:

  • Do I expect to make significant decisions and trade-offs over the next 12 months?
  • 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 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)?
  • 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 New Ventures project right for me?

What to consider:

  • Do you have an idea in mind for a new program or a new earned income venture and need support evaluating the feasibility of it?
  • Do you have an idea that you would like to take to a funder but need a business plan or feasibility documentation to support your idea?

Is a Strategic Alignment project right for me?

What to consider:

  • Do your programs support your organization’s mission?
  • Are you in the early stages of formulating a new strategic plan?
  • 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?
  • 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 marketing strategies required 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?

“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.”