In Focus Resource Center > Insights

Sustainability at Not-for-Profit Organizations: Three Key Focus Areas

Not-for-profit organizations play a crucial role within society, serving many roles, whether being the voice for diverse groups, helping the poor and underprivileged, or leading the way for social change. They are and must remain an important part of our society. However, ensuring their long-term sustainability can be a daunting task. Not-for-profits often rely on funding from various sources, including constituents, grants, donations, and fundraising events. Unfortunately, interest in these can rise or fall depending on many circumstances. To maintain their impact and effectiveness, not-for-profits need to develop sustainable strategies that go beyond short-term funding cycles.

Not-for-profit sustainability requires a multi-faceted approach that encompasses the relevance or impact of its programs, effective governance, and financial stability, among other things. By focusing on these strategies, not-for-profits can strengthen their operations, adapt to evolving landscapes, and ensure their long-term viability in creating positive change in society.

1. Impact

Not-for-profits should continuously evaluate and measure their impact. Demonstrating the effectiveness of their programs and services is crucial to attract and retain donors, members, and other funders. By collecting and analyzing data on outcomes and impact, not-for-profits can identify areas for improvement and make evidence-based decisions. To be able to thrive and grow, a not-for-profit needs to maintain its relevance among its constituents and society.

2. Governance and stakeholder engagement

Strong leadership and governance structures are essential for long-term success. Not-for-profits should have a clear mission, strategic goals, and a well-defined organizational structure. It is important to assemble a diverse and skilled board of directors who can provide guidance, support, and oversight. Regular board evaluations and training can help ensure that the organization's leadership remains effective and accountable.

Not-for-profits must also focus on building strong relationships with their stakeholders. This includes members, donors, volunteers, community members, and partner organizations. By cultivating these relationships, not-for-profits can create a network of support and collaboration, further enhancing their sustainability. Regular communication, transparency, and recognition of stakeholders' contributions are essential in maintaining these relationships.

3. Financial stability and efficiency

Not-for-profits must carefully manage their finances and diversify their revenue streams. Relying solely on one source of funding can be risky, as changes in funding availability or donor priorities can significantly impact the organization's operations. Developing a diversified funding strategy that includes both public and private sources can provide stability and reduce reliance on a single funding stream.

Consideration of alternative revenue-generating activities to supplement funding, such as fee-for-service programs or partnerships with for-profit entities, may aid in generating new income and help the organization become less dependent on external funding sources.

Not-for-profits should also continue to invest in building their organizational capacity. This includes advancing staff development, technology, and infrastructure. A strong and skilled team is crucial to successfully implement programs and manage operations. Additionally, leveraging technology can streamline processes, improve efficiency, and enhance the organization's ability to collect and analyze data for better decision making.

How Citrin Cooperman can help

Citrin Cooperman’s Not-for-Profit Industry Practice professionals can assist in assessing and developing approaches to help strengthen operations, adapt to changing circumstances, and strategize for long-term viability. If you have any questions or would like further information about how our team can aid your organization, please contact your Citrin Cooperman advisor or John Eusanio at

Our specialists are here to help.

Get in touch with a specialist in your industry today. 

By your submission of information in this form, you are consenting to our collection, use, processing and storage of your information in accordance with Citrin Cooperman’s privacy policy. If you have questions regarding our use of your information, please send an e-mail to