The Altruist Accelerator: an intensive 10-week organizational performance boot camp, followed by long-term mentorship and support, for a cohort of 10-20 nonprofit leadership teams who are ambitious to grow their impact.
Small to mid-sized nonprofits (startup to $10m annual revenue) with:
- high-potential programs;
- adaptive CEOs eager to learn new ways to capture growth and impact (read this about what it means to be an adaptive leader these days); and
- board members ready to participate and engage in the work.
The Altruist Accelerator engages participants, experts and mentors who are from and who serve marginalized communities. We are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
While there are hundreds of business accelerators nationally, few serve nonprofits, and we’ve found only one that does so exclusively (Fast Forward in CA, for tech-only nonprofit startups). This Nonprofit Accelerator represents what appears to be the first accelerator open to nonprofits of all missions and stages of growth, from those emerging from fiscal sponsorship to mature organizations looking to get to the next level.
All participants will enjoy an exhilarating and challenging exploration into what it really takes to achieve nonprofit impact and growth. We expect participants to rank this as one of their most valuable professional development experiences as they develop and apply a complete organizational management system tailored to their mission:
- an investment-grade organizational growth and impact plan;
- step-by-step, best-practice revenue strategy and execution pathway that covers the entire spectrum of nonprofit capital and revenue, from private gifts and grants to corporate grants and agency contracts to earned income and impact capital; and
- an executive dashboard with consolidated key performance indicators.
Along with learning how to develop these powerful tools, participants receive practical, concrete guidance around leadership, change management, governance, and organizational development to support the adoption and disciplined use of this management system.
Participants will capture the most benefit if they adopt this entire growth and impact platform as their central, permanent management architecture. It works best when all staff and board know it and use it. If the methodology has to compete with multiple other initiatives, efforts or change initiatives, the risk of failure (flat growth, no organizational change or improved impact) increases dramatically.
Organizations that can apply the methodology with fidelity can capture near-term benefits like improved fundraising, heightened morale, a more focused and engaged board, and better organization-wide teamwork in as little as 3-6 months.
Longer term, we expect participants to raise significantly more money from a range of sources; establish earned income streams or grow existing ones; achieve greater impact with a data-driven program performance management system; and ultimately achieve and sustain rapid annual growth (15-30%) in revenue and impact.
A critical success factor is long-term follow-up and support. While some participants may begin to realize accelerated growth and impact in as few as six months, others will need more time, so mentoring and measurement continues long term, along with access to field-leading nonprofit experts and social impact thought leaders and practitioners.
Each participating organization sends their CEO and board chair (or designated board representative). We also welcome each organization’s chief fundraising officer as an optional participant.
Ten weekly 3-hour seminars via zoom with sequential, step-by-step models and templates. Participants group in pairs for peer-level support and feedback. Expert guest speakers enrich the dialogue and contribute to a culture of direct, robust analysis and critique, delivered in a collegial, safe and supportive setting.
In the final session, participants will deliver final presentations that showcase goals and learning and invite feedback from expert panelists.
Longer term, expert volunteer mentors provide implementation support (on request as well as via regular check ins) and monitor organizational progress via dashboards.
The Altruist Accelerator is the independent nonprofit arm of Altruist Partners, a Seattle-based management consultancy, which has developed and deployed the system with over 100 nonprofits regionally, nationally, and globally since 2006. Accelerator mentors are leaders and executives from a diversity of successful backgrounds, all trained to support nonprofit growth and impact.
Weekly seminars are led by Altruist Partners Founder and CEO, Donald Summers. Working at the leading edge of social sector innovation since 2006, Donald has advised hundreds of nonprofit boards and executive teams across the US and around the world. His leadership and guidance have catalyzed some of the most exciting and important nonprofit success stories today. You can read his popular articles on BoardSource and the Stanford Social Innovation Review. (A broader selection of articles and white papers is available here.)
Guest presenters include the field-leading experts at Altruist; pre-eminent thought leaders and social impact experts; and, perhaps most importantly, CEOs, board members, and staff who have successfully adopted the methodology to drive unprecedented levels of growth and impact for their organizations.
Finally, cohort participants teach each other. As the saying goes, "if you really want to master something, teach it." Cohort participants support each other by critiquing and improving each other's progress, gaining invaluable perspective and mastery by seeing how the rigorous frameworks applies in other organizational contexts.
All course fees, materials, tools and templates, along with long-term mentorship and support, are covered by a 1-time enrollment fee of $4,950 per organization.
The time commitment is manageable but not insignificant: a weekly three-hour seminar will be accompanied by short articles and case studies and about an hour of preparation for the next week’s discussion.
Participation in the Accelerator requires that both the Executive Director and a member from the organization's board attend every seminar. Board awareness and adoption of the toolkit is a critical success factor -- and as they will discover, it will make their work as directors more enjoyable, efficient and effective. To make it easier for board engagement, multiple directors from each organization can rotate, reporting out on what they've learned to keep the other directors appraised and engaged.
All seminars are recorded and the curriculum and tools archived in an easy-to-use learning platform. Once the CEO and board have completed the accelerator, we encourage them to engage the remaining board and staff in the material. In fact, success demands this. Far more than the modest fees, the greatest cost of participating in the Altruist Accelerator is the attention, focus and diligence required to absorb and apply the Accelerator platform. As the other nonprofit executives who have adopted the methodology will tell you, the effort is very much worth it.
Not only is the Accelerator intellectually demanding, requiring participants to absorb and synthesize unfamiliar concepts, there is the additional challenge of applying the ideas to one's own organizational context, week by week. Support, comment and critique by staff, volunteers and other participants not only makes this all possible, it makes for a powerful community of mutual discovery and support. For nonprofit cohorts with participants working in the same or complimentary spaces, new and powerful partnerships will emerge.
Participants will capture the most benefit if they adopt the entirety of the Accelerator impact and growth platform. If the methodology has to compete as one of multiple initiatives, efforts or strategies, the risk of failure (flat growth, no organizational change) increases dramatically.
Participants who apply the methodology with fidelity can capture benefits like improved fundraising, a more focused and engaged board, and better organization-wide teamwork in as little as 3-6 months. Longer term, we expect participants to raise significantly more money from a range of sources; establish earned income streams or grow existing ones; focus and deepen program outcomes; and ultimately achieve and sustain rapid annual growth (15-30%) in revenue and impact.
A critical success factor is long-term follow-up and support. While some participants may begin to realize accelerated growth and impact in as few as six months, others will need more time, so mentoring and measurement continues year after year.
The Altruist Nonprofit Accelerator seeks to dramatically expand the number of nonprofits that can learn and use the most sophisticated, effective growth and impact strategies and tools available. Learning and applying this methodology is hard work, however, so organizational leaders need to be ready for an adaptive journey.
We will carefully review our applications and admit only those organizations showing potential for impact growth and readiness for the journey. The application process for each cohort will be competitive.
What does the admissions committee look for?
- Is the applicant organization attempting to solve an urgent problem? Is there potential to do more than take on just a small part of the problem?
- Is there encouraging evidence that the organization delivers outcomes (program results), not just outputs (program activity)?
- Is the CEO committed to adaptive leadership?
- Is the organization as a whole hungry to make the world a better place and is willing to step outside its comfort zone to explore new ways of delivering impact?
- Are the CEO and board members committed to attending every meeting prepared, to doing the reading, to completing the assignments, and to supporting other cohort members in a collegial and collaborative atmosphere?