Nonprofit Case Study


“TreePeople has a proven, established history of success, but we’re currently facing a crisis and an imperative to rapidly change our environment for the future. Through this planning process, we have developed agreement over what TreePeople has to do, clarity on how to meet this challenge, and specific strategies tied to financial requirements. All this, so that we can do what we think is necessary to create a tipping point to drive transformational change in Greater LA.”
- Andy Lipkis, founder

The Need

TreePeople is an environmental nonprofit that unites the power of trees, people and technology to grow a sustainable future for Los Angeles. Armed with an inspirational leader, environmentally-imperative ambitions, and a passionate and committed team, TreePeople had all of the elements necessary for its work. But what TreePeople itself needed was the ability to articulate its collective vision for the future, and to ensure that its strategy, priorities, and resources all aligned towards accomplishing this vision. TreePeople sought support to develop its organizational vision through engagement of a broad range of internal stakeholders, from Board members to program staff.

The Support

To support this endeavor, TreePeople took a phased approach, beginning with organizational visioning. Working directly with a Taskforce comprised of board and staff leaders, we helped TreePeople articulate a specific measurable definition of success and the organizational strategies to deliver this vision. With this vision for impact and growth strategy, we began an initial performance dashboard to set targets and track its impact.

To ensure TreePeople’s vision and strategy was grounded in realistic financial assumptions and sustainable projections, we then worked with TreePeople to develop a pro forma financial tool. The tool helped to illustrate the effects of various strategic decisions, highlighting critical tradeoffs and made clear which programmatic strategy would enable TreePeople to achieve its desired impact – defining such things as programming mix, investment needs, programmatic cost drivers, and cost savings over time. The pro forma was also built as a means of linking resources to outcomes. The final result from these strategic planning activities was a multi-year growth plan detailing how the organization will scale and deliver its vision for impact.

The Impact

Through our support, TreePeople was able to engage all of its internal stakeholders in gaining clarity and ownership over its strategic direction, while grounding the process in its real, everyday work. The planning process facilitated organizational buy-in across board and staff, creating unified understanding and agreement over how to define TreePeople’s impact and exactly what it takes to realistically accomplish it. Furthermore, this process built organizational strength and confidence for taking on its audacious, yet tangible and achievable, goal, thus creating a lasting cultural shift within the organization around achieving impact.


Photo credit: David Cassell

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