When developing a strategic plan for a nonprofit organization, it is difficult to maintain a balance between internal efforts and external outreach. A model that may help organizations visualize these parallel functions is that of a bicycle.

The model was developed for community foundations – thus the dichotomy between creating impact and building assets – but the principle can be adapted for all types of organizations. The orange spokes represent a proactive or strategic approach while the blue wheels represent responsive and transactional functions. Organizations need to determine the proportionality of each in order to keep their “bicycle” moving. A key component also involves recognizing the frame of the bicycle – noting that for any functions to occur, leadership must be developed and supported.

You can utilize the bicycle model with your organization to assess whether your strategies are achieving the impact that you desire, whether they are building the internal “assets” of the group at a proportionate rate, as well as whether you have the leadership infrastructure that is necessary.

Does your organization temporarily need training wheels or are you positioned for a smooth ride?


Source: Jason Neises, Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque’s Nonprofit Strength Builder Workshop, April 2, 2019

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