NLC Nonprofit Sustainability Cohort



While ongoing sustainability remains a challenge for many nonprofits, the solution lies not in a silver bullet answer to “solve” the challenge, but rather in creating a collective culture where stakeholders can come together with a shared understanding of the organization’s business model and make strategic decisions to deliver exceptional impact in a financially viable manner.

Thanks to a generous sponsorship by JP Morgan Chase & Co., the Nonprofit Leadership Center has, for a second year, contracted sustainability thought leader and author Steve Zimmerman of Spectrum Nonprofit Services to lead a limited cohort of 10 Tampa Bay nonprofits through a 6-month, experiential learning series with a value of $5,000 per team to create an action plan to strengthen each nonprofit’s sustainability. They will be the 2019 Nonprofit Sustainability Cohort.


Through a series of in-person and virtual sessions with this nationally recognized expert, the 10 chosen leadership teams in the cohort will create a Matrix Map—a visual depiction of the nonprofit’s business model showing how each activity of the organization contributes to the overall impact and financial bottom line.


As a result of their participation in the Nonprofit Sustainability Cohort program, these leaders will:

  • Articulate an intended impact for the organization—a specific statement around what the organization aims to accomplish and how it will measure progress;
  • Determine the net profitability of each strategy or activity of the organization by first understanding the total true cost of each activity; and
  • Assess the mission impact of each strategy or activity showing how it contributes to the intended impact and whether it would be considered one of the nonprofit’s core competencies.

The entire cost of each organization's participation in this intensive, invitation-only program has been generously underwritten by JPMorgan Chase & Co. That's a value of $5,000 in training, coaching, and consulting--free to you! To demonstrate your commitment, we do ask for a $275 deposit for your organization, which, at completion of the Nonprofit Sustainability Cohort program, your organization can redeem in the form of 4 seats in any $69 half-day NLC training. (Seats may be used in one or in multiple classes of your choice. Pre-registration using an NLC-supplied code is required.)


This is a highly interactive program, and cohort enrollment is strictly limited to 10 leadership teams. These teams will be selected through an application process based on the readiness of the organization to participate in this advanced-level training.

Program Cost: $5,000 per nonprofit, which has been generously underwritten by JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Cost to Your Organization: Your team's time and commitment and a $275 deposit that can be redeemed for seats in NLC half-day classes upon completion of the cohort program

Application Deadline: Friday, April 26th, by 5:00 PM. Applicants will be notified of acceptance on or before Friday, May 17th.

Cohort Meeting Dates: June 19, July 23, August 21, September 10, October 8, November 13, 2019 and June 9, 2020.

Location: Unless otherwise announced, all other sessions will be held in the NLC Training Center.

Please read our FAQs before completing the online application.


Designed for leadership teams, this cohort-based process uses a mix of in-person and virtual sessions, assignments to be completed between sessions, and support from nonprofit sustainability experts. (See SCHEDULE & OUTLINE below for details.)

While virtual sessions will be recorded, each team is required to make a commitment to attend as many as possible in person at the NLC to build cohesion within the cohort. The process is intensive, and participants will receive support from each other as well as Steve Zimmerman and his team.

Sustainability doesn’t come easily!

Target Leadership Teams: Nonprofit organizations in Tampa Bay with a minimum level of financial reporting capacity. Organizations will be invited to apply. Ten (10) organizations will be chosen for this first cohort. Each organization will identify a team of up to 3 members who are either:

  • The CEO/Executive Director (required)
  • A board member, or
  • A senior level staff or board member active in financial and programmatic decision-making.


The cohort will launch on Wednesday, June 19, 2019, at the Nonprpofit Leadership Center.

The remaining sessions are outlined below with date and agenda items. The virtually facilitated sessions are 2 hours long, 2-4 pm; the in-person sessions will run from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. Unless otherwise announced, all cohort meetings will take place at the Nonprofit Leadership Center.

The $5,000 cost of this program for each nonprofit is being generously underwritten by JPMorgan Chase & Co. Your organization will enjoy all the benefits of your leadership team participating in the Matrix Map cohort at no cost to your nonprofit.

To demonstrate your commitment, we do ask for a $275 deposit, which, at completion of the Nonprofit Sustainability Cohort program, can be redeemed in the form of 4 seats in any $69 half-day NLC training.



Steven D. Zimmerman, CPA, MBA, is the Principal of Spectrum Nonprofit Services where he provides training and consulting in the areas of finance and strategy for community-based organizations, foundations and government agencies throughout the country.  

Steve is co-author of two books on nonprofit sustainability published by Jossey-Bass: The Sustainability Mindset: Using the Matrix Map to Make Strategic Decisions with Jeanne Bell of CompassPoint published in 2014 and the best-selling book Nonprofit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability with Jeanne Bell and Jan Masaoka of Blue Avocado published in 2010. The books highlight Spectrum’s integrated approach to nonprofits which balances mission impact and financial viability.  

Steve also writes the Finance and Strategy column for Blue Avocado, an online magazine for nonprofits with 60,000 subscribers, and has also written for The Nonprofit Quarterly and BoardSource.  

Prior to starting Spectrum, Steve was a Projects Director with CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, one of the nation’s leading nonprofit consulting, training and research providers. Steve’s extensive nonprofit experience includes serving as a Chief Financial Officer, Development Director and Associate Director at community-based nonprofits where he performed turnarounds resulting in increased financial sustainability and programmatic reach.