Spectrum Nonprofit Services created a flexible business plan for Mercy that accounted for a changing community and projected revenue changes.

The Mission

Located in St. Louis, Missouri, Mercy Conference and Retreat Center welcomes people and organizations of all faiths into their supportive atmosphere for spiritual, professional, and educational activities. They provide a healing space for prayer, reflection, dialogue, and transformation through their conference area and program schedule.

The Ask

Faced with growing competition and changing community and organizational needs, Mercy’s leadership hoped to assess their business model to determine the organizational priorities required to achieve their programs’ optimal mission impact and financial return. To accomplish this, Mercy needed a way to clarify its desired impact and assess its business model in an ongoing and strategic manner. Dawn Stringfield, executive director at Mercy, knew that this exploration had to be robust, analyzing organizational structure and culture, facility infrastructure, revenue-generating activities, and external pressures.

The Approach

After developing a collective understanding around what Mercy is specifically meant to accomplish, the strategy task force considered ways to shift the business model to enhance financial viability. Spectrum Nonprofit conducted an in-depth market analysis to better understand the community and helped assess each program’s contribution to mission impact and other criteria. Armed with these assessments and deeper knowledge of their market, the Mercy staff and board could better understand their strengths relative to competitors (and other programs) to determine where and how to invest.

The Results

With Spectrum Nonprofit’s guidance, Mercy approached its business model with fresh eyes. The team considered their programmatic expertise and began marketing their programs to new but relevant audiences. They also invested more resources into their hosted groups program, a driver of financial viability, to grow this initiative.

Overall, leadership reports that:

  • Program services have expanded to meet the needs of primary constituents
  • Mercy’s community profile has increased, along with the number and quality of programs
  • Board and staff culture has improved
  • Collaborative relationships among secular and religious entities have strengthened
  • The new leadership team has empowered staff and helped the executive director invest time in new opportunities
  • Revenue generating activities have yielded greater returns as Mercy widened the scope of who might benefit from its services
  • The Sisters of Mercy recommitted funding to the Center at a higher level

The business plan and financial analysis tools have given us a framework and the capacity to evaluate ongoing direction and new initiatives in a thoughtful way. With each new initiative, we are asking the question: ‘How does this fulfill our mission impact and the direction of the business plan?’

Dawn StringfieldExecutive Director, Mercy Conference and Retreat Center