Spectrum Nonprofit Services partnered with the YWCA to build financial literacy across local associations by creating a program for online and in-person learning and networking.

The Mission

The YWCA is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. With over 200 local associations, leaders are spread across the country and work with annual budgets ranging from $100,000 to $90 million.


The Ask

The YWCA was looking to build leadership and economic vitality. Like a lot of nonprofits, YWCA association directors come from working in the field and with programs, making them experts in serving their constituents and in managing staff, yet they may not be adequately prepared to be financial leaders. These challenges appear when leaders do not understand the true costs of delivering their programs or when they struggle to address the complexities of cost allocation associated with public contracts.

The Approach

Spectrum Nonprofit spent 14 months in partnership with the YWCA USA to build financial leadership capacity in over 70 YWCA associations, working with more than 100 nonprofit professionals in a collaborative, peer learning setting.

Based in theory, but developed with an understanding of the day-to-day pressures and realities that nonprofit executives and board members face, Spectrum Nonprofit worked closely with YWCA USA leadership to develop and implement a customized hybrid in-person and online cohort learning series.

Spectrum Nonprofit’s curriculum used a series of eight webinars over the course of nine months to develop a foundational understanding of nonprofit finance and financial leadership. Topics included:

  • Demystifying expenses
  • Facilities and finances
  • Revenue strategy and more

Further, Spectrum Nonprofit developed a Phase II curriculum to take a more concentrated group of association directors beyond financial leadership and strengthen each association’s capacity for pursuing sustainability.

Interactive webinars guided participants in small teams through the process of assessing programmatic mission impact, determining profitability, and building their own Matrix Maps. An in-person capstone allowed participants to better understand and share their business models. From there, the team explored specific strategies to engage the board in discussions and decide on next steps to strengthen their business models.

The Results

By enabling a large group of individuals to learn together, both online and in-person, not only did the program build financial leadership, but also built a peer network to answer future questions, share ideas, and work together toward accomplishing the YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women.

As a result of the Matrix Map and the high profitability and mission impact of our childcare services, the board decided to fundraise and transform vacant space into a new childcare center! I don’t know if this would have been decided had it not been for the Matrix Map.

Phase II ParticipantYWCA