Not For Profits

Nonprofit organizations play a critical role in our society and economy, and are under increasing stress, pressure, and scrutiny as they work to achieve their missions. The challenges of maintaining strategic focus in a dynamic landscape (and in light of serving many needs), raising funds in a competitive environment, and working across a complex stakeholder system all contribute to these pressures, and have been heightened in light of the current crisis. CFAR has a long history of supporting leading nonprofit organizations across multiple sectors—healthcare and social services; economic and civic development; public policy; education and youth; and media, arts, and culture. In all of our work with organizations where mission and impact are paramount but stakeholder interests may be diverse, CFAR is attuned to structures and processes that will actually make sense on the ground. We bring years of experience and innovative methods to help with strategy, leadership, organizational change and design, and collaboration—all applied to our clients’ unique situations.


Professional associations play a critical role for the professions and members they serve, and for the general public. Associations are complex organizations, balancing the interests of multiple constituencies, and leveraging the efforts and expertise of volunteers, members, and staff. Association leaders must navigate membership expectations, pressures on time and resources, and the need to continually adapt governance structures to changing requirements.

Our work with association leadership guides them to innovate their programs and member relations, improve organizational design and effectiveness, and develop leadership skills. We offer associations support with strategic planning, governance (both board and association-wide), and leadership development.


While the influx of private wealth into foundations continues to grow, the very nature of philanthropy is multi-faceted, requiring innovative organizational solutions that accelerate impact. Foundations need to exercise creativity and sophisticated business strategies to amplify impact and, increasingly, they demand measurable return on their social investments.

CFAR has a long history of consulting to many of the country’s largest and most prominent foundations, understanding what it takes to face a world that is simultaneously filled with opportunity and constraint—and how to translate those opposing forces into action. We helps foundations refresh organizational strategy and structure to respond to changing market needs, develop more effective leadership teams, and amplify impact.

Social Service Organizations

Social service organizations play a critical role in our society. These organizations grapple with forces both internal (competing views on services to provide and constituents to serve, the unique relationship between volunteer boards and professional staff) and external (complex government regulations and oversight, competition for funds)—all while usually operating under limited financial and human resources.

Applying our distinct approaches to strategy, change, board governance, and collaboration, CFAR helps social service organizations address strategic choices about risk, reach, and engagement, and build partnerships within the communities they serve—all in the service of their organization’s mission.


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Governance Refresh for the Future
Governance Refresh for the Future

Given the unprecedented turbulence in healthcare, governing boards should be asking themselves whether they have the optimal membership, diversity, skills, structures, and practices to make good decisions and effectively fulfill their fiduciary obligations in an...

Leveraging Transitional Leadership Moments in Higher Education
Leveraging Transitional Leadership Moments in Higher Education

 An unusual number of college presidencies are up for grabs [1]. Rapid changes in the higher education landscape, increasing scrutiny paired with wavering public support amid the rising costs of a degree, and the substantial disruption of Covid-19 to college campuses...

Are Bricks and Mortar a Thing of the Past?
Are Bricks and Mortar a Thing of the Past?

Agree or disagree? A CEO can successfully work remotely from Europe while the company’s headquarters is in its original location in the Midwest. A family business can grow record profits with a team including both in-person, “on the floor” staff and a leadership team...

Fieldnotes from CFAR’s CultureLab: Looking Back to Look Ahead
Fieldnotes from CFAR’s CultureLab: Looking Back to Look Ahead

  Volume 4, February 2023 Welcome to the fourth issue of Fieldnotes, CFAR's CultureLab newsletter on organizational culture. This fourth issue of Fieldnotes, CFAR CultureLab's newsletter on culture in organizations, (full PDF version linked here) has us looking back...

What is Continuity?
What is Continuity?

Only a third of family firms continue beyond the first generation, fewer still make it to the third, and so on. (Beckhard & Dyer 1983).   “Our work is largely to help these businesses beat the odds. Continuity is our goal, even as we confront the high risk of...

Importance of Linking Leadership Succession, Strategy, and Governance
Importance of Linking Leadership Succession, Strategy, and Governance

CFAR Founder Tom Gilmore’s article, “The Importance of Linking Leadership Succession, Strategy, and Governance,” offers three common dilemmas in leadership succession, three case studies that demonstrate the important relationship among strategy, governance, and...

“Small Leadership” and Small L Leadership
“Small Leadership” and Small L Leadership

Small, subtle leadership actions have a big impact. Small leadership moments are characterized by two key features: Leveraging small efforts to create a disproportionately large effect Enacting or symbolizing emerging new directions. We liken “small leadership” to...


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