Use the quick exercise below to take a first stab at identifying your nonprofit’s business model, then get input from all the people who care about your organization to zero in on the best answer.

For-profit executives use business models—such as “low-cost provider” or “the razor and the razor blade”—as a shorthand way to describe and understand the way companies are built and sustained. Nonprofit executives, to their detriment, are not as explicit about their funding models and have not had an equivalent lexicon—until now.—”Ten Nonprofit Funding Models,” Stanford Social Innovation Review


  1. Read Ten Nonprofit Funding Models from Stanford Social Innovation Review.

  2. Answer the following reflection questions.

Reflection Questions

  1. Which three business models seem closest to your model?

  2. What does your board chair think is your business model?

  3. What do your leadership team and board members think is your business model?

  4. How can you engage your organization’s collective intelligence to zero in on your true business model?

  5. How will you use this new understanding of your organization’s business model to fuel your ongoing strategic thinking?

  6. What part should business model thinking play in your organization’s next strategic planning retreat?