The Competitive Nonprofit: Strategizing to Stay Ahead

Creating and Sustaining a Competitive Advantage

In this highly interactive program, leaders and managers of nonprofit organizations can expand their perspective on the markets in which they operate and learn how to secure their organization’s long-term impact through enhanced competitive positioning.

Guided by expert faculty, you’ll construct a map of the competitive landscape to help identify the strategic risks associated with achieving your mission and the opportunities of working with and learning from your competitors. You’ll leave with a clear understanding of what distinguishes your organization from others in the field, your competitive advantage, how the competition impacts your strategy, and the communication strategies needed for gaining the engagement and support required to enact change.

Center for Nonprofit Management

Strengthen your organization’s competitive advantage


Who Should Attend

  • Executive leadership teams of nonprofit organizations who want to set their organization apart and scale in the future
  • Nonprofit managers and program directors with a desire to identify where their programs fit in the broader nonprofit sector environment
  • Collaborative and progressive nonprofit, public sector and military leaders who want to define their niche

Key Benefits

  • Understand how well developed, smart strategic decisions can improve your sustainability
  • Identify and build sustainable competitive advantage
  • Identify and assess your organization’s competitors to determine potential opportunities, risks, and allies
  • Design a leadership communication process that facilitates organizational changes
  • Learn how to balance/rebalance for sustainability

Program Content

Understanding Strategic Contexts

  • Identify the difference between mission’ and strategy in your organization’s context
  • Discuss the foundations for success and assess your organization’s assets, capabilities and constraints
  • Determine what is unique to your organization that prevents another one from duplicating your strategy

Competitive Advantage and Its Implications

  • Understand the service markets in which your organization operates
  • Establish the role your organization plays in each of these service markets
  • Prepare an assessment for your organization to correlate and align organizational strategy with competitive strategy

Value Creation and Capture

  • Link resources, capabilities, activities and advantages of the organization with its value creation and capture
  • Assess whether the goals/needs of the organization are aligned with its funders
  • Point out the relevant competitors, both for the direct beneficiaries and funding sources
  • Chart value creation based on differentiation
  • Engage in experiential and peer learning

Scaling Impact Through New Geographies and Services

  • Evaluate the service markets in which you operate and learn strategies for expansion into new markets
  • Examine how to think about and approach strategic partnerships
  • Conclude if the competitive strategy in one service market is also viable in the other

Strategic Stakeholder Engagement and Communications as Competitive Tools

  • Identify, prioritize and effectively engage key organizational stakeholders
  • Empower strategic and frontline leaders to stay ahead in their highly competitive industry by developing a deliberate and compelling stakeholder engagement strategy
  • Recognize the power of stakeholder mapping
  • Redefine your ideal service market and stakeholder map in light of the current landscape
  • Distinguish the value proposition by creating a communications plan
  • Lay out and prioritize the communication channels to maximize effectiveness for communicating to service markets and stakeholders
  • Deploy communications to ensure organization is visible, accessible and accountable


Edward (Ned) Smith - Associate Professor of Management and Organizations, Kellogg School of Management; Associate Professor (by courtesy) of Sociology at Northwestern University; Faculty Affiliate, Northwestern Institute for Complexity (NICO)

Pranav Kothari - Adjunct Lecturer of Social Enterprise, Kellogg School of Management; Founder & CEO, Revolution Impact, LLC; Prior – VP, Strategy & Innovation, KnowledgeWorks; Co-Founder & MD, Mission Measurement

Ernest Duplessis - Industry Lecturer, Integrated Marketing Communications, Medill School of Journalism; Former – SVP, Communications and Government Affairs, Mondelèz International; VP, Corporate Communications, Kraft Foods; Public Affairs Officer, US Navy

Fees & Accommodations


Nonprofit Management Programs are held at Northwestern University's Chicago Campus.

Wieboldt Hall
340 East Superior Street
Chicago, IL 60611

Chicago Campus Parking Map - Please Note: the Huron Superior Parking A lot and the Erie Ontario Parking C & D lots are available to the public and should be used when attending programs at Wieboldt Hall.

Application Deadline

The deadline for registration is 10:00 am one business day prior to the program start date.

Scholarship Assistance

Up to 50% scholarships are available for all of our nonprofit executive education programs for those working in nonprofit organizations. All applications are initially submitted at the full list price. Each is reviewed by our registrar and any scholarships granted will be reflected in the amount applied to your invoice or charged to your credit card.


Participants are responsible for booking their hotel accommodations during their stay in Chicago.

Download Nearby Hotels List

Cancellation Policy:

Participants must notify the Program Manager five business days in advance of the program start date if they are unable to attend. Otherwise, participants will be charged 20% of the stated program fees.

When canceling a program registration, participants may choose to rollover their payment to a future program or receive a refund. Participants are allowed three rollovers, after the third rollover, participants forfeit the money paid to the Center for Nonprofit Management.

*Refund or rollover must be requested at the time of the program cancellation. Once a program payment has been rolled over, a monetary refund is no longer an option. The participant must continue with the rollover process.

Learn More

Please email or call us if you would like additional information about Nonprofit Programs

2019 Sessions

May 6 -7, 2019

Start: May 6 at 8:30 AM

End: May 17 at 5:00 PM

LOCATION: Chicago campus


Scholarships Available

Kellogg School of Management

James L. Allen Center
2169 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208