Case Detail

Case Summary

Aspire Inc.: Financing Options for Healthier Nonprofits

Case Number: 5-403-758, Year Published: 2003

HBS Number: KEL448

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Authors: Elizabeth Keating; Kelly Austin; Michelle Colman

Key Concepts

Nonprofit Management, Finance, Community-Based Investment, Revenue Diversification, Real Estate, Loans, Government Funding, Decision Making, Grants


This case focuses on the financial health of Aspire, a forty-year-old nonprofit organization serving the needs of the developmentally disabled. To meet the residential, educational, and vocational needs of its clients, Aspire has grown significantly by expanding services and buying residences. As a nonprofit organization, Aspire has to consider financial implications and organizational/mission concerns as it explores the purchase of a building and the consolidation of administrative activities. The case enables students to explore the strengths and weaknesses of Aspire’s financial situation, the primary financial indicators that different types of lenders would consider, as well as the financial and organizational costs and benefits to Aspire for the various lending options. The case profiles several different types of financing options, including traditional bank loans, the issuance of tax-exempt bonds, and the participation of a community development financial institution. Students are asked to do analysis and recommend a financing choice for Aspire. The case is based on work that the Illinois Facilities Fund, an Illinois community development finance institution, did with Aspire in 2000.

Learning Objectives

This goal of this case is to teach students how to examine the strengths and weaknesses of a nonprofit's financial situation, show them the primary financial indicators that different types of lenders would consider, and help them weigh the financial and organizational costs and benefits of the various lending options.

Number of Pages: 36

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Finance, Non Profit

Geographic: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Industry: Human Services

Organization Name: Aspire Inc.

Organization Size: Small

Decision Maker Position: Vice President of Business Administration

Decision Maker Gender: Male

Year of Case: 2000