Case Study 4:
Making the tough decision to shut down

Client Profile

  • Organization founded in 2003
  • $1.5 million budget
  • Wound down activities in 2013

Business Challenge

ChangeCraft was engaged in a strategic process to help an organization identify its value proposition in a field that had dramatically changed due to governmental transitions and resulting policy shifts. As a result of these environmental shifts, the organization’s multiple stakeholders were unclear about its mission, and the appetite for supporting the organization was dwindling. Given that this organization had been founded and funded on a premise that was no longer up to date, how could it align itself with the needs of a new environment to most effectively serve the community?

Solution

ChangeCraft was engaged to walk the organization through a strategy development process that would enliven the organization’s value to the multiple communities it served. ChangeCraft embarked on the process, understanding that a deep and extensive stakeholder mapping – understanding who the organization serves and the marketplace more broadly – would be the critical factor in identifying true opportunities for this organization to create impact. Out of this mapping, ChangeCraft created a series of eight ‘business model prototypes’ that the organization could draw from in re-envisioning its next incarnation, including the option of shutting down completely. ChangeCraft walked the organization through a process of deeply analyzing each prototype. As a result, the organization arrived at three conclusions:

• Simply tinkering with the current model would not be significant enough to really shift its value-add in the current landscape.
• A dramatic restructure would effectively require the creation of a new organization with a new mission.
• Given those realizations, the best option was to choose was the final prototype: shutdown.

Shutdown, though, was not the end of the story. ChangeCraft worked with the organization to be intentional and thoughtful about its shutdown process, and to model to the broader marketplace how shutdown could be a courageous and strategic act. Thus, the organization took the time to document its legacy and to communicate lessons learned and best practices for others who continue to learn from its decade-long portfolio of work.

Business Benefits/Impact

This organization’s actions continue to provide valuable lessons for the broader non-profit community on graceful wind-downs. Many non-profit organizations find they are no longer ‘needed’ in the marketplace. It takes bravery and honesty to come to the conclusion to wind down when an organization has fulfilled its purpose. This organization was able to shut its doors not in an atmosphere of crisis, but rather with an authenticity that allowed it to serve its constituency in the best way possible.