strategic planning


It’s not the plan; it’s the planning. Organizations that want to successfully innovate have to create a culture of mutual respect, openness, communication, and collaboration among many stakeholder groups. Effective and successful strategic planning is not a weekend “retreat” conducted by a few experts and staff leaders, it is a months-long process designed to vest ownership of the planning with those who would be charged to implement it – the organization’s volunteers and donors. Although there are many variations on the theme, great strategic planning includes:

Inspiring | educating stakeholder groups about the possibilities for greater engagement and volunteer leadership.
Listening | hearing volunteer aspirations through personal interviews, small group gatherings, “pep rallies,” and surveys.
Identifying | finding the “positive deviants” – those inspired individuals prepared to share extraordinary time, talent, and treasure with the organization.
Benchmarking | exploring and learning of successful initiatives at other institutions and organizations.

Goal setting | discerning the vision, goals, objectives, action steps, and timeline based on available time and talent, aspirations, and knowledge of other successes.
Implementing | getting the appropriate buy-in from the institution and administration, and charting the course for staff and volunteer engagement.
Evaluating | creating the paradigm for success metrics, to know when it is that we have been successful, and to “tell the story.”

planning counsel

We encourage nonprofit organizations and institutions to build the appropriate infrastructure – staffing and program funding – to facilitate strategic planning, cultivate leadership, and implement volunteer programs. We work side-by-side with professional staff and key volunteers, counseling and facilitating as appropriate, but always vesting ownership of the efforts with internal stakeholders.

We do not intend to be the “experts” called in to tell you what you are doing wrong, and then tell you how to fix it. You must own the search, you must want to change, and most importantly you must encourage your volunteers to lead the way. We facilitate the process. We don’t provide the answers; we stimulate with questions. If you want to capture the imagination of your volunteers and put their passion to work, they must find the solution.

Learn from the people.
Plan with the people.
Begin with what they have.
Build on what they know.

Of the best leaders,
when the task is accomplished,
the people all remark
“We have done it ourselves.”

— Lao-tzu, Sixth-Century Philosopher

development audits


Before institutions can determine where they are going they have to know where they have been.

An audit or “environmental scan” helps leaders assess the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It is a tool to determine whether things are fine as they are, or if change is needed. And if change is needed, what kind of change.

A plan to plan | Audits are usually conducted with strategic planning in mind. As such they are a blueprint for planning.

An audit can include —
✱ Interviews of board members, staff, and key volunteers and donors
✱ Surveys and focus groups
✱ Review of current programs and services
✱ Evaluation of success metrics
✱ Scan of communication strategies
✱ Benchmarking of comparable institutions
✱ Study of general market conditions

✱ Analysis of historical income and expenses
✱ Tracking of dollars contributed including annual, capital, and planned gifts
✱ Tracking of donor trends for current, lapsed, and never givers
✱ Survey of “moves management” strategies for major donors.

fundraising counsel

We provide right-fit fundraising strategies for start-up as well as mature organizations, seeking ways to develop and adapt strategies that meet both institutional needs and donor aspirations.

As with strategic planning, we encourage nonprofit organizations and institutions to build the appropriate infrastructure – staffing and funding – necessary to:

✱ enhance annual giving programs
✱ create effective communication strategies
✱ build major gift efforts
✱ design “moves management” programs
✱ establish planned giving programs
✱ conduct feasibility studies
✱ manage capital campaigns

We develop fundraising plans, organization charts, job descriptions, and budgets, working side-by-side with professional staff and key volunteers.

planning design

We explore with you the options for staffing and resource allocation to realize successful planning.

We help you develop and create:
Organization charts aligning volunteer and donor aspirations with institutional needs.
Job descriptions and responsibilities reflecting institutional priorities.

Volunteer roles that are inspirational and focused on opportunities for sharing expertise and knowledge.
Budgets that are realistic, including new sources of funding for volunteer engagement through program fees and contributions.

leadership forums


Great volunteer efforts are led by great volunteer leaders. But organizations cannot sit back and wait for those great leaders to raise their hands and volunteer. They must be educated and informed. They must be inspired. And they must be asked.

Leadership forums are one- or two-day workshops, facilitated by Dollhopf Associates, addressing the dynamics of effective leadership for volunteer organizations. The forums are intended to inform, inspire, and motivate staff and volunteers alike.

The forums are organized into modules that address:
Motivation | why individuals volunteer and contribute, and how the institution can best manage expectations.
Communication | good fundraisers know how to ask donors for money; great fundraisers know how to inspire donors to give. What are the communication strategies to change the behavior of staff and volunteers alike?

Strategic planning | the most successful planning is bottom-up, not top down; is based on volunteers not outside experts; and is focused not on what’s broken, but rather what is working.
Building social networks | how social networks form and flourish among volunteers, and how best to align individual aspirations with institutional needs.
Change management | how nonprofit organizations successfully evolve and create lasting change.


Nonprofit leaders are often reluctant to kick-start extensive strategic planning efforts that require a significant investment of human and financial resources. Volunteers are often reluctant to sign up for yet another committee or task force assignment that might not go anywhere. Who has the time?

We facilitate interactive workshops for key volunteers and donors who dare to dream big. No strings attached, come as you are and dare to be inspired. We ask volunteers to apply their imagination – what is your passion, what are your priorities? How could this organization enable you to change lives in such meaningful and profound ways that it would inspire you to inspire others?

No commitment…unless lightening strikes and passion ignites. You take it from there.

inspirational talks

Thoughtfully designed in collaboration with staff or volunteer leadership, Dollhopf Associates presentations are designed to:

✱ inspire volunteers to discern their passion for changing lives
✱ educate staff and board members about how to inspire volunteers
✱ convey current trends in philanthropy and volunteerism
✱ provide examples of successful ideas at similar organizations
✱ introduce the idea of strategic planning

Interactive and multimedia, the presentations are audience driven to reinvigorate current leaders, and to identify, cultivate, and engage new volunteers and donors.

executive coaching

Astute nonprofit leaders need a sympathetic ear, an experienced colleague, a sounding board — someone with experience to:

✱ listen to ideas and test reactions
✱ navigate the politics of leadership
✱ facilitate discussions with board, major donors, and key volunteers
✱ implement new strategies
✱ anticipate organizational behavior
✱ educate staff and key stakeholder groups

“The best way to give advice is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it”
— Harry Truman

leadership pipelines


Great organizations intentionally identify, cultivate, engage, and steward great leaders through a structured process that will survive changes in institutional management. Development and volunteer relations both should have sophisticated “moves management” initiatives that foster greater volunteer participation and leadership. Moves management is a combination of the:

Identification of emerging leaders through cold calling, pep rallies, informational sessions, and educational forums.
Cultivation of volunteer interests based on their passion and motivation.

Engagement of volunteer skills and expertise to design and implement innovative programs.
Stewardship and recognition initiatives for volunteer leaders. Knowing when they have been successful and telling the story.