Date of Conferral



Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)




Brodie Johnson


The not-for-profit community serves a vital societal role. Guided by the systems-theory, the purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to identify ways not-for-profit agencies could be more fiscally sound during difficult economic times and plan for uncertain futures. Face-to-face recorded interviews with 20 chief executives from different not-for-profit corporations in western Pennsylvania, were conducted to examine their professional lived experiences in order to collect best practices by which each executive dealt with difficult economic times. Structured interviews consisted of 8 questions that probed different aspects of the phenomena of dealing with fiscal challenges. Transcribed data were coded for both a priori and emergent themes and were categorized according to a cross-case similarities and differences of the specific responses of the CEOs. The convergent across-case findings of the current study indicated that leaders should (a) have a strategic plan, (b) utilize metrics to evaluate outcomes against goals, and (c) be willing to adjust plans accordingly. Almost all of executives indicated that remaining fiscally healthy was critical so that his organization could achieve its primary mission of serving their community. Not-for-profit organizations provide medical care to the homeless, care for the needs of the elderly, and provide specific services to children with metal disabilities helping them to become more productive. The current study contributes to positive social change by informing best practices regarding how not-for-profit corporations can continue to provide these critical social services through sustainable business practices, especially during those difficult economic times when their services are most needed.