Date of Conferral



Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)




Kristen Chesser


Rural communities in the United States depend on small community-based nonprofits to provide access to food, nutrition, transportation, and other social determinants of health. Despite this essential role, some leaders of small nonprofits forgo participating in strategic planning because they believe that the process can be time consuming and expensive. Strategic planning may help organizations of any size to be organized, mission focused, outcome based, and successful. The strategic planning process helps to identify which outcomes demonstrate effectiveness and increase program sustainability. The purpose of this study was to explore the ways that strategic planning may assist small rural community-based nonprofits in building sustainable programs. A single-case study design was used. Data were collected from semistructured interviews with board members and a review of organizational documentation. The Baldrige excellence framework was used to examine the study organization. Thematic analysis produced six themes: mission, passion, working board, unidentified goals, youth of the organization, and strategic planning. The findings reinforce how much rural communities rely on small nonprofits to provide essential services. The study’s implications for positive social change include providing small nonprofit leaders with insight into ways that participating in the strategic planning process may increase organizational viability and sustainability so that the needs of communities continue to be met.