Date of Conferral







Keri Heitner


The age of mortality for a nonprofit organization is between 6-15 years. The problem is that leaders of nonprofit organizations face challenges in financially sustaining nonprofit operations, which directly affects the ability to achieve and maintain the organizational mission. The purpose of this qualitative classical Delphi study was to explore how an expert panel of nine purposively selected U.S.-based stakeholders from small U.S.-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations viewed the desirability, feasibility, and importance of future-oriented strategies to support financial sustainability. The research questions addressed this purpose. The conceptual framework was rooted in effective leadership, innovation, sustainability, and positive social change, as shown in social entrepreneurship theory. Data were collected and analyzed via four iterative rounds of online questionnaires. Open-ended narrative responses in Round 1 were analyzed to create a list of 31 items, which panelists rated for desirability and feasibility in Round 2. Of the items that advanced to Round 3, panelists choose and ranked their six most preferred strategies for importance. In Round 4, they rated their confidence in the final list of six strategies in the categories of types of strategies and stakeholder involvement. The results may inform future-oriented strategies that leaders of small U.S.-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations may use to support financial sustainability. If nonprofit organizations are more financially sustainable, their leaders may be able to maintain their mission and positively impact social change by creating social value and affecting community engagement.