Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

Supercharging a Revenue Model for Success


The challenge

The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo (CFGB) is a 501(c)(3) public charity holding more than 800 different charitable funds, large and small, established by individuals, families, nonprofit organizations and businesses to benefit Western New York.

In 2014, in response to emerging needs of its region, the CFGB went through a process to refocus and expand its community programming. Supporting its ambitious program goals required CFGB to strengthen its revenue model to secure increased levels of more permanent, less restrictive assets and planned gifts. The objective was not to radically change the revenue model, but to leverage, modernize, and “supercharge” the one it had.

Despite architecting what it believed was a solid revenue model with clear objectives, CFGB found it difficult to implement its revenue strategy. The leaders learned that simply making the plan did not mean they could intuitively and spontaneously start enacting it.

What we did

In order to work through its implementation challenge, CFGB engaged the Crossland Group to help the organization begin a formal organizational design exercise, which would provide the framework to operationalize its revenue model and strategies. Crossland began by first ensuring that all staff members were clear about what CFGB’s revenue model and strategy were. Could everyone clearly tell the story about where the organization was and where it was going?

Once CFGB leaders and Crossland were sure that everyone was clear on the revenue model and strategy, Crossland undertook a disciplined process to define the work, functionality, and skills needed to effectively operate that revenue model and strategy.

With the high-level functionality requirements-defining exercise complete, Crossland and CFGB translated these requirements into the actual work the organization needed to do.

The impact

Five years after undertaking the organization design process and implementing the alignment changes, CFGB is a much stronger and effective organization.

By meticulously defining the work that needed to be done to drive the revenue model and strategy, logically organizing it, and defining skills to perform it, CFGB is finding that its talent management is much stronger than before and its revenue generating engine is much more robust. The foundation has created and enabled new earned income revenue streams (services such as administering foundations’ grant applications and facilitating family foundation meetings) that generate 10 percent of all its revenue; a figure that is expected to grow more proportionally in the future.

The leaders at CFGB are clear that the organizational redesign work has been key to managing its business much more effectively and achieving scale and growth faster than anticipated. Market studies indicate that CFGB’s brand and reputation is significantly stronger than it was before it engaged in the organizational redesign. As a result, and most importantly, CFGB is now better able to deliver its defined theory of change and have significantly greater impact on the community it serves.


The right staff, with the right skills are in the right jobs to drive the business model

All members of the leadership team are collectively accountable for the organization’s revenue performance

Cross-functional teaming has become ingrained, an everyday way of working at the CFGB

The CFGB is leveraged to attract funding: in YEAR, the organization received over $10M in grants

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