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DOING LABS: Learn. Draft. Do.

GCN's Nonprofit Consulting Group introduces DOING LABS as a new way to help nonprofits develop strategies and action plans in specific areas. Join a LAB to write your plan for annual fundraising, strategy, talent development, marketing, or social enterprise.

Many organizations lack the expertise on staff and board to tackle these plans, and find the cost of consultants daunting. To fill that gap, DOING LABS bring together small cohorts of nonprofit leaders to learn theory, gain confidence through practice, then draft plans and complete them using ready-made templates and teamwork. With our guidance, you’ll create just the plans you need, and be ready to execute.

Today’s nonprofit leader needs a variety of action plans to be successful. Unfortunately, they don’t always have an efficient way to learn the ins and outs of each – not to mention the time it takes to put them together. The idea of DOING LABS is to make learning active, hands-on, and results-oriented, with a working plan as the final product.

Small organizations struggle to marshal the resources needed to complete these plans. This experience is designed for organizations with less than $1 million in revenue.  


We recommend signing up a team of 2 to 5 to participate. Board members are encouraged to participate, especially Labs held in the evening. Pre-registration for all attendees is required. For evening sessions (starting at 5:00 pm or later), we will provide food and drinks.

GCN consultants will provide individualized assistance for each organization. Participants must bring a laptop to download documents, including templates and plan samples.



DOING LAB | Write the Annual Development Plan

Write a 12-month development plan for fundraising, donor engagement, social media, and your annual appeal in this 2-session Lab. Templates and samples will be provided to download, use in the session, and take away with you. Homework between sessions is required. Bring your development committee chair and board chair in addition to essential development team members.

December 2 & December 16


DOING LAB | Write the Marketing Plan

Marketing has become an important tool for nonprofits – to raise awareness, attract clients, find donors, and get the word out about your organization. And yet, most nonprofits do not have marketing professionals on staff and cannot afford consultants.

November 5 & November 19


DOING LAB | Write the Business Plan for Social Enterprise

Interested in starting a social enterprise or seeing if your idea could be the next great social enterprise? Then, this is the lab for you. We will take three sessions to build a business plan for a social enterprise with the goal of providing unrestricted income to your organization through the sale of a product or service.  Business plans are your road map for determining the feasibility of your idea, the steps for starting the social enterprise and the capital you might need to make a go of it. Bring board members, key staff, or your team of two to four for this lively hands-on 2-session Lab to build a business plan. Templates and materials provided. Homework between sessions will be necessary. 



DOING LAB | Write the Strategic Plan

Writing a strategic plan can be daunting, and not everyone can afford consultants. In this 4-session team-based Lab, you’ll create a strategic plan with a complete environmental scan, at least three goals, and associated objectives. In the end, you’ll take away a draft that you can present to the board for adoption, and a roadmap to achieving organizational priorities that you can share with your funders and donors. This Lab will be hands-on: You’ll be writing sections of the plan both in and outside of class.



DOING LAB | Write the Talent Development Plan 

Do you need to improve employee retention, plot career paths for your people, and prepare for your future personnel needs? This 2-session Lab is designed for organizations without an HR department, who need a plan to keep their most essential employees engaged and on-board, build a stronger and more capable team, and find the additional talent they’ll need to meet the goals of the organization.