The Client
NeighborWorks America

An affordable housing nonprofit client of ours (“Client”) began with one committed individual fighting poverty and neighborhood decay back in the late 1960s. Today, this Client is a $250 million national nonprofit organization. It comprises an extensive nationwide network of over 240 affiliate organizations committed to revitalizing communities from the ground up. it is also the nation’s leading trainer of community development and affordable housing professionals.

The Client engaged CiTTA in an ambitious pilot project in which we supported 25 affiliate organizations in designing, testing, and refining social enterprise business models and accompanying tools and systems to help them achieve greater scale and financial self-sufficiency with their homeownership services. In particular, we developed earned revenue models across four service lines: homebuyer education, homebuyer counseling, lending, and realty. The goal was not just to help these nonprofits generate earned income but also to create ten times the impact, such as serving ten times more families than before.

The Challenge

Given the vast reach of its network organizations, our Client faced some steep challenges in finding business models that would work across a variety of diverse communities and economic climates. We were able to meet this challenge due to our agile, data-driven methodology, disciplined process-oriented approach, and inclusive facilitation skills.

Though the affiliate organizations ranged in size, capitalization, and services provided, our team applied mixed-methods research grounded in active listening. This meant facilitating productive conversations on strategy via phone, in-person, in small groups and importantly, convening the whole pilot cohort when necessary.

In addition, some internal stakeholders at the affiliate organizations initially resisted the idea of charging for services. We guided the leaders at those organizations in showcasing evidence that the social enterprise models were indeed able to increase their impact through a fee-based business model.

The CiTTA Difference

CiTTA provided a nuanced and actionable strategic framework that could scale nationwide while retaining flexibility for local organizations to customize components of the plan in order to best suit specific community needs.

In addition to overall strategy, we also delivered a number of practical business models and tools, including an extensive financial projection model that the affiliates could use to test and track progress over time and other market feasibility assessment tools. Furthermore, our team helped guide C-Suite officers at the 25 organizations in understanding how to balance mission with profit to create win-win solutions.

The nonprofit to social enterprise models and business tools we developed were subsequently used as the basis for the next phase of the program – an expansion of the pilot to include 40 affiliate organizations nationwide. CiTTA is proud to have contributed towards furthering opportunities in home ownership in underserved neighborhoods and in strengthening communities across the country.