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The Power of Positive Disruption
Nonprofit Management

Michelle Cramer, CFRE, President & CEO, Cramer & Associates

One year ago, COVID-19 began to change the world around us. Our team saw firsthand the impact it was having on our nonprofit partners and the overwhelming disruption it caused for so many organizations.

It was around this time last year when we started to receive calls and have Zoom meetings with nonprofits throughout the community who were paralyzed by the pandemic and needing advice.

I will never forget one Zoom call in particular with a former client. When I saw him on my screen, I could see the worry and fear in this nonprofit leader’s face, and it was something I simply couldn’t shake.

He shared with me and our team that he had shut down all services and laid off 90% of his staff. He told us he didn’t believe people could work from home. Our community needed his organizations services more than ever, and he and his leadership team needed a plan to help them navigate the unchartered waters of the pandemic, and they needed it fast!

After losing a night’s sleep, the following morning it hit me – the solution was to pivot and help our nonprofit partners create a positive path forward during this time of disruption.

I quickly grabbed my computer and started drafting an outline for what would become the Pivot Plan™. I called a few team members to share my idea and brainstorm, and within 24 hours, the concept came to life.

The next day, we shared the Pivot Plan with the rest of the Cramer Team, and before we knew it, we had created a transformative tool to help nonprofits continue to fulfill their mission during a time of complete uncertainty.

Our team created the Pivot Plan to ensure that every nonprofit has the ability to continue advancing their mission. We wanted to make the Pivot Plan accessible for all organizations, regardless of their sector or size. For that reason, we conducted over 25 Pivot Plan training sessions at no cost to nonprofits and introduced the concept to AFP chapters throughout the country and to national conferences.

The positive feedback we’ve received, and the impact the Pivot Plan is making, have been nothing short of remarkable. And it was the sense of urgency that drove us to create a way forward for our partners and to ignite positive disruption across the nonprofit sector.

Together, we’ve learned that disruption really can be positive. The past year has shown us that organizations can reinvent and reimagine themselves to overcome barriers and fulfill their missions in even more powerful ways. Our world has changed dramatically since March 2020, and the organizations that will thrive in this new world are the ones that remain committed to innovation.

The Cramer Team is very passionate about this – so much so, that we’ve adopted a modified mission statement… to positively disrupt the philanthropic sector. We’re dedicated to leading this charge!

I thought our team was on fire before, but since we’ve rallied around this new mission, our energy has only grown stronger. We’re continuing to develop more tools to help our partners tackle the greatest challenges facing the philanthropic sector, such as:


  • Developing our own Board Member Gift Assessment to identify, align and leverage Board members’ natural gifts to maximize their Board engagement and experience
  • Creating a Integrated Development & Marketing Roadmap, where silos typically exist in organizations are torn down and embedded with a philanthropic versus a sales voice
  • Developing the Nonprofit Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Toolkit, which first helps identify gaps and opportunities within an organization, and then provides simple, yet meaningful action steps to embrace and implement in a short amount of time

… and so much more.

2020 was truly a year of innovation for the Cramer Team. But look out! We have even more in store for 2021 as we continue to positively disrupt the philanthropic sector.

Cramer & Associates is a nationally recognized philanthropic consulting firm that has been serving nonprofit organizations, corporations and foundations since 1987. Our full-service firm offers clients a wide range of services, including feasibility studies, campaigns, strategic planning, board training, development audits, events, executive searches and much more. The Cramer Team identifies organizations’ strengths and opportunities and develops campaigns that succeed, empowering organizations to impact their communities.

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