Client Spotlight: Grub Street


By the time Grub Street Founder Eve Bridburg connected with ESC for consulting services, her organization had grown strong programmatically. The problem was that her nonprofit had taken off so well she, and the board, felt its management structure was beginning to sag under the weight of success.

“We needed to figure out how to grow, build on success, and work toward sustainability,” Eve said.

A grant from the Boston Foundation allowed the Grub Street team to move forward and take on an affordable consulting project with ESC, where the organization leaders were met with a team of three consultants specialized in strategic planning for nonprofits. The project was initiated in 2010—thirteen years after Grub Street’s founding and eight years after it began as a nonprofit.

“We were at risk of collapsing under our programmatic growth,” Eve said.

The strategic planning project began with the facilitation of a board retreat, where ESC consultants led members in exercises that Eve said led to open thinking and new ideas in an especially productive way. Where the organization had felt stuck before, they emerged from this retreat with energy, focus, structure and confidence. Ultimately, the retreat allowed the team to produce an executive summary that would become Grub Street’s launching point for a strategic planning process.

As the strategic planning process continued, Eve said the board and the ESC consultant team focused heavily on revenue growth. She noted that while the organization had grown on its own, the planning process allowed the board to think about new revenue outlets more constructively and helped them look towards the future in a more structured, stable way.

“There was a concrete redirection as we discussed changes for the future that ESC helped us see,” Eve said. “The process was really well structured and well facilitated. It was a very important and effective process to follow.”

Eve’s perception of the project’s success was not only subjective—she said Grub Street’s budget grew from $900,000 to $1.8 million between 2010 and present day, and the organization continues to function through well-structured and maintained operational management.

“Our work with ESC put us on a healthy, strong path after doubling in size in two years,” Eve said. “Since engaging in this project, we’ve got time to do more thinking, ask more questions, and face more complicated problems than before.”

If your nonprofit could benefit from affordable management consulting, please contact ESC’s Director of Consulting, Ulea Lago, at ulago@escne.org or call 617-357-5550. We serve nonprofits in eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and we offer a complimentary 2-hour assessment visit for all interested area nonprofits.

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