one-on-one coaching

Need an effective facilitator for your next strategic planning initiative?


Eric Ryan provides effective facilitation


Eric Ryan specializes in guiding leaders of nonprofits in the creation and execution of their strategic plans.

He has run his consulting business since 1997. The business is mission-driven and highly focused around a simple set of values.

To unleash the potential of nonprofits through highly effective strategic planning.


About Eric Ryan
Eric Ryan has dedicated his professional life to service.

He began his career as a teacher with Teach for America, teaching physics and entrepreneurship in rural North Carolina. His work earned him Teacher of the Year honors and he was highlighted in The Wall Street Journal, Parade Magazine, and a book titled Electric Dreams.

Although he has focused on serving nonprofit organizations, Eric has also consulted with numerous corporations and government entities. The primary focus of his work has been strategic planning.

In addition to his consulting work, he has started one nonprofit, been an executive director, served on several boards, and is currently a board chair and treasurer of two separate organizations.

He has led the creation of strategic planning software specifically for nonprofit organizations. He is developing an online strategic planning course and is writing a book about strategic planning for nonprofits.

A graduate of UC Berkeley, he lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wonderful wife, two hilarious kids, and about a dozen pets (if you count the fish!). He coaches little league baseball and loves to camp and hike with his family.

There’s one main reason why we’ve dedicated the entire focus of our business on strategic planning:  it’s an incredibly effective catalyst for nonprofit success. Over the last twenty years we’ve watched our clients dramatically increase their funding, create stronger boards, build alignment around their mission/vision/values, reduce staff turnover, create more focused programs and improve their financial systems — all as a direct result of strategic planning.


We’ve worked hard to streamline our approach to strategic planning so that it is most useful for you.  As a result, we’ve created our core service: a customizable four-step strategic planning program that we call The CAPE Method.

Step One: Champion
We have never seen strategic planning work at a nonprofit unless one or two people on the staff/board “championed” the overall process. With that in mind, our first step is ensuring that you have at least one person on your team that will make the time and commitment to “champion” strategic planning for your organization. Once identified, we then provide guidance for that person(s) to excel in the champion role.

Step Two: Assess
We’ll work with you to evaluate your organization’s unique situation by conducting interviews, online assessments, and a review of past strategic plans and/or other organizational documents. We’ll provide a brief report regarding what we learned, including suggestions for moving forward.

Step Three: Plan
We’ll use what we learned in Step Two (above) to help you create a simple and effective strategic plan that best meets your needs. As part of that process we often facilitate planning retreats to get everybody’s input. Eric has facilitated hundreds of planning sessions throughout his career.

Step Four: Execute
Perhaps the most important part of the entire process is helping you put a system in place to ensure that your plan is executed. It’s the area where most strategic planning fails miserably. And it’s our specialty.

We’ll help you:
• Document your plan in our simple-to-use proprietary software.
• Create a set of goal action plans.
• Clarify your strategic planning meeting system, including calendar.
• Specify who does what in your process.

And, depending upon your needs and budget, we’ll continue to partner with you after the retreat to ensure that your system for executing your plan takes root.


1. We Focus Exclusively on Strategic Planning
The exclusive focus of our work is strategic planning for small nonprofits. We aren’t distracted by providing a variety of other services. This has allowed us to get very good at crafting catalytic strategic planning solutions designed specifically for the needs of small organizations.

2. Our Strategic Planning and Board Portal Software
We have created user-friendly and effective strategic planning software program specifically for small nonprofits. This helps our clients document and track progress on their planning efforts. Further, the software also serves as a portal for a board’s key meeting documents and policies.

3. Strong Bias on Execution 
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for well-crafted strategic plans to collect dust. With that in mind, we’ll help you determine – from the outset – how you and your team are going to execute a system that ensures that your plan is used over the long haul.

4. Relevant, Practical, and Simple Solutions
This is a corollary of #3. We focus on providing simple, relevant, and practical solutions to significantly strengthen the odds that you’ll succeed in your planning process.

5. Flexible Payments
If needed, we’ll provide you with a flexible payment schedule to address your cash flow needs.

6. No-Risk Guarantee
If you’re not satisfied then you don’t pay.


Scott Thompson, Shasta College Foundation
I’ve always resisted strategic planning. Other people always say, “Yeah, we did our plan but now it’s sitting on the shelf.” But that’s not the case here. This is a working thing; it’s really alive and giving us the focus we need.

Marquise Jackson, San Diego and Imperial Valley Small Business Development Network
Eric Ryan has helped change my view of strategic planning. Before working with him, I believed strategic planning was basically about creating a three-year (or so) plan. Now I realize that effective strategic planning is actually a continuous and dynamic cycle of strengthening our team’s focus and results.

Brad G. Bunt, North Texas SBDC
You focused us more in one day than we have in twenty years.

Barbara Wakefield, Board Member, YWCA-Silicon Valley
I have worked with literally dozens of consultants throughout my 30+ year career in high tech management. After retiring I have also worked with many more in the non-profit sector. It is effortless, and with great pleasure, that I can say that Eric is by far the BEST I have ever worked with. He is flexible, smart, sensitive to all personalities, and intuitive about business needs. Above all he is incredibly effective at getting superb results. I know, this makes him sound like a Boy Scout – but it is all true! As I also specialize in strategic and organizational planning, I know how difficult it is to lead a group through this process to yield a useable plan. Eric does so masterfully with an extensive knowledge base, years of experience, and best of all – a WONDERFUL sense of humor. He is truly a delight to work with and I offer the highest recommendations for his work.

Laura and Shawn Sears Co-Founders, Vida Verde Nature Education
As the leaders of a nonprofit, our to-do list is continually long. The “strategic planning task” was always an item that stayed undone, and near the bottom. Thinking about working with a consultant on it just felt like adding pain to punishment. We are now complete and total converts because of Eric Ryan. This deeper type of work makes all the regular days more smooth, pleasant and productive: fewer fires to put out, clearer understanding of what’s important and what can wait, greater funding, smoother relationships, and unexpected respect and status in the community due to our more professional organization.The icing on the cake is that it’s actually fun working with Eric. He’s the intelligent, personable, savvy and full-of-heart person that makes the work easy and positive. We walk away from meeting with him energized and psyched.

Karen Mountain CEO, Migrant Clinicians Network
It’s pretty daunting to position a not-for-profit business to make the leap into the international arena while simultaneously managing the challenges of money, people, and mission. Eric has nurtured our staff and board through this process, helping us set clear strategic compass points, focus on our financial health, establish yearly objectives, and achieve and celebrate solid results. While working with Eric, we have streamlined our hiring, orientation, and performance management systems and increased the sophistication of our marketing efforts. We’ve created a plan for financial sustainability and have increased our staff satisfaction scores in 11 of 13 categories. We are a much stronger organization due to the passion and dedication of both Eric and our entire team.

Greg O’Sullivan CEO, Economic Development On-Call
When we first hired you I had an idea that we’d get some sort of strategic plan. What I didn’t expect was the crystal-clear focus and implementation strategies that you helped us put into place. With your template there is accountability to everything; we were getting results long after our day-long planning session. Plus, you backed us up to address and solve some tough team dynamics that would have been hard to do on our own. Thanks for everything, my friend.

Jay Chamberlin Director, Natural Resources Division, California State Parks
As someone who has participated in many onerous strategic planning processes, I was a little skeptical that Eric Ryan’s program would be much different. I was wrong. Not only did he immediately create trust with our team of engineers and scientists, but he helped us create a focused plan and framework for executing our plan. Several months later our team’s enthusiasm has never been higher and, as their manager, I’ve been able to focus on what matters most.

Ted Hiatt Special Projects Manager, Los Angeles Regional Small Business Development Center
Eric Ryan has the rare gift of bringing a sense of FUN to the sometimes tedious world of strategic planning. He is talented, insightful and brings people together in a lighthearted, easy-going manner. Eric was able to help us develop a framework and strategy for success in less than two days.

Bob Nash CEO, Superior California Economic Development District
I’ve experienced plenty of strategic planning processes that were excruciatingly painful and drawn-out. That’s not the case with Eric’s approach. I’ve attended about seven of his facilitations and his ability to rapidly get group consensus and develop a strategy is impressive. He gets results quickly and efficiently.

Teri Cannon Executive Associate Director, Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Eric is incredibly gifted at facilitation, ensuring that all voices are heard and honored. He earned the trust and respect of our entire staff and improved our communication, planning, and productivity. He helped us develop an annual plan and to establish a system for monitoring the plan in addition to working with us on our values statement and other strategies that promote productivity and staff satisfaction. Eric’s experience in a wide variety of management areas and his gifts make him an invaluable and successful consultant.

Delores Turner Human Resources Director and Assistant City Manager, City of Emeryville
Eric is fearless in his interactions with everybody on our senior management team. His open, honest, and respectful style let’s you know it’s “all about you.” These characteristics are essential in building trust with our team. We are now communicating and sharing our knowledge and successes, as well as our challenges in leading our departments — and we are now doing more to support the continued development of each person’s leadership skills due to Eric’s stewardship.

Kristin Ohnstad Former Director of Operations, Teach for America — Bay Area
I most appreciate Eric’s ability to diagnose what’s holding us back from being great managers and suggest research-based — but real-life — solutions that pushed us to the next level. I often found his insights to be a few steps ahead and right on the mark. Beyond this, Eric is just plain fun to work with. He greatly values his relationships and it shows in everything he does.

Contact me and I’ll be in touch soon