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Under Pressure: Averting an IT and Organizational Crisis for a Higher Education Access Nonprofit

Case Study

Under Pressure: Averting an IT and Organizational Crisis for a Higher Education Access Nonprofit

When a nonprofit online service provider of higher education access found itself in the midst of a technology and organizational crisis, Censeo was brought in to help build the foundation of a strong IT infrastructure, as well as an effective governance structure to reestablish the organization and return trust and confidence to its membership.

Censeo’s organization diagnostic and IT maturity assessment led to organizational changes, process improvements, a new strategic direction, and dramatic member satisfaction improvement. At the request of the board, the Censeo project manager acted as de facto Interim CIO/COO to oversee the successful national launch of the improved online solution and to implement best practices for the high-performing organization.

The Board has great confidence in Censeo’s expertise, competence and integrity. – Former Board Chair


The client found themselves facing a major technological crisis that negatively affected the services they provide for their 600+ member organizations in the US and abroad and 750,000+ users. This crisis exposed governance and technology issues, diminishing the confidence of the organization’s membership. In addition, the organization was undergoing leadership changes at the highest levels, and was in need of strategic and transitional support through this difficult period.


Censeo worked closely with the board of directors and the new CEO to collectively restore member confidence and bolster technology and organizational capabilities. To understand the root of the issue, Censeo collected extensive member input and identified the areas that needed immediate attention. While the crisis was primarily due to technological issues, the Censeo team also discovered larger underlying issues at play, such as unclear governance and disagreement about overarching mission.


Censeo supported the organization’s turnaround and implemented a number of key recommendations that helped the organization recover and regain the confidence of its members. The technology was stabilized, with a 60 percent reduction in support tickets, and member confidence rebounded even higher than pre-crisis levels. In addition, a new mission statement was approved by the board, and a five-year strategic plan was put in place for organizational growth. The rapid and successful turnaround of the organization was noticed outside of members, and received positive media attention as an example of crisis management.

crisis recovery