Terry Davis: A model for nonprofits doesn’t include financial stability

Our Lady of the Wayside is privileged to take care of children and adults with developmental disabilities. The only way our nonprofit can successfully support these 500 individuals is by taking care of business.

Now, buckle up because this is where I step over the yellow safety line and put into print what could be considered a shocking philosophy for a nonprofit CEO: We do not want financial stability. What we must have is responsible fiscal growth.


Baptism by fire

The dicey economy has been a baptism by fire and gone are the days of operating through a traditionally passive nonprofit model. Financial discipline, accountability and sustainability are not optional. Ensuring the organizational health of the agency demands that we manage several fronts simultaneously: 

  • Political wind-shifts: Scrutinized for impending changes in human service policy.
  • County, state and federal support: Painstakingly monitored to ensure we’re positioned at the mouth of all applicable funding streams.
  • Local marketplace: Measured to make certain we remain competitive.
  • Internal checks and balances: Positioned to evaluate strengths and weaknesses in service delivery and administrative operations.
  • Agency mission: Acts as our operational GPS at all times.


50 years of success

Approaching our 50th anniversary, The Wayside has obtained a depth of experience that has taught us how managed growth, promoting economies of scale is paramount to the success of our business model.

Hardcore business practices mixed with nonprofit sensibilities gave us the “iron fist in a velvet glove” approach necessary to thrive in an ever-changing economic and political landscape. Factors contributing to our success: 

  • Organizational agility: Responding before or in tandem with major shifts in governmental policy or funding.
  • Outcome-based strategic thinking: Short-term and long-range planning focused on methodically developing goals and objectives
  • Partnerships: Vendors, donors, corporations, small businesses, other nonprofits; the fact that our mission supersedes everything we do, uniquely positions us in the community to acquire partnerships with like-minded people and organizations.
  • Entrepreneurship: What needs do the people we serve have and how can we fill those needs? It’s a question we ask and answer over and over again.
  • Talent: Our board is comprised of some of the most business-savvy and compassionate individuals in Northeast Ohio. Common sense dictates that you’re nowhere without a strong team and we have places to go. 

A strong dashboard is what our stakeholders rightly demand. It is also what the children and adults with disabilities we serve are rightly entitled to expect. In their own way, both make major investments in our organization and our responsibility to them is what motivates us to advance our mission by taking care of business.

Terry Davis
president and CEO

Our Lady of the Wayside, a regional leader in residential, respite, transportation and adult day programming for children and adults with developmental disabilities.
Terry is an avid golfer.