Great nonprofits spend as much time working with institutions outside their four walls as they do managing their internal operations. They use the power of leverage to become greater forces for good. This landmark book reveals the six powerful practices of 12 high-impact nonprofits and tells their compelling stories.
Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant spent four years surveying thousands of nonprofit leaders, conducting hundreds of interviews, and studying in-depth a dozen high-impact organizations to uncover their secrets to success. Their quest took them from the well-known (Habitat for Humanity) to the less well-known (YouthBuild USA) and to the unexpected (the Exploratorium). What the authors discovered surprised them.
How did seeing a pile of McDonald's trash lead Environmental Defense's president to join forces with business instead of treating it as the enemy? Why did a school bus driver prompt Self-Help Credit Union to move from serving low-income groups in North Carolina to launching a national advocacy campaign against predatory lenders? And how did Teach For America turn the teachers it places in underserved public schools into a national vanguard for education reform?
At a time when the social sector has grown to more than $1 trillion, understanding what leads to impact is essential. Whether you're a nonprofit leader, philanthropist, business executive, board member, volunteer, or simply interested in changing the world, this book will inspire you to be a stronger force for good.
©2007 John Wiley and Sons, Inc.; (P)2008 Gildan Media Corp
"Cleverly chosen examples show how the best achieve their impact....These are important findings, and not just for NGOs: traditional for-profit companies could probably learn a thing or two." (The Economist)
In 'Forces for Good' the authors discuss at length six practices that they believe are essential for organisations to have high impact. The book gives examples after examples of how these practices have contributed to the success of the 12 high impact non-profits. Most of these non-profits are well-known. (Except for 'Share Our Strength' and 'Self-Help', I was informed of the work of other 10.)
The book contains many interesting nuggets that could get non-profit leaders thinking. Though be prepared for a lot of repetition; and bombast.
From my own experience running a non-profit and a foundation over the past seven years, I have come across many non-profits that start with good intentions but very soon get bogged down due to involvement in multiple (often unaligned) programmes. Many of these programmes may exist sheerly by habit, for their own sake!
On the negative side, I cannot help but feel the authors' definition of impact to be limited or self-serving, like in the case of growth companies during their bubble phase. What kind of impact are these organisations having on their target groups in the long-run? The book has little to say.
Some good practical tools
The Narrator has a bit too much of a "vocal fry" with a coarseness on the last couple of syllables in most sentence. Once I noticed, it became very distracting.
The authors provide a somewhat interesting analysis of non-profit organizations, but the work is fundamentally flawed by the assumption that these organizations are doing good. Generating a lot of revenue and even influencing policy does not equate to doing "good". I'm reminded of the missionaries who went to Hawaii in the 19th century to "do good" and ended up doing "very well"--for themselves. Or think of well intentioned people who tried to "help" Native Americans in the 19th and early 20th century. In my opinion some of the non-profits cited in this book have indeed been forces for good. But that's my opinion. I also strongly believe that two of them, the Heritage Foundation and Teach for America, have done well but are doing damage to our society. The Heritage Foundation is a propaganda machine that has certainly been influential, but not necessarily good for society. Teach for America has attracted a lot of funding because it matches the political agendas of some wealthy foundations and individuals, but any objective review of the organization can only lead one to conclude that it does more harm than good to the teaching profession and to children.
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