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Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits

Page history last edited by Jason Shen 15 years, 3 months ago

Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits


by Leslie Crutchfield and Heather Mcleod Grant




The 12 Nonprofits

Criteria - A nonprofit founded in the US recently (1965-1994) which has achieved substantial, sustained results and created larger systems change.


Share Our Strength

Teach for America


Habitat for Humanity

La Raza

The Heritage Foundation

Self-Help USA

City Year

America's Second Harvest

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Environmental Defense

Youth Build USA



Advocate AND Serve

Changing laws is hugely powerful, so is doing grassroots work on the ground with real people. Doing both is a synergistic effect

  • start at the top - executives and board must be committed to both
  • know the law - talk to lawyers and experts about lobbying
  • Develop a plan by talking to other nonprofits that have done it
  • Hire policy experts who can acceleration your advocacy efforts
  • Find flexible funding from donors who aren't shy of politics
  • preserve your integrity by never fudging data or sacrificing core principles


Make Markets Work

There can not be fear of corporations and the business, we must recognize the power of business and harness the forces of the market.

  • change business practices to do less bad or more good
  • partner with businesses to leverage corporate power and resources, or do cause-related marketing
  • run your own side business
  • hire people with business backgrounds
  • know your risks of each path


Inspire Evangelists

Great nonprofits turn donors into enthusiastic evangelists who spread the word and their love of the organization

  • create meaningful and emotional experiences
  • express your core values
  • leverage the power of your community to make more change


Nurture Nonprofit Networks

Great nonprofits see other orgs as partners and allies, not competitors. They work together and build the capacity of others to create more change.

  • grow the pie by looking for ways to increase resources for the cause
  • cultivate coalitions of orgs that push for a common goal
  • know when to go your own way when you need to take a stand
  • share knowledge and use your expertise and lessons to help others


Master the Art of Adaptation

Great nonprofits must respond to their environments and change their programs, organizations according to what works. Entrenched bureaucracies fail.

  • focus on results not tactics
  • experiment and evaluate the changes
  • balance structure and innovation to not get out of control


Share Leadership

Executives of great nonprofits know that they need to develop leaders who have the power to make the organization even better than any one alone.

  • learn to let go of some power in order grow
  • appoint a strong second in command - a great COO makes a big difference
  • develop leaders in the executive team - give them the power and responsibility to make a difference
  • Work with your (larger) board to keep them engaged and contributing to your org



Sustaining Impact

Figure out what your org needs to have an impact and invest in that, even if makes look less "lean" , making sure to diversify your funding streams through foundations, donors and government.

First figure out your mission then pay great people who buy into the mission.

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