The most effective nonprofits are not necessarily those with the most funding or the most innovative management strategies, but those that seek collaboration outside their organizations to create a wider impact on social policy, a recent article says.
The study of 12 high-impact U.S. nonprofits, published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, debunks as myth most of the traditional measures of nonprofit success, from breakthrough ideas and brand-name status to textbook mission statements and even the “scientific” efficiency metrics many nonprofits borrow from the business world.
The report highlights a series of six less-obvious best practices the authors discovered in the 12 organizations over several years of study.
These high-impact nonprofits ultimately take a combined approach of service and advocacy.
They embrace the profit incentive to work with – not against – market forces, the report says, and show remarkable adaptability, responding to challenge with innovation.
They also inspire “evangelists,” who not only support but recruit others to support the organization’s mission, build strong networks of nonprofit allies and distribute leadership widely within their organizations.
The 12 nonprofits studied include well-known and lesser-known groups, such as Habitat for Humanity, Teach for America and Self-Help in Durham, N.C., a group that promotes economic development through lending and asset building in low-income communities.
The article, “Creating High-Impact Nonprofits,” precedes the authors’ forthcoming book “Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits” to be released in October.