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Forces for Good–Thinking Thru Families for Africa

Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits by Leslie R. Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant. Jossey-Bass (2007)

I just ordered this book. Below is a summary of its main points that I robbed from Eric Swanson.

Lessons Learned

As we learned in the course of our research, great nonprofits follow six practices to achieve more impact…. In a nutshell, organizations seeking greater impact must learn how to do the following:

Work with Government and advocate for policy change, in addition to providing services

Harness market forces and see business as a powerful partner not as an enemy to be disdained or ignored

Create meaningful experiences for individual supporters and convert them into evangelists for the cause

Build and nurture nonprofit networks, treating other groups not as competitors for scarce resources but as allies instead

Adapt to the changing environment and be as innovative and nimble as they are strategic

Share leadership, empowering others to be forces for good (6)

“We don’t have time for incremental change—we need dramtic change if we are to solve the complex global problems that plague us today. The stakes are high on all sides, and we must rise to the challenge. Doing anything less would squander this momentous opportunity to advance the grater good. Fortunately, these great nonprofits—and the lessons we can learn from them—can show us a new way” (7).

“The secret to success lies in how great organizations mobilize every sector of society—government, business, nonprofits and the public—to be a force for good. In other words, greatness has more to do with how nonprofits work outside the boundaries of their organizations than how they manage their own internal operations…Great organizations work with and through others to create more impact than they ever could achieve alone” (19).

Great social sector organizations do these six things:

1. Advocate and serve. The more they advocate and serve, the greater the levels of impact they achieve.

2. Make markets work. Tapping into the power of self-interest and the laws of economics is far more effective than appealing to pure altruism.

3. Inspire evangelists. Great nonprofits see volunteers as much more than a source of free labor or membership dues. They create meaningful ways to engage individuals in emotional experiences that help them connect to the group’s mission and core values. The see volunteers, donors, and advisers not only for what they can contribute to the organization in terms of time, money, and guidance but also for what they can do as evangelists for their cause.

4. Nurture nonprofit networks. High-impact organizations help the competition succeed, building networks of nonprofit allies and devoting remarkable time and energy to advancing their larger field. They freely share wealth, expertise, talent, and power with their peers, not because they are saints, but because it’s in their self-interest to do so.

“The first four practices are more external; they represent how these groups dramatically expand their impact outside the borders of their own organizations. Each of these practices influences an external stakeholder group with which the nonprofit works so as to do more with less. In observing this external focus (ooooooh, I like that term!), we also realize that working outside the organization entails special practices inside that help these nonprofits relate more effectively to their environment. This led us to discern two additional internal practices that enable high-impact nonprofits to operate successfully in the outside world and bridge boundaries” (21)

5. Master the art of adaptation. They have mastered the ability to listen, learn, and modify their approach based on external cues—allowing them to sustain their impact and stay relevant.

6. Share leadership. These CEOs are exceptionally strategic and gifted entrepreneurs, but they also know they must share power in order to be as stronger force for good. They distribute leadership throughout their organization and their nonprofit network—empowering others to lead (21-22).

(from Jay: I’d love for others to read this book and help us make application to Families for Africa.)

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