Quotes from Forces for Good, by Leslie Crutchfield and Heather Grant


- ‘Nonprofits are now the third-largest industry in the United States, behind retail and wholesale trade, but ahead of construction, banking, and telecommunications.’ (2)
- ‘Worldwide expenditures in this sector account for nearly 5 percent of combined global gross domestic product, or $1.1 trillion in economic activity. And the numbers increase every year.’ (3)
- ‘As the social welfare states scales back, nonprofits are filling the gaps and providing services that were historically the domain of the state.’ (3)
- ‘The global philanthropy game is no longer about making money and passing it on to heirs or donating it to traditional charities like an alma mater, local opera company, or United Way. The new philanthropy is all about leveraging financial resources by investing in the most entrepreneurial agents of change – those that have figure out how to scale their impact exponentially.’ (4)
- ‘Only the best nonprofit organizations – those that have achieved real impact – can show us the way. That’s why we chose to study the best nonprofits themselves, rather than take management practices derived from businesses and try to translate them to the social sector, as others have done.’ (5)
- ‘We believe the next leap is to see nonprofits as catalytic agents of change. We must begin to study and understand nonprofits not merely as organizations housed within four walls, but as catalysts that work within, and change, entire systems.’ (5)
- ‘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 to be disdained or ignored
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)
- ‘Yet even in nonprofits do all these things, they will still fall short unless the other sectors of society meet them halfway. Business, government, and concerned citizens must be open to working with these nonprofit institutions – and to becoming forces for good themselves.’ (6)
- ‘We believe that our findings highlight areas of academic study that are ripe for further exploration.’ (9)
- ‘This book is not about America ’s most well-managed nonprofits. It’s not about the groups with the most recognized brands. And it’s not about the groups with the highest revenues or the lowest overhead ratios – those misleading metrics too often used as a proxy for real accomplishment in the social sector. We chose to study these dozen organizations because they have created real social change.’ (11)
- ‘[Teach for America ] made teaching in public schools ‘cool’.’ (12)
- ‘Teach for America ’s audacious goal is to one day [sic] have a U.S. president who is an alumnus.’ (12)
- ‘[Habitat for Humanity founder] Fuller never set out to build an organization – instead, he wanted to start a movement that put poverty and housing ‘on the hearts and minds’ of millions of volunteers. In just the past few years, the group has begun to turn its hammers into votes, seeking to influence the larger economic and political systems that create poverty and homelessness in the first place.’ (13)
- ‘Environmental Defense has also forged innovative partnerships with such companies as McDonald’s, Federal Express, and Wal-Mart, despite initial cries from other groups that it was selling out…Most recently, the nonprofit announced a partnership with Wal-Mart to help the company become more environmentally sustainable.’ (13)
- ‘What we found surprised us – and flew in the face of the perceived wisdom in the field. Achieving large-scale social change is not just about building an organization and then scaling it up site by site. Many of these groups are not perfectly managed. Nor are they all well marketed. And at least half don’t score well on conventional ratings, because they care more about having impact than having low-overhead budgets. They do what it takes to get results.’ (14)
- YouthBuild USA: ‘Low-income youth ages sixteen to twenty-four learn job and leadership skills by building affordable community housing while earning a GED.’ (17)
- ‘Myth 4: Textbook Mission Statements: All these nonprofits are guided by compelling missions, visions, and shared values. In fact, it is their obsession with impact that creates internal alignment, despite the lack of perfect management. But only a few of these groups spend time fine-tuning their mission statement on paper – most of them are too busy living it.’ (18)
- ‘The secret to success lies in how great organizations mobilize every sector or society – government, business, nonprofits, and the public – to be a force god food. 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. Textbook strategies like relentless fundraising, well-connected boards, and effective management are necessary, of course, but they are hardly sufficient. The high-impact nonprofits we studied are satisfied with building a ‘good enough’ organization and then spending their time and energy focused externally on catalyzing large-scale systemic change. Great organizations work with and through others to create more impact than they could ever achieve alone.’ (19)
- ‘They influence and transform others in order to do more with less.’ (20)
- ‘The organizations in this book seed social movements and help build entire fields. They shape government policy, and change the way companies do business…not focused only on themselves but also on the relentless pursuit of results.’ (20)
- ‘Great social sector organizations do these six things:
1. Advocate and serve. High-impact organizations don’t just focus on doing one thing well. They may start out providing great programs, but eventually they realize that they cannot achieve systemic change through service delivery alone. So they add policy advocacy to access government resources or to change legislation, thus expanding their impact…
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…great nonprofits find ways to work with markets and help business ‘do well while doing good’…
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…
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…
5. Master the art of adaptation…
6. Share leadership… They distribute leadership throughout their organization and their nonprofit network-empowering others to lead. And they cultivate a strong second-in-command, build enduring executive teams with long tenure, and develop highly engaged boards in order to have more impact.’ (21-22)
- ‘They continuously move in new directions and then build the capacities they need to be effective.’ (23)
- ‘When a nonprofit applies all these forces simultaneously, it creates momentum that fuels further success.’ (23)
- ‘They don’t want simply to apply social Band-Aids, but rather to attach and eliminate the root causes of social ills.’ (24)
- ‘Social entrepreneurs are not content to merely [sic] give a man a fish, or even teach him how to fish; these entrepreneurs won’t stop until they have revolutionized the entire fishing industry.’ Bill Drayton, Ashoka founder
- ‘They relentlessly pursuer new opportunities; they act boldly without being constrained by current resources; they innovate and adapt; and they are obsessed with results. As Self-Help founder Martin Eakes says, ‘I need to have impact more than I need to be right.’ If that means checking their egos at the door, or even putting their individual or organizational needs second, these social entrepreneurs will do whatever it takes.’ (24-25)
- ‘In its broadest sense the term advocacy refers to activism around an issue like the environment or education reform. It can involve many activities, from mobilizing voters to pitching media stories to influencing elected officials and the political process.’ (32)
- ‘Even though policy advocacy can be an incredibly powerful tool for large-scale social change, many nonprofits shy away from it. Sometimes they are unclear about the regulations that enable them to advocate, or they fear becoming too politicized and alienating critical supporters. Advocacy is difficult to mange and requires different organizational skills than those needed to provide direct services. Further, it is challenging to measure results. Many leaders fear that engaging in both service advocacy can lead to mission creep, and conventional wisdom dictates that nonprofits should focus on one or the other.’ (33)
- ‘In the process of developing a large network of affiliates, working in coalitions, and engaging individuals through direct programs, organizations also gain a constituency of members and allies that they can mobilize.’ (34)
- ‘Government should be a part of the solution.’ (43)
- ‘Engaging in advocacy may not always yield direct benefits for their own organization – but nevertheless advances their larger cause.’ (46)
- ‘They are pragmatic above all because they are focused on creating solutions rather than on simply drawing attention to problems. None of the high-impact nonprofits that we studied use extremist tactics to achieve social change.’ (47)
- ‘The organizations that we studied make a point of working within the current economic and political reality.’ (47)
- ‘To achieve maximum influence with a majority, as measured by the number of supporters alone, you must appeal to a broad political center rather than take a polarizing position. Put another way, the circle of supporters for a radical group will usually be smaller than for a centrist group.’ (47)
- ‘These nonprofits take pains to put their cause [sic] above party politics.’ (49)
- ‘The nonprofits we studied are able to walk this line, knowing when to compromise on their ideals for a pragmatism and knowing when compromise might actually undermine their credibility.’ (49)
- ‘Eleven of the twelve organizations we studied have a strong D.C. presence.’ (50)
- ‘Top leaders are highly engaged in policy reform as well.’ (50)
- ‘Hire policy experience.’ (50)
- ‘Find funding for advocacy.’ (51)
- ‘Successfully engaging in policy advocacy is difficult.’ (52)
- ‘But Environmental Defense proved its critics wrong. The work of the six-month cooperative task for with McDonald’s resulted in the company’s decision to phase out polystyrene ‘clamshell’ containers and use more environmentally friendly packaging, such as paper bags, boxes, and napkins made with recycled fiber.’ (56)
- ‘[Environmental Defense] is strategic about partnering with high-profile corporations that can serve as early adopters of a new social innovation – which it can then replicate throughout an entire industry.’ (57)
- ‘Tapping into the power of self-interest is more effective than appealing to altruism.’ (58)
- ‘They argue that companies’ bottom lines can benefit from social responsibility, while nonprofits can increase their impacts when they harness the power of business to solve social problems.’ (58)
- ‘Nonprofits also serve markets by running earned-income business ventures.’ (60)
- ‘Partnerships can mean everything from simply accessing corporate donations and volunteers to creating more strategic corporate sponsorships or even operational alliances.’ (60)
- ‘Nonprofits can take two approaches: they can work to minimize a company’s negative impact, such as on the environment or workers (what economists would call reducing ‘negative externalities’); and they can help companies become a force for good, helping them reach underserved markets or create economic assets for low-income populations.’ (61)
- ‘Most of the organizations we examined have moved far beyond traditional ‘checkbook’ philanthropy and into more strategic relationships.’ (64-65)
- ‘At the same time that the [food bank] is helping end hunger, it is also helping solve a business problem for large corporations, which can now write off their excess [or damaged] production as a donation to charity.’ (67)
- ‘T-mobile donated BlackBerries (with free service) to staff and cell phones with service to corps members – in return, it gets marketing exposure among youth and other critical communities.’ (69)
- ‘Even organizations that don’t have obvious revenue streams have learned to play the earned-income game. The Girl Scouts’ cookie sales Goodwill’s thrift stores are two well-known example.’ (70)
- ‘City Year, for example, launched a small consulting business called Care Force, which leverages its community service expertise to help corporations lead volunteer events.’ (71)
- ‘Perhaps Share Our Strength’s greatest insight was that non-profits needed to move away from seeking charitable contributions and towards building strategic partnerships with companies’ marketing departments… Share our Strength licenses its logo to use on bottles of California wine.’ (72)
- ‘Share Our Strength launched a for-profit company in 1998. Community Wealth Ventures (CWV) is a social enterprise consulting firm that helps nonprofit organizations generate revenue through business ventures and cause-making partnerships, and helps corporations improve their bottom lines through more strategic philanthropy.’ (73)
- ‘ ‘Almost all the major environmental groups are now engaged in some way with corporations,’ says Gwen Ruta, director of alliances at Environmental Defense. ‘That just wasn’t the case fifteen years ago.’ ’ (75)
- ‘We do go out on a lot of first dates with potential partners. You have to do that before you find the right fit.’ Gwen Ruta (76)
- ‘A potential conflict of interest can develop if a group advocates in favor of a political issue on which its corporate partner has taken the opposite stance. The organizations we studied were all careful to manage expectations around these potential conflicts.’ (76)
- ‘Despite the promise of social enterprise, this approach hasn’t proven to be the silver bullet for nonprofits that some hoped.’ (77)
- ‘Earned income should not be held up as a potential source of large infusions of financial capital to most struggling nonprofits. Although the appeal of having unrestricted funding is great, if a nonprofit isn’t careful, it can find itself drifting too far from its charitable mission, or even losing money in a failed business venture. Revenue generation is most successful for those groups that have a business model already conducive to making a profit – such as investments in real estate or financial tools like loans and mortgages.’ (77)
- ‘The best groups understand that they have as much to offer business as companies have to offer them.’ (80)
- ‘You can be there for the dedication, you can ride by it a year later and say, ‘We helped build that house.’ That is one of the main draws.’ Sybil Carter, Jimmy’s sister-in-law (83)
- ‘Engaging individuals can be central to a group’s resource strategy. People provide volunteer labor, as in Habitat’s case, that allows a nonprofit to accomplish more work with lower costs. More important, volunteers and members often give money. Large numbers of individual donors can provide a relatively stable, sustainable, and flexible funding base, unlike such sources as the government or grants.’ (84)
- ‘It’s not that they don’t ask donors to attend dinners and ask volunteers to help with mailings as everyone else does. But they transcend these more mundane tactics and create opportunities for people to [sic] actively participate and to experience what the nonprofits do. They make it an organizational priority.’ (86)
- ‘It’s not just about having compelling marketing materials, a snazzy Web site, sophisticated databases, or successful direct-mail campaigns. Some great nonprofits have all of these, but many don’t. Rather, communicating values is more about telling a story.’ (88)
- ‘In cancer research, you can’t really give a volunteer a test tube and lab coat and say ‘Go to work.’ People are enthralled with the opportunity to get their hands dirty.’ David Williams, CEO of Make-a-Wish Foundation
- ‘Teach for America week – CEOs, politicians, celebrities, and others prepare a lesson plan and teach a public school class.’ [one hour total teach time] (92)
- ‘Heritage’s approach goes beyond asking members to write a check. It holds a variety of regional and national events – including speaker events, conferences, and training sessions – that are open to members and the larger public.’ (93)
- ‘A couple of years ago, the House was debating the Housing and Urban Development appropriation for YouthBuild. Republicans voted to give money to YouthBuild, and some members asked why. ‘All you have to do is visit a YouthBuild program to understand why we are [funding] it,’ they replied.’ YouthBuild CFO B.J. Rudman (94)
- ‘High-impact groups are particularly strategic about identifying, converting, and cultivating powerful individuals, or super-evangelists. They figure out who would be a good ally or ambassador – on the basis of that person’s values or an interest in the nonprofit’s cause – and deliberately recruit him or her.’ (95)
- ‘All the other organizations we examined have at least one, and often more, of these super-evangelists as advisers or spokespeople. They are not just celebrity faces associated with a cause. Most of them are deeply involved in the work of the institution and make it a high priority.’ (95)
- ‘Although Web sites and e-mail can be important tools for staying connected, organizations also much provide opportunities for face-to-face connection.’ (99)
- ‘The groups recognize alumni as an integral part of the organization’s programs; they treat alumni as equals and encourage them to self-organize; and they add technology to increase the value of the community.’ (100)
- ‘For the social entrepreneur, the solution is to make the network itself the ends rather than means, to treat the network not associated for information or resources but as a community defined by a common set of values.’ Joel Podonly, Dean, Yale School of Mangement (100)
- ‘Rather than simply shore up resources for its organization, the Exploratorium actively helped other nonprofits copy its model.’ (105)
- ‘The future is not in large organizations; the future is in the network, and servicing other organizations.’ Goery Delacote, CEO, Exploratorium (106)
- ‘What they don’t do is focus exclusively on building their own empires or hoarding resources. Instead, they increase their impact by giving knowledge and resources away.’ (107)
- ‘Through their networks they have improved access to resources, and they have greater depths in more communities.’ (109)
- ‘High-impact nonprofits often fund other organizations in their network or field, regardless of formal affiliation.’ (110)
- ‘Sharing valuable donor lists, assisting with proposal writing, or building fundraising skill.’ (111)
- ‘Teach for America estimates that more than 60 percent of its alumni are still working full time in education, and of those who have left education, almost half are working directly on other issues that have an impact on low-income communities.’ (116)
- ‘The best groups look for ways to share credit and shine the spotlight on other organizations.’ (127)
- ‘We have a flat hierarchical structure that is conducive to creativity. A group can organize around an idea rather than around a structure. Ideas can originate from anywhere.’ Robert Semper, Center for Learning and Teaching (139)
- ‘Another cluster of successful organizations falls on the opposite end of the adaptation spectrum. Organizations like Teach for America , The Heritage Foundation, and America ’s Second Harvest are meticulous about evaluating and measuring their programs.’ (139)
- ‘Teach for America complements its internal assessments with independent external evaluation of its programs.’ (141)
- ‘Heritage staff members are required to participate in formal cross-team meetings and collaborations designed to share information and foster creativity.’ (145)
- ‘A mistake that highly creative, chaotic organizations often make is trying to sustain too many programs at once, and not prioritizing among them.’ (149)
- ‘The winnowing process is essential to continuous adaptation. After all, adaptation is not just about innovation or creating new programs – it is also about learning and change, and discarding what isn’t working to make room for new ideas that have the potential for greater impact.’ (149)
- ‘What are we good at? Where can we have the most impact? Is anyone else already doing this?’ (150)
- ‘This model of shared leadership is not what we expected to find. After all, in business – and in much leadership literature – the individual heroic leader is often exalted.’ (155)
- ‘Each one of the twelve groups we studied now has an empowered executive team and a strong second-in-command. And like Heritage, they almost all have large, enduring, and engaging bonds.’ (156)
- ‘They not only put the interests of their organizations ahead of their personal egos, they often put their overall cause ahead of their organization’s interests.’ (158-159)
- ‘The only way to get to the top in the social sector is to give power away.’ (161)
- ‘A recent CompassPoint study titled Daring to Lead looked at executive turnover in the social sector and found that just 25 percent of nonprofit executives expect to stay in their jobs and found that just 25 percent of nonprofit executives expect to stay in their jobs for more than five eras… But among the groups we studied, the leaders stay, on average, twenty years.’ (167-168)
- ‘Succession planning is an important, but often-neglected, issue within the field.’ (169)
- ‘The size of these boards, particularly in comparison with corporate boards, was eye opening, ranging from twenty to forty people. Perhaps this is because high-impact nonprofits must engage so many stakeholders, both internal and external, to have impact.’ (173-174)
- ‘It has to be a mix: You have to have people with money and people representing the community.’ Delacote (174)
- ‘The rule that the board plays varies from organization to organization. Most play a fundraising role.’ (175)
- ‘Let many leadership styles bloom.’ (178)
- ‘The social sector has inherited an erroneous belief that every penny should go directly to programs rather than overhead, as if programs could deliver themselves.’ (183)
- ‘Develop a people strategy and invest heavily in top performers.’ (183)
- ‘Find the right sources of funding. None of these groups could keep going without having one or more sustainable funding mechanisms.’ (186)
- ‘Some of the nonprofits go so far as to say that a person’s fit with the organization’s mission matters even more than basic skills.’ (187)
- ‘It is important to establish a base salary that at least makes the financial equation palatable.’ (187)
- ‘Many of the organizations provide high-quality health care and retirement benefits.’ (189)
- ‘Create nonmanagement career paths…in many nonprofits, the only way to move up is away from their core competencies, such as advocacy, research, writing, or running programs.’ (190)
- ‘Because nonprofits are mission based and tend to be more ‘touchy-feely’ than businesses, they can often fall into the trap of hanging on too long to people who aren’t working out.’ (191)
- ‘That’s where the big money is. You’re never going to find an annual outlay of $65 million from any single corporation or foundation. To even begin to meet the need, the Feds have to be in the picture.’ Tim Cross, COO, YouthBuild USA (195)
- ‘Corporations have been a source of both funding and in-kind support for a number of the organizations discussed in this book.’ (197)
- ‘When we first started down this path, we weren’t sure what we would find, and we remained open to the unexpected. We were not disappointed.’ (207)
- ‘From the beginning, Environmental Defense has made a commitment not only to oppose ill-conceived policies but also to propose alternatives.’ (262-263)
- ‘Total expenditures for all reporting 501(c)(3) public charities in 2004 was more than $1 trillion. Reporting organizations accounted for approximately $1.4 trillion in revenue and $3 trillion in assets in 2004.’ The Nonprofit Sector in Brief, Urban Institute (285)

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