Book Preview: “Forces for Good”
The U.S. has 1.5 million nonprofits that account for more than $1 trillion of the country’s economy. Over the last 15 years, nonprofits actually have grown faster than the rest of the economy and currently are the third largest industry in the U.S., behind retail and wholesale trade but ahead of banking and telecommunications.
So with the playing field getting larger and larger, something begs to be asked. What makes a great nonprofit? Which are the crème de la crème, and how did they attain such a level of success? This is the question that Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant meticulously answer in their captivating and inspiring new book, “Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits.”
In the course of their research, Crutchfield and McLeod Grant dispel several ideas about what makes nonprofits effective. The authors tell us that early research on nonprofit effectiveness focused on three things: program replication — in the private sector this is the same as studying product development and distribution; building organizational capacity in order to increase a nonprofit’s impact; and seeking out management models in the private sector. These are all helpful ways to think about nonprofit management, Crutchfield and McLeod Grant argue, but focusing on them alone constitutes a failure to get the big picture.
The authors say that several converging trends make it necessary for nonprofits to rearticulate their strategies for success:
* the staggering and unprecedented amount of money moving from foundations, philanthropists and donors;
* as the social welfare state scales back, nonprofits begin to inhabit the vacuum left behind, providing many of the services that big government formerly provided;
* technology and the rapid dissemination of information and images have increased our awareness of the manifold problems facing our planet — from global warming to genocide in Darfur to persistent homelessness; and, finally