Book Preview: “Forces for Good”
* today’s corporate chieftains are giving to charities at levels previously unheard of — and demanding accountability.
What Crutchfield and McLeod Grant found in their four years of research — fueled by $750,000 in grants from several leading foundations — is that what makes certain nonprofits salient in a crowded field is an ability to see beyond the tips of their own noses — to understand that they are a part of a greater process — and to work in harmony with government, the marketplace, individual supporters and other nonprofits. “Forces for Good” highlights the massive successes of 12 such organizations with very different agendas, which were selected after Crutchfield and McLeod Grant surveyed CEOs at more than 2,000 nonprofits.
“We must begin to study and understand nonprofits not merely as organizations housed within four walls,” they write, “but as catalysts that work within, and change, entire systems.”
The politically conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation is a case in point. Founded in the early 1970s, it exploded conventional wisdom about the role of think tanks in society: rarefied, academic and far behind the scenes — an eminence grise of public-policy formulation. But by taking a boisterous, grassroots approach — what Crutchfield and McLeod Grant call converting ordinary supporters into “evangelists” — and by aggressively courting Republican representatives of Congress, Heritage has been wildly successful at pushing its agenda through — causing enormous political change in a relatively small amount of time and in a remarkably public way.
“It was the first think tank to proactively market conservative policy to the public, Congress and the White House,” the authors write. “In the process, it helped catalyze a much larger conservative movement.”
Another nonprofit that makes Crutchfield and McLeod Grant’s list is San Francisco’s Exploratorium, one of the first interactive museums in the U.S. — and a paradigm for other interactive museums internationally. With hardly any formal marketing efforts in place, Exploratorium has grown since it opened in 1969 largely because it possesses a spirit of unbridled generosity and collaboration, developing programs to help other interactive museums replicate its successes — Exploratorium helped start 21 other museums in just three years — and raising federal funds to develop science centers at universities and in communities around the country.