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Does this ring true for you?
Stanford Social Innovation Review recently published an article titled Creating High-Impact Nonprofits. The authors spent several years studying 12 of the most successful nonprofits in recent U.S. history and they discovered a number of things that surprised them:
"What we discovered after closely examining these 12 high-impact nonprofits came as a bit of a surprise. We had assumed that there was something inherent in these organizations that helped them have great impact – and that their success was directly tied to their growth or management approach. Instead, we learned that becoming a high-impact nonprofit is not just about building a great organization and then expanding it to reach more people. Rather, high-impact nonprofits work with and through organizations and individuals outside themselves to create more impact than they ever could have achieved alone. They build social movements and fields; they transform business, government, other nonprofits, and individuals; and they change the world around them."
Because MMT wants to invest in what really works, we found this article very interesting. We'd like to know how it strikes you... does it resonate with your experience here in Oregon and southwest Washington?
Please read the article, then come back here to MMT's website to post a comment in the box below. (We bet SSIR would love you to post a comment on its site as well!)
Posted by: Linda Harrington | October 8, 2007 05:56 PM
Very interesting article. I kept wondering how a very small non-profit in a very sparsely populated area could become an agent for social change. Then I remembered the business idea our board is considering right now and realized it has all the components outlined in this article. Wow! I can't wait to get this into the hands of the committee working on this concept and help them see the possibilities for their idea! The world really is flat after all. With technology at our fingertips and opportunity to market around the world the playing field is a level as it will ever be whether we are large or small. Thanks for turning us on to this article.
Posted by: Paul Reich | October 10, 2007 04:01 PM
It's interesting to note that advocacy is identified as one of six practices of high impact organizations. To me, advocacy was at the core of practices 1 to 3 (serve & advocate, make markets work, & inspire evangelists), and a major element of practice 4 (nurture nonprofit networks).
Posted by: Jonathan | October 11, 2007 03:30 PM
Strangely, given the reputation of the Pacific Northwest as a haven for original thought, environmental concern, quality lifestyles, and etc., I think it is Practice #3, “Inspire Evangelists”, that has the most room for improvement here.
An average citizen, I applaud the efforts of non-profits to make a difference in our lives. But my local friends -- intelligent and educated people, middle-aged and middle-class, parents – look at me blankly when I talk about MMT or OCF, the Chalkboard Project, the Small Schools Initiative. In the same way, to butcher a well-known quote, that the legislative initiatives of poets remain unacknowledged – and therefore un-ratified – these efforts to improve education will not be great successes until they have found their way to the minds of the work-a-day public.
As the father of a two-year-old, I look on the education factories that my daughter will someday attend with something akin to horror – and these schools are solid neighborhood institutions by Portland standards.
The person most likely to be Portland’s next mayor says he would like to reduce the school dropout rate, a laudable goal. But if he is aware of Small Schools or other such initiatives he doesn’t mention them. Modern government in general is notoriously bad at both research and consensus building…Will he, after being elected, waste resources in re-creating work that’s already been done? Or ignore it completely? Or well-meaningly fail to allocate proper resources?
I wonder if a really bold stroke might make local parents more aware, without them having to work at being aware. What about funding the construction and operation of a single charter school at the elementary level, based on ‘relationship-based learning’ principles? With admission by true lottery and payments on an income-based sliding scale? Here in Portland, MMT’s own backyard, the largest Oregon school district? This seems to me more likely to get attention on all levels than the school-within-a-school approach at local high schools – by high school I would guess most parents have given up on getting their kids an education!
Apologies if this reads like a rant, and thank you for the opportunity to comment here.
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