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Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  660 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
An innovative guide to how great nonprofits achieve extraordinary social impact. What makes great nonprofits great? Authors Crutchfield and McLeod Grant searched for the answer over several years, employing a rigorous research methodology which derived from books on for-profits like Built to Last. They studied 12 nonprofits that have achieved extraordinary levels of impact ...more
Hardcover, 313 pages
Published October 19th 2007 by Jossey-Bass (first published October 19th 2006)
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Dave
May 02, 2014 Dave rated it really liked it
The six practices of high-impact nonprofits are:
1. Advocate AND serve. You need to add advocacy to have high impact. Leverage your message toward governments, policies, other powerful networks, etc….
2. Make markets work. Tap into the power of self-interest and economics rather than pure altruism. For instance: Earned income ventures?
3. Inspire evangelists. Your volunteers need to be evangelists for your cause.
4. Nurture non profit networks. Real collaboration means helping other organizations an
...more
Robert
Jul 26, 2008 Robert rated it it was amazing
As is true of several other outstanding business books, the work on this one was driven by a question: What makes great nonprofits great?” What Crutchfield and McLeod learned is shared in this volume. They assert that high-impact nonprofits demonstrate all or most of six practices: They both advocate what is urgently needed and commit resources in response to that need; are “pragmatic idealists” who combine social values with business “smarts” to “make markets work”; build a community of evangel ...more
Alex
Aug 06, 2015 Alex rated it it was amazing
I often find books by nonprofit consultants too obvious, but this is one of the best I've read. Despite looking a multimillion dollar organizations, I found the advice relevant to small nonprofits, and was especially pleased to see them analyzing very different types of organizations--from the Heritage Foundation to Teach for America. I particularly appreciated the advice on inspiring evangelists and the benefits of prioritizing the movement over just the organization (while recognizing that an ...more
Cathy
Jun 06, 2009 Cathy rated it it was amazing
This is a must-read for anyone who works for a nonproft, for foundations and businesses that support nonprofits, and generally for the do-gooders in the world.

It identifies six common practices identified in 12 effective nonprofits that have had national impact. The group is diverse, ranging from Habitat for Humanity to the Heritage Foundation.

We are using it for our Board retreat in a few weeks. Highly recommended.
Serri
Apr 30, 2012 Serri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, nonfiction
In full disclosure, I did not complete reading this book. However, I had the opportunity to hear a presentation and participate in a separate discussion on author's research, conclusions and business model for nonprofits -- and think his ideas have great merit.

Crutchfield, the author, applies Good to Great research concepts and applied it to examining successful nonprofit organizations. While Jim Collins approached his finding differently with a small 50 page book soon after he released Good to
...more
Tiffany
Sep 12, 2015 Tiffany rated it really liked it
The update to this book is very useful in visioning how the six practices can be applied at the local level. All nonprofit leaders and board members would benefit from reading this book and collectively work through how to apply these principles to their organizations. Advocacy, working with marketplace leaders, and forming alliances with other nonprofit organizations is really key to addressing some of society's most pressing issue. Compassion demands that were willing to adapt. Our digitally c ...more
Tracy
I haven't read all of this book. My library has it up in processing, and I've been sneaking up to no-man's-land to crib bits and pieces. But, so far, what I see, I likey!

Here's the pitch I made to the powers-that-be:

"This book analyzes the practices that characterize high-performing nonprofit organizations. The two authors graduated from business schools and started their study expecting confirmation that nonprofits should model themselves after their for-profit counterparts. However, they learn
...more
Gina
The book examines the practices of high impact non-profits. It also examines the myths of efficient non-profits: perfect management, brand-name awareness, a breakthrough new idea, textbook mission statements, high ratings on conventional metrics, and large budgets. The book looks at judging charities by overhead vs impact. The most successful charities had traits in common: advocate and server, make markets work, inspire evangelists, nurture nonprofit networks, master the art of adaptation, and ...more
Kyle Farris
Dec 04, 2016 Kyle Farris rated it really liked it
Shelves: bought
The principles were good to read, particularly having read many other business books. The nonprofit world can appear to be upside down, but Forces For Good explores that issue and makes sense out of the counter intuitive best practices. It was a little heavy on the anecdotes - that's my only complaint, but those stories might actually be very beneficial for some readers.
Steve Coughlan
Feb 29, 2008 Steve Coughlan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
I learned a lot from this book. I occasionally give advice to nonprofits, and it generally is two tiered. Level 1 is just the basics of business, and a nonprofit needs to hit the business basics just like a for-profit, or it's going to fail. Level 2 is non-profit-specific, about mission statements and effective boards and building capacity. This book helps me understand Level 3 issues -- the strategies to build a high-impact nonprofit. Some of what I learned reinforced my own prejudices, but the ...more
Sara
Oct 27, 2009 Sara rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A good book for those who are curious about how successful nonprofits achieve their results. However, the book deliberately sidesteps any Social Impact Assessment (SIA), despite the fact that the authors clearly have the resources to do so. As such, we're left with good stories about successful nonprofits, but no way to measure their success. Though some of the author's lessons ("Make sure that your executive team stays with you for 20+ years") are not exactly easy to implement, the book has a l ...more
Doug
Apr 11, 2012 Doug rated it really liked it
I'm not typically a fan of self-help, business-help books like this. The fault I often find is that they dive in to the weeds, and tell you exactly what to do. I've never particularly thought life was so easy in that way, and I'm not much of a "here's your silver bullet answer" kind of a guy. So, I was pleasantly surprised with this book. Much more strategic and high-level. Very worth the read, and I'm excited to take the high-level outline, and use it as a strategic planning strategy for my own ...more
Kevin
Apr 12, 2012 Kevin rated it liked it
I listened to the audio version in my car on long trips, etc. I found it to be interesting and engaging - although not always as applicable to my particular non-profit situation as I might have liked. Nevertheless, if you are interested in the social sector, and social entrepreneurship in particular, this is a book you will want to read. Lots of examples and it is organized in digestible sections with chapter summaries and a how to get started section at the end. Good advice and insight into mak ...more
Sadia
Sep 22, 2009 Sadia rated it really liked it
Excellent review of what makes nonprofit organizations great-- across the social sector spectrum, from think thanks, youth development orgs, national and local nonprofits that are more than 10 years old. Provides insight from an organizational management perspective. Well researched, thorough, and great resource for those of us trying to start our own organizations, or working for the nonprofit sector as philanthropists, evangelists or whatever else.
Polly Trout
Apr 30, 2008 Polly Trout rated it liked it
Not worth more than a skim, but their main points are interesting and salient. The authors conducted an extensive study on how a handful of nonprofits are able to leverage their resources for exceptional impact, and conclude that the best nonprofits follow these six strategies:

1. Advocate AND serve.
2. Make markets work.
3. Inspire evangelists.
4. Nurture nonprofit networks
5. Master the art of adaptation.
6. Share leadership.
Lea
Jul 01, 2013 Lea rated it really liked it
Great read- I really appreciated this focus on impact and not inputs.
I'd like to next read of an impact comparison across a sector-agnostic universe (non-profit, for-profit / social enterprise, public sector). While "Forces for Good" is very helpful for non-profits to increase impact, my sense is too often the well-intentioned presume that making the world a better place is only the purview of non-profits."
shaz rasul
Jan 16, 2012 shaz rasul rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
I wouldn't say that there was anything ground-breaking in Forces of Good, and yet, there were pages that I reread, there were concepts that I made a mental note to bring up in a meeting or to add to my diagrams. They didn't go as deeply into any of the featured organizations as I'd have guessed that they would, but by grouping them and asserting commonalities and contrasts, functionally did something that was important.
Becki
Apr 03, 2013 Becki rated it really liked it
A terrific read for anyone in the non-profit field. I had the opportunity to work with Heather Grant (co-author) and she has one of the most insightful and innovative minds in the field. I didn't give it a 5 because I feel like it got redundant at points....but overall, lessons well worth learning.
Charles Cohen
There were some really good insights in this book. Too bad they're wrapped in such mind-numbing verbiage. I wanted to like this, I really did. Hell, I kept it on my night stand for 2 years while I got up the energy to read it. But this will probably not be a book I pick up again. That makes it super helpful for professional development, right?
Alex
Nov 23, 2015 Alex rated it liked it
Crutchfield delivers quite an illuminating guide about running a nonprofit both more effectively and more wisely. The practices explored in the book not only make sense once the evidence is presented, but the suggestions about how to turn those into principles for more social impact will truly resonate with the target reader: people with a mission to improve the world.
Delight
Jun 09, 2008 Delight rated it it was amazing
This was a fantastic book. The authors analyzed hundreds of non-profits to distill what makes the most impactful non-profits. This is a data driven book (which I appreciate)and anyone who says that you can't quantify the impact a non-profit has is wrong, and this book proves it. Donors, employees of non-profits, and board members must read this book. This one's a keeper.
Shannah
Jul 27, 2011 Shannah rated it it was amazing
An absolute must-read for anyone thinking about any aspect of nonprofit organizations - from working for one to starting one yourself. It addresses fundraising, boards, setup and groundwork using ethnographic studies of some pretty remarkable businesses. Amazing all around book. I'll say it again: it's a must read!
Taylor
Nov 10, 2007 Taylor rated it really liked it
Much better than the majority of recent books on the nonprofit sector. Highlights truly innovative organizations and illustrates the varied approaches to scaling solutions to major issues. I'll even forgive the authors for profiling the Heritage Foundation [shudder].
Andrew Jensen
Jul 06, 2012 Andrew Jensen rated it really liked it
Informative. Has a very academic--and yet informal--tone. Everyone who is thinking of starting or joining a non-profit or advocacy organization should read this book. Nothing was terribly surprising or novel, but I did love the subject.
Tania
Jan 20, 2009 Tania rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. A must-read for people working in non-profits, with many good suggestions. I particularly appreciated that the strategies the authors recommend are based on research and analysis, and not just rooted in their personal experiences and opinions.
Eric
Nov 11, 2010 Eric rated it really liked it
Forces for Good was an interesting look at how to make non-profits more effective.
Major tips are: 1. Advocate and serve 2. Make Markets Work 3. Inspire evangelists 4. Nurture nonprofit networks 5. Master the art of adaptation 6. Share leadership
Lana
Jan 08, 2013 Lana rated it really liked it
Many books written for nonprofits are dry and boring textbook style books. I'm always happy to discover resources for nonprofits that are easy to read and full of informative and helpful information. This book gives many examples of successful practices of effective nonprofits.
Nick
Mar 21, 2009 Nick rated it it was amazing
Provides the 6 practices that have made American nonprofits the most successful at creating social change. Data driven and research based. Insightful and inspiring.
Jacqueline
Feb 27, 2014 Jacqueline rated it it was amazing
Shelves: school-readings
Good book, helpful. I don't think all of its practices are applicable to every non-profit, but its a great addition to the non-profit management library.
Andrea
Dec 04, 2008 Andrea added it
Kind of required reading at work. Since I work for a non-profit I want to discover what the six practices of high-impact nonprofits are so I too can transform the world!
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