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Social Startup Success: How the Best Nonprofits Launch, Scale Up, and Make a Difference
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Social Startup Success: How the Best Nonprofits Launch, Scale Up, and Make a Difference

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  167 ratings  ·  25 reviews
With business advice from an expert entrepreneur, learn how to identify and leverage the key factors that will bring sustainability and success to your startup.

Kathleen Kelly Janus, a lecturer at the Stanford University Program on Social Entrepreneurship and the founder of the successful social enterprise Spark, set out to investigate what makes a startup succeed or fail.
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published January 16th 2018 by Da Capo Lifelong Books
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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May 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is a depressing book. The "success" referred to in the title is pretty much all about bringing in money. "Making a difference" is a distant concern. Numerous examples reveal characters whose outfits haven't been proven to make anything better, but who succeed at fundraising because they tell a good story. Clearly, hard evidence of solving social problems is not at all necessary for raising money. So if your goal is to launch and scale up a nonprofit, what this book teaches is that you would ...more
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An inspiring book for all those who are looking to do good in the world!
Jonathan Jacobs
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A really helpful overview of how the best nonprofits function. Also, lots of lessons we can bring to the for-profit world!
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
This feels like "Good to Great", only for nonprofits, both in its structure and in how compelling it can be at times. The language is clear and accessible and I ended up keeping a notepad next to me as I read so that I could jot down ideas that came to mind as I read. At the end of each chapter, there's a great synopsis of key questions/takeaways you should be thinking about. It would be great if there was also a clear listing of resources (books, websites) organized the same way, since she list ...more
Mar 13, 2018 rated it liked it
After a SSIR review, I expected much more from this book. But what I found was quite a mediocre compilation of recent best practices on prototyping, fundraising, hiring, and pitching. If you've been following literature or blogs in these fields – you'll get little new. The language of the book is heavily spiced up with NGO and 'grant application language' cliches (make the world a better place / difference). Not recommended. ...more
Aarif  Billah
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Social Startup Success focused on producing lasting solution to the world's worst problems from the social service perspective. In order to achieve such feat, social service organization need creative leadership and innovation. But in order to ensure the right fit, leadership position in these organization should fit the organization type rather than just a high profile leader. (read more on "lead right for your organization's type")

The book was based on over 200 high-performing social entrepren
Mahendra Rathod
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, knowledge
We started our NGO in Dec'20. We want to do something positive for the remote mountain village communities in Indian Himalayas. We had earlier hiked to these villages for the last 3 years and have done our bit in terms of livelihood, medicines, support, trail cleaning etc. However, we were looking to do something big and more impactful. With that in mind, we started our NGO in Dec'20.

While we had the intent, we had absolutely no idea on how to build such an organization. Social Startups are just
Diego Parada Herrera
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great read for any social entrepreneur. It offers a lot of insights on the challenges nonprofits face when starting and scaling up. The examples it provides are really interesting and varied. I would’ve liked to have more theory that could be applied to any nonprofit, but still, very useful information.


Excelente lectura para cualquier emprendedor social. Ofrece una gran cantidad de información sobre los desafíos a los que se enfrentan las organizaciones sin fines de lucro al iniciar y expandir
Sterling Hardaway
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
📚: Finished reading "Social Startup Success" by Kathleen Kelly Janus. As a co-founder of her own non-profit ( Spark), Janus surveys various leaders in the social impact space, learning their best practices for starting, sustaining, and scaling their organizations. A great overview of the specific challenges and objectives that face nonprofits. I would rec for anyone in the nonprofit sector or looking to transition, how to grow as a leader or measure impact, or interested in founding their own so ...more
Mauro Locarnini
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is written in an easy to follow way for anyone interested in the topic. I adresses many of the key areas where social entrepreneurs need to put some effort in order to avoid topical traps and rip the required benefits. Never marries with one solution and offer a number of alternatives of courses developing some over others. It provides examples only to illustrate and not as the only source of the book. The best book of social entrepreneurship I have read so far
Amanda Comi
Jun 22, 2018 rated it liked it
This book focuses on analyzing research about how midsize non-profits become huge non-profits. One of the main observations is that applying the scientific method can lead to success in gaining financial support, but doing this requires data and humility. The case studies included were interesting.

This book does not explain how to start a new non-profit.
Aom Ap'
May 13, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book cover says “how the best Nonprofits launch, scale up and make a difference” but the content inside really doesn't tell that much. More 100 example doesn’t work because it’s only briefly and make bemused instead. ...more
Arianna  M Shirk
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Textbook for success

Really good ideas and information. I plan on buying a copy for my board members. Loads of practical advice on how to make a non-profit sustainable and successful.
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating for anyone interested in social entrepreneurship...
Daisy Rosales
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must read for any nonprofit leader or social entrepreneur. Period.
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good book with a ton of insight and useful resources. Great reference book for anyone starting or with an interest in working with social startups.
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book. A primer on how to effectively make a difference in this day and age.
kristen koh
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Informative, concise, yet heartwarming at the same time. Incredible storytelling that makes the main points extremely memorable and actionable. Bravo.
Altaf Darzi
Nov 27, 2020 rated it liked it
More of operational insights... like KPIs, dashboards, org.structure, collaboration etc.,, Nothing new for a person who is already running a NonProfit
Haley Brogden
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

this is just what I was looking for. A simple lean approach to nonprofits. I thank you for this great book of yours
Jennifer Lucking
I really got a lot from this book! A useful tool.
Mora Liang
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very informative!
Brian Kelly
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous book !
Very substantive - a must for all non-profit boards and executive teams.
Signifiant ideas and info on managing and leading a not for profit organization - and actually a for profit as well.
Kotchakorn Kh
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot of case studies to support the argument. Ideas suggested in some topics are enough for implementation, some are not. Need more ‘situation based’ how-to to execute.
rated it liked it
Dec 21, 2019
César Wedemann
rated it really liked it
Sep 25, 2018
rated it really liked it
Jan 21, 2020
Bill Lynch
rated it it was amazing
Oct 29, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Dec 06, 2018
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Kathleen Kelly Janus is a social entrepreneur, author and lecturer at Stanford University. As an expert on philanthropy, millennial engagement and scaling early stage organizations, her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Tech Crunch and the San Francisco Chronicle. She is the co-founder of Spark, the largest network of millennial ...more

Articles featuring this book

Stanford lecturer Kathleen Kelly Janus has studied nonprofits around the world to find out how they succeed. Here she picks her books that can make...
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