We can thank philanthropy and nonprofits for breakthroughs like hospice care, public libraries, and the discovery of insulin to treat diabetes. Yet finding solutions to social problems and measuring impact are often very difficult. Good intentions don’t automatically translate to impact. Why do some nonprofits punch above their weight while others misfire?
The most successful nonprofits are innovative, which is, in short, about finding new, surprising ways to get results and value. It involves creativity, originality, and some risk-taking. It involves building innovative practices into our workplace DNA, such as pilots and small experiments. Through stories of social entrepreneurs and nonprofit powerhouses like Mayo Clinic, the American civil rights movement, Fred Rogers’ nonprofit production company, Rhinos Without Borders, and many others, there are practical lessons that can be applied at any nonprofit. At the same time, we won’t shy away from cautionary tales of what not to do.