Nonprofits from Good to Great

Nonprofits from Good to Great

I have recently finished my Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Henley Business School. The following is an executive summary of my Master Challenge which takes inspiration from Jim Collins (2001) and looks at how nonprofits can grow from good to great.

Today civil society is playing an increasingly visible and effective role in tackling global challenges. Nonprofits are enabling solutions that the public and the private sectors have not had the resources or the will to solve. But although significant progress has been made within the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG), the development is stalling or going the wrong way in other cardinal areas. The challenge seems to be, that as long as the nonprofits remain small-scale in terms of impact and revenue, it is unlikely that they will deliver in a significant way on the promise of a better tomorrow.

The question is therefore how international nonprofit organizations can grow in order to achieve the scale required to respond appropriately to societal and global problems?

Based on evidence gathered amongst top leaders in four successful nonprofits, the overall conclusion of the research project is that the nonprofits managed to scale by adhering (fully or partially) to four of Jim Collins interrelated six concepts unified in his Flywheel Framework (Figure 1.). In addition to these four another two emerging concepts were found to be influential in the buildup and breakthrough to greatness.

Forprofit_flywheel
Figure 1.: For-Profit Flywheel Framework

So what lead to success in the nonprofit sector? Well, starting with the CEO, the person heading the organization had a character that combined personal humility with professional will. Secondly the nonprofits became professionalized through an adaptation of business culture with a common language that allowed them to set ambitious organizational goals. People not in favor of the new culture were helped off the bus. Thirdly the nonprofits confronted the brutal facts and created shared meanings of them. Fourthly they focused on what they could become the best in the world at while at the same time following their passion and their economic drivers (Hedgehog Concept). Once they had defined their Hedgehog Concept they sat one single ambitious goal to guide them. Fifthly they created a culture of discipline with fanatical adherence to the Hedgehog Concept and slashed bureaucracy along the way. Last but not least it was found beneficial to remain self-implementing organizations that show intentions of scaling the impact, but wait until the timing is right (Figure 2.).

Nonprofit_flywheel

Figure 2.: Nonprofit Flywheel Framework

The research implies that if all six concepts of the Nonprofit Flywheel Framework are adhered to, the benefits will not only be the scaling of the organization to new heights, but also a scaling of its impact. With this powerful combination of scaling both organization and impact, the literature suggests that the nonprofit can start delivering results at the needed scale and thus respond appropriately to societal and global problems.

In Chapter 5 concrete recommendations on scaling nonprofits as well as how to stay successful can be found.

Please feel free to drop a note here or on twitter at #gtgnon or @simonprahm

Download the report (PDF, 1MB)

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GAME makes the Top 500 NGO list

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Congratulations to the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), which has just been named the world’s third best NGO. Global Geneva’s exclusive Top 500 list of the world’s NGOs has just been published and GAME has made the list for the fist time as the second best Danish NGO located on a 261st place.

The candidates were selected from 1,800 NGOs, including a number of the world’s largest and most respected organizations worldwide. Other Danish NGOs counts DanWatch (#307), IRCT (#309) and KVINFO (#410).

The fact that GAME is now among the world’s top 500 NGOs is due to the hard work, which the many volunteers and staff members have put in over the years. Day in and day out they have used their smarts to develop innovative approaches to lasting social change through youth-led street sports and culture. Without them, it would never have been possible.

The full list of the world’s top 500 non-governmental organizations is available here (requires payment).

Facebook med holdning

De to iderige og energiske knægte Stefan Tholstrup Schmidt og Simon Holmgaard har efterhånden rumsteret en del med deres nye initiativ TAG DEL. I denne uge blev webportalen så lanceret og jeg må sige, at den langt overgår forventningerne.

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Personligt synes jeg godt om ideen med at dele udfordringer på tværs af frivillige organisationer, i en tid, hvor nettet ellers mest benyttes til selvpromovering. Det sidste kan blive lidt skingert i længden – og ja, jeg falder også selv i en gang i mellem.

TAG DEL ønsker derimod at bringe folk sammen i et online community for at skabe de bedste løsninger, hvorefter det ambitiøse mål er, at brugerne efterfølgende skal gå sammen om at realisere dem. Som Stefan udtaler til TV2.dk: Vi vil gerne gøre det lettere for den enkelte borger i Danmark at bidrage og tage et medansvar for de udfordringer vi står overfor.

Jeg var selv lidt skeptisk, for hvad nytter det at kæmpe imod Facebook, som synes at suge og samtidig udvande den meste energi ud af selv den mest ihærdige online debattør. Men udover at det på TAGDEL.dk kan være svært at finde frem til organisationerne bag udfordringerne samt minimale bugs, som at man f.eks. altid kommer ind i en tom inbox og skal klikke en ekstra gang, før svar på ens posts kommer frem, så fungerer siden intuitivt og gnidningsfrit.

GAM3 har allerede fået en del input på hvordan vi kan løse udfordringen med stort frafald af frivillige og Splinx har fået input på hvordan de kan hjælpe “folket” til selv at skabe flere sportsaktiviteter for sig selv og hinanden.

Initiativet hostes af KPH og er støttet af Velux Fonden, Villum Fonden og Det Obelske Familefond. Thumbs up og god vind derudaf!

En hyldest til entreprenørskab

Under læsningen på mit MBA-studie hos Henley er jeg faldet over nedenstående hyldest til de små virksomheder og entreprenørskab. Citatet stammer fra den amerikanske senator Robert Taft, som I 1944 understregede vigtigheden af, at USA igen begyndte at gøde jorden for de små og mellemstore virksomheder.

Small business, to a large extent, is the basis of our whole free enterprise system. That system is not free unless men with ability and courage are able to enter into it on their own account. It is not free if every man in the United States is only an employee who cannot rise above that status. Large business units may have many advantages. In some industries, like the utilities and the manufacture of steel, they must be large and require large units of capital. But large business units, like units of government, tend to settle down into fixed grooves. They adopt methods which cannot be easily changed. There is little incentive among their many employees to develop new ideas or new methods. Our whole system depends on rewards for individual work, individual initiative, genius and daring.
(Taft, 1944)

Jeg synes stadig, at det holder. Vi bliver som nation nødt til at få mere gang i entreprenørånden herhjemme. Tal fra England viser, at kun en ud af 10 virksomheder overlever de første 10 år. Der skal derfor en del opstartsvirksomheder til, før velfærdsstatens indtægtsgrundlag er fremtidssikret.