Strategy Talk: How Strategy Differs for Nonprofits

Organizations that don’t have a profit imperative still need to answer three critical questions.

The Hard Work of Measuring Social Impact

Donors are placing nonprofits on the hot seat to measure social performance. Problem is, there is little agreement on what those metrics should be. Professor Alnoor Ebrahim on how nonprofit managers should respond.


Recent studies raise an uncharitable question: Is nonprofit accounting off track?

Enterprising Nonprofits: Revenue Generation in the Nonprofit Sector

Nonprofit managers who develop social purpose ventures to generate revenues to support a social mission have limited opportunities to share their experiences with others in the field or to learn from the experiences of others. Many nonprofit managers also have modest business backgrounds. Yet, despite these challenges, the movement toward income generation by nonprofits continues to grow. Some of these ventures succeed, yet many more … [ Read more ]

The Dynamic Nonprofit Board

Corporations aren’t alone in focusing on governance; rigorous oversight of management and performance is increasingly important for nonprofits too.

The Invisible World of Association

We have business and we have government. For too many intents and purposes, we have nothing in between. This distinction has framed the great social debate for more than a century: capitalism versus socialism, markets versus controls, individualism versus collectivism, privatization versus nationalization, “free enterprise” versus “democracy of the proletariat.” The debate features no cooperatives, no NGOs, no not-for-profits, no volunteer organizations, not because they … [ Read more ]

Helping nonprofits do business

Business plan competitions are a powerful way to help nonprofits turn ideas into sustainable commercial ventures.

Nonprofits: Ensuring that Bigger is Better

The federation structure remains a viable model for nonprofit organizations – if managements transform themselves and affiliates collaborate more closely.

It’s All About Passion

Corporations could learn a lot from the intensity of nonprofits. Are they willing to listen?

Organizational Lessons for Nonprofits

Teach For America learned the importance of building organizational capacity the hard way.

It’s Back to Business-Basics for Nonprofits

Former HBS professor Jeff Bradach shares practical advice on how nonprofits can improve their strategy and produce measurable results for their cause and donors.

Collaboration for a Change: A Practitioner’s Guide to Environmental Nonprofit-Industry Partnership

This report provides decision-makers in business and environmental nonprofits with the practical tools required to launch or improve effective partnerships. Designed as a compendium of best practices and key learnings, this report targets practitioners who recognize the enormous potential of nonprofit-industry partnerships but need a framework for approaching structured collaboration and a compact, handy reference to aid implementation. Our objective is to outline critical success … [ Read more ]

Cause Marketing: Taking a Cue From the Private Sector

Are you working for a nonprofit or promoting a social cause? Many of the for-profit rules about marketing strategy apply there, too.

Nonprofits and the $100 Billion Opportunity

Nonprofits are wasting billions through inefficient business practices. A Harvard Business Review excerpt co-authored by former senator Bill Bradley offers fixes.

Editor’s Note: This article doesn’t offer a detailed prescription and I found some of the logic to suffer from excessive enthusiasm and theory but the concept addressed is an important one and the facts given are useful and interesting.

Leadership: Called to Serve

As the nonprofit sector grows and organizations become increasingly complex, more and more executives are being invited to lend their skills as board members. Here are eight principles for effective governance that can help a broad range of nonprofit groups be more successful.

The Challenge of the Multi-site Nonprofit

Multi-site nonprofit organizations shouldn’t be run like companies that make money, say HBS professors Allen Grossman and V. Kasturi Rangan. The key for nonprofit managers is to embrace a balance between affiliation and autonomy.

Doing Good By Doing Well

Nonprofit organizations should consider creating wealth rather than merely redistributing it.

Venture Philanthropy Embraces Key Strategies of Venture Capitalists

The problem: Find a way to get more bang for the buck out of charitable donations. The strategy: Adopt techniques that worked well for venture capital firms in the 1990s – greater interaction between giver and recipient, and an emphasis on measurable results. The upshot: The birth of the movement variously called “venture philanthropy,” “social entrepreneurism,” “strategic philanthropy,” and “e-philanthropy.” But is it really a … [ Read more ]

Not-for-profit management: The gift that keeps on giving

Nonprofit organizations should focus on building a lasting organization and on developing effective performance metrics. To make this possible, donors must change their approach to philanthropy.

Full Disclosure: A Strategy for Performance

Americans expect results from their business, government, and nonprofit organizations. We also expect information about the performance of those institutions: Who’s in charge? How is money spent? And what have they accomplished? In the business world, the demands imposed by lenders and investors — and, of course, the Securities and Exchange Commission — force companies to disclose precise details of their operations — earnings, expenses, … [ Read more ]