Nonprofits

Do good in the world with good practices. Resource sharing and advice from nonprofit leaders from the Blogosphere and beyond.

Building a Charismatic Nonprofit

“What distinguishes a good nonprofit from a great nonprofit? At the end of the day, the great, charismatic nonprofits are not necessarily those that have charismatic leaders, but those that can create strong social capital,” said Deborah Jospin at a Center for American Progress event about the book she co-authored with Shirley Sagawa, The Charismatic Organization: Eight Ways to Grow a Nonprofit that Builds Buzz, Delights Donors, and Energizes Employees. Nina Easton, Washington Bureau Chief of Fortune Magazine, moderated the discussion with Sagawa and Jospin.

The danger of basing an organization around one person with charismatic leadership qualities is that the focus can quickly become the leader rather than the organization. A leader can always leave an organization. This is why Sagawa and Jospin argue that building a fundamentally strong, team based nonprofit will be a more effective method in the long run than relying on individual leadership.

“There are two kinds of social capital,” explained Sagawa. “One kind brings people together and unites them in a cause so that they want to be part of that community.” This is especially valuable because it means that, in hard economic times, an organization’s donors and supporters will still be there and feel a connection to that cause. The other type of social capital is “bridging social capital.” This means that an organization is able to reach beyond its immediate network, which allows it to expand their donor base or political influence. …read more and see the video at Building a Charismatic Nonprofit – Center for American Progress, published 21 April 2009.

Flickr photo credit: an untrained eye

By | April 27, 2009|Blog, Nonprofits|0 Comments

Solving a social problem, without going the nonprofit route

It used to be that people who wanted to solve a social problem — like lack of access to clean water or inadequate housing for the poor — created a charity. Today, many start a company instead.

D.light, a company cofounded by Sam Goldman, who spent four years in the Peace Corps in Benin before earning a master’s degree in business from Stanford University, is an example. Mr. Goldman started D.light with the mission of replacing millions of kerosene lamps now used in poor, rural parts of the world with solar-powered lamps.

Having used kerosene lamps himself while living in Benin, Mr. Goldman learned firsthand of kerosene’s problems — it is expensive, it provides poor light and it is extremely dangerous. When the son of his West African neighbor nearly died after suffering severe burns from spilled kerosene, Mr. Goldman said he realized he wanted to create a venture to solve both the social and economic problems caused by these lamps. His time in Benin also convinced him, he said, that only as a business could a project become large enough to reach the great number of people who use these lamps as their primary source of light.

“We could have done it as a nonprofit over a hundred years, but if we wanted to do it in five or 10 years, then we believed it needed to be fueled by profit,” he said. “That’s the way to grow.” …read more on this at Solving a Social Problem, Without Going the Nonprofit Route – NYTimes.com, published 4 March 2009.

Flickr photo credit: jurvetson

By | March 9, 2009|Blog, Nonprofits|0 Comments

The Obama brand: lessons for the nonprofit sector

A Respected Brand Can Get You Through Tough Times

When friends, coworkers and even family members find out that I went to Washington, D.C. for the Inauguration of President Barack H. Obama, they ask, What was it like? In their usually hushed voices, you hear one part awe, one part envy and two parts reverence. Even one of my husband’s friends, who mostly just nods when he sees me, asked to speak with me – during their sacred weekly call about football – when he heard that I was on the National Mall for the swearing in.

Certainly, everyone from my mom to Rupert Murdoch and from the Guardian to CNN, MSNBC and Fox News (and how often do they all agree?) have called Barack Obama a rock star. Even rival John McCain pejoratively referred to then-Senator Obama during the presidential campaign as a celebrity. …more at The Obama Brand: Lessons for the Nonprofit Sector « TSNE – Strategic Communications Blog.

Flickr image credit: tsevis

By | January 29, 2009|Blog, Nonprofits|0 Comments