Are You A Force for Good? How Do You Know?

oversight and accountability: measurement roles and responsibilities the board/ceo partnership Apr 11, 2022

Are You A Force for Good? How Do You Know?


Let’s face it. You intend to do “good”. You intend to have impact.


But what makes a good not-for-profit great?


There are many ideas, and feelings of course, as well as experiences, but little research.


If you haven’t read Forces for good: The six practices of high impact non-profits, by researchers Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant, now is the time. 


Great non-for-profits don’t build organizations, they build movements, leveraging the power of business, government, the public and other not-for-profits to become formidable forces for good.


Crutchfield and Grant surveyed more than 2,000 leaders in the sector and interviewed 60 in depth.


They then identified 12 organizations considered “great,” each with an unwavering focus on outcomes and a drive to get there.


They are catalytic agents for change, working outside their organizations as much as inside, influencing legislation and mobilizing the public to act on larger issues.


Perhaps like you, their focus used to be on program replication and building organizational capacity to deliver programs and services but now… well, here are the six characteristics in brief (and we’ll come back to each in upcoming blogs).


  1. Advocating as well as serving. Working with government and advocating for policy change in addition to providing services. What legislation are you advocating?
  2. Making markets work, recognizing business as a powerful partner (and encouraging corporations to change when necessary). How are you partnering with business corporations and also encouraging positive change?
  3. Inspiring evangelicals. Converting supporters to evangelicals for the cause, through meaningful experiences. Who are the ones you can count on? How do you engage them?
  4. Nurturing not-for-profit networks. Treating other groups as partners, not as competitors for scarce resources. How to we build coalitions with (depending on our area) other literacy groups, other arts/cultural groups, other student services groups?
  5. Mastering the art of adaptation. Adapting to the changing environment, becoming innovative and nimble as well as strategic. Nimble is not always our strength… how do you monitor? How do you drop and add services? Do you ever drop?
  6. Sharing the leadership. Empowering others to lead. It’s about the cause, about the results, not about the recognition… and an engaged board goes without saying, but we need to say it!


Of course, you exemplify some and maybe even all of these characteristics, to at least some extent. And we have discussed them here in different forms many times.


We seek social investment, through resources and policy. And we need to show a return. This is often easier and more effective through powerful networks of like-minded groups working for systemic change – and we are not talking sclerotic associations here!


Outcomes come from the power of leverage. Extraordinary results come from working with and through others.

More later.


What are your main “pain points” dealing with assessing your impact as an organization?
What advice would be most helpful to you? And we always assume that you are asking for a friend!

Get in touch. We’ll address your questions and concerns in an upcoming blog post.



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 P.S. May I ask a tiny favour? 

Would you mind sharing this blog with one person? I would love it. You can post the links in your Facebook Groups, LinkedIn or even send an email.

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