Forces for Good Book Review

In Book Review, Evaluations by Geoff Burns

By Senior Consultant, Kristy Burns

I started this review as part of a class project. As I finished the assignment, I felt that the entire review deserved to be referenced here for all of you.

Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits Book Review

Written by Leslie R. Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant

This review is based on the book Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits and was written by Leslie R. Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant. This book was published by Jossey-Bass a Wiley Imprint 989 Market Street San Francisco, CA 94103-1741. It is copyrighted by John Wiley and Sons, Inc. 2008.

Introduction to the Authors:

The book was written by Leslie R. Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant. Leslie R. Crutchfield is a managing director of Ashoka, a nonprofit dedicated to the research and development of social entrepreneurs, and a research grantee of the Aspen Institute’s Nonprofits Sector and Philanthropy Program. She is the co-founder of Who Cares: The tool kit for Social Change, which is a magazine for social entrepreneurs. Crutchfield also has over fifteen years experience in the nonprofit sector and has become an advisor to many nonprofits. She earned her MBA and AB from Harvard University and lives in Washington D.C. with her family.

Heather McLeod Grant is an advisor to the Stanford Center for Social Innovation and research fellow with Duke University’s Center for Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE). McLeod Grant is also a past consultant who has over fifteen years leadership in the nonprofit sector, and is also a co-founder of Who Cares. McLeod Grant also writes and speaks publicly about the nonprofit sector and serves on various boards. She has an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and an AB from Harvard University. She resides in the San Francisco Bay area with her family.

Summary:

Crutchfield and McLeod Grant’s book is based on an in depth study of twelve high-functioning nonprofits, their findings, and recommendations based on those findings which is where they came up with the six practices for nonprofits to be successful. They open the doors to conventional views of nonprofits. They are able to not only speak to the nonprofit sector, but show readers how hard working, innovative and self motivated nonprofits really are. They are precise with their findings in which they had come up with six powerhouse practices that are practical and realistic for any nonprofit to follow and be successful. I found this book to be extremely helpful if you are in the non profit field as a profession, on a board of directors or just volunteer. Crutchfield and McLeod Grants in depth study of twelve diverse and high functioning non profits was fascinating. When you begin the book they tell you how they had pre conceived notions about what they would find when they began their study. They truly identify with the reader when they show time and time again how their notions were incorrect and praise the nonprofit for their innovative efforts. Anyone who is affiliated in any part of the nonprofit sector can benefit from and be inspired by this book.

Evaluation:

Crutchfield and McLeod Grant believe that a successful nonprofit can be created by following six major practices that they identified in this book. Of the twelve nonprofits studied, each continued a cycle in which they used one or more of the six practices identified as a practice of high functioning nonprofits. Results from the research show that the more practices that were used, the more influence they had. By working with government, harnessing market forces, creating evangelists for the cause, nurturing nonprofit networks, adapting to the changing environment and sharing leadership and empowering others to be a force for good, these nonprofits are actively using these practices and making a greater impact each and every day. They believe that by learning how to use their identified six practices: Advocate and Serve, Make Markets Work, Inspire Evangelists, Nurture Nonprofit Networks, Master the Art of Adaptation, and Share Leadership are the keys to high powered non profit success.

Crutchfield and McLeod Grant state that “being an extraordinary nonprofit isn’t about building an organization and scaling it up, it’s not about perfect management or outstanding marketing, or having a large budget. Rather it’s about finding ways to leverage other sectors to create extraordinary impact. Great nonprofits are catalysts; they transform the system around them to achieve greater good.”(207) I believe in this statement as I have seen it to be true. Working for a nonprofit myself I have seen the highs and lows of what it means to make an impact, and I would agree that the research in Crutchfield and McLeod Grant’s book is correct. If a nonprofit truly is a catalyst for good doing, than how else will they be able to achieve that impact without collaboration? Collaboration is a recurring theme in the book, by seeking insight and resources with other organizations, government, corporations and Crutchfield and McLeod Grant point out that this is a large part why these studied nonprofits were successful. I also believe that while using a few of Crutchfield and McLeod Grant’s six practices will help an organization to succeed in certain areas of their operation or reach, using all six will make for a more highly successful and high functioning nonprofit.

Conclusion:

High functioning nonprofits do what it takes to get the results they need to make an impact. They do this by using the six practices that have been outlined in Forces for Good. Because these nonprofits need to be extremely innovative and adaptive, I have come to the conclusion that this book explains many great strategies to apply to any nonprofit for results of success. This book can truly help you no matter what way you affiliated with the nonprofit sector.

References:

McLeod Grant. Forces for Good The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008. 207.