Characteristics that Empower Nonprofit Innovation

By Julie DeLong

On vacation recently, the staff of the beautiful resort where we were staying said, more than once, “anything is possible!” Think creatively and act sustainably about problem solving and that can be your mantra too. Many of us think creatively and seek to build consensus around new and sustainable ways to meet goals and objectives. Fully working through innovative change takes sustained effort on a number of fronts.

The Bridgespan Group conducted a study with the help of the Rockefeller Foundation that identified innovation in the nonprofit sector. They found six elements for building innovation capacity: catalytic leadership, a curious culture, diverse teams, porous boundaries, idea pathways, and ready resources. While 80% of nonprofit leaders consider innovation imperative, only 40% of those leaders would claim that their organization was ready, or that “anything is possible.” Is your organization ready for sustained innovation?

The Stanford Social Innovation Review article Is Your Nonprofit Built for Sustained Innovation? breaks down the elements needed and identifies organizations that exhibited innovation to make sustained change. Using these points from the Bridgespan Group study can serve as a useful starting place for building capacity to improve human and environmental well-being at your nonprofit.

Read the Stanford Social Innovation Review article.