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Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits [Hardcover]

by Leslie R. Crutchfield, Heather McLeod Grant
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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There is a newer edition of this item:
Forces for Good, Revised and Updated: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits Forces for Good, Revised and Updated: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits 4.7 out of 5 stars (7)
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Book Description

October 19, 2007 0787986127 978-0787986124 1
An innovative guide to how great nonprofits achieve extraordinary social impact.What makes great nonprofits great? Authors Crutchfield and McLeod Grant searched for the answer over several years, employing a rigorous research methodology which derived from books on for-profits like Built to Last. They studied 12 nonprofits that have achieved extraordinary levels of impact—from Habitat for Humanity to the Heritage Foundation—and distilled six counterintuitive practices that these organizations use to change the world. This book has lessons for all readers interested in creating significant social change, including nonprofit managers, donors and volunteers.

Leslie R. Crutchfield (Washington, D.C.) is a managing director of Ashoka and research grantee of the Aspen Institute. Heather McLeod Grant (Palo Alto, CA) is a nonprofit consultant and advisor to Duke University’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship and the Stanford Center for Social Innovation. Crutchfield and Grant were co-founding editors of Who Cares, a national magazine reaching 50,000 readers in circulation between 1993-2000.

Editorial Reviews


"This book goes beyond social businesses to delve into broader issues of poverty, offers an interesting alternative model for us to consider as we contemplate social action." (The Globe and Mail, 02/20/08)

Voted Top Ten Book of the Year, 2007 --The Economist

Recipient of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Skystone Ryan Prize for Research, 2008

Recipient of the Axiom Business Book Award in the Philanthropy/Charity /Nonprofit category, 2008 "Author with Valley roots help nonprofits partner with others in communities to share their missions." (Fresno Bee)

"…the books strength is how well it translates business practices and philosophies." (Library Journal, Dec 15, 2007)

"Cleverly chosen examples show how the best achieve their impact."  (The Economist, Saturday 8th December 2007)

"These are important findings, and not just for NGOs: traditional for-profit companies could probably learn a thing or two"  (, December 2007)

"They found that one quality that makes great nonprofits great." (, 10/30/2007)

"FFG provides many more examples of stellar leadership at work…" (, 10/30/2007)

"Non profit organizations with budgets big and small can make a notable impact in their fields… The book, which was in its third printing before it was released Friday, identifies six practices. . ." (Washington Times, 10/29/2007)

5-Star Review: " The book does not get bogged down in reams of data… rather is carried by stories told—stories that are dramatic, heart warming . . ." (, 10/22/2007)

"FFG is significant because it really defines the new world we are living in." (Eric Swanson.blogspot, 10/22/2007)

"Through extensive surveys and interviews, the authors develop six practices common to high-impact nonprofits: offering advocacy efforts and service, harnessing market forces and leveraging the power and resources of business, engaging individuals from outside the organization, working with and through other organizations, learning to adapt, and sharing leadership by empowering others." (Booklist, 10/15/2007)

Image of the book and announcement of the book featured on the main page. (City Year, e-newsletter, 09/20/2007)

"Whether you're a nonprofit leaders, a philanthropist, a business exec, a donor, or a volunteer, you will find something that inspires you to be an even more effective catalyst for lasting social change." (


"Crutchfield and McLeod Grant have made a significant contribution with a Very Big Idea–the shift in focus from building an organization to building a movement. Inspired and inspiring, this book can change the way the world works by changing how leaders think."
—Jim Collins, author, Good to Great, and coauthor, Built to Last

"The [nonprofits] having the greatest impact these days are those that have moved beyond old traditions. They are entrepreneurial, adaptive, externally-oriented, and sometimes a little messy. Working together, they are not only trying to fix problems, but also reform whole systems. For people who want to change the world—and who doesn’t?—this book provides an invaluable road map. Bravo!"
—David Gergen, professor of public service and director, Center for Public Leadership, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government

"Global problems like abject poverty and climate change require innovative, scaleable solutions. We have so much to learn from these six practices because they’re what lead to wide-scale social change."
—Larry Brilliant, executive director, and Sheryl Sandberg, board member,, and vice president,

"If you’re a funder, you have to read this book. It will frame how you think about lasting impact and greatly enhance your due diligence. The six practices should be your six principles of grantmaking."
—Edward Skloot, president, The Surdna Foundation

"[This book] frees entrepreneurs from the distraction of conventional management measurements. Instead, its findings say, ‘Go ahead and change the world!’ Indeed! This is the only true bottom line."
—Bill Drayton, chair and CEO, Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, and chair, Youth Venture

"Anyone who wants to affect systemic change and make a lasting difference in the world should read this important book and take its lessons to heart."
—J. Gregory Dees, professor, Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (October 19, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787986127
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787986124
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #133,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's Not About Egos and Logos October 29, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you work with a nonprofit as a staff member, volunteer or board member, you already know that nonprofit management is not as easy as it looks. The authors of this book agree. They studied nonprofits, the third largest industry in the U.S., for four years and identified 12 "exemplary" organizations that share six similarities in best practices.

Habitat for Humanity, Teach for America, The Heritage Foundation, Share Our Strengths and eight other nonprofits made the list. This helpful study also dispels six myths about effective nonprofits. Example: not all organizations are perfectly managed, have brand-name awareness, or breakthrough new ideas. They don't wordsmith their mission statements, they live them. And--they're big on implementation and execution (my favorite.)

Read chapter one and you'll have the gist of the whole book, especially the six practices: 1) Advocate and serve, 2) Make markets work, 3) Inspire evangelists, 4) Nurture nonprofit networks, 5) Master the art of adaptation, and 6) Share leadership. The best nonprofits realize it's not about egos and logos.

The authors intentionally excluded religious organizations and churches from the study (a flaw, in my opinion since The Salvation Army and others have much to teach us). But you'll benefit from these new insights. Many nonprofits will especially appreciate learning how these exemplary organizations turn volunteers into evangelists.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twelve High-Impact "Starfish" January 30, 2008
After completing five years of rigorous and extensive research on 1,435 "Fortune 500" companies during a 30-year period (1965-1995), Jim Collins and his associates selected only eleven that met their admittedly "very tough standards" for greatness. (Note: Collins also wrote Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great, published four years later.) Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant acknowledge that Collins' book was a "real inspiration to them" as they surveyed more than 2,000 CEOs of nonprofits before selecting only twelve for examination in their book, Forces for Good. As is true of several other outstanding business books, the work on this one was driven by a question: "What makes great nonprofits great?" What Crutchfield and McLeod learned is shared in this volume.

It is worth noting that, until recent years, most of the books and articles about nonprofits (at least those with which I am familiar) suggested that they had much to learn from exemplary for-profit organizations. It may have been Peter Drucker who first recognized that the business world could learn much of value from studying the best-managed nonprofits. He wrote an article published in Harvard Business Review in July of 1989, "What Business Can Learn from Nonprofits," that was later reprinted in Peter Drucker on the Profession of Management, in 1998. Drucker suggests that The Salvation Army is characteristic of the best nonprofit organizations, especially in terms of motivating knowledge workers and increasing their productivity. In successful nonprofit enterprises, "amateurs are being replaced with unpaid staff members, many of whom are managers and professionals in their for-pay jobs.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just what the nonprofit sector needs! October 27, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I so often hear that the nonprofit sector needs to learn from the busines world. Although books like Built to Last and Good to Great offer insights, what the nonprofit sector really needed was a book that focused on our sector. Thanks to these authors, we now have that book. Their insight into what makes a great nonprofit great have already impacted how I think about organizations I work with -- and which organizations I want to support.

This is a must read for those who work in the nonprofit sector or for students interested in entering the field.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fun Book But.... October 25, 2007
A fun book to read, very inspiring.

But not credible as a study--this is not Good to Great for the nonprofit sector. There are no comparisons with less effective nonprofits--remember that Good to Great involved side-by-side comparisons with a matched group of not-so-great companies. The lessons in Forces for Good all make sense, but it just isn't possible to know whether these are the lessons that really matter, or whether the authors might have found something entirely different if they had looked at nonprofits that are not so hot.

Compare Habitat, for example, with the Red Cross. The Red Cross has evangelists (hundreds of thousands of them showed up for Katrina), it uses the market (a $2 billion blood business that controls 43% of the market), it has a blend of service and advocacy, it shares leadership (perhaps too much--unwieldy board, semi-autonomous chapters)....The point is that you have to have a matching group of 12 not-such-great nonprofits against which to compare the Forces for Good. This book doesn't have it.

Cases are fun and the organizations are good to a point--am I the only one who wonders whether the Heritage Foundation is really a force for good, or just an organization that uses these lessons to undermine a just society?. But don't bet the farm on these lessons. They could be right, but they could be wrong. The book was widely advertised as a Good to Great, but it falls well short.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars High-Impact
Good book would recommend for a quick read. It is direct and easy to understand. I would recommend you read it.
Published 14 months ago by Vickie
3.0 out of 5 stars Forces for Good
Who should read this book?
Anyone who is interested in creating social change--or in the nonprofit sector more broadly--should read this book. Read more
Published on February 25, 2012 by Nonah Elliston
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book!
Excellent book with lots of real data about non-profit world and recognizing the value of strategic partnering with other groups and companies. Highly recommend!
Published on December 13, 2011 by Helping Kids
2.0 out of 5 stars Warped Perspective
This book makes some very valid points and does offer some great examples of how some non-profits are making a big impact. Read more
Published on November 29, 2011 by Burgundy Damsel
1.0 out of 5 stars Poorly Written
The chapter titles seem to summarize well successful business practices. Unfortunately the authors could not clearly state why those practices work. Read more
Published on April 25, 2011 by rsc
5.0 out of 5 stars Incisive and empowering
Based on four years of intensive case-based research, "Forces for Good" examines exemplary nonprofit organizations and identifies the common practices that have made them so... Read more
Published on May 29, 2009 by Litocracy
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that will change how you think about nonprofits
I finished reading Forces For Good a few months ago. Yet I hadn't written about it, because I was observing how the concepts captured in it started to sink in and permeate into the... Read more
Published on December 3, 2008 by Manny Hernandez
5.0 out of 5 stars Forces For Good
This book is one of the bet I have read re nonprofit organizations. Some eye opening observations by the authors. Read more
Published on July 7, 2008 by M. Hill
4.0 out of 5 stars Work Smarter - Not Harder!
Forces for Good is an extremely readable book about what makes a great non-profit GREAT, and it is written by Leslie Crutchfield and Heather Grant, the two women who did the... Read more
Published on June 19, 2008 by Candis J. Carr
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Mission and Vision
Proving that it takes more than a compelling vision to have great impact, the authors use persuasive stories gleaned from their research of 12 high-impact nonprofits to bring to... Read more
Published on March 5, 2008 by Dennis DeWilde
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