- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong Books (January 16, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0738219908
- ISBN-13: 978-0738219905
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 31 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Social Startup Success: How the Best Nonprofits Launch, Scale Up, and Make a Difference Hardcover – January 16, 2018
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"Kathleen Kelly Janus eloquently brings to life the best practices that all social entrepreneurs must embrace to maximize their impact." - MUHAMMAD YUNUS, Nobel Peace Prize winner and author of the New York Times Bestseller Banker to the Poor
"Social Startup Success reveals the secret sauce behind the most influential nonprofits of our time, telling their stories in memorable ways that everynonprofit leader can learn from." -DARREN WALKER, President, Ford Foundation
"What Crossing the Chasm did for the business sector, Social Startup Success will do for the nonprofit sector. In this vital guide, Kathleen Kelly Janus showshow to scale an impact organization and, in so doing, change the world for the better." - CHARLES BEST, Founder and CEO, DonorsChoose
"Social Startup Success provides bothinspiration and practical advice...an invaluable resource for the next generation of changemakers." - WENDY KOPP, Founder, Teach for America, Co-Founder and CEO, Teach for All
"Social Startup Success is an inspiring must-read, with an empathetic voice, for all of us aspiring to maximize our social value through our organizations, work and lives." - LAURA ARRILLAGA-ANDREESSEN, Founder andPresident, laaf.org , Author, Giving 2.0, Founder/Chairman, Stanford PACS, Founder/Chairman Emeritus, SV2, Lecturer in Business Strategy/Philanthropy, Stanford Graduate School of Business
"Social Startup Success is a marvelous compilation of stories of some of the most inspiring leaders of our time." - BILL DRAYTON, Ashoka: Everyone a Changemaker
"Synthesizing a range of stories of leading social entrepreneurs, Kathleen Kelly Janus has created an insightful and highly usefulguide that breaks down how organizations maximize their impact and createlasting change. An important contribution to the field." - DAVID BORNSTEIN, Author, How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas
"Social Startup Success is a playbook I wish we had when we founded Kiva!" - PREMAL SHAH, President and Co-Founder, Kiva.org
"Social Startup Success is an important read for aspiring social entrepreneurs." - SALLY OSBERG, President and CEO, Skoll Foundation
"This book is an inclusive call to action that uses the inspiring stories of creative and committed social change leaders to not only educate other fellow travelers but also spark the involvement of the rest of us to get engaged with these nonprofit organizationsso worth supporting." - CHERYL L. DORSEY, President, Echoing Greenand 1992 Echoing Green Fellow
"Social Startup Success covers all of the important building blocks -- like having a provenmodel, measuring impact, and cultivating leadership -- that are necessary forearly stage organizations to succeed and build a strong foundation for further scale." - HEATHER MCLEOD GRANT, Co-founder, Open Impact, and Author, Forces for Good
About the Author
Kathleen Kelly Janus is an award-winning social entrepreneur, author and lecturer at Stanford University, and an expert on philanthropy, Millennial engagement and scaling early stage organizations. An attorney, Kathleen is a cofounder of Spark, a nonprofit focused on building a community of young, global citizens promoting gender equality. Since its founding in 2004, Spark has engaged more than 10,000 young professionals nationwide to support grassroots women's organizations. Additionally, she is Chair of the Board of Directors of Accountability Counsel, a startup human rights organization, and informally advises a variety of other nonprofits and social entrepreneurs locally and globally.
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We found the book to be substantive and on point. Indeed, it must have been difficult to boil down the research and organize it all into the right amount of depth – you did yeomen’s work there. We liked that there were a lot of organizations profiled – that makes it (rightly) seem like you’re not simply cherry-picking the 2-3 best organizations in the country. And because the steps they took were explained clearly and succinctly, we think a new ED would feel like successfully emulating those steps would be within her/his abilities. And therein lies the book’s potential.
And, thanks for the storytelling chapter. As social entrepreneurs, we hate putting ourselves in the story, but it’s a powerful device, and thankfully we have grantees to profile who can do that instead. On that note, I will remember the anecdote you shared about your father helping the local nonprofits. It’s easy to see where you get your talent and orientation. He and the rest of your family must be delighted by the impact you’re making through this book.
If you're looking at this book as a possible resource for earned-revenue (product sales, fee-for-service, or contract revenue) for your not-for-profit (NFP), I recommend that you first read a Harvard Business Review article entitled, "Should Nonprofits Seek Profits?" It's available for free via the Web. Written by staff of The Bridgespan Group (bridgespan.org), an organization that provides management and consulting services to NFPs, the article disabuses rosy-eyed folks of the idea that NFPs can engage in profit-making ventures as a substantial source of revenue for their organizations.
I do recommend the book, and there's very good information in it. However, from the dust jacket, "...any modern nonprofit today needs to reach--and sustain--multimillion-dollar annual revenues." Her benchmark seems to be a magical $2-3 million budget, at which point you've got enough “scale” to really make a difference and grow even farther. With that as a given, so many of her exemplars are organizations that are involved in huge national or international works with multi-million-dollar budgets. Many organizations I've been associated with make do with far less and set their sights much closer to their own communities.
There are several problems I had with the book, all of which occurred to me before I bought the book, but I decided to take a chance anyway. I'm not sorry I bought the book; I'm just not much better off than I was before the purchase.
1. Janus says the following (page 93) as the first sentence in her setup section titled "Funding Experimentation": "Attracting funding is by far the biggest barrier to scale." Uh...really?
2. (Page 94) "If bringing clean water to the 800 million people who don't have access to it, or selling mosquito nets to the 200 million suffering annually from the scourge of malaria, were profitable ventures, private companies would be doing it. Expecting social entrepreneurs to figure out how to devise profit-making solutions to such problems, when even the behemoths of modern-day capitalism can't do so, is misguided wishful thinking." NFPs are not capitalist businesses and can't be. (Neither is government, and those who want it to operate like a business are disingenuous at best.)
And, here's the real kicker: "Although, on average, earned income accounts for 30 percent of the budgets of the larger organizations I surveyed, 78 percent of those organizations earned only 10 percent of their income."
And, my biggest issue, the one I anticipated before buying the book:
3. (Page 94) "...earned income typically works better in certain sectors, such as education where 48 percent of nonprofits have earned revenue that accounts for over 20 percent of their budget, followed by health (27%), global development (24%) and youth development (22%). On the flip side, in my experience human rights, criminal justice, and environmental organizations are particularly unlikely to find sources of earned income, whether because their clients cannot afford to pay fees or because making any sort of profit from the work is widely considered inappropriate.” The organization I volunteer with is involved in criminal justice and social justice, and the author’s contention is spot on regarding those service areas.
4. (Page 98): "Those launching an organization with a business venture as a core part of its model, or launching a service or product line for an existing organization, should plan on philanthropic funding covering a significant portion of operating expenses for at least a couple of years, if not more. And even once revenue is coming in and a venture is thriving, it is likely that earnings will not be sufficient to totally cover the organization's expenses..." Okay, so that should be no surprise to anyone.
5. (Page 99): "Foundations and donors, and organizational leaders themselves, must not put organizations under unrealistic pressure to fund more and more of their operations by selling products and services." Yes, well, good luck with that. The 2005 Bridgespan report referenced above talks about the increasing pressure from funders and well-meaning-but-misguided corporate types who want NFPs to operate like for-profit enterprises, and the pressure has only gotten greater in the intervening years. With right wingers, corporatists, and assorted libertarians who want to monetize and privatize everything and let the devil take the hindmost, there's increasing pressure for not-for-profits to just suck it up and make do. Having run my own business for 10 years and having spent 30+ years in the corporate world as a learning and development director and officer, I understand business and the profit motive, and fully support them. But, having worn both NFP and for-profit hats, I've found that those who've neither been on an NFP board nor worked in the NFP world are largely clueless about that side of life.
The author’s early chapters (The Discovery Phase; Engaging All Stakeholders; Reframing Failure as Learning; Crafting a Compelling Theory of Change; Maximizing Use of Data, and; Making Your Data Tell a Story) were worth the read. The remainder of the book fleshes out the biggest issues of leadership and telling compelling stories about your organization and what it's trying to remedy, with a heavy dose of getting a compelling story down pat. The storytelling is absolutely essential, and it’s the NFP version of for-profit marketing.
Again, this can be and is a great book for helping you think through the topics I addressed above. But, if you're a small organization and/or involved in the efforts that don't lend themselves to revenue from services or products, you might be somewhat disappointed if you're looking for earned-income ideas.
The last glaring omission of the book is that there are thousands of small NFPs that rely largely on volunteers rather than cash donations or sales revenues, and mine is one. Sure we'd like to have more cash, but the work we do, the one-on-one time we spend with incarcerated women and men, the camaraderie and sense of community that we establish with our other clients in our social justice work , and the long-term outcomes we effect all have a strong social benefit--even if it's just on a local level.