Join us in tracking the evolving landscape of social innovation.
Tackling changing markets with Enterprise Community Partners

This is the fifth post in a series published by Stanford Social Innovation Review.

In our last post we took a close look at how UNCF found its new north star, as an example of what social innovation at scale can look like on the ground. Another example of innovating at scale is the transformation work that our team led at Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit that helps produce homes affordable to lower-income families in MORE ››

By Heather McLeod Grant and Carolien de Bruin / August 2013
Finding a new north star at UNCF

This is the fourth post in a series published by Stanford Social Innovation Review.

In our past three posts, we’ve made the general argument for funding social innovation at scale rather than only scaling social innovation. But the real value of this work can only be understood through the individual stories of the larger-scale organizations that are now charting a new course to greater impact and newfound relevance. Monitor Institute’s work with UNCF began two years ago as an organizational transformation effort to take it from “good to great.” CEO Michael MORE ››

By Allan Ludgate and Frances Messano , practitioners at Deloitte Consulting LLC / August 2013
Fighting the symptoms of aging

This is the third post in a series published by Stanford Social Innovation Review.

In our last post, we made the case for why it’s important to invest not only in scaling social innovation by building startups around new ideas, but also in social innovation at scale by helping mature, legacy nonprofits extend and reinvent their impact. We looked at the assets that these nonprofits bring to the sector: national distribution platforms, social networks of members, reliable revenue from loyal donors, well-known brands, and the heft to shape their broader ecosystem.  MORE ››

By Heather McLeod Grant / August 2013
Making the case for innovation at scale

This is the second post in a series published by Stanford Social Innovation Review. 

As we explored in our last post, much of our sector’s attention in the past few decades has been focused on early-stage social innovation and entrepreneurship—yet this focus comes at a cost. In some instances, too little attention has been paid to helping reinvent large nonprofits already operating at large scale, perhaps because many of them are older and are perceived as being less relevant. But these organizations can be gems for funders looking to have an outsized MORE ››

By Heather McLeod Grant / August 2013
Leveraging legacy organizations

This is the first post in a series published by Stanford Social Innovation Review. 

For the last two decades, the movements for social entrepreneurship, social enterprise, and social innovation have been working to identify new solutions to old problems and take them to scale. These movements identified and filled a critical gap in our sector: how to get high-potential entrepreneurs and high-performing organizations the startup and mezzanine funding they need to bring new solutions into the world. That work has flourished in the MORE ››

By Heather McLeod Grant / August 2013
Announcing GATHER: The Art & Science of Effective Convening

We’re happy to announce the release of a new resourceGATHER: The Art & Science of Effective ConveningGATHER is a hands-on guidebook for all convening designers and social change leaders who want to create convenings that tap into a group’s collective intelligence and make substantial progress on a shared challenge.

It provides simple frameworks for the questions that are often ignored: whether convening is the right MORE ››

By Noah Rimland Flower / June 2013
What some African-American parents believe about education reform

The authentic, unfiltered voice of parents is largely absent from the education reform dialogue. Hearing that voice was an important objective for UNCF (United Negro College Fund) when we at Monitor Institute worked with them on their strategy. As a result, we conducted a two-pronged research study, including focus groups and phone surveys, with a sample population of approximately 1400 low-income, African-American parents and caregivers with school-aged children (aged 4-18) living to their household to understand their views on K-12 education.  MORE ››

By Frances Messano, practitioner at Deloitte Consulting LLC / June 2013
For-impact strategy: different data and a longer time horizon

Last time, we discussed three more ways that strategy at a for-impact enterprise is different than at a for-profit. Today let’s wrap up with the final two that we’ve experienced: different data requirements and a longer time horizon.

6. The supporting analysis is qualitative and targeted

While data-driven decision making is equally important in any strategic planning process, the kind of MORE ››

By Dana Burgess O’Donovan, Allan Ludgate, and Noah Rimland Flower, practitioners at Deloitte Consulting LLC / April 2013
For-impact strategy: a different process, audience, and decision rights

As we’ve been discussing, strategy at a for-impact enterprise can be very different than at a for-profit. Last time, we discussed how growth is not always the goal and the organization’s purpose is rarely settled. Today let’s discuss three other areas of difference: process, audience, and decision rights.

3. Bottom-up engagement can be essential

In our experience, corporate strategic planning processes often start from the C-suite down, MORE ››

By Dana Burgess O’Donovan, Allan Ludgate, and Noah Rimland Flower, practitioners at Deloitte Consulting LLC / April 2013
For-impact strategy: different goals and starting-points

As we mentioned last time, we’ve noticed seven distinct ways that creating strategy for a social problem can be quite different from creating strategy for profit. We’ll start today by digging into the first two: how the goal and the starting-points can be the opposite of what you might expect.

1. Growth is not always the goal

Corporate strategic planning processes focus on analyzing how the organization can increase its growth and profitability in new and existing markets. MORE ››

By Dana Burgess O’Donovan, Allan Ludgate, and Noah Rimland Flower, practitioners at Deloitte Consulting LLC / April 2013
Thinking big about mainstreaming impact investing

A few weeks ago, world leaders gathered in Davos, Switzerland to map a path forward for accelerating the flow of capital into impact investing, a discussion which was facilitated in partnership between the World Economic Forum and member firms of Deloitte TTL.*

A group of approximately 50 participants – including multibillion dollar hedge funds, private equity firms, sovereign wealth funds, asset managers, financial services companies, foundations, and social enterprises – spent over two hours brainstorming and MORE ››

By Carolien de Bruin, practitioner at Deloitte Consulting LLP / March 2013
Shifting your strategy mindset from for-profit to for-impact

Imagine that you’ve just joined the leadership team or the board of a nonprofit, social enterprise, or a foundation. It comes time to re-examine the strategy, and so you reach back into your memory banks for the last time you went through a similar exercise. If your career was in business, you probably have a model in mind of how strategy works—and so you do your best to contribute, jumping into the conversation with various suggestions for how to shape the organization. Yet there seems to be something missing MORE ››

By Dana Burgess O’Donovan, Allan Ludgate, and Noah Rimland Flower, practitioners at Deloitte Consulting LLC / March 2013
New report: “Brighter Futures: Tackling the College Completion Challenge”

The United States’ single greatest collective investment in human capital—and in its future generations—is public education. Yet today that investment is generating very poor returns for low-income students.

Members of the lowest-income U.S. families are 10 times less likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than members of the highest-income families. This situation would be troubling in any environment, but with income inequality only increasing and global job MORE ››

By Allan Ludgate, Frances Messano , and Owen Stearns / January 2013
The Strategic Plan is Dead. Long Live Strategy.

In today’s fast-changing world, why freeze your strategic thinking in a five-year plan?

This post was originally published on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog. 

Take a moment and read these two words: strategic plan. Now close your eyes and picture one. If what comes up is a thick binder, gathering dust on a shelf next to other thick binders from five and ten MORE ››

By Dana O'Donovan and Noah Rimland Flower / January 2013
Impact Investing in the Global South: Early Convening Insights from Latin America


Originally published on

On October 19th the Rockefeller FoundationOmidyar Network, and the Latin America-based AVINA Foundation launched the Impact Economy Innovations Fund, an $840,000 pool of grant funds intended to help develop and grow the impact investing industry throughout the region. The launch was MORE ››

By Carolien de Bruin (Monitor Group) and Kelly Teevan (Rockefeller Foundation) / December 2012
How to make it fun: what game designers know that change agents need to learn

“By the age of 21, the average young American has spent somewhere between 2,000-3,000 hours reading books—and more than 10,000 hours playing computer and video games.” If you’re not a gamer, your first reaction is probably to think: “What a waste of time!” But in Reality is Broken, Jane McGonigal makes a convincing case otherwise.She urges us to learn from game designers and tap into the enormous game-playing population as a resource for social change. She argues that computer and video games are a positive force in our society, naming twelve specific ways that games can improve the world. MORE ››

By Jessica Ausinheiler and Noah Rimland Flower / December 2012
Money for Good: deeply understanding the donor mindset

Hope Consulting, in conjunction with GuideStar, recently released their third report on donor behavior and charitable giving in the social sector. The motivation behind the original Money for Good (MFG1) report in early 2010 was to “seek the voice of the customer for charitable giving” and to better understand the emergence of impact investing.  Building on the existing fact base gathered by MFG1’s comprehensive study on donor behavior, motivations, and preferences for charitable giving, the second report, Money for Good II (MFG2), looked at ways in which nonprofits and foundations could influence giving behaviors to support their own mission. The


By David Ehrlichman / December 2012
Leveraging Social Networks for Student Engagement: Scaling a Successful Hillel Pilot Program

Leveraging Social Networks for Student Engagement: Monitor Institute Case Study of Hillel

In 2008, Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, with generous support from the Jim Joseph Foundation, began testing an innovative program that leveraged peer networks and relationships to help Hillel achieve its goal of “doubling the number of Jewish students who are involved in Jewish life and who have meaningful Jewish experiences.” Piloted at 10 colleges, MORE ››

By Heather McLeod Grand and Lindsay Bellows / November 2012
How to build grantees’ network effectiveness: six lessons and deeper reflections from the Packard Foundation

The leading edge of social change is increasingly network-centric. Collaboration, coordination, and working in networks are becoming the new normal, as leaders across sectors work to move the needle on today’s most pressing problems. It is fast becoming a new kind of capacity for nonprofits to build, but what does it mean in practical terms for a foundation to build its grantees’ “network effectiveness”?

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation set out to answer that question three years ago, in part by offering a range of network-focused support services as part of its Organizational Effectiveness line of grantmaking. We are now happy to release a set of reflections on that experience that they would like to share with the field. We hope these lessons will be useful if you are:

  • a grantmaker interested in building the capacity of your grantees to work in networks, and your own ability as a network weaver in your field
  • the leader of a network or an organization who wants to sharpen my abilities at achieving impact through networks, or
  • a consultant who is helping to build the capacity of others to work in networks

There are six lessons for the field from Packard’s work, each of which is detailed further in the full report: MORE ››

By Noah Rimland Flower / May 2012
From Blueprint to Scale: The Case for Philanthropy in Impact Investing

There is growing interest in the role of market-based solutions in addressing the problems of poverty, through inclusive businesses that tap into the potential of the global poor as customers and suppliers—the so-called ‘fortune at the Base of the Pyramid (BoP).’ Encouraged by the growth of microfinance, many promising new models are emerging. This has elicited a rush to the new field of ‘impact investing’—producing social or environmental good as well as financial return—with hundreds of funds set up in just a few years and billions of dollars waiting to be invested.

But many investors report that they are struggling to find good opportunities in which to invest for impact. Why is that? Will impact investors really be able to take new models for inclusive business
all the way from idea to scale? MORE ››

By Noah Rimland Flower / May 2012