April 29, 2013

Why Small Nonprofits Often Make a Big Difference

Photo courtesy of Nesta

Geoff Mulgan

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The popular wisdom is that nonprofits must be large to make a real difference and that significant social change is usually spearheaded by a rare, brilliant leader.

But that thinking is misleading and counterproductive, says Geoff Mulgan, chief executive of NESTA, Britain’s National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts.

More often than not, real change is created thanks to the cumulative efforts of many.

Such collaboration has been vital to the success of Mr. Mulgan's program, Studio Schools Trust, a network of U.K. schools that incorporate real-world work to keep teens from dropping out.

The program has relied heavily on partnerships with a number of small companies, national and local education agencies, and local communities, he says.

In this episode of Making Change, Mr. Mulgan discusses why organizations that want to bring about social change should stay small, ask the right questions, and seek partners in the communities directly affected by their cause.

Hildy Gottlieb is the co-founder of Creating the Future and author of "The Pollyanna Principles: Reinventing 'Nonprofit Organizations' to Create the Future of Our World." In this podcast, Making Change, she interviews leaders to discuss how those who are working for the greater good can effect more social change. New episodes of Making Change appear once a month.