Inject your Non-profit with Innovation

Posted: 08.01.2017

New Bridgespan Survey of Nonprofit Leaders Surfaces Innovation Aspiration Gap


Eighty percent of the nonprofit leaders surveyed cite innovation as an urgent imperative for achieving large-scale impact but only 40 percent say they have the capacity for it.

BOSTON, August 1, 2017­­­—As part of a recent study supported by The Rockefeller FoundationThe Bridgespan Group surveyed 145 nonprofit leaders on their organizations’ capacity to innovate and found that while 80 percent of them aspire to innovation, only 40 percent say their organizations are equipped for it.

The study looked at a variety of organizations such as; the International Rescue CommitteeBRAC and identified six elements common to nonprofits with a high capacity to innovate.

  • Catalytic leadership that empowers people to solve problems that matter
  • A curious culture, where people look beyond their day-to-day obligations, question assumptions, and constructively challenge each other’s thinking as well as the status quo
  • Diverse teams with different backgrounds, experiences, attitudes, and capabilities—the feedstock for growing an organization’s capacity to generate breakthrough ideas
  • Porous boundaries that let information and insights flow into the organization from outside voices (including beneficiaries) and across the organization itself
  • Idea pathways that provide structure and processes for identifying, testing, and transforming promising concepts into needle-moving solutions
  • The ready resources—funding, time, training, and tools—that are vital for supporting innovation work.

In addition to surfacing these patterns, the Bridgespan/Rockefeller team also created a suite of free online resources to help people understand their organizations’ current innovation capacity, identify areas for improvement, and access downloadable tools for learning, planning and action.

The study can be viewed here:

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