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The Non Nonprofit: For-Profit Thinking for Nonprofit Success

ISBN: 978-1-118-02181-1
256 pages
February 2012, Jossey-Bass
The Non Nonprofit: For-Profit Thinking for Nonprofit Success (1118021819) cover image
A top business leader shares the business principles he used to launch both a top company and a thriving nonprofit

Nonprofit leaders know that solving pervasive social problems requires passion and creativity as well as tangible results. The Non Nonprofit shares the same business principles that drive the world's best companies, showing how they can (and should) be applied to the realm of nonprofits. Steve Rothschild personally crossed sectors when he left corporate America to found Twin Cities RISE!, a highly successful poverty reduction program. His honest story, and success and missteps, create an essential roadmap for any social venture looking to prove and boost its impact.

  • Distills essential nonprofit principles such as having a clear and appropriate purpose, creating economic value from social benefit, and establishing mutual accountability
  • Shares successful approaches from innovative organizations such as Grameen Bank, Playworks, Common Ground, Habitat for Humanity, Lumni, Caring Bridge, College Summit and RISE!
  • Draws from the author's success in founding and building Twin Cities RISE!, which trains unemployed Minnesotans for living wage jobs. RISE! serves 1,500 participants each year

As insightful as it is inspiring, The Non Nonprofit can help maximize the positive impact of any nonprofit.

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Foreword: How This Book Will Benefit Us All ix
by Bill George

Introduction 1

1 Principle #1: Have a Clear and Appropriate Purpose 21

2 Principle #2: Measure What Counts 47

3 Principle #3: Be Market Driven 65

4 Principle #4: Create Mutual Accountability 85

5 Principle #5: Support Personal Empowerment 101

6 Principle #6: Create Economic Value from Social Benefit 141

7 Principle #7: Be Learning Driven 169

8 The Principles in Practice 191

Appendix A: What You Can Do to Make a Difference 203

Appendix B: A Note on the Organizations in This Book 211

Notes 217

Acknowledgments 225

About the Author 227

Index 229

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Steve Rothschild is the founder and board chair of Twin Cities RISE! He was also its CEO for its first nine years. He founded Invest in Outcomes, which developed the human capital performance bond, a new financial instrument to fund nonprofits. He launched Yoplait yogurt in the United States, was the company's first president, and later became executive vice president of General Mills. Twin Cities RISE!, an anti-poverty program for low-income adults living in generational poverty, trains under- and unemployed adults for jobs and connects them with employers who pay a living wage.

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“In this marvelous book, Steve Rothschild shares the same sound business principles he used at General Mills and later to found two nonprofits. Every social enterprise can benefit from these rigorous, real-world approaches.”
—From the foreword by Bill George

“Steve Rothschild has given the nonprofit community a vital, much-needed book at a crucial moment—when funding from all sources is tighter than ever. I believe The Non Nonprofit will become the how-to manual for improving strategy, execution, and organizational effectiveness in the nonprofit world. And with twenty-two years of outstanding executive leadership at General Mills, followed by twenty years of innovative leadership in the not-for-profit world, Steve brings the ideal set of experiences and lessons to the topic. A must-read for any executive and especially those who lead our nonprofit organizations.”
—Ken Powell, CEO, General Mills

“The lessons of The Non Nonprofit can improve the results of any nonprofit organization.It provides sound guidance to donors, agencies, and policy makers. This is the kind of thinking I encourage United Way leaders to apply while measuring community need and community impact.”
—Brian Gallagher, president and CEO, United Way Worldwide

“We need more practical visionaries like Steve Rothschild. He saw the problem of poverty, rolled up his sleeves, and carefully tested what works and what doesn't. The result: a powerful and effective program for reducing poverty and a set of clear principles that can be readily applied anywhere. The Non Nonprofit is a ground-breaking book.”
—Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Senator, Minnesota

The Non Nonprofit is this year's mandatory reading for anyone fortunate enough to be in leadership in the nonprofit sector. This book shows not only why but how nonprofit organizations can strategically move into a new framework that leads into the future, not simply react to circumstances beyond our control. The beauty here is that the principles are not only socially innovative but also grounded in proven experience. This is the book I will be passing out to the leaders in my network.”
—Father Larry Snyder, president, Catholic Charities USA

“Steve Rothschild, one of the country's best social entrepreneurs, has broken the back of multigenerational deep poverty. His clients, the formerly unemployable, have better track records at work than the average American. In The Non Nonprofit, he explains, simply and very clearly, how anyone can be just as effective.”
—Bill Drayton, CEO, Ashoka: Innovators for the Public

“For all of our many achievements, America remains a nation yet suffering from widespread poverty. Steve Rothschild's The Non Nonprofit reflects what he has learned from nearly seventeen years as the committed and inspired founder of Twin Cities RISE! These are proven ideas, practical and available to businesses and public leaders in our communities. I am pleased to recommend this fresh and creative approach to creating more opportunity for those in our midst who need it the most.”
—Walter Mondale, 42nd Vice President of the United States

“Steve Rothschild's fresh thinking translates proven strategies that successful businesses employ every day into practical approaches to confronting centuries-old issues like poverty. No partisan politics, no fancy tricks-just fundamental, time-tested solutions.”
—Harvey Mackay, author, Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive

“As a Twin Cities RISE! customer, I can say unequivocally that the seven principles in The Non Nonprofit work. RISE! provides just the type of employee that every company needs to be successful: self-motivated, engaged, skilled, productive, and emotionally mature. The employer community would do well to take much greater advantage of this underutilized organization.”
—David Abrams, vice president, North Memorial  Health Care

“I've observed from the beginning of his anti-poverty work Steve Rothschild's efforts to put his principles into practice. I've observed with the skeptical eye of an evaluator. I've seen hundreds of good ideas and hopeful visions flounder in the face of complex realities. I'm not easily impressed. But what Rothschild has accomplished impresses. The principles he identifies, explains, and illustrates have broad applicability. He has learned a great deal about what works. Anyone who cares about making a difference should pay attention to what he's learned-it's all here.”
—Michael Quinn Patton, founder and director, Utilization-Focused Evaluation; former president, American Evaluation Association

“As director of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for six years in the 1990s, I presided over the U.S. government's global poverty reduction efforts. Steve Rothschild reminds me of the innovators whose practical approaches changed the world of development, people like Hernando De Soto and Muhammad Yunus. Rothschild understands incentives, accountability, and personal improvement. His Twin Cities RISE! is a learning-driven organization that empowers challenged citizens to overcome their issues and succeed. Rothschild's RISE! is not afraid to establish a bottom line and is eager to be held accountable for achieving it. The Non Nonprofit and its recipes for success are a must-read for those who are truly concerned about poverty, here or anywhere.”
—J. Brian Atwood, former dean, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota; chair, Development Assistance Committee, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

“I take pride in being one of the many people Steve Rothschild met and talked with when he was first thinking of starting what turned out to be Twin Cities RISE! I must admit that while I thought his market-based approach was exquisitely on target, I was concerned he wasn't giving adequate weight to the many attitudinal and behavioral shortcomings that keep large numbers of people impoverished. More than fifteen years later, it's clear I was wrong, as I know of no analyst or practitioner in the United States who better understands how efforts to help poor people must meld both economically grounded and culturally grounded approaches.”
—Mitch Pearlstein, founder and CEO, Center of the American Experiment

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