Six models for scaling non-profits

07.01.2013 Blog

Aaron Hurst, founder and president of the Taproot Foundation has written a useful series of blogs for the Stanford Social Innovation Review on scaling of non-profits. He argues that although there is no one size fits all model, scaling is not as ambiguous as some organisations think. He suggests there are six identifiable models when it comes to scaling non-profits:

  • Service enterprise – using increased volunteers to maximise your reach and what you can achieve
  • Technology driven – using technology to help distribute information, deliver low-touch services, and generate large individual donor support
  • Train the Trainer - finding ways to package a model of service delivery that can be used by other organizations to deliver those services in other areas
  • Advocacy - influencing the institutional, societal, and governmental systems that relate to the nonprofits’ chosen issue areas, to change the whole field, not just the nonprofit’s position within it.
  • Scaled operations - developing a replicable model that enables a non-profit to effectively scale their operations across geographies.
  • Earned income - expanding a fee-for-service program to decrease dependency on traditional funding sources.

For each model, Hurst provides examples of non-profits that have taken this approach and notes the key skills and competencies needed to implement it. His argument is that non-profits do not need to be exceptional across all skill sets and competences. Rather, they need to evaluate their core competencies and pick the model that suits them best. You can read the full series on ‘Demystifying Scaling' here

This series represents just some of the growing debate and commentary on how organisations with a social mission can increase their impact. It’s a literature we’re looking forward to getting stuck into when we begin working on WP7 later this year. Have you come across similar research or papers on this theme recently? Do send them our way. You can direct message us at TEPSIE_EU on Twitter.