This post originally appeared on the Stanford Social Innovation Review website and was authored by Amy Celep, Billy Shore of Share Our Strength, and James Siegal of KaBOOM!. To read the complete post, please visit SSIR.com’s “Bolder Goals, Bigger Breakthroughs.”
The past year has brought a chorus of cries challenging the status quo in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors in pursuit of greater impact. Authors including Rob Reich and Edgar Villanueva challenged philanthropy to rethink power and privilege, while Leslie Crutchfield and Charlene Carruthers lifted up lessons from a range of social movements that nonprofit leaders can apply in their efforts. These and other authors are calling for folks working on the frontlines of social change to rethink their approaches and set their sights higher to achieve more meaningful outcomes. We could not agree more.
In 2013, we co-authored an article called “When Good is Not Good Enough.” In it, we argued that the sector needs to shift from setting modest goals that provide short-term results to setting bold goals that, while harder to achieve, tackle the root of social problems. We urged nonprofits to think bigger and strive for transformational change— achieving outcomes that align with the magnitude of the issues they seek to address. Share Our Strength set out to end childhood hunger in America by 2015, KaBOOM! aspired to create the conditions in which all kids get the play they need to become successful and healthy adults, and Community Wealth Partners aimed to help dozens of organizations set bolder goals and strategies for achieving them.
Six years later, we have not put ourselves out of business. The complex challenges we and our colleagues aim to solve every day persist. So what good is it to aim high? Was thinking big the right thing to do?
For all of us, aiming high led to breakthrough strategies that allowed us to achieve more than we would have otherwise. Setting bold goals and holding ourselves accountable to them pushed us to explore new approaches, foster new types of connections, and, most importantly, achieve greater impact.
Here, we offer reflections on our original three recommendations—setting a bold goal, opening your circle, and changing the conversation—to make significantly greater progress. …