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Academic Articles

Management wisdom says that nonprofits must be large and in charge to do the most good. But some of the world’s most successful organizations instead stay small, sharing their load with like-minded, long-term partners. The success of these networked nonprofits suggests that organizations should focus less on growing themselves and more on cultivating their networks. (From the Stanford Social Innovation Review)

Habitat for Humanity–Egypt (HFHE), has grown in just seven years to become one of the most successful Habitat programs worldwide. The organization is at a crossroads as it attempts to reach the ambitious goal of serving 10% of the 20 million Egyptians living in poverty by 2023, while at the same time developing the local NGO capacity to serve the remaining 90%. Since its establishment in 1989, HFHE has worked in close partnership with CEOSS, a 50-year-old NGO, and through other local, community-based organizations.

This network approach diverges from the traditional Habitat model of building houses through HFH’s own affiliate organizations, but enables HFHE to begin building immediately rather than wait several years to become sufficiently established to operate as an independent entity. How can he ensure that as HFHE’s partnership network grows, our own office and staff can sustain the network? To what extent should he seek to address the needs of the “poorest of the poor,” who cannot even repay loans and therefore do not qualify as Habitat beneficiaries? How can we continue to innovate to achieve the greatest mission impact while maintaining funding and support for HFHE? (From the Harvard Business Review)