The research approach employed by the authors of Forces for Good was inspired by renowned business management books such as Good to Great and Built to Last. The authors’ first challenge was to define and identify a select group of “great” nonprofits–those that were among the highest-impact groups in their respective fields. Then they studied the 12 organizations for several years, identifying patterns that explain their effectiveness.
In order to identify high-impact nonprofits, the authors first considered concrete outputs: Did the organization achieve substantial and sustained results at the national or international level? The second part of their definition was more qualitative: Did the organization have an impact on an entire system or field? They used the following baseline criteria to narrow their research.
|Type of Organization||501(c)(3) nonprofit|
Founded in the U.S.
|Churches, membership organizations
Organizations founded abroad
|Definition of Impact||Has achieved substantial, sustained results|
Has created larger systems change
|Impact at both levels not substantiated or sustained|
|Scale||National or international impact||Only local impact|
|Time Frame||Founded 1965-1994||Founded before 1965 or after 1994|
|Final Sample||Deliberately selected a diverse sample in terms of issue area, geographic location, size, and business model||Some organizations that met all other criteria were not included|