There is a lot to think about and chew on post-election as we wait for indications about the direction the new administration will take and what all of it means for the social sector.
To help us bide our time, some writers have given us very interesting things to consider. First, David Brooks, conservative columnist for The New York Times, has written today in his column, “Change I Can Believe In,” about what he hopes the new administration will do. Amid Brooks’ calls for bi-partisan politics, reformed healthcare, economic stimulus, curbed spending, is his hope that the Obama administration will take an entrepreneurial approach to social problems:
Walking into the Obama White House of my dreams will be like walking into the Gates Foundation. The people there will be ostentatiously pragmatic and data-driven. They’ll hunt good ideas like venture capitalists. They’ll have no faith in all-powerful bureaucrats issuing edicts from the center. Instead, they’ll use that language of decentralized networks, bottom-up reform and scalable innovation.
It’s a great dream. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have an administration that thought and acted like a social venture capitalist, seeking out and helping to fund and scale solutions to the many problems that face our country? A radical idea, but very exciting.
Then you have Paul Schmitz in the Nonprofit Quarterly, “In A Successful Campaign: Lessons for Nonprofits,” drawing lessons for the nonprofit sector from the campaign. He argues that the nonprofit sector could learn a lot from a campaign that came from behind and completely changed the status quo of how campaigns are fought and won. He delineates 5 best practices that nonprofits could employ:
- Find and promote a powerful brand. Obama’s was Change and Hope.
- Create a clear, measurable strategy. The campaign’s focus was always on getting to 2,025 delegates in the primary and 270 electoral votes in the general election. No matter what happened, they stayed focused on their strategy to do this.
- Use disciplined management. The organization that Obama built rivaled that of some of the most successful corporations. There was a clear chain of command, clear focus and disciplined strategy to get to the end goal.
- Use both in-person and online organizing. They coupled block walking, canvassing, phone calls, and direct mail with very effective online fundraising and social networking efforts. This dual approach was unprecedented and extremely effective at building support.
- They tapped into the energy and drive of youth at all levels of the campaign.
I know that there will be much more dissection of the campaign and how they were able to overcome what at times seemed like insurmountable odds. We should pay attention to the analysis of the campaign because I agree there are lessons for the social sector. Nonprofits face insurmountable odds every single day. By analyzing and employing those elements that worked, there is the potential for greater reach and deeper impact.