Giving Compass’ Take:
• In this Stanford Social Innovation Review post, representatives for 92Y — a nonprofit that is almost a century and a half old — discusses the lessons they’ve learned from their work.
• This is a good reminder that technology and innovation isn’t just for new organizations. 92Y emphasizes how building from within and establishing strong partnerships takes time; orgs that have been around a long time know how to adapt.
It’s not always easy being 143 years old. Today’s stars, including those in the social sector, are the disruptors and the start-ups: driven, hungry, agile. Traditional institutions are often cast as falling out of fashion, even a little lumbering.
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As with a lot of other institutions, innovation has been a hot topic for us at the 92nd Street Y(92Y), a cultural center that creates community and enrichment for people at all stages of life. In recent years, we also built an innovation center to help us re-imagine what a cultural and community center does, how we meet our mission, and how we need to adapt.
As we look back at our progress and look forward to what’s next, we’ve learned a few critical lessons so far:
- Innovation Should Be Fundamental, not Incremental
- Little Bets Pay Off
- Build from Within
- Think Movements, not Programs
- Build Strong, Symbiotic Partnerships
We should resist the idea that a proud history guarantees a relevant future. Instead, the institutional world can excel by adopting (and adapting) the strengths of the entrepreneurial world, placing a premium on experimentation and generative partnerships as they fulfill their missions in ever more innovative ways.
Read the full article about 92Y’s lessons learned in 143 years of nonprofit work by Asha Curran and Henry Timms from the Stanford Social Innovation Review.
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