Giving Compass' Take:

•  Social Startup Success: How The Best Nonprofits Launch, Scale Up and Make A Difference by Kathleen Kelly Janus examines how non-profits and start-ups scale things like impact and success. 

What are the main differences between social entrepreneurship success and nonprofit success? Why are they different?

• Read about innovative organizations that are framing themselves as nonprofit startups to obtain funding.

While all founders of social startups believe their organizations do important work, some startups thrive while others flounder and eventually disappear. What distinguishes the runaway successes from the enterprises that never move beyond survival mode? In her new book, Social Startup Success: How the Best Nonprofits Launch, Scale Up, and Make a Difference, Kathleen Kelly Janus argues that the difference involves more than luck or chance.

As a social entrepreneur herself and a lecturer in the Program on Social Entrepreneurship at Stanford University, Janus long recognized that "the struggle to scale is the most pressing challenge for the social entrepreneurship community." Over time, she writes, she "became obsessed with understanding how nonprofits can get off the treadmill and attain organizational sustainability."

In taking a data-driven approach to nonprofit success, Janus examines a number of assumptions about the sector — for example, that admitting failure is something nonprofits are reluctant to do. That's a problem, she writes, because it means too many organizations end up putting resources into programs that don't work rather than programs that do.

Ah, impact. We know it when we see it, but how does one actually measure it? First, writes Janus, we need to drop our fixation on "outputs" and start defining and tracking desired "outcomes." Lots of organizations measure outputs (e.g., how many individuals participated in a program, how many meals were served), but according to Janus, such metrics provide little or no indication of whether a program has changed someone's life for the better.

Social Startup Success won't tell founders or social entrepreneurs where to find that attitude, but it will embolden them to start thinking about how they can create smart and meaningful goals, to engage their funders and beneficiaries as partners.

Read the full article about social startup success by Mitch Nauffts at PhilanTopic