How Nonprofit Programs Scale Up: Findings from the Wallace Foundation
Sometimes, when one reads the phrase “getting to scale,” it feels a little bit like the nonprofit equivalent of reaching for the Holy Grail.
The Wallace Foundation’s latest report, “Strategies to Scale Up Social Programs: Pathways, Partnerships and Fidelity,” is the latest entry in what the Wallace Foundation itself calls the “field of scale-up studies.” Their report analyzes the efforts of 45 nonprofits to rapidly expand operations in three fields: education (10 nonprofits), health (18 nonprofits), and youth development (17 nonprofits).
The report defines scaling as “a process for significantly increasing the number of sustained implementations of a successful program, thereby serving more people with comparable benefits.” In terms of the report’s organization, however, the authors’ focus is on whether the mechanism used involved branching (i.e., a single organization, with multiple “chapters”), franchising (i.e., with “affiliates”), or a distribution model where the nonprofit partners with a larger organization to speed program diffusion. According to the report, of the 45 nonprofits they selected, 12 used the branching approach, 20 used the franchising (or affiliation) approach, and 13 used the strategic partnership (or distribution) approach. …