National Networks

Whether in youth development, education, public health, or many other social service issues, large nonprofit networks have played important roles for many decades. Increasingly, leaders of these networks, their funders, and the communities they serve are seeking ways to increase impact for beneficiaries within their expanded reach. The articles below are intended to help network leaders think about how to align around common goals and improve future performance.

Featured Content

Network Transformation: Can Big Nonprofits Achieve Big Results?

In an era of tech-enabled, high-growth social enterprises, it’s easy to overlook the large, slower-growth nonprofits with broad networks that have been serving communities for decades. Yet it’s these national and global networks that have the reach and power to take on big social issues and create impact at scale. Y-USA, 4-H, Save the Children, and The Salvation Army are just a handful of networks that have taken steps toward not only serving those in need, but solving the underlying social problems their beneficiaries face.

Helping Nonprofit Networks Strengthen Their Fundraising Effectiveness

It’s common for large nonprofit networks to compare costs and revenues across sites. Yet, few have asked which sites are doing the best job of maximizing fundraising potential—what we call fundraising effectiveness. Share of wallet, an oft-used tool in the for-profit sector that measures the amount of customers’ total spending that a business captures, offers a novel approach to achieving fundraising effectiveness.

Share-of-Wallet Analysis How-To Guide

Share-of-wallet analysis can help identify and spread the most effective practices among networks' sites. This guide and accompanying downloadable Excel spreadsheet walks users through how to use share of wallet.

Reinvigorating the YMCA’s National Network

Neil Nicoll, president emeritus of the YMCA of the USA (Y-USA), recently talked with Bridgespan Partner Kelly Campbell about his 40-plus year career with the organization. Named president and CEO in 2006, Nicoll led Y-USA through a multidimensional effort to improve the organization’s performance. He shared his thoughts about that transformation, the challenges of managing a large network, and the promising role of such networks in the future of social change. Here, we offer highlights from his conversation with Campbell.

Using National Networks to Tackle Chronic Disease

The YMCA and other national nonprofit networks are using their reach into local communities to deliver public health programs that help people live healthier lives and reduce their chance of chronic disease.

National Networks: Planning Can Align a National Nonprofit Network for Full Impact

How a nonprofit network develops its strategic plan is as important as what that plan ultimately says.

Growing Network Impact

For decades, the primary pressure facing nonprofit networks was to build a bigger footprint—be in more places, serve more people. Now that pressure is being equaled by another: to get better. This executive summary outlines five critical elements for network improvement.

Preparing to Grow Your Network's Impact: Introduction

This practical companion piece to "Growing Network Impact: How Nonprofit Networks Are Raising the Bar on Results" shares five common elements that networks have used to improve their impact. These elements can ultimately help your organization build a foundation for your own efforts to improve effectiveness throughout your network.

Communities In Schools: Propelling a National Network to the Next Level

Since Communities in Schools' founding in 1977, years of rapid growth had given rise to a diverse network of over 200 local affiliates in 28 states, operating in more than 3,000 schools. Early in 2004, the organization's leadership committed to propelling the network forward by creating a business plan to pave the way.