Stanford Social Innovation Review : Informing and inspiring leaders of social change


Case Study


An inside look at one organization


The Profit in Nonprofit

Why Kiva chose to be a 501(c)(3), what this tax status buys the organization, and how being a nonprofit poses challenges.

By Bethany Coates & Garth Saloner | 13 | Summer 2009

Marching to a Different Mission

When the Salk polio vaccine proved to be effective in 1955, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis had to choose whether to close up shop or to pursue a new agenda. The foundation first broadened its mission, but lost donations, volunteers, and public support. After honing its mission to birth defects, however, it recovered. Here's how the organization that eventually became the March of Dimes planned – and survived – its transitions.

By Georgette Baghdady & Joanne M. Maddock | Spring 2008

The Greening of Wal-Mart

For much of its history, Wal-Mart’s corporate management team toiled inside its “Bentonville Bubble,” narrowly focused on operational efficiency, growth, and profits. But now the world's largest retailer has widened its sights, building networks of employees, nonprofits, government agencies, and suppliers to “green” its supply chains. Here's how and why the world’s largest retailer is using a network approach to decrease its environmental footprint – and to increase its profitability.

By Erica L. Plambeck & Lyn Denend | 5 | Spring 2008

Curbing Mission Creep

Despite temptations to broaden its focus, the Rural Development Institute has remained single-mindedly devoted to its mission. As a result, the organization has helped 400 million poor farmers around the world take ownership of some 270 million acres of land – all on a modest budget.

By Kim Jonker & William F. Meehan III | Winter 2008

Rolls-Royce Radicals

Responsible Wealth, a Boston-based nonprofit, is convincing many affluent Americans to challenge the very rules that made them rich.

By Sandra Rothenberg & Maureen Scully | Winter 2007

Turning Conflict into Cooperation

The Rainforest Action Network launched a consumer boycott of several Mitsubishi companies, leading to significant changes in the way the firm and many of its partners do business.

By Peter Asmus, Hank Cauley, & Katharine Maroney | Fall 2006

Chilling With Greenpeace, From the Inside Out

Greenpeace catapulted Greenfreeze, an ozone- and climate-safe refrigerant, into widespread use and launched the first Green Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, in 2000.

By Cathy L. Hartman & Edwin R. Stafford | 1 | Summer 2006

An Enterprising Failure

Why a promising social franchise collapsed.

By Paul Tracey & Owen Jarvis | Spring 2006

Tackling Vision Care Disparities

How one nonprofit uses an NFL team’s celebrity to improve poor children’s eyesight - and life chances.

By Melinda Tuan & Fay Twersky | 1 | Winter 2005

Sharing Power

How Merck and the WHO have sustained a fragile balance of power in their battle against river blindness.

By Jonathan B. Levine | Fall 2005