Advice: Moving from Idea to Organization

New organizations need three key elements to thrive: good leadership, a strong model, and a real market for their work. If those are present, an organization will probably succeed in solving its other problems. Without them, the contributions of a funder — expertise, technical assistance, money, and other kinds of support — might not tip the balance toward success.

Additional suggestions: Studying similar organizations, learn from earlier attempts to satisfy the same need, take account of wider changes in the field (Example: one international funder learned from his advisory group that plans for a new, centralized organization in another country would run counter to broader changes in that country’s political climate.”), and don’t let planning become a substitute for action (Example: A grantmaker recalls working with a group of young activists who wanted to do community organizing but had a hard time settling on a model. “They really got caught up in the planning process. After a year, they could tell us how many people they had talked to, but that had no meaning for us. We said, ’Great. Let’s see your plan for action, the structure you’ll use to mobilize people.")

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by Candid Learning for Funders using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Working with Start-Ups.