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May 2010

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Cindy Gabriel

So glad to hear of you. I was the Communication Director for the Joint Hurricane Housing Task Force for 2 years post Katrina for the City of Houston. We started a website that continues today, It's still blowing and going and I have lots of things to say about good and bad non-profits. But it's past my bed time. We will talk soon.

Cindy Gabriel


Beth and Perla, thanks for posting and giving this interview. What a fantastic effort, Perla, on your part--the site is beautifully designed, and I'll look forward to visiting it frequently.

One question, though: understandably, it seems that Great Nonprofits focuses primarily on service-oriented nonprofits, which of course while necessary and hugely important represent only one of many strategies in creating a world where needs such as housing, health care, nourishment, etc.--basic human rights, really--are ensured.

Does Great Nonprofits have plans to include policy-oriented nonprofits in its rating system as well, who may not offer direct service to individual clients but are working to change the playing field?



Great question. I would say that *especially* for policy-oriented nonprofits where it is tougher to show your impact compared to a direct service nonprofit, collecting stories from your stakeholders is easier and more powerful than any other method of showing your social impact.

All nonprofits have people who have seen the impact of their work first hand. Think broadly about your stakeholders and the people that your nonprofit interacts with. For policy oriented nonprofits, that may be an ED of another nonprofit who is part of a coalition with you; it could be a volunteer who helps with mailings; it could be your local council person or representative's office who you work with.

It sounds like you are working on systemic changes and so the kind of testimonials/stories your nonprofit collects from these stakeholders will be most likely about the incremental "winning hearts & minds" type of progress - how you brokered creative partnerships, how you spoke convincingly on a panel and was invited for follow-up meetings by key audience members, how you brought together a coalition to write an editorial, how you won the trust of a key legislator, etc - and about the passion and dedication of your staff to your work.

Policy-oriented nonprofits work on longer time horizons and your results are not easily added up and calculated. So helping your stakeholders tell your story - send them an email with a link to the URL for them to write about their experience with your nonprofit - is the easiest and most effective way of making your work visible to the larger world.

Try it! Let me know how it goes. I'd love to hear from you again.

Perla Ni
CEO, GreatNonprofits

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