In the century since its invention, the nonprofit organization structure has powered immense social good, by enabling countless entrepreneurial leaders to address problems not adequately served by the market. But when it comes to delivering that social good today, many nonprofits fall short of the durable impact they hope to deliver. We propose that there is a higher horizon of opportunity for the redemptive nonprofit—one that seeks the renewal of the larger society as well as all the stakeholders involved in the work.
This kind of nonprofit work depends on sound ethics and excellent best practices, but it goes beyond them. Something deeper is needed—something that recognizes dignity and agency among those we serve by restoring the relationships that were the original, personal heart of God’s vision for just charity.
Based on our work with hundreds of nonprofit founders and funders, we have identified six core commitments of the redemptive nonprofit, each with several actionable organizational practices. These practices can be implemented in organizations without a particular shared faith commitment, but they are rooted in a distinctly Christian view of human beings and our shared purpose in the world, which are summed up in the term “redemptive.”
We hope to inspire a new generation of leaders to go beyond the baseline of ethics and excellence that should characterize any organization (whether or not it receives a tax exemption)—to building nonprofits that embody the radical hope of the Christian gospel and its power to transform persons, communities, and the course of history.