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Innovation in Service Delivery in NFPs June 12th, 2014

Written by Ajmal Tahir

The opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Endeavour.

We asked our Project Manager, Ajmal Tahir about Innovation in Service Delivery in the NFP sector. Here are his thoughts.

1. What does it mean to you, having innovation in service delivery in NFP?

Innovation in service delivery is essentially a transformative, disruptive or creative change (direct or indirect) in the way that an organization provides its products and/or services to its beneficiaries or customers. In my view, having innovation in service delivery in the non-profit world is not really different than it is in the for-profit world. Although the motivations behind the innovations may be different depending on whether you are tackling it from a non-profit or for profit lens, the fundamental meaning behind the concept remains unchanged. As today’s non-profits seek to improve their services, provide greater impact in their communities, and tackle more challenging social problems, the need for innovation in service delivery is becoming increasingly important.

2. Are there specific charities or organizations that come to mind when you think of innovation in service delivery?

There are numerous examples of disruptive organizations that have been extremely successful by their revolutionary approach to service delivery. One such organization is the well-known not-for-profit internet encyclopedia known as Wikipedia. Prior to Wikipedia, the concept of an encyclopaedia built by anonymous volunteers for the public (for free!) would have been laughable – yet its innovative and unorthodox approach to encyclopedia-development has driven many traditional encyclopaedia services out of existence.

Other examples include the Khan Academy and Habitat for Humanity.

3. What are some of the best practices charities can adopt that help them function more innovatively?

A few things that may help charities and non-profits be more innovative include:

  • Being open to change and constantly questioning long-held and “established” assumptions or beliefs
  • Developing a strong understanding of the needs and challenges of their target beneficiaries to better cater their programs and services
  • Adopting proven service delivery innovations from other non-profit or for-profit organizations to improve service delivery within their own charitable organizations

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