When Business as Usual Isn’t Working, Look to Nonprofits for Inspiration

Executive Summary

The business world can learn a lot from nonprofits, especially in a moment when it’s being asked to be more inclusive, more considerate of social impact, and to make do with fewer resources. There are three interrelated strategies that are relevant to businesses seeking to add societal value in the Covid era: 1) pursue intermediate goals; 2) embrace seemingly contradictory tensions; and 3) do more with less. The Christian Medical College (CMC) Hospital in Vellore, India, is a good model for how to put the ideas into practice. To achieve its longterm goal of better health care outcomes, CMC pursued an intermediate jobs program that dealt with people’s immediate felt need — more stable income — and built trust with the hospital. While CMC’s goal of providing high-quality care to low-income patients seems contradictory, its good reputation allowed it to charge wealthier patients more and subsidize those in

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