Innovation at CRE

May 11, 2016

We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

– Albert Einstein

The social sector is uniquely placed to improve lives by pursuing bold ideas and developing, testing, and implementing solutions to seemingly intractable challenges. While innovation practices have increasingly been pursued to address large-scale challenges like climate change and global health, less has been done to capture, build on, and expand cost effective approaches to innovation by nonprofits operating at the community level and within a fast-changing nonprofit landscape. CRE has developed an innovation initiative designed to address this gap and bring these practices to the social sector.

CRE defines innovation as any change that creates a new dimension of performance or a new approach to solving problems. There are multiple areas within a nonprofit that can benefit from innovation, such as an organization’s business model, internal processes, and program design and delivery.

To help our nonprofit clients explore new methods to smartly build sustainable, high-performing organizations and effectively deliver change in their communities, we have embarked on an innovation initiative that we launched in April, and includes four new offerings:

  • Innovation Labs give clients the dedicated space to incubate new ideas – for example, refinements to programs – as well as new tools and methodologies to efficiently test and build their designs.
  • Innovation Culture helps organizations cultivate an internal culture that is innovation-ready, and to generate, prototype and implement new internal processes that drive impact.
  • Program Design & Delivery helps resource-strapped nonprofits continually review and redesign their program models, as well as create smart new programs within compressed timeframes so that they can meet their clients’ changing needs more dynamically.
  • Client Outreach & Experience applies creative, empathy-based approaches to help nonprofits uncover pivotal insights around their clients’ experiences and reinvent how these users interact with the nonprofit’s programs and services so that the organization delivers breakthrough service quality and customer impact, above and beyond program fidelity.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on the CRE’s first-ever Innovation Bootcamp that launched this past April!

By CRE Innovation team: Fiona Kanagasingam (project lead), Emily Adams, and Katie Leonberger
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