Sociocracy in Non-Profits
Featured Resources for Non-Profits
This article explains how the principles of Dynamic Governance (aka sociocracy) apply to nonprofit organizations, and serves as a supplement to the article “The Creative Forces of Self – Organization”. We appreciate your support in improving how we communicate about dynamic governance.
By Jerry Koch-Gonzalez and John Buck
Purpose-drive organizations love sociocracy. Not only do they help getting things done and serving the purpose who are passionate about – they also help doing good inside the organization. And doing good inside radiates to the outside, making the world more beautiful for everyone.
Most non-profits are governed like a hierarchy – which makes sense given that they have to be financially sound and effective. Yet, what if we told you that you can share power and be effective and efficient at the same time?
The best things about sociocracy:
- Clarity: small, trusted teams and people in clear roles make it easier to define each other’s responsibility and authority. And yet, those smaller teams have more headspace to actually listen to everyone’s input. It’s the perfect combination between strong, loving leadership and teamwork.
- Calm meetings: sociocracy uses the decision-making method of consent which is close to consensus but more efficient. The best thing about consent is that it is crystal clear: we know who decides, how we decide – even how we decide who decides! The transparency and clarity is liberating and a relief for everyone on the team.
- Connection: we often talk in rounds, which means everyone talks one by one. This way of working, once everyone is used to is, doesn’t take longer than “debate” style, yet it creates a stronger bond within teams and contributes to a better sense of togetherness.
Is sociocracy hard to do?
How easy it is to implement sociocracy depends on the size and the culture of your non-profit. If things are done in hierarchical ways, people need to learn the nuts and bolts of sharing (and receiving!) power. If things are run very collaboratively now, creating clarity might be the biggest learning.
Meeting facilitation, improved clarity and the relationship between board and staff and core volunteers are areas that we find sociocracy contributes the most to.
Where do we start?
Read and watch the information on this site. If you are interested in suggesting at your workplace, make sure to read The Sociocracy Starter Kit first.
You will notice that it suggests involving other people in your exploration as early as possible. Having seen dozens of organizations in this situation, we really mean it!
Who Is Already Doing It?
- Mindfulness first (AZ, USA)
- Sociocracy For All (global)
- Social Care Network (UK)
- Great Lakes Rivers and Lakes Permaculture Institute (USA)
- PULSE (USA)
- Başka Bir Okul Mümkün (Another School is Possible Association, BBOM in Turkish)
- Sociocratic Center Greece
- Living Well (elder care, Vermont, USA)
- Jefferson House (NC, USA)
- Horseback Riding Association (Poland)
- El Roser (Spain)
- Imago Relationships Worldwide
- Galgael (Scotland)
- ECOLISE network (Europe)
- Learn to Change (Europe)
Learning and Implementation
More Resources on Sociocracy in Non-Profits
Arbolife was founded by Morli and Marc Mathys because they wanted to take a road to better care about themselves and the planet.
A movement striving for a childcentered, playfocused, nonprofit primary education.
Case study: Learn to change is a Non Governmental Organization that brings together a community of teachers and educators working to support educational transformation for the benefit of building sustainable democratic societies.
Valley Time Trade is a volunteer organization that tracks hours of service offered by members to other members, referred to as a time bank. It is located in the north-central part of the Pioneer Valley, a western region in the state of Massachusetts.
Mindfulness first is a nonprofit that promotes mindfulness in schools and beyond.
Sociocracy supports collaborative management in the nonprofit sector and is in line with many mindfulness values.
A social enterprise giving people more opportunity.
This case study features a residential care facility in Vermont that has been using sociocracy for many years in combination with a holistic care approach.