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?
Learning and Implementation
More Resources on Sociocracy in Non-Profits
Case study of sociocracy in SCCAN. Its mission is “To inspire and promote, connect and support community-led action in Scotland to address the Climate Emergency.”
Are sociocratic organizations more responsive than top-down hierarchies? Read a case study of two sociocratic organizations – a community and an NGO workplace – and their responses to the covid crisis.
Pittsfield Listens Pittsfield Listens is an organization in Pittsfield, New Hampshire, that works to build community, inform on civic issues, solve problems through community conversations, and to award individuals, groups and...
3 decisions every young organization will make. They will happen either way, either consciously with a good and inclusive system, or unconsciously with old biases kicking in. Which would you rather do?
The practical sociocracy handbook written by the co-founders of Sociocracy For All. 300 pages full of real-life support!
A Europe-wide organization supporting democratic education in schools.
A change in governance or an organization can be compared to open-heart surgery. Just like heart surgery is invasive for a human organism, so is a change in governance. Recognizing that is key to understanding pitfalls in implementing sociocracy.
An association of (associations of) ecovillages in Latinamerica.
A horseback riding association in Poland.
Presentation and conversation with Gregg Kendrick, a consultant working with non-violent communication and sociocracy in workplaces.
Do we have to endure “disruptive” team members if we want to be inclusive? What crosses the line, and what helps us?
A presentation and interview with Gregory Rouillard on his take on sociocracy.
How can one use sociocracy in informal, less structured groups?
Jefferson house in Charlottesville, Virginia, it is a small boutique facility built around an historic home with a warm, family environment.
ITW is a non-profit private school and the main ingredients of the operating culture are Solution Focused Approach, Nonviolent Communication and Spiral Dynamics integral extended by elements of Teal practices.
The Partnership for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education (PULSE) is a community of faculty leaders in the life sciences from higher education institutions.
GRLPI is dedicated to promoting permaculture professional education, practice, and mutual aid through the states of Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Imago Relationships Worldwide is a network of Imago Relationships professionals and supporters in 17 countries, with the founders and majority of members in North America.