Each case uses a consistent framework that allows the reader to easily navigate them and make comparisons. Concluding Lessons Learned chapter provides a summary of the themes that emerge from the cases and gives the reader an outline of the practical dimensions involved in carrying out nonprofit innovations. Profiles an array of innovative nonprofit organizations from around the world that provides the reader with a balanced picture of the sector and show commonalities between cases that come from different countries, regions, and fields. Discussion questions at the end of each case ask the reader to reflect and analyze the innovation as well think creatively and initiate successful innovations themselves.

The YMCA: A Pioneer of Organizational Innovations

The YMCA: A pioneer of organizational innovations
Martti Muukkonen


Once upon a time there were no summer camps for youth, no gyms, no basketball, and no volleyball. There were no international youth conferences, no military canteens, no refugee aid, and no international development cooperation. There was neither ecumenism nor interfaith dialogue. Why? Because the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) had not yet been born.

The YMCA has been a pioneer in many social activities, organizations, and practices that we regard as self-evident today. The YMCA is perhaps the oldest (founded in 1844) and largest (45 million members today) of contemporary youth organizations, and it has been a laboratory of youth work methods, like youth clubs, ...

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