Why The Butterfly Effect?

The Butterfly Effect refers to the popular notion that a small change in a complex and dynamic system can cause a chain of events leading to large scale change.

While we’re not convinced that the flapping wings of a butterfly would actually cause a tornado anywhere, we do know that small actions can make profound differences in the organizations that we care about.

We’ve both been frustrated that we didn’t have a way to share with our nonprofit colleagues all of the interesting research, ideas, musings, case studies, readings and other resources that may cause those small changes that can cause large and profoundly positive effects on the organizations and issues that matter to them.

So when we had the opportunity to pull that into a blog… how could we resist?

Plus, Gayle really loves butterflies (one of the few insects she does love. The monarch is a frequent and welcome visitor to our garden.) And what could be a better metaphor for consulting than a magnificent butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.

We started Cause & Effect in 1996. Since then, we’ve worked with over 100 organizations, big and small, local and international. We’ve talked to hundreds of board members, staff and volunteers. We know the extraordinary impact you’ve already had. We’ve felt your pain. We are passionate about your potential. And we don’t think you have to reinvent processes that already work when you should be out changing the world.

We’re avid readers, on the internet and off. We read lots of stuff about nonprofits and more. We’re National Public Radio junkies and always find stories and features that relate directly to our clients. We believe (and our clients tell us) that our interest in the world matters because it’s hard to find consultants who really understand (or quickly pick up) the complexity and nuances of their issues.

Beyond our usual work in capacity building with nonprofits, we’ve had some other interesting assignments.

  • We compiled the Help America Vote Act HAVA State Plan for Rhode Island.
  • Jon developed two international exhibits on the concept of “habitat” applied to children– one that appeared at United Nations conferences in New York and Istanbul and another in Japan.
  • Gayle wrote a white paper on Green Power Marketing which for many years was posted on the web site of the Power Marketing Association of America, an industry trade group.

Yep, lots of stuff fills our two heads. And while we know it makes a difference in our consulting, we’re sure that we can have a bigger impact (that Butterfly Effect) if we transfer some of what we know and think about onto these pages to share with you.

And, because we keep learning every day, we’d love to hear what you are doing — to receive examples of those small changes that led to big results. So do post … we eager to meet you.

Best, Gayle & Jon

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