Best Ted Talks for Do Gooders

I am a huge fan of Ted Talks. Ted describes their mission as "spreading ideas." From their website: "We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we're building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world's most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other." I always find inspiration for my work at a foundation when I listen to Ted Talks so I thought I would compile a list of some of the best for people in the social sector. I have some of my favorites as well as ones that were suggested by my Twitter followers

Bill Strickland is one of my favorite talks ever. I have seen him do this in person but I love this version where he is backed by Herbie Hancock.

Majora Carter is a rockstar and her talk is on greening the ghetto

Jamie Drummond on crowdsourcing goals

Great talk on the mesh, which I think is the future for nonprofits as well

@Upwell suggested 3 talks, as well as a spreadsheet that lists 1200 Ted Talks in a searchable spreadsheet that is available here.

Bryan Stevenson: We need to talk about an injustice

Dan Barber: How I fell in love with a fish

Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability

Steve Boland from the Nonprofit Assistance Fund has a great talk about freeing the power of ideas.

@mollygmartin suggested Eve Ensler's talk on happiness in body and soul

Leave your favorite Ted Talk in the comments.

Future of Nonprofit Revenue is in the Mesh

This is the first in a series of posts on the future of the social sector. Let me know what you think.

Strengthening the revenue line is the daily struggle of most nonprofit executives. We host galas, write 30 page grant applications, and try to identify our next major donor but what if the key to giving your nonprofit stronger financial viability was hiding right in your storage closet?

Lisa Gansky, the pioneering author of “The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing” , says that Mesh companies create, share and use social media, wireless networks, and data crunched from every available source to provide people with goods and services at the exact moment they need them, without the burden and expense of owning them outright. Gansky reveals how there is real money to be made and trusted brands and strong communities to be built in helping your customers buy less but use more.

One of the darling companies of the mesh movement is Zipcar. By making it easier and affordable to have access to a car, only when you need it, Zipcar is lessening each participants’ environmental impact and the expense of car ownership.

So what does that mean for nonprofits? You have an office full of equipment and tools that you are not using at this very moment but will need to have at some future time. For example:

-The extra laptop that the summer intern uses

-The projector that is only used for the monthly board meetings

-Nametags for your yearly gala

-Reflective vests and traffic cones for your annual walk/run

What if that equipment becomes a monthly revenue item for your nonprofit by renting it out through companies like Snapgoods or Zilok? You can post your equipment for rent and renters can browse listings and schedule and pay for rentals from you, a definite benefit for time-strapped nonprofits.

Nonprofits have a built in network of supporters like donors, volunteers, clients, or nonprofits you collaborate with. You could advertise your available equipment to these supporters through your regular mailing list or social media presence. Snapgoods is even optimized to leverage your network. You can also describe in your listing that the rental fee will support the mission of your organization, making you more marketable to values-driven consumers are who want to reward socially conscious businesses with their purchases.

Tools to put you on the leading edge of this trend:

SnapGoods- SnapGoods connects people so that they can rent or borrow gear from within their network or neighborhood.

Zilok- a centralized online rental marketplace. Zilok allows anyone, whether individuals or professionals, to rent or offer for rent anything in a few clicks. They provide both individuals & professionals a platform to offer in seconds any item for rent, so people have a quick and convenient access to anything they could possibly need on occasion, for rent.

Craigslist- Free local classifieds and forums - community moderated.

2012 Predictions for the Social Sector

Too often in the social sector, our organizations are like rowboats, we are all rowing in the same direction but we are looking backwards as we do it. My personal plan for 2012 is to be more forward thinking, so that I can anticipate what will happen next and prepare for it, rather than being reactive to yesterday's problem. In that spirit, here are my predictions for the social sector in 2012:

0% processing fee for donations

In response to mass protests against the financial services industries, a forward-thinking credit card company decides to demonstrate extreme corporate citizenship and eliminate credit card fees for donations on a charity donation site like Their market share increases significantly, nonprofits see a boost to their bottom line, and other credit card companies quickly follow suit. By 2015, charity donations enjoy 0% fees across donation platforms.

Nonprofit intellectual property infringement

A small nonprofit sued a corporate philanthropy program that uses crowdsourcing contests. In court papers the nonprofit alleged that the corporate giving program used the contest to identify promising trends in the social sector and then funded larger nonprofits to implement those strategies.

95% for social enterprise

A large, national foundation changed its investment strategy from traditional investments that have little mission impact, to 100% of its endowment invested in social enterprise projects. The range of projects that they support include grocery stores in inner city, wind projects, and a Zipcar franchise. The foundation saw an increase in investment returns and was able to leverage its entire endowment for its mission.

Millennial movement

A Top 100 nonprofit hired a CEO from the millennial generation. The organization touts their new CEO's ability to ability to harness the power of technology and manage remote teams. Nonprofit sector analysts watch this placement carefully to determine if this is representative of a new wave of hiring from traditional organizations that are looking to completely revamp the way that they do work.

Common grants become common

Regional Associations of Grantmakers from across the country announce that they have partnered together to create a universal common grant application. The application is widely adopted by grantmakers and significantly reduces the paperwork burden on nonprofits.

Career Agents

An enterprising recruitment firm has identified the trend of Gen X and Gen Y employees taking an increasing number project-based appointments with nonprofit organizations. To capitalize on this trend they added to their staff of recruiters a handful of "career agents", that are not hired by the nonprofit but are retained by the individual nonprofit professional. These career agents identify positions and negotiate on behalf of the professional.

What changes do you see happening in 2012 for the social sector?