Archive for February, 2008

T.A.G. takes Pay-it-Forward online

Posted on February 29, 2008. Filed under: Nonprofit, Social Entrepreneurship |

Ideablob features social entrepreneurs and their ideas. Every month ideablob members can vote on the ideas they think are the most worthwhile and that idea receives $10,000 to help them get jump started.

One of the great ideas this month is T.A.G. or Turning Actions to Good. The founder has taken the idea of the movie Pay It Forward (I’m sure you’ve all heard of it!), as well as the book, and combined them with the game of Tag, we all know from childhood, to give everyone access to philanthropy.

His vision is to use the internet for people to print off T.A.G. cards, each one for a specific organization. They use this card, along with the commitment they took by printing it off, and commit an act-of-kindness, based on the organizations mission, for someone else. This act doesn’t have to be giving money, everything is possible.

Once committing the act they hand the card to the person they committed the act for.

This concept, that he explains much better on his website, utilizes an innovative method of the internet to help others to participate in philanthropy, even if they can’t afford to donate.

As soon as he gets his site up and running I am going to print off my first T.A.G. card!!

Check out ideablob to vote for him, and peruse the other innovative ideas on the site.

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Posted on February 24, 2008. Filed under: Nonprofit, Social Entrepreneurship | Tags: , , |

Although it isn’t an innovative idea, although it has been happening forever, collaboration is one thing that will make the nonprofit sector better!

The nonprofit sector, just like the public and private sectors, has its fair share of problems. The sector has been around forever, but more than ever before I see people organizing into professional organizations. I don’t know the exact statistics, but I am sure that a new nonprofit is being organized every day. The sector is being flooded by organizations that want to do good in the community. Unlike other sectors many people don’t see the risk in starting a new nonprofit. They see the good they want to do and believe the only way to do this is to start their own nonprofit.

I know I have had the thought before, “No one is doing this for the community, why don’t I start my own organization to do this.” Although after some research I am sure to find another organization that is doing the same thing.

One thing that will help the nonprofit sector is collaboration. Collaboration takes some social entrepreneurship by organizations already formed, but also extensive research by those that have a passion for serving a disparity in the community. Collaboration can only help the sector. If you weigh the reasons, it seems obvious.

A great example: Two organizations are serving homeless in Grand Rapids. Both organizations are located on the same street, both organizations serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as many other services to the homeless community in their area. Both organizations receive donations and grant funding. Imagine if both of these organizations collaborated on their food serving. This means paying less overhead costs for lighting and heating two separate buildings, paying two separate custodians for cleaning, benefits for two program directors. The funds saved through cutting these costs could go towards serving more individuals and possibly providing them with more needed services.

The idea of collaboration takes a lot of innovation, nonprofit sector professionals should be thinking more entrepreneurial about the programs they run, how they can better those programs through collaboration with other organizations providing the same services.

Some may believe competition is good for the sector, but as we can see in education, competition is not always the best way to get organizations to provide better services. In the nonprofit sector it is important to serve each population in the best way for that population. Competition sets standards that may not be realistic for every population.

Collaboration is one way to do this. What is better than sitting in a room with individuals that share your same passions. To sit in a room sharing ideas with individuals that know the population you’re serving. What is better than thinking innovatively about serving populations in your community better.

Collaboration may not be the answer, and it may seem obvious, but is a step that many organizations need to take. Collaboration and social entrepreneurship push individuals to think out of the box, while continuing to serve those individuals they have always been passionate about serving. Collaboration is one way to make the nonprofit sector better.

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I don’t have to limit my passions after all!

Posted on February 15, 2008. Filed under: Nonprofit |

Since posting my last blog about limiting my passions I have thought a lot about narrowing my passions or not needing too. And thanks to some great conversations…

I decided I can do everything, I just have to prioritize and limit myself to the dedication to each organization.

It is up to me to make sure I am working with all the causes important to me, while making sure to not overburden myself.

I have plenty of options for working with a variety of nonprofits and causes at once, including:

Serving on a board – I currently serve as Co-Chair of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Greater Grand Rapids. This commitment is currently one of my more time consuming commitments, but the impact the organizations makes covers many of the things I am passionate about, including helping individuals work better for the causes I/they believe in.

Giving – I don’t give too much right now, besides my time. I am in a start up position and saving money for a house, etc. But giving is a good option to help a cause you/I believe in, without having to give more time than you already have.

Serving as AdHoc advisory to a board or working on a special project – Sometimes I don’t have a full year to commit to being on a board, but many organizations offer the option to serve on advisory committees or in focus groups, to help them improve their services. I have been working with the Global Leadership team at my church to help in the planning of our missions work in Africa. My work with them does not take up a lot of time and is only temporary.

Volunteering – Seems pretty obvious, but I don’t always think about it. I don’t necessarily have to provide a ton of time and effort to an organization, but walking for breast cancer once a year keeps me involved in the cause.

In My Work – In my job I have been lucky enough to kind of choose what I want to work on and structure my professional development around nonprofit capacity building efforts I am specifically passionate about. I know others may not have this opportunity, but it is important to make sure your boss knows what your career plans are. Special projects may come up that you can become involved in outside of your everyday job in order to fulfill some of your goals.

Blogging – Although for me it has taken up sometime I have learned a lot and have been able to talk about the things that I am passionate about. A blog doesn’t even have to be public, but becoming part of a network is worth it.

Involvement in community efforts – I have been working with the League of Women Voters in Grand Rapids on the We Vote project. We Vote is an effort to raise voter turnout in Grand Rapids school board elections. This is a special project I have been working on over just a few months and I have the opportunity to work with them later as well. This project was a great one to work on because it encompassed many of the things I hope to advocate in the community. There are many projects like this one all over the country that any one can be involved in. And another plus is working with and learning from other great community members with your same passions.

And last but not least, Learn – an effort I have been trying to make lately is to either add Google Alerts or blogs to my Google Reader that talk about the passions I relate to. I can take a 1/2 hour every day, or my lunch period at work to skim through everything and make myself knowledgeable about key changes in the work others are doing to support the causes I believe in. Another great source is magazines, I personally love GOOD magazine.  Learning allows me to exude confidence when talking about my cause and make others aware of it too.

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