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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

(Updated) My Social Entrepreneur Identity Crisis… And, Philanthropy is Sustainable

I’ve just returned from a trip to Ireland. I had a number of great meetings with social entrepreneurs and conversations about ‘social entrepreneurship’.

In Ireland and certainly here in the states, I think Social Entrepreneurship still represents TWO frames. The first is having to do with earned income. (I’m reposting thoughts from 2008 below)

The second frame is more broad. It represents the entrepreneurial attitude for change or impact.  It’s this second definition that I like and it’s also this second frame that is starting to define the social sector. Go to a nonprofit conference and notice the average age. Then go to a similar conference organized for ‘social entrepreneurs’ and again, note the average age.

We’re obviously fans of the social entrepreneurship because the very term invites challenging thinking and norms. That being said, I don’t think one room (or conference) is superior to another in terms of commitment or values. It’s worth noting that the conversation-at-large is generationally shifting. If it weren’t for the IRS I could argue that in 30 years we might not have a ‘non profit sector’; it might become the ‘social (entrepreneurship) sector’.


Original Post, December 11, 2008: My Social Entrepreneur Identity Crisis… And, Philanthropy is Sustainable


“It is the foremost task – and responsibility –
of our generation to ‘RE-IMAGINE’ our enterprises and
institutions, both public and private.”

– Tom Peters
IMAGINATION is more important than knowledge.”
– Albert Einstein
IMAGINATION rules the world.”
– Napoleon


  • A WORLD without … HATE
  • A WORLD without … CANCER
  • A WORLD without … POVERTY
  • A WORLD without … ILLITERACY
  • A WORLD without … DEPENDENCY

Quotes to Help You With the Rules


“You can’t solve a PROBLEM
if you are playing by the RULES.”

– Paul Arden


– O.G.


SELLING has become more complicated, competitive and complex…
thus the need for DRAMATIC CHANGE!
We will not survive by just tinkering with the RULES of the OLD GAME.
We need to CHANGE the entire GAME.”

– Larry Wilson


“If it ain’t broke, break it.”
– Entrepreneurial Mavericks


“The Manifesto of a deal maker is simple. Reality is negotiable.
Outside of science, law (and ethics) … all RULES can be BENT or BROKEN!

– Tim Ferris, 4-Hour Work Week


“I get up every morning determined
to both CHANGE THE WORLD and to have one hell of a good time.
Sometimes, this makes planning the day difficult.”

– E.B. White


“What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger!”
– Nietzsche


“It’s the END OF THE WORLD as we know it…
and I feel fine.”

– R.E.M

Quotes to Help You With Change


EVERY organization needs to ABANDON
almost EVERYTHING that it does.”

– Peter Drucker


to get the RESULTS they are getting.”

– Tim Kight


“If you don’t like CHANGE,
you’re going to like IRRELEVANCE even less.”

– General Erik Shinseki


“I don’t trust anyone who isn’t trying to CHANGE the world.”
-Tom Peters


“We don’t need COINS. We need CHANGE.
– Sign in a Window


CHANGE is one thing. PROGRESS is another.”
– Bertrand Russell


“The cumulative weight of experience
makes it very hard to CHANGE.

– Dr. Michael Merzenich, UCSF Professor


“We have to be prepared for CHANGE.”
– Santiago in The Alchemist


CHANGE your THOUGHTS and you can CHANGE the world.”
– Norman Vincent Peale


CHANGE is inspired best by EMOTIONAL APPEALS,
rather than factual statements.”

– Edward Bernays


LEADERS can’t help but CHANGE the present,
because the present isn’t good enough.”

– Marcus Buckingham


“It’s often easier to KILL an organization
than CHANGE it in any significant way.”

– Kevin Kelly


“If people in organizations can’t CHANGE,
the organization will die.”

– John Byrne


“It’s easier to change PEOPLE than to CHANGE people.”
– Kets de Vries (via Tom Peters)


“People don’t CHANGE.
You’re either an eagle or a duck. It is what it is.”

-Tom Suddes

The Challenge

In How To Change The World, David is very clear about one thing:


He talks about the huge chunks of time that are spent thinking about FINANCING/FUNDING/INCOME (vs. time focused on IMPACT.)

Covey’s succinct and powerful thought is still right on:

No Money. No Mission.

However, the corollary is even more important to me.

No Mission. No Money.

Most of you have seen what I consider to be our most powerful INSIGHT:

NOT the other way around!

I won’t belabor you here with this point of view, but, I would simply remind you, David and every other Social Entrepreneur and For Impact Leader in the world that there is so much money out there to help change the world. There are more financial resources available than anyone could possibly spend.

I’m not just talking about McKinsey’s $100 BILLION left on the table … UNASKED.

I’m talking about a TRANSFER OF WEALTH in the next 30 to 50 years of $100 TRILLION!!!

(Give or take a couple of bucks)

And, I’m talking about those people who have had their ‘Bill Gates Shower Moment’… people committed to move from SUCCESS to SIGNIFICANCE!

*These are the people you want to Visit with, Share the Story and Present the Opportunity.

Here are three quotes to help you begin the PROCESS.


BE the CHANGE you want to see in the world.”
– Gandhi


Gandhi’s ubiquitous quote is on everything from T-shirts to coffee mugs to bumper stickers.

CHANGE is up to us.

Some people can actively CHANGE ‘THE’ WORLD. All of us can CHANGE ‘OUR’ WORLD (our impact, our income, our health, our relationships, our lives).


– Peter Drucker


Mr. Drucker was THE management guru and acknowledged thought leader in the field of leadership and organizational development.

Here’s a perfect example of his clear and challenging thinking. Don’t just ‘CHANGE’ something, CHANGE something BIG!!! (e.g. “The PERFORMANCE CAPACITY of SOCIETY!!!”)


“Stop BEGGING for change. Start begging for CHANGE.
– Robert Egger


Bob Egger’s wonderful book title and even more wonderful content provides a catchy, pithy way to talk about radical transformation, creative destruction and Quantum Leap innovation.

Not quite there yet?

Read on.

How to Change the World

I had dinner a couple of years ago with David Bornstein, a terrific writer and evangelist for Social Entrepreneurs. Bornstein wrote a fantastic book called, How To Change The World. Over a five-year period, he visited with 60 Social Entrepreneurs and interviewed another 40. The book concentrates on 9 powerful, uplifting and inspirational stories.

Here is Bornstein’s summarized message:

“Social Entrepreneurs are transformative forces … people with new ideas to address major problems … who are relentless in pursuit of their visions … who simply will not take ‘no’ for an answer … who will not give up until they have spread their ideas as far as they possibly can.”

I love this definition! Both of us also love and use Peter Drucker’s ‘THINK BIG’ mantra:




Bornstein also reinforces one of my favorite books and mantras: The Power Of One.

In his own words,

“(The book) shows that important SOCIAL CHANGE frequently begins with a single entrepreneurial authorONE obsessive individual who sees a problem and envisions a new solution …ONE that takes the initiative to act on that vision … ONE who gathers resources and builds organizations to protect and market that vision … ONE who provides the energy and sustained focus overcoming the inevitable resistance … and, ONE who, decade after decade, keeps improving, strengthening that vision until what was once a marginal idea has become a new norm.”



Begging for Change

There is no way for me to pull together some radical, transformational ideas around CHANGE without talking about Robert Egger’s wonderful book, Begging For Change (Harper, 2004).

Egger is a living, fire-breathing Social Entrepreneur who ran the D.C. Central Kitchen. Twenty years ago, he asked a simple question:

Why aren’t there more RESULTS from 84 million people contributing $200 billion to good causes?” (Figures, 1988)

Today that question has grown to 100 million people and $385 billion. Egger’s answer reinforces the IMPACT drives INCOME insights, epiphany and point of view.




He goes on to say that “most non profits have veered away from their original missions and are now caught up in the maddening cycle of chasing after (begging) for money … “

I’ve shared the podium with Robert, and heard how he challenged audiences to call a “National Time Out”… so that everyone around the country could ask themselves what the hell they’ve been doing and why.

Following are some ‘nuggets’ from this powerful thought leader that seem particularly appropriate around this whole idea of CHANGE (The) RULES (as well as my sometimes feeble attempt to help you CHANGE the way you THINK, TALK and ACT.)

“We need to … demand more and expect more from our nonprofits. We need to seek out and reward organizations that exemplify leadership, unity, responsibility and accountability.” (AND CHANGE!)

“In the last decade of the 20th century, nonprofits began to use a language and display an attitude that almost excused their performance. (‘What do you expect, we’re just nonprofits?’)

– Rather than winning the war on poverty, we focused on containing the enemy.

– Rather than looking for a solution, we found it easier to blame either a cause, political party or an economic system.

– As competition among non profits got ferocious, we tapped into advertising and public service announcements to raise money.”

”We managed to convince our donors to focus on measurements like ‘FUNDRAISING EFFICIENCY’ and charitable commitment because these were easy numbers to present. Yet we knew they didn’t reflect the true IMPACT, EFFICIENCY or EFFECTIVENESS …”

(Here’s one of my favorite nuggets, albeit painful for many organizations and bureaucracies.)
“Over the past 50 years the structure of non profits has evolved for optimum SURVIVAL not optimum RESULTS.” (Adapt or Die? Change to Live?)

If you’re not already on overload, think about this:
“Leaders and researchers in the nonprofit sector want the public to believe that our lack of progress in the sector is caused by INSUFFICIENT MONEY and RESOURCES, and that we could do more if we could build bigger entities and more non profits. THEY’RE TOTALLY WRONG.”

“We don’t have a shortage of funding or volunteers. We’re the most generous and caring people in the world.”

“It’s not that we have to say ‘yes’ more often or reach deeper into our pockets. We have to do the opposite. We have to learn to say no. We have to ask tough questions of organizations who are asking for a grant or a contribution.”

”It’s no longer about dollars raised, or percentage of money that goes to the cause. It’s about effectiveness and results … but it’s also about fewer programs getting more of the money.” (!!!)

If these ‘words’ don’t help you CHANGE your THINKING on IMPACT and INCOME…


Radical Change

One of the most powerful lessons from Ornish’s work is that RADICAL SWEEPING CHANGES are easier and faster to make… and sustain.

For example, people who make moderate changes in their diet get the worst of both worlds. Deprived and hungry because they aren’t eating what they want, they also aren’t making enough changes to quickly improve how they feel.

Ornish’s tough, radical program sees quick and dramatic results, including actually reporting a 91% decrease in frequency of chest pains in the first month!

This radical CHANGE/transformation thing works with organizations as well. Bain & Company, a management consulting firm, studied 21 companies’ corporate transformations where the means were drastic and the results were almost always quick and tangible … including a 250% on average stock price increase!

My own experience has proven that talking with investors and philanthropists about RADICAL TRANSFORMATION (VISION) is significantly easier, more compelling and generates way more results than talking about ‘survival,’ ‘budget cuts,’ ‘incremental tweaks’ and ‘kaizen.’


of the FUTURE … are the


* ‘Survival pitches’ only work for tsunamis and hurricanes (and even that story line is built around people’s future)!

Change to Live

There is an alternative: CHANGE TO LIVE.

Dr. Dean Ornish, a Professor of Medicine at the University of California in San Francisco and founder of Preventative Medicine Research Institute, has actually figured out a way for heart patients to CHANGE. He says,

“Providing health information is important but not sufficient.
We need to bring in the psychological, emotional and
spiritual dimensions that are so often ignored.”

Ornish’s holistic program actually reverses heart disease without surgery or drugs.

*For what it’s worth, I believe STORIES and NARRATIVES are the best ways to make these emotional appeals. FACTS are just FACTS. STORIES change our THINKING and our FRAMEWORK.

A three-year Mutual of Omaha Study found that 77% of Ornish’s patients have stuck with their lifestyle CHANGES and avoided bypass or angioplasties surgery, saving Mutual of Omaha $30,000 per patient (a little over $7M) as well!

Ornish basically re-casts the reasons for CHANGE:




Ornish helps convince people that they can feel better … not just live longer … and enjoy things that make daily life pleasurable.

Stop for a moment and realize how much this applies to everything we do.

It’s about the POSITIVE vs. the NEGATIVE.
And, it’s about our ATTITUDE.

Conventional wisdom says that ‘CRISIS’ is a powerful motivator for CHANGE. Obviously, since severe heart disease or health-related matters are the most serious of personal crises, that doesn’t seem to motivate. John Cotter, Harvard Business School Professor, adds this insight:

“Behavior CHANGE happens mostly by speaking to people’s FEELINGS.
In highly successfully CHANGE efforts, people find ways to help others see the problems or solutions in a way that influence EMOTIONS, not just thought.”

That is sound advice regardless of the area of ‘CHANGE’

9:1 Change or Die

Given real choices in matters of LIFE or DEATH, scientifically studied odds are 9 to 1 AGAINST CHANGE!

Alan Deutschman expanded a provocative Fast Company cover story (May 2005) into a full-length book called, Change Or Die.

Deutschman’s conclusion from his two-year project:

90% of patients with severe heart disease fail to CHANGE their own lifestyles … even after their doctor tells them that they’re in a ‘CHANGE or DIE’ situation!”

600,000 people have bypasses every year and 1.3 million heart patients have angioplasties, all at a total cost of around $30 Billion. These procedures are temporary and rarely prevent future attacks or prolong life. However, the patient could avoid the return of pain and the need to repeat the surgery by switching to a healthier lifestyle.

However, after two years, 90% of these patients have not changed their lifestyle!

The Health Care industry consumes over $3 Trillion a year in the U.S. alone. (20% of our Gross Domestic Product.) 80% of our health care budget is consumed by five behavioral issues … too much smoking, drinking, eating and stress, and not enough exercise.

This is not about the debates, discourse, disagreement on a Health Care Plan. The fact is that…

We know the cause of these health problems.
We know the solutions.
Yet, people won’t, don’t CHANGE.

* THIS CHANGE is not always about ‘life or death’. Studies have found that six weeks into the New Year, 80% of people had already broken their New Year resolutions (or can’t even remember them anymore)!

A National Institute for Health study found that 97% of people who lose weight end up gaining it all back within five years!