The Art of Doing Good: Where Passion Meets Action

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Jossey Bass authors Charles Bronfman and Jeffrey Solomon show how to turn personal passion into an organization with impact

Launching a nonprofit venture is one of the most powerful and fulfilling ways we can make a difference.

So, how can individuals build a nonprofit that will transform their personal passion for social change, from that first a-ha moment when inspiration strikes into an impactful, well funded and managed organization? How can they keep their vision alive from their first proudest moments of founding to the gut-wrenching milestone of passing on the reins of leadership at the right time?

In The Art of Doing Good: Where Passion Meets Action (September 24, 2012; Jossey Bass), world-renowned philanthropist, Charles Bronfman and nonprofit expert, Jeffrey Solomon, share real-world insights and provide a roadmap for aspiring social entrepreneurs. They draw on their own leadership roles in the nonprofit world, as well as interviews with 18 of today’s most remarkable social innovators.

Many are now famous like Michael Brown of City Year, Darrell Hammond of KaBOOM!, and Geoffrey Canada of Harlem’s Children’s Zone. Others in the book are less-well known, like Rebecca Onie, who was just a college sophomore when she launched a volunteer-driven project in Boston to keep children healthy by providing neglected services that spread to five other cities, and Jordan Kassalow, who built a "LensCrafters for the poor" by sourcing eyeglasses from China and distributing them in developing countries at reasonable prices to those who were blind simply because they could not afford eyeglasses through a network of "vision entrepreneurs" he employed from local communities.

While the lifecycle of any social venture begins with an arresting idea, it does not end there. The authors emphasize that the most important element of nonprofit management is emotional commitment so you, in turn, can engage and excite your staff, board members and other stakeholders. They also show how to get creative about finding alternative revenue streams to fund your idea beyond fundraising, especially during times of economic hardship (for instance, by charging a nominal fee for the services you provide, finding a corporate partner whose products or services are aligned with your mission, or competing for an innovation prize). Among the most consistent lessons from the 18 innovators interviewed is how necessary it is to keep an open mind so you can actively learn from your failures and partner with likeminded organizations who might be doing things better than you.

A nonprofit won’t run itself without your own heart, soul and hard work. The authors emphasize how crucial a founder is to the success of her social venture “a nonprofit depends on its founder for inspiration, energy, determination, and character. A leader’s external resources are useful, no question, but her internal resources are an essential part of what it takes to get a nonprofit organization off the ground.”

Filled with insightful examples and stories, The Art of Doing Good shows any aspiring social entrepreneur how to learn from such successes and undertake her own social change journey.

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Meredith Stanton
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