If you run a nonprofit, your life can be overwhelmed by an endless cycle of demands from the people you serve and the donors who enable you to serve them. Take a few minutes to contemplate these three critical insights from Liz Baker, Executive Director of GreaterGood.org, a grant-making organization that supports 150 nonprofits around the world.
Liz says the key to making a real difference is in the three I’s of a nonprofit: impact, imagination and innovation.
In her own words:
Define your desired impact before starting a new nonprofit program. If you don’t take this “working backwards” approach, you will not have a clear path to reaching your end goal. The impact can be as narrow as “we want to ensure shelters participating in this program see a 20% lift in adoption rates each month” or as broad as “we want to deliver quality reading material into the hands of as many underserved youth as possible”. Understanding your impact is necessary to successfully imagine solutions and innovate processes.
Once your impact is defined, you have to be able to imagine the problem is solvable. Sometimes this is a simple exercise, and sometimes it’s not. In order to tackle big issues, you need to exercise your imagination and be okay with exploring different possible solutions. With our Girls’ Voices Program, we imagined a way to allow girls in developing countries to tell their story to supporters around the world who could help them overcome barriers to a quality education.
Innovation in nonprofit is key to moving the bar forward. We can’t keep doing the same things if they aren’t working. A good example of this is the Rescue Bank program, who saw nonprofits fundraise to buy food for shelters and rescues while manufacturers were landfilling perfectly good food because the product had undergone a branding change or was approaching its sell-by date. Rescue Bank set up a one of a kind distribution network to deliver food that would otherwise be landfilled to rescue groups. The program continues to innovate with new technology and new systems for delivering product other than food, and for large scale distributions in times of disaster.
On Thursday, June 30, 2016 at 1:00 Eastern, Liz will join me here for a live discussion about her three I insights for greater good. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about GreaterGood.org:
GreaterGood.org is an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization devoted to improving the health and well-being of people, pets, and the planet. We were born out of a desire to make a real difference – to connect those looking to help with the best programs that are on the ground helping. Established in 2007, GreaterGood.org supports over 150 impactful non-profit organizations around the world, and we operate and administer several of its own Signature Programs that work toward our mission. We work mainly in the core areas of: alleviating and addressing the root causes of world hunger and food insecurity, early detection and treatment of breast cancer and other widespread health concerns, preventing and treating childhood illness, promoting children’s literacy and education, protecting and restoring the environment, and providing care and feeding of rescued animals in shelters.
Our Signature Programs are operated and administered by our staff—we hire experts from the various fields related to our mission to build programs that have huge impact and fill needs not met by our grant programs. Some programs and highlights include:
- Rescue Rebuild, a community driven volunteer program that works to rebuild, repair, and renovate animal shelters and rescues in need. Since 2009, we’ve renovated over 100 shelters 48 states, Puerto Rico, and Thailand. Rescue Rebuild has brought over 10 years of volunteer hours into shelters in need.
- Rescue Bank delivers high-quality, name-brand food to smaller, less visible rescue groups all over the country. In 10 years, we’ve delivered over 120 million meals (so far). That’s 22 meals a minute!
- One Picture Saves a Life helps provide shelters proper equipment and training on how to groom animals for photography to increase adoption rates. We’ve taught workshops in over 30 cities to over 3,500 shelter workers, donated 225 cameras and over 500 grooming kits to help increase a pet’s chances of being adopted.
- Madrean Discovery Expeditions works to study and protect the biodiversity of the Sky Island region in northern Sonora, Mexico. This program has helped to document thousands of species of plants and animals, including rare and undiscovered species.
- Project Wildcat works to establish protect areas for predators who are in conflict with local ranchers in Mexico, especially jaguars. So far, we’ve created a successful 34,000 acre wildlife corridor, home to the northernmost breeding female jaguar seen in over 100 years.
- GROW (Girls’ Right to Opportunity Worldwide) identifies and works to remove barriers between girls in developing countries and a quality education. From providing a safe ride to school to protect girls in Afghanistan from attacks, to funding a secondary school in Haiti, to launching Girls’ Voices to teach girls how to tell their story through blogs, photos, and video (and then providing scholarships for them), GROW makes a difference all over the world.
Liz Baker started as Executive Director of GreaterGood.org in 2012, helping to make grants to protect people, pets, and the planet. She has also overseen the creation of several GreaterGood.org signature programs that address multiple issues ranging from hunger (Operation Sandwich,), education (Girls Right to Opportunity Worldwide, Girls Voices, Secondary School in Haiti), land conservation (Project Wildcat and Maderean Discovery Expeditions) and animal welfare (Cats R Cool, One Picture Save a Life, Shot at Life, Rescue Rebuild, Rescue Bank) to name a few. In her previous role as Executive Director of the Petfinder.com Foundation, Liz distributed over 20 Million dollars in cash and product grants to adoption partners in the US. Liz has also worked for Petfinder.com as Vice President of Partner Relations, at Family Education Network as Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and at MeetingMakers.com as Vice President of Operations building lasting partnerships and brand-building initiatives. Liz volunteers on several boards including The Jackson Galaxy Foundation and Native American Advancement Foundation. Liz lives in Tucson, Arizona with her fiancé Doug, two daughters, one pit bull, and two cats. From time to time, Coyotes jump her five-foot fence and spend the afternoon playing in the back yard with her dog, reminding her that we shouldn’t let barriers get in the way of our dreams.
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Devin is a journalist, author and speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!