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 The mission of the "Your Mark on the World Center" is to solve the world's biggest problems before 2045 by identifying and championing the work of experts who have created credible plans and programs to end them once and for all.
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Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

Be Thankful for Social Entrepreneurs Who Are Seriously Changing the World

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

The phrase, “change the world,” is becoming cliché. We give ourselves too much credit for too little impact when we think we can smile at a stranger or give $20 to the United Way and believe we’ve changed the world.

In fact, fans of the HBO series Silicon Valley will recognize that “change the world” and its variants are used exclusively in the show as punch lines, highlighting the fact that every entrepreneur claims to do so.

Such talk is not entirely without merit. While a new app that can be used to make our lives a little bit easier, say by having our McDonald’s combo meal delivered rather than having to drive to get it, does, in fact, change the world it, does not do so in the way in which that phrase has significance.

Scot Chisholm CREDIT: CLASSY

With about 700 million people in the world living in extreme poverty, a similar number—with significant overlap—living without access to clean water—and comparable number—again with overlap—not knowing where their next meal will come from—and not having eaten more than one meal a day in recent memory—forgive me if I’m not buying that having my McDonald’s combo meal delivered is changing the world.

But there are people who are seriously changing the world.

Just last week, I profiled Scot Chisholm, who co-founded Classy and in less than eight years helped nonprofits raise $1 billion. The company is now raising money for nonprofits at a rate of about half a billion every year—and the rate is increasing.

Then there’s Alex Scott, who would never remember a day when she didn’t have cancer, started her lemonade stand at age four specifically to help other kids with cancer. Before she died at age 8, she had raised $1 million. Her nonprofit has gone on to raise over $150 million for childhood cancer research and treatment.

Consider the life of James Mayfield, who at age 83 is continuing his fight to end extreme poverty globally. The nonprofit he launched thirty years ago works around the world but Mayfield is focused on Nepal. I once found him hard at work in a village in the foothills of the Himalaya, where is slept on the floor in a school with other volunteers. There in Nepal, through a government partnership and a unique banking model for the poor, he hopes to eliminate extreme poverty nationwide before his 90th birthday—or die trying.

These are just three examples. The world is full of unsung philanthropists, social entrepreneurs and activists who are really are making a difference, changing the world and doing good.

So, please keep smiling at strangers. Keep making donations to your favorite cause. And please, join me in thanking the people who really are changing the world.


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