TED Conversations

Susan McPherson

Founder and CEO, McPherson Strategies


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What can we do to change nonprofits given what Dan so eloquently presented

“Business will move the mass of humanity forward, but will always leave behind that 10% of the most disadvantaged and unlucky,” he says — which is why we need philanthropy and nonprofits. But couldn’t the nonprofit sector use the same strategies as the business world to grow their profits and give more money to the needy? After all, says Pallotta, “How do you monetize the prevention of violence against women?”

How can the consuming public, foundations, philanthropists and nonprofits executives work to solve this problem?

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    Mar 3 2013: TALK: Don Tapscott: Four principles for the open world This is a great talk that may be relevant to your question. Companies are formed to execute a mission weather they are for profit or not. It really depends on the people linked together in the company and personal agendas for the overall success of their mission. To successfully complete your proposed mission, the people that become aware of the issue have to have ability and interest to act. The issue needs to resonate close to home to have the most impact. If you would like to discuss more, look me up.
  • Mar 4 2013: In non-profits, you might have other tender besides money. If you decrease the gap between the most disadvantaged and unlucky associated with the lower 1% and lower 10%, you will have accomplished something that is not easily measured. Keeping the relative difference between the disadvantaged and unlucky group and the advantaged and lucky group the same means that the whole group might have an increase in human rights that is never recorded.

    There will always be a lower 10% and you can't solve the problem with money alone. I think creating pathways for enabling the individuals capable of controlling their own destiny with educational opportunities, training opportunities, and work opportunities is one example of how you meet them half way. For those suffering from some sort of abuse, perhaps the opportunities involve dramatic change of environment to remove them from the situation. For those involved in some sort of addiction re-rehabilitation, perhaps you create an environment somewhere that is out of the main stream that enables them to work through a recovery in an environment that is more tolerant of people in these situations that facilitates recovery rather than tries to ostracize or take advantage of the weakness. For those with physical or mental handicaps that prevent them from successfully competing in society or being taken advantage of by others, perhaps a network of safe locations where there are facilities to accommodate the needs, people facing similar struggles to offer support, and opportunities for employment and independence. For those that in this group due to poor adult choices, such as parents unable or unwilling to support families, elder people incapable of paying for healthcare, children that are the victims of any of these situations, there need to be an increased communal opportunity where lack of the essentials do not propagate more bad choices.

    These are not easy answers.
  • Mar 3 2013: Dan Palotta's book, Uncharitable, is a great study of how the restraints on non-profits limit their ability to reach their potential. I personally find the greatest challenge the inherent competition for funding, which fosters short-term thinking and singular approaches, instead of long-term strategic solutions and collaboration. This has to be redesigned.
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    Mar 3 2013: Top business schools are finding a large and ever increasing proportion of their student bodies interested in pursuing social entrepreneurship. Two places where you will find numerous articles addressing this sort of issue in nonprofit strategy are the Harvard Business Review's daily blog (which I haven't searched but I expect is searchable), and a center on the subject that is part of Stanford Business School. (I am looking for a good link). You could start with their Center for Social Innovation.
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    Mar 4 2013: .
    But the radical problem is:

    (1) For the needy, instinctive equality.
    (2) For women, instinctive symbiosis.

    (For details, see the 1st article, points 1-3, 14, at

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    Mar 3 2013: Link please?