The nonprofit sector is full of passionate people. That’s one of the reasons I love my work in it. Most take what they’re given and work with it, tweaking here and there to make it bigger or better or amazing. But the original organization is still evident in there. Few people are passionately transforming the sector itself.
Two people who are passionately transforming the entire sector are Hildy Gottlieb and Dimitri Petropolis. They’ve been in what most of us call the nonprofit sector for decades. And they are good. Their organizations and their clients thrived. But over they years, they realized that the communities their clients were in weren’t really changing.
That wasn’t “ok” with them. They, and the growing number of consultants trained through their organization called Creating the Future, cause the members of these organizations to question their base assumptions and help them to see the scope of their mission in a bigger light.
Hildy and Dimitri recognize the power in words. They don’t describe the organizations they work with using negative language like “not-for-profit” or “non-govermental.” Instead, they created the term “community benefit organizations”. After all, who wants to be defined by what they’re not?
But starting from the premise of community benefit, organizations can look at the scope of their work in a whole new context. As Hildy describes in her post 6 reasons to use the term community benefit organization, the term is inclusive enough to embrace other entities not normally thought of as “nonprofits.” As I see them work, this alone seems to help board members to a powerful discovery that they aren’t alone. Lots of groups are working for the benefit of the community and they can collaborate with those groups. There is no longer a need to protect their turf. Since they exist for community benefit, they can involve other partners without “losing.”
Not some insipid ivory tower rhetoric
This may all sound heady and theoretical. It’s not. Creating the Future expressly wants it’s tenants to lead to intensely practical, day-to-day applications. They are committed to “infusing the DNA of social progress” into regular habits like decision making and planning. Part of the power in their emphasis is envision what is possible, rather than what they’re against.
They’ve embodied these “what they’re for” statements into the Creating the Future’s core values. I love that they call them The Pollyanna Principles!
One practical application of their desire to be a “living lab” for social change, they publicly broadcast all of their board meetings on YouTube using Google’s Hangouts on Air. But they aren’t simply intending to “broadcast.” These hangouts are for inspiring conversation. So they created the #ctfuture hashtag and regularly refer to any comments given, incorporating them in the meeting’s agenda.
A person using the #ctfuture hashtags recently tweeted something many say about Creating the Future:
…Never have I seen an org practice what it preaches so closely…
Neither have I.
Investing in transforming a sector
If you want to go beyond supporting a single cause or organization, please make a donation to Creating the Future. They are transforming organizations, and consultants who work with these organizations, in ways that are 100% sustainable. They are actively changing the DNA of groups, not making them something else, but making them more wholly what they intend to be.
You’re one time or monthly donation will be investing in transforming communities around the world.
To make a donation, or to participate in other ways, go to:
You could also support their work by buying a copy of The Pollyanna Principles: Reinventing ‘Nonprofit Organizations’ to Create the Future of Our World!
To learn more about Creating the Future, listen to Hildy’s talk from TEDxTucson:
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