You have the power to be a changemaker

Though your tax status may read “not-for-profit,” you’re running a business where the community must profit in social ways. The product you’re selling is change. But how much social change are you really creating? Our rapidly changing world has experienced progress economically, politically and socially. However, author Beverly Schwartz argues while progress mitigates some problems, it exacerbates others. Our planet requires more sophisticated solutions that are produced by effective organizations in the social sector.

Your business models must be relevant and every program clearly connected to outcomes that matter. Whether you are part of a large nonprofit or small one-person agency, you have the power to be a changemaker. Just take a look at the world’s small but mighty examples in Schwartz’s book, Rippling: How Social Entrepreneurs Spread Innovation Throughout the World.

The five sections in Schwartz’s book represent the five ripples in the pond of poverty, inequity and inadequate access to opportunity. The changing system, inspiration, innovation, and local and global impact converge to create what Schwartz calls virtuous cycles of social benefit that begin when people themselves become agents of change. These change agents influence others to do the same. “They set off perpetuating waves of motion that convey transformation both vertically and horizontally now and into the future,” says Schwartz.

Schwartz found all the social entrepreneurs she interviewed for her book possess four inherent qualities: purpose, passion, pattern and participation.

Purpose: These individuals put society above personal interests and firmly focus on fulfillment of their chosen role. They may take many roads to get there but the goal is sacrosanct.

Passion: Schwartz finds passion and purpose are inextricably linked together. Passion connects to the spirit and relates to strength of character, determination and connection to others. She further adds real strength lies not in the physical realm but in an indomitable spirit.

Pattern: These entrepreneurs’ patterns become models or guides for others to follow. Their patterns differ greatly, which affirms their individuality or the nature of an entrepreneur. Schwartz likes to say these people “build a better mousetrap” while at the same time eradicating the need for traps altogether by decreasing the population of mice.

Participation: Changemakers are often unanticipated leaders, says Schwartz. Whether they perceive themselves to be leaders or not, their ability to influence people and have them believe, follow and join is an attribute that is completely natural and a necessary component for impact. It is the quality that attracts involvement and eventually morphs into civic engagement.

Gather inspiration from this list and look around your organization. Do you have a changemaker in your midst who’s ready to take the next step? How can you build on their qualities and spread the spirit of innovation?

See also:

Rippling: How Social Entrepreneurs Spread Innovation Throughout the World
The Search for Social Entrepreneurship
Philanthrocapitalism: How Giving Can Save the World
Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World

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