February 28, 2013

Why Foundations Should Pay Attention to Radical Thinkers

The president of the Foundation Center offers six ideas to promote lasting social change.

Subscribe to Making Change on iTunes

When nonprofits and foundations have been trying to solve a problem for a long time, they often try the same approaches over and over again. Group think pervades the staff, and soon nobody tries new ideas.

That's why Bradford Smith, president of the Foundation Center, says grant makers and other organizations should look outside of their walls and seek out leaders and groups who have a sense of "fierce individuality" and originality that sets them apart from the establishment.

Too often, grant makers turn away from such people because they don't fit the mold of what they expect in a nonprofit leader or employee. That can be a mistake, Mr. Smith says.

"Every once in a while, throw out the rule book," he says.

In this episode of Making Change, Mr. Smith explains why this emphasis on questioning old ways is one of six factors he believes promote lasting change.

Hildy Gottlieb is the co-founder of Creating the Future and author of "The Pollyanna Principles: Reinventing 'Nonprofit Organizations' to Create the Future of Our World." In this podcast, Making Change, she interviews leaders to discuss how those who are working for the greater good can effect more social change. New episodes of Making Change appear once a month.