Experience – getting more?

Rodney W. Nichols, past President and CEO Emeritus of the NY Academy of Sciences, is Senior Advisor to the Alliance For Global Good. “Stop waiting for the world to change. Change it and the world will follow.” rodney.nichols12@gmail.com

Most professionals have rued their many confrontations with the truth of that old saying: “Experience – it’s what you think you have until you get more.”

What is the experience when a non-profit tries to earn money? Yes, earn revenue for its mission! This novel path is now essential. And the probability of learning is high. After all, which college courses in social service taught marketing? Which ones taught pricing strategies?

But listen up. The Alliance For Global Good’s Innovation Fund was started in 2012, and has completed two rounds of rigorous national competitions to make eight grants to remarkable groups from Bolivia and the Congo to Kenya. The results to date show that non-profit organizations can turn the corner and make money for their causes.

However, no matter how well most of these groups do, for some the experience will be brutal. The “business” aspects will be “a struggle,” as the Economist magazine noted recently. Throughout the for-profit domain, the Economist added, “terror strikes young bosses when their beautiful business plans are shredded by aggressive competitors or by a lousy economy.” That will occur for non-profit social entrepreneurs, too.

On balance, most of the non-profit world is not yet ready for these ups and downs in competing to fulfill, promptly and efficiently, their customer’s demands for effective and reliable services. Yet the community must and will learn. Its big asset for such worthwhile change is that it does know how to focus.

So the experience will stick. And the urgently needed movement to create more social enterprises will enhance, over time, the larger philanthropic scene in the US and around the world.

The Innovation Fund thinks this process is an imperative. Give it a shot.

Rodney W. Nichols

April 2014 Rev 4/07/14



Proud to announce our newest partner


Leonard Kaplan’s creation of the Alliance for Global Good was the expression of his passionate philanthropy.  It’s also the logical outgrowth of all that came before it.  Together with his wife and philanthropic partner Tobee, and through a family foundation later renamed TOLEO, they gave unselfishly of resources and time to improve their community and the world for more than twenty-five years.

Tobee & Leonard Kaplan

Tobee & Leonard Kaplan

The Alliance’s focus on five areas of giving—health, education, environment, poverty, and world relations—is mirrored in Leonard’s past.  He has made major gifts to Duke University Medical Center and the Duke Comprehensive Cancer and Heart Centers, to the Lineberger Cancer Center at UNC Chapel Hill, to the Cardiac Rehabilitation program at Moses Cone Hospital, and had a leadership position at the Greensboro Cardiac Rehabilitation Program.  In 2004, Leonard and Tobee built the new building for the Women’s Resource Center in Greensboro. He created scholarships for residents of Guilford County to attend North Carolina colleges and universities, and was a founding donor of Elon University Law School.  Critically, in partnership with the Kellogg Foundation, Leonard helped create the Center for Organizational Leadership, a philanthropic studies program (which was one of first nationally to educate non-profit executives).

“Everyone wants to leave something to their grandchildren.”

“The money won’t matter if the world they live in is so far gone,” Kaplan says. “The opportunity now is to take some of what might become their inheritance, and use it soon to make the world a better place.”

Addressing poverty, Leonard made possible the building of two houses for Habitat for Humanity, and by providing food for hungry people both close to home in Greensboro, and as far abroad as the former Soviet Union.   The Kaplans were staunch supporters of Trickle Up, which provides grant financing to women in the developing world who want to start their own microenterprise.

Leonard gave not only of his wealth, but also of his time and expertise, taking on leadership positions in many organizations and campaigns such as the Greater Greensboro United Way DeToqueville Society, and as a Core Member of ACTION Greensboro, a nonprofit dedicated to improving public education, revitalization of downtown Greensboro, and leveraging economic development.

Active in their community of faith, the Kaplans built a new building for the Greensboro Jewish Federation, and for the Hillel youth organization at U.N.C., Chapel Hill.  He served on the board of the Jewish Foundation of Greensboro, and on that of the national Hillel organization, and was a founder of Camp Ramah Darom.

Viewing giving as a responsibility of affluence, Leonard led by example, and encouraged others to do the same.  He created Wealth & Giving, an educational program designed to inspire the largest wealth holders in this country to be more generous.  The Alliance continues that work by promoting and providing donors with opportunities for effective and efficient giving.

Read more about the Five Guiding Principles.