A few months ago, a friend asked me why my weekly Talking GOOD interviews were limited only to nonprofit professionals, as opposed to any ol' person who is doing "good" in the world. It was a fair question, one I should have immediately been able to answer. Yet, I found myself struggling with the response. That innocent exchange became the catalyst for a great deal of soul-searching about the future of my weekly Talking GOOD column. Last April, in my blog post that launched the series, I declared in no uncertain terms that I would be "featuring up-and-comers from the exciting, sexy, and adventure-filled world of the 501(c)(3)." I went on to say: "I care a great deal about the nonprofit sector, particularly since I have consulted with many organizations and foundations over the last decade. Launching a weekly segment like this allows me to bring direct visibility to people who I believe warrant the attention."
That was certainly all true. Between Communicate Good and my former agency, Louder Than Words, nonprofits have comprised a healthy percentage of my paying and pro bono clients. I do care about the nonprofit sector, because I care about individuals and organizations that are committed to causes. But here's the thing: it's not only people in the nonprofit sector who are committed to causes. Plenty of folks in the for-profit world are serial do-gooders too. People like him, her, and him. Conversely, there are some people employed at nonprofits who go through the motions each day, without a true sense of purpose driving them.
What I'm trying to say is that the legal designation of 501(c)(3) should not be the litmus for determining whether someone is passionate about a cause, and therefore it is not the appropriate filter for determining eligibility for Talking GOOD. To be very clear, I could feature a nonprofit staffer every day for the next 10 years and I'd only be scratching the surface of possible candidates. But I could also say that I'll only be featuring people whose first name begins with the letter T, and I'd still have endless candidates. These are arbitrary filters for doing good!
When I went back and reread my post that launched the series, it was clear that my main purpose was in fact to tell inspiring stories. At one point, I even say "My goal with this weekly feature is not so much about promoting a nonprofit or a cause, but instead to shine the spotlight on individuals themselves. What makes them tick? What are their hopes and fears?" YES!! My purpose -- in business and life -- is to communicate and share the inspirational stories of others. That's what I enjoy doing most. I've built two PR agencies around doing this with organizations and companies, and with Talking GOOD I am building a platform for showcasing inspiring people.
At the beginning of this post I said that I've made some decisions about the Talking GOOD column. By this point, it should be clear that I'm opening the gates to be inclusive of anyone who is making a difference by doing good. Here's how I will describe the series moving forward:
Talking GOOD spotlights citizen philanthropists … purpose-driven individuals who champion causes and lead by example. These are regular people with jobs, families, and responsibilities, but their commitments to a cause are a central aspect of their being. They’ve learned that giving to others is also one of the greatest things they can do for themselves. Some are grandparents, while others are still in high school. Some are professional do-gooders, while others do “good” in their spare time. They inspire us. They remind us that anyone can make a difference and that to be a philanthropist, one does not need money – just passion, energy, and belief in a cause.
I invite your comments and so appreciate the time you've taken to read this post. Thank you!