5 New Year's Resolutions for Social Change Agents


Although New Year's celebrations may be over, New Year's resolutions have a great importance. For social change agents like non-profits, social entrepreneurs, and other community-based mission-driven organizations, adapting to the constant evolution of technology will be critical. So here are five resolutions that Chicago-based social change agents should consider keeping to insure success in 2014:

  1. Let's resolve to gain impact by losing buzzwords - Many social change organizations focus less on "impact" and more on "building awareness". For smaller organizations, awareness is critical....but what is important is action. Knowing how an organization's activities have a direct effect on its mission isn't just a good idea - it's a surefire key to success.
  2. Let's resolve to not think of ourselves as "special" - And yes, I'm looking at you, non-profits. Too often, several of you use your mission-driven status and "lack of resources" as a "get-out-of-jail-free" card. (Example: a colleague once told me that when their philanthrophy unit offered a half day's services, a non-profit official countered with "No, we need two or three days' worth"). With social ventures, community groups, coalitions, and others entering the social change sphere, non-profits are now going to have to share the moral high ground....and lose a bit of "specialness" in the process. In the meantime...
  3. Let's resolve to remember that collaboration is never one-sided - Often, many consider "collaboration" to be "what you can do for me" rather than "let's share resources towards a common goal". (Example: One non-profit leader offered another a presentation to fulfill a meeting requirement. The other leader was hesitant - despite members' approval of the concept - and later cancelled the meeting). Nobody has a monopoly on social good, and collaboration is becoming mandatory for funding and programmatic requirements.
  4. Let's resolve to read (or re-read) The Mission Myth  and The Myths of Creativity - I've written about Ms. Mahoney's and Mr. Burkus' books in this blog; in my opinion, these are two must-reads for non-profits, serving as a kind of Mythbusters-style session on non-profit effectiveness.
  5. Let's resolve to not adopt technology or tools simply for their own sake - Many of us see technology - whether it's computers, smartphones, software, cloud-based services, or other tools - as an end in and of itself. Nobody would suggest using a hacksaw for every problem, so why would being "on every social media channel" or having "the most recent smartphone" be any different? Let's all resolve to take stock of what we need....and make sure we match the proper tool for that need.

We're more than a day into 2014, but it's never too late to resolve to make change. If we want to have a greater influence on executing our missions, we all need to adopt the attitude that revolution begins at home - preferably in the bathroom mirror.

What are your organization's resolutions for 2014? Please feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me privately via the About page. And as always, thanks for reading!

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