A New Year, A Time To Re-Commit

I'm inspired by the nonprofit sector and its volunteers. Nearly 1.1 million tax-exempt organizations are "public charities." These include a wide variety of nonprofits from hospitals, museums, and universities, to homeless shelters, drug rehab centers, and jobs programs, to organizations that advocate for equal justice, public parks, and the environment. In spite of--sometimes inspired by--times when our nation's principles and values are tried and tested, nonprofits forge ahead. Nonprofits address vital needs. They also give each and every American a way to channel their volunteer and philanthropic energy for the betterment of our communities, our nation, and our world.

Over the three decades during which I've built and run two social enterprises, and advised hundreds of nonprofits, there has been a profound development in the role of businesses--from casual contributors, to more purposeful donors, to highly strategic partners with nonprofits. In Leveraging Good Will: Strengthening Nonprofits by Engaging Businesses (Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint, 2005), I show how business people are strengthening nonprofits through effective service on nonprofit boards and pro-bono service. In my subsequent book, A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Solving Global Problems...Where Governments Cannot (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), I provide dozens of case studies of companies that partner with nonprofits in order to find innovative solutions to social, economic, and environmental challenges.

Nonprofits have learned that by collaborating with companies, they can gain valuable resources to advance their vital work. Leading companies, like Unilever, Dow, Intel, and others, are showing that they can grow shareholder value by working with nonprofits to help solve pressing global challenges. Together, businesses and nonprofits are becoming powerful forces in addressing climate change, moving people out of poverty, and seeking solutions to educate girls and women.

No matter how dispirited anyone may be about problems facing the world, there is an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution. Become involved, get proximate to the issues that matter (Bryan Stevenson), and do something.