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6 Nonprofit Thought Leaders You Need To Follow

Dan Pallotta – Author of Uncharitable

Dan Pallotta created the multi-day charitable event industry. Think cross country bike rides for charity. These events made it possible for individuals to raise large sums of money for the charities and causes they cared about, basically a kind of crowdfunding.

Pallotta is, thus, one of the great innovators in the nonprofit space, and provides a lot of food for thought on his blog and in his book, Uncharitable, which challenges the basic assumptions surrounding nonprofit work. He is an advocate for creative approaches to the problems nonprofits face, and his blog is definitely one to keep updated on.

While you may not agree with his ideas, he has had enough of an impact that he is worth following.

Sasha Dichter, CIO of Acumen Fund

Sasha Dichter is the Chief Innovation Officer of Acumen Fund, which combats poverty by investing in social enterprises and innovative leadership. As such, he is a great source for alternate perspectives on getting things done; reading his blog, you can’t help be inspired by all the drive, determination, and sheer brilliance of the change agents he works with.

Dichter has also given a very powerful talk on the practice of generosity, which will change the way you think about the relationship between smart giving and generous giving.


Susan McPherson

Susan McPherson is a cause marketer and corporate responsibility expert. While her professional work is in the for-profit sector, she is a strong advocate for business with a conscious and writes about the importance of socially conscious leadership and business practices, both essential elements of a strong nonprofit.

She also invests in a number of innovative startups focused on sustainable practices, and sits on the boards of Girl Rising, a social action campaign to promote the rights of girls in developing countries, Bpeace, a nonprofit working to provide jobs for women, and The Public Foundation.

You can find her writing in Forbes, the Harvard Business Review, and Huffington Post, with some sample articles to get you started here.

Ken Berger – CEO of Charity Navigator

The president and CEO of Charity Navigator, Ken Berger is one of the leading thinkers on how best to measure the impact, quality, and performance of nonprofits. He was one of the contributing authors to the Letter to the Donors of American on the Overhead Myth, and is a prolific writer and speaker in the nonprofit sector.

He also provides a good counterpoint to Dan Pallotta’s thinking on how best to run and measure a nonprofit, so if you are open to getting two very different takes on a touchy subject, be sure to keep up with Ken’s writing on Huffington Post and the updates from his blog (which isn’t written by him but keeps tabs on his activity).

Amy Sample Ward – Executive Director of NTEN

Amy Sample Ward is the Executive Director of NTEN, a community of nonprofit technology professionals. Her energies are focused on “supporting and educating organizations and changemakers in the use of evolving technologies that cultivate and engage communities.”

Since so much of nonprofit work these days is powered through technology, whether it’s social media to connect with and engage your communities, or online crowdfunding to generate resources, a familiarity with Amy’s work can make a huge difference for a young nonprofit.

Like a lot of young social media tech mavens, Amy is easy to connect with, via Twitter, Google, her blog, or at any number of panels, conferences, and workshops. Start here.

Here are some pointers from Amy on engaging your audience with social media.

Tony Martignetti – Founder of Nonprofit Radio

The founder of Nonprofit Radio, Tony Martignetti is a planned giving advisor whose podcast focuses on helping nonprofits raise money and support. Every week, he interviews authors, consultants, and thought leaders to help small and mid-size nonprofits.

I don’t need to emphasize how valuable a wide range of fundraising strategies can be to a young nonprofit. Check out his podcasts here.

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