6 TED Talks Nonprofit Leaders Must Watch

Tina Jepson
Tina Jepson

As a nonprofit leader, you have a ton on your plate. You’re managing a staff and an army of volunteers, providing oversight over the work of your organization, and ensuring that you raise enough money to stay in operation. It takes a strong and capable person to want to lead in this capacity.

Though you may occasionally feel overwhelmed or uninspired, remember that you play a very large role in ensuring that your nonprofit changes lives. Sometimes, the best medicine for inspiration is a good TED talk!

TED conferences have been springing up all over the world since the 1990s, but you don’t have to attend one of these fun events to get a glimpse at the informative presentations.

As a nonprofit leader, you are bound to appreciate one or more of these 6 inspiring TED Talks nonprofit leaders must watch.

Learn The Skills Of A Great Leader

Roselinde Torres: What it takes to be a great leader

First up on our list of inspiring TED Talks nonprofit leaders must watch is Learn the Skills of a Great Leader by Roselinde Torres. In it, she discusses the qualities of what makes a good leader have changed recently as our world has become more connected with technology. 

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill leadership development talk. Instead, Roselinde discusses the moving factors that have changed the way people lead. She addresses three questions that all leaders must ask themselves about their own management style:

  1. Where are you looking to anticipate change?
  2. What is the diversity model for your organization?
  3. Are you courageous enough to abandon a process that was successful in the past?

She reminds us that the key to being a good leader is being prepared for the unknown.

Remember The Power Of Teamwork

Derek Sivers: How to start a movement

This hilarious and short take on leadership is sure to put a smile on your face, while also stressing an all-too-important point: that being a leader only gets you so far.

In order to make change, or “start a movement” as Derek Sivers calls it, you need people to follow your lead. This TED Talk is sure to add a bit of perspective to your current role and provide some guidance on how to get people to follow you as a nonprofit leader.

“In order to make change, or “start a movement” as Derek Sivers calls it, you need people to follow your lead…” tweet this

Capture The Data

Melinda Gates: What nonprofits can learn from Coca-Cola

This TED talk by Melinda Gates touches on many aspects of nonprofit work that may be beneficial to nonprofits leaders, especially those working with nationwide or international organizations.

Melinda uses the brand recognition, marketing, data capture abilities, and local outsourcing practices of Coca Cola to prove a point: nonprofits should learn to collect and adapt to real-time data. 

All too often, nonprofits are shocked by low campaign results because the data is only available at the end of the fundraising process.

However, large companies like Coke collect data and feedback continuously. They take data, measure progress, learn something about their methods, and then change their methods to reflect that feedback. And you can do this too!

This inspiring TED Talk nonprofit leaders must watch serves as a great reminder that data and feedback are what encourages forward movement within a nonprofit.

Inspire Action

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

Part of being a great leader is getting people to take action, whether it’s your employees, volunteers, board members, or donors. But, action doesn’t happen naturally. In fact, part of the problem many nonprofits face is that they don’t inspire action in the right way.

Simon Sinek helps us all see just how important it is for leaders to get others to believe in the “why.”

In this talk, Simon dissects why people buy-in to a brand or cause. He uses Apple, the Wright Brothers, and even Martin Luther King as examples to prove that all good leaders succeed by telling people why they should care. He stresses the point with this statement “They don’t buy what you do, but why you do it.”

“All good leaders succeed by telling people why they should care…” tweet this

Simon reminds us that a great nonprofit leader inspires individual action by donors, employees, and volunteers by getting others to believe in why we should all have a stake in this cause.

Look At The Big Picture

Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong

In this thought-provoking talk, Dan Pallotta dives deep into the world of nonprofit work. He discusses the desire of not just our donors, but our society as a whole to keep charity overhead low.

Dan touches on the struggle of doing well for yourself versus doing good for the world that many nonprofit leaders and employees know all too well.

Has your nonprofit struggled to bring in quality employees or have you had issues with perceived overhead costs? If so, then this presentation may bring a new, refreshing perspective.

Make The World A Better Place

Michael Norton: How to buy happiness

Do money and happiness go hand-in-hand? Yes, but not in the way you think.

Last but not least on our list of inspiring TED Talks nonprofit leaders must watch, Michael Norton found that people who spend money on themselves don’t necessarily become happier, but those that give money to others report a higher happiness level. Money can buy happiness if it is shared with others!

“Those that give money to others report a higher happiness level. Money can buy happiness if it is shared with others! tweet this

This is great to keep in mind, not just for yourself as a nonprofit leader, but as someone who may talk with donors regularly.

Enjoy one or two of these inspiring TED Talks nonprofit leaders must watch during your lunch break and remember to share ones that you feel will have a positive impact with your staff and board of directors.

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