Before I share some heartening examples of the ways that the Leap of Reason message is rippling out into new communities, I want to share a disheartening personal story that I hope will embolden others to be a strong voice of reason on the boards they serve.
When I first stepped into the nonprofit sector, I joined the board of a nonprofit that I learned after the fact was taking too much on faith and doing too little to make the “leap of reason.” I was a clueless newbie with no idea what my board role “allowed” me to say or do. So I sat quietly. My lack of courage, coupled with the reluctance of others on the board to confront the hard issues facing the organization, was a sin of omission that had a real-life impact on the families we intended to serve. Our lack of effective oversight meant that problems with finances, program quality, and access all grew worse.
I share that experience here and in more detail in my September column, “Don’t Check Your Courage at the Door,” because I’m convinced that nearly all nonprofits are in for white-knuckle times ahead. They need us all—nonprofit newbies and experienced hands alike—to speak out with courage and conviction, even if it means pushing leaders out of their comfort zones, ruffling feathers, or even breaking some glass.
Now for some quick updates on a few of the different and innovative ways the Leap logic is spreading:
- Jeff Edmondson, president of STRIVE, a Cincinnati-based education collaborativeprofiled by John Kania and Mark Kramer in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, enthusiastically promoted Leap of Reason to the 300 attendees at STRIVE’sCradle to Career National Convening.
- Civic Ventures CEO Marc Freedman shared the book with his full board and all 350 remarkable social entrepreneurs who have won its prestigious Purpose Prize, which was created in 2005 with funding from The Atlantic Philanthropies and the John Templeton Foundation.
- Professors at the University of Maryland, NYU, and Case Western Reserve University have included the book in their syllabi (and their students really like the fact that the book is available for free download).
- Strobe Talbott, the president of the Brookings Institution, recently shared the book with all of the organization’s trustees.
- At the SoCap11 conference in September, MIT Press distributed a long excerpt from the book in its Innovations journal.
- Duke University is sharing the book with all participants in its Family Philanthropy weekend in mid-October.
- Social Venture Partners Boulder County is hosting a book discussion in October for partners and friends.
And next week I am honored to be leading off a symposium hosted by the Urban Institute, in which a select group of outstanding practitioners, funders, and experts will discuss the book and brainstorm about top-down and bottom-up solutions that could make the commitment to managing for social impact far more common in our sector.
We’re delighted by all of these ripples. If you or your colleagues have ideas for how to use the book to trigger additional conversations and create new ripples, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Mario Morino