Top 10 TED Talks For Nonprofit Leaders

At Classy we have a unique window into a community of innovative nonprofit leaders. These are people who are out there innovating, inspiring supporters, and creating impact every day of the year, in places all over the world.  Drawing on the inspiration we get from seeing their work, we put together our top 10 TED Talks for nonprofit leaders. Here are 10 videos filled with ideas that will inform, assist, and inspire you as you strive to make a positive impact in the best way you can.


1. Starting a Movement

As a nonprofit leader, you’re out to tackle some big issues.  But as passionate as you are about the cause, it can sometimes seem like nobody is listening.  Don’t despair!  As the founder of CD Baby, Derek Sivers reminds us: This is where great movements begin – With a “lone nut,” and a few “first followers.”


2. The Unlikely Beginning of Movements

Movember is one of the most successful fundraising and awareness campaigns in history.  Despite its humble beginnings, Movember has evolved to fundamentally redefine cancer research. As founder Adam Garone reminds us, “4 mates, 4 mustaches can inspire a roomful of people.  That roomful can inspire a city… that city can inspire a state, and that state can inspire a nation, and beyond that, you can create a global movement.”

Watch Next: Fireside Chat with Adam Garone

3. Challenging Apathy

It’s a common perception that people are too lazy, ignorant, or selfish to get out there and affect change – especially members of the younger generations. Community organizer Dave Meslin reminds us that this might not necessarily be the case.  Maybe the problem is that we just don’t give people information in a way that empowers their activism instead of discouraging it.


4. Inspiring Action

At the heart of any great movement (or successful fundraising campaign) is effective communication.  When attempting to convince people to support a cause, and unite people around a common purpose, an inspiring message can be the difference between success and failure.  Simon Sinek explores the way human beings receive and respond to messaging, and reveals the key to successful communication:  People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Read Next: 5 Nonprofit Videos That Inspire Action

5. Global Challenges: Local Values

Melinda Gates explores how Coca Cola has leveraged real time data analysis, small-scale entrepreneurship, and aspirational messaging to market their products throughout the developing world.  By changing how a message is delivered to reflect the specific, local values of constituents, nonprofits can spread awareness faster, and increase their impact.  If we can start to understand what people really want… we can change communities, and we can change whole nations.



6. Making Complex Issues Accessible

Creating empathy around complex issues in remote areas of the world requires creativity.  When her 7-year-old daughter Mesa learned about the Middle Passage, game designer Brenda Brathwaite used her own expertise to make an incredibly complex issue a little more relatable.  What fun, creative ways can your organization bring its message home to supporters and inspire action? 


7. Crowdsourcing the World’s Goals

Massive global problems confront us in the 21st Century, and sometimes it’s beyond the abilities of governments to effectively address them.  Increasingly, it’s up to the nonprofit community, and engaged individuals to determine the solutions, and initiate programs to tackle the world’s biggest challenges.  As ONE co-founder Jamie Drummond suggests, crowdsourcing may be the biggest ingredient in our future success.

Read Now: What is Crowdfunding?


8. Crowdsourcing and the Arab Spring

The Egyptian Revolution was famous for being driven, at least in part, by online activists on Facebook.  Google executive Wael Ghonim explains how online citizens crowdsourced their activism, and initiated one of the most significant global transformations of the decade.  “Revolution 2.0: No-one was a hero because everyone was a hero.”


9. Human – Centered Solutions

Acumen Fund founder, Jacqueline Novogratz explores how taking creative approaches to helping local entrepreneurs solve local needs is helping improve lives, and elevate the economy in remote areas of Pakistan.  The time for us to begin innovating and looking for new solutions across sectors is now.

READ NEXT: 10 Organizations Using Social Entrepreneurship to Tackle Global Challenges


10. The Subtle Power of Everyday Leadership

As leaders in the nonprofit community, you know your work makes a difference, but it’s always nice to be reminded. Drew Dudley shares a moment from his life that made him appreciate his own leadership abilities, and the moment he realized that our simplest actions can have far-reaching effects on those around us.

READ NEXT: Is Your Leaderships Obstructing Profitable Nonprofit Culture?


Have Favorite TED Talks of Your Own?

We hope you like our top 10 TED Talks for nonprofit leaders. If you’ve got your own favorites, comment below, and share any videos you think others in the nonprofit community might find interesting.

Photo Credit: Flickr User NikonFilm35

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