5 Must-See TED Talks for Nonprofit Leaders

TED Talks are a little like Lay's potato chips—it's hard to just watch one. Delivered to you in just 15 minutes, these gems are packed full of inspiration and education. But with thousands of videos now on their site, navigating them to find applicable content can be a little challenging. So, I've selected just five that will be of interest to nonprofit leaders, employees, and volunteers. Take a long lunch break and consider this your ongoing education curriculum.

(PS: You don't have to be at a nonprofit to enjoy them!)

5 Must-See TED Talks for Nonprofit Leaders, Employees, and Volunteers

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

A terrific watch for those working and serving at nonprofits. It will take a LOT of effort to turn this ship, but there are definitely some ideas worth chasing. You may not agree with everything he has to say, but he makes some incredible points to think about regarding hiring and fundraising. Even if you aren't the one in charge of making these types of decision, see what your influence can do to push the envelope a bit.

2. Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

Some of you may have already heard of his immensely popular book, Start With Why, which came after this talk. Nonprofit folks may initially dismiss this lesson, believing that the "why" is already front-and-center at their organization. But I encourage you to watch it, and then take a look at your website, emails, newsletters, and marketing to see if you've made a slight shift from "why" to "what." I see many charities make this mistake.

3. Bryan Stevenson: We need to talk about an injustice

Regardless of whether or not you agree with his work, Bryan does a brilliant job of helping the audience find common ground with his subject matter, and relating that to a topic every human struggles with at some point: identity. He also uses only a few statistics to make his point. Figure out how you incorporate this approach at your next presentation and see if it works for you too.

By the way, if you do like the talk, his book is remarkable as well.

4. Angela Lee Duckworth: Grit: The power of passion and perseverance

This talk should be an encouraging one for all of us. The lessons she derives from her students hold true for adults as well. It's easy for you to think that you don't have the support, resources, money, or ______ (fill in the blank) to move your mission forward. But this speech is a good reminder that your grit can help determine your success as well.

5. Melinda Gates: What nonprofits can learn from Coca-Cola

I love the fact that she applies corporate tactics to the nonprofit model. I believe more people should be doing this same thing. Nonprofits have a reputation for moving more slowly than their for-profit counterparts, and resisting change, but there's no reason things can't change. While you may not be able to utilize these same ideas, I have no doubt there are other business principles that you can blend with your current process. (And don't forget, I can teach you how to improve your marketing!)

6. BONUS! Derek Sivers: How to start a movement

This fun and entertaining video is only three minutes long. It'll make you smile, and also teach you a thing or two in the process.

Okay, so those are five plus one Ted Talks that I think nonprofit leaders, employees, and volunteers should see. Did I miss one that you'd recommend? Tell me in the comments below.


5 Must-See TED Talks for Nonprofit Leaders and Employees

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.