Yesterday at the Nonprofit 2.0 Unconference we explored how to disrupt social change in the nonprofit sector. The day began bright and early, bursting with energy. Majora Carter started us off as the first keynote.
Majora Carter is an activist, urban revitalization strategy consultant, real estate developer, and Peabody Award winning broadcaster. She recently launched another nonprofit to help train low-income people in the Bronx to code.
Her philanthropic pursuits and business interests have all pointed toward greater self-esteem and economic potential for low-income people everywhere. This was self-evident in her keynote.
Some highlights from Majora's talk:
- Male-led nonprofits are funded more than female-led nonprofits at 20:1.
- Majora said nonprofits need to get rid of elitism in the sector if we are going to have a greater impact. Often people who are part of the community that is being served are NOT called upon to identify problems and develop solutions. The community that's being served are considered partners but not necessarily the major decision-makers. Michael Smith, Director of the Social Innovation Fund spoke about this issue during his keynote as well. They are so spot on!
- Majora, who describes herself as a "nonprofit recovering executive" says her past experiences has shown her how to do things well, and for less, but says that's not the market for most nonprofit dollars. She explained that, "This is an unreal economy. UNREAL in the worst sense of the word."
- The digital divide is not about access. It's about whether you're a consumer, or if you're on the production side.
- Majora really stressed that the term Nonprofit doesn't describe how good you are, or that you're good at all. It only describes your relationships with the IRS. This really resonated with me and others in the room.
- Majora left the nonprofit sector because she felt like nobody was going to truly listen. She believes that it's time the sectors are really diversified. She said that it's bizarre to her that the parallels between leadership in the nonprofit world are very similar to the corporate world. People need to talk about it more.
- Why aren't we supporting leadership in a way that helps people grow?
- The nonprofit sector has to work with the corporate sector. They can't be siloed, it isn't realistic. Everybody isn't bad, nor is one organization all good.
- The playing field needs to be more open, and wider for more people. Majora encouraged the audience to not be afraid of being in a leadership position.
- Majora also stressed the importance of recognizing the privilege you have, or don't have, and talking about it, of beginning these dialogues in our communities.
Majora's keynote was very powerful, and it quickly became clear that she really is a disruptor.
Have you noticed anything we highlighted from her talk in your own organization? Is there something that really resonated with you? We'd love to hear it; please comment with your own experiences and thoughts.
Next up in our Nonprofit 2.0 roundup: Craig Newmark, founder of craigconnects and craigslist. Stay tuned for the highlights from Craig's talk. And check out the Nonprofit 2.0 Unconference Storify here.