Bill Shore's four unconventional lessons for making real impact

Bill Shore (PopTech 2012) is a legend among professionals striving to make positive social change. In 1984, Shore was shocked by the famine in Ethiopia and used a $2,000 credit card advance to help found the anti-hunger organization, Share Our Strength. Since then, Share Our Strength has raised and spent $360 million to help end childhood hunger.

At PopTech 2012, Shore discussed the "strategic necessity and the moral imperative of breaking the rules." Success in social innovation can save lives, Shore says, and organizations involved in these kinds of efforts can and should employ unconventional strategies to maximize their impact.

Shore's talk is now available online:

Shore shared four tenets of this approach:

Lesson #1: Earn money. Rather than rely only on traditional non-profit fund-raising methods, Share Our Strength puts much of its focus on building multi-faceted partnerships with corporations and corporate foundations, while also offering innovative ways of engagement through well-known culinary events and grassroots platforms. Shore says that the term nonprofit should be "a tax status and not a management philosophy."

Lesson #2: Measure impact. Set specific, measurable goals. Work toward ending childhood hunger, for example, rather than just feeding the hungry.

Lesson #3: Engage on public policy. Working effectively in this space means not just serving those in need, but also actively working to change and improve public policies in pursuit of that goal. "Public policy is a critical component," Shore says. What policies might help end childhood hunger?

Lesson #4: Be competitive. Shore advocates a philosophy of improving performance on all fronts, like hiring and retaining the very best personnel.

Shore is passionate about these ideas for good reason. Poverty is at record levels. There are 46 million Americans on food stamps and half are children. More than 22 percent of U.S. children live below the poverty line. For Shore, it is easy to understand why maximizing impact is a moral necessity. 

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