Making a difference. It's something every one of us wants to do at some point in our lives. But how? How do you take that first step of action? How do you turn an idea into a real solution? How do you grow into a bigger organization that touches even more lives? How do you shake up the world and definitively, tangibly make it a better place?
Answers to these questions -- real, concrete advice about how to make a difference at any and every level of action -- are now gathered in one place: Ashoka's Changemakers just wrapped up a month of daily offerings of wisdom from some of the most accomplished social entrepreneurs in the world during its ChangemakeHERS initiative.
"We deeply believe that everyone -- absolutely everyone -- can be a changemaker," says Diana Wells, president of the pioneering social change organization.
"From boldface names in social change, such as Judith Rodin and Melinda Gates, to the unknown faces behind bold ideas from all over the world, their interviews and blog posts constitute a rich and unparalleled syllabus for plotting a course of social action, for every level of change making -- from the first spark of an idea to the scaling of an innovation across the globe."
Each entry is a fascinating, inspiring and -- here's the really unique thing -- a useful, practical contribution. Anyone wanting to make change can implement the ideas and information in these posts to chart their own road map and reach their social change goals.
According to Wells:
"Many contributors offered their lessons learned about marketing, fundraising, networking and, perhaps most importantly, not getting tripped up by common missteps or distractions,"
For example, 16-year-old Talia Leman, founder of a successful youth disaster relief project, RandomKid, writes about how her organization took off because she was open to ideas from an unlikely source -- if you read her entry, you will be awed and more prepared to succeed yourself.
Another contributor, veteran activist Iman Bibars of Egypt, is making large-scale and fundamental change in housing, health, and for women and the disabled in her dynamic country. How? She shares very specific instructions on how to make meaningful collaboration take root, take off, and move entire sectors. These are just two examples of the 52 stories that inspire and impact.
The fact that all this wisdom comes from social entrepreneurs who are exclusively women could be seen as incidental. Though they participated in this project as part of a celebration of the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day last month, they are among the most accomplished social entrepreneurs around the globe, male or female.
Yet the fact that they are women illustrates a critical point about social entrepreneurship as a field. Because it's a brand new profession, it doesn't have an old-school club with locked doors and glass ceilings. The entire field is all about knocking down barriers, not doing things the same old way; not taking no for an answer. Social entrepreneurship is built on the notion of limitless possibility and women have embraced that opportunity in large numbers and to stunning success.
Changemakers' ultimate goal with this initiative is to take the sharing of wisdom to a higher, more effective level. Staff experts are analyzing and distilling the trends, barriers and opportunities that have emerged through all of these entries, and are creating a tool that will accelerate social change. It can be used by anyone working to make a difference.
"by sharing wisdom, identifying common mistakes and roadblocks, alerting others to opportunities, and fostering collaboration, together we will build a competitive environment to accelerate our impact."
It's this "competitive theory of change" that, she says, will be key to solving problems through social innovation, "accelerating the pace of social change requires an emulation of market dynamics that place a premium on efficiency and competition."
ChangemakeHERS advances that vision with, as Wells calls it, "a master class for social change, an academy of action." So, what are you waiting for?
Follow Alison Craiglow Hockenberry on Twitter: www.twitter.com/changemakers