As a die-hard entrepreneur, I have spent almost 50 years building businesses, motivating teams, delighting customers, and innovating wherever possible. When the time came for me to focus more on giving back and addressing societal challenges, I did so with that same entrepreneurial spirit.
Whether business or philanthropy, there are some basic questions we must address at the start of any new venture. Things like:
- What problem(s) am I trying to solve?
- What excites me personally? (No sense doing something that I’m not passionate about!)
- Why haven’t others done this, or done this well?
- Who are the thought leaders I should confer with?
The answers to these questions help guide decision-making about nearly every facet of any enterprise. When we have clarity about what we want to do (and why), what problem we’re solving, and how to establish ourselves as a clear choice, we’re on the right path.
OUR THEORY OF CHANGE
When I say I want to make the world a better place, what exactly does that mean? What problem am I trying to solve? Where can I have the most impact and greatest ROI? And why should people choose to support my work? Essentially, what’s my theory of change?
After many soul-searching meetings with philanthropic consultants, answers began to emerge. But it was only during the first year of operations, after working with real people, experimenting with specific initiatives, and brainstorming endlessly (my favorite part), that our theory and our path became clear. It turned out that there was a huge gap that we could fill, and there were a ton of exciting initiatives to pursue—a hero’s journey unlike any I had ever encountered.
HEROES WITHOUT A FANBASE
Here is the biggest mystery that we discovered: While the world is filled with passionate fans for athletes, entertainers, video gamers, and even politicians and entrepreneurs, there is no organized fanbase for social entrepreneurs. No platform to see them for the true heroes they are. No way to find and follow them. This massive void presents an incredible opportunity.
Big changemakers and problem-solvers have the ability to amaze and inspire. However, unlike pro sports leagues, there is no ecosystem where social entrepreneurs reside. Organizations such as the Elevate Prize, the MacArthur Foundation, CNN, and Time magazine may honor changemakers annually, but their fame is fleeting. How do we follow them afterward? What league do they belong to? What mechanisms exist for systemic inspiration? There aren’t any.
MAKING GOOD FAMOUS
The Elevate Prize is working to solve this by building a community we can all plug into—essentially an ecosystem dedicated to Making Good Famous. We want to find, support, and follow incredible changemakers from around the globe, and make it easier for you and other fans to participate, too. Like the Olympic flame as it travels around the world, we believe the work of these heroes can illuminate and inspire people everywhere. By Making Good Famous, we intend to showcase all that is possible and “awaken the hero in all of us.”
CREATING A MOVEMENT FOR GOOD
This work lives at the intersection of philanthropy, culture, entertainment, activism, and self-actualization. By awakening everyone to the fact that we can all solve problems—no matter how small—we elevate the world.