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7 TED talks that every nonprofit finance leader should watch

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Since 2006, millions of people around the world have been intrigued and enthralled by TED Talks—a video series presenting short, powerful talks to introduce new perspectives and innovative ideas from brilliant minds across business, science, and the arts. Started in 1984, TED later evolved into an idea-based nonprofit endeavor for the world, working to amplify “Ideas Worth Spreading” by publishing the talks as videos and translating them into more than 100 languages.

A Sage Intacct customer since 2016, TED Conferences relies on Sage Intacct as their nonprofit accounting software solution and trust Sage Intacct Partner, Clark Nuber, as their technology partner. We’re proud to contribute to the success of TED Conference’s day-to-day operations as they fulfill their mission to introduce the world to new ideas, new voices, and new stories.

The Rise of the Data-Driven Nonprofit Finance Leader

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Inspirational TED Talks for Nonprofit Finance Leaders

To inform and inspire you, here are seven TED Talks from a philanthropist, an author/speaker/reformer, a sustainable investment expert, and several leadership experts.

1. Melinda French Gates: What Nonprofits Can Learn from Coca-Cola

Melinda Gates in the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—an organization that leads health development projects in developing nations around the world. In this talk, she describes why Coca-Cola is so ubiquitous in the developing world, and how nonprofits can apply Coca-Cola’s marketing strategies to their own development plans. She unlocks three key areas for nonprofits to take away from Coca-Cola’s success: real-time data, local entrepreneurial talent, and exceptional marketing.

2. Dan Pallotta: The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong

Between 1970 and 2009, the number of nonprofit organizations that grew beyond $50 million in annual revenue was 144, while the number of for-profits that achieved this growth was 46,136. Dan Pallotta explains that because we think so differently about for-profit versus nonprofit ethics, nonprofits have been disadvantaged in five key areas: talent, advertising, risk-taking, time horizons, and access to capital. He argues that historically Puritan ways of thinking about capitalism and charity keep us focused on the wrong thing (overhead) instead of growth and the potential for making real change.

3. Audrey Choi: How to Make a Profit While Making a Difference

As an investor, do you consider the social and sustainability impact being made by the companies you invest it?  Investment expert Audrey Choi believes “big institutions have the unique potential to make change,” and that global capital markets have the power to influence and guide the direction of that change. One third of all the capital in the world belongs to individuals, and when surveyed, 71% of individual investors were interested in sustainable investing. In this talk, Choi explains how collectively, both individual consumers and investors can have a huge impact in influencing the global corporations that are the most influential themselves.

4. Roselinde Torres: What it Takes to be a Great Leader

Roselinde Torres has observed and advised great leaders for more than 25 years, and in this talk, she poses the question, “Why are leadership gaps widening when there’s so much more investment in leadership development?” To find out, she has traveled the world learning about effective leadership practices in businesses, nonprofit organizations, and nations. Find out the three questions that can determine your effectiveness as a leader in the 21st century.

5. Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Simon Sinek, author of “Start With Why” and “Leaders Eat Last,” describes the difference between leaders and those who lead. Leaders demand from a position of power—but those who lead make us want to follow them. They inspire us to action. In this talk, he explains how those who lead need to start by defining the “why” or the purpose for which an organization exists. This encourages nonprofit leaders to develop a laser-sharp focus on their organization’s mission.

6. Elizabeth Lyle: How to Break Bad Management Habits Before They Reach the Next Generation of Leaders

Management consultant, Elizabeth Lyle, has concerns about the future of organizations. That’s because future leaders—who are mid-level managers today—are learning ineffective management habits for the future from today’s senior executives. Tomorrow’s leaders will need to approach people, processes, and objectives differently than past leaders, yet they are still being reviewed and promoted based on legacy behaviors. Find out how to break bad management habits to encourage innovation in the next generation of nonprofit leaders.

7. Amy Edmondson: How to Turn a Group of Strangers into a Team

In nonprofit missions, it’s not unusual for groups of people who do not know one another to have to come together quickly to make an impact. In this talk, business school professor, Amy Edmondson, describes the elements needed to turn strangers into an effective team, providing examples such as the 2010 Chilean miner rescue. She explains the concept of “teaming” and how leaders at all levels can learn to quickly discover and assess the unique talents, skills and hopes of others to assemble nimble, quick-thinking teams.


These TED Talks contain some thought-provoking ideas about new ways to look at nonprofit mission and what defines success. They also give great examples and advice about how the best leaders motivate and inspire others. It can be challenging to view your organization and your mission in new ways, but nonprofit finance leaders who innovate can often illuminate the path to higher growth and impact.

Sage Intacct gives nonprofit finance leaders the tools to leverage financial information and become data-driven strategists. Learn more by reading our eBook, The Rise of the Data-Driven Nonprofit Finance Leader.

The Rise of the Data-Driven Nonprofit Finance Leader

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