Three Fascinating 2013 TEDTalks That Nonprofits Need to Check Out

TED (Technology, entertainment, design) is a forum for innovative and inspiring people to talk about who they are and what they do. Devoted to promoting “ideas worth spreading,” the TED conferences enjoy international recognition with “TEDTalk” videos gaining over one billion unique views on the web.

This year, TED is holding two primary conferences, one of which just took place  in Long Beach, California. Its theme, “The Young. The Wise. The Undiscovered,” brought a wide range of insightful, eye-opening perspectives about  from a variety of featured speakers. As organizers put it:

The best moments at TED have often come from unexpected places, and this year, we’re pushing that to a new level. This past spring, we staged a global talent search to bring together the most remarkable lineup in TED’s history. A series of TED salons in 14 cities around the world helped us discover a broad array of thinkers and doers, and a selection of them have been invited to California to share their work with the world, as part of an extraordinary roster of speakers and performers.

To mark the occasion, we’ve decided to highlight three volunteer-related TEDTalks from the conference: a guerilla gardener’s journey in South Central LA and a rock star’s optimism about the fight against extreme poverty.

Bono: The good news on poverty (Yes there’s good news)
“Facts are the key to building a powerful momentum.” Bono, the lead singer of the rock band U2 and dedicated philanthropist, “embraces his inner nerd” by presenting data which hints at an end to extreme poverty in the coming years, if we can only channel the momentum. In his fascinating TEDTalk, he highlights the importance that technology plays in the fight to create a more livable world.

Likewise, VolunteerMatch is a technology resource and a great tool to spread awareness about your cause. If you’re interested in more resources on how to find more volunteers, check out our recent engaging volunteers blog post: 8 Nonprofit Resources You Might Not Know About.

Ron Finley: A guerilla gardener in South Central LA
Have you ever heard of a “food desert”? A prime example is South Central LA, an area full of liquor stores, fast food, and vacant lots – far from any source of fresh produce. Fortunately, Ron Finley has been building oasis for local residents by planting gardens in traffic medians, abandoned lots, and curbs. In his inspiring TEDTalk, he explains what it means to be guerilla gardener.

As a nonprofit, it is important to encourage volunteers to feel proud about giving back. Take a lesson from Ron Finley and let potential volunteers know about the problems you seek to overcome in your community.

Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead
Activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta’s engaging TEDTalk brings attention to a common double standard applied between nonprofits and private companies. Pallotta, who helped invent the multi-day charitable event industry with the AIDS Rides and Breast Cancer 3-Days, ran a company with 400 full-time employees in 16 U.S. offices, won Brandweek’s Best Cause-Related Event Award, and was the subject of a Harvard Business School case study on social enterprise.

In this talk Pallotta assigns two different rulebooks, one for nonprofits and one for rest of the economic sector. Pallotta explains that “morality is confused with frugality” and nonprofits are often rewarded based on how little they spend on overhead, instead of their overall social impact. For us, the talk is a good reminder that nonprofits can achieve much more if they are allowed to focus more resources on building the organization.

Explore all the featured talks from the TED2013 conference as well as the over 1,400 TEDTalk videos on –  we’re sure you’ll find a story that resonates with your nonprofit!