Harvard Alumni for Impact

Connecting & Engaging Social Impact Alumni

SPOTLIGHT: Achieving Impact at Scale
In this issue, we take a look at how faculty research and alumni work are helping the social sector achieve impact at scale. Read ahead to learn about a case on a historic conservation institution’s strategic pivot to increase its impact, an alum who is helping social enterprises scale up dramatically, and audacious philanthropy’s role in driving some of the most effective social change movements. Plus scroll down to find out about an upcoming alumni webinar led by Professor Julie Battilana about the power of change-makers.

Highlight: Alumni Webinar

Becoming Effective Change-Makers: The Power of Networks
Thursday, January 25, 11:00am – 12:00pm

In this webinar, Professor Julie Battilana will investigate the roles of successful change-makers: agitator, innovator, and orchestrator. Agitation without innovation creates complaints without ways forward, and innovation without orchestration leads to ideas without impact. Change requires all three roles, but they each require different sources of power. More information and registration here.

Alumni in Action: Scaling Impact

Gerald Chertavian (MBA 1992), founder and CEO of Year Up, has scaled the skills-based training organization to serve over 17,000 low-income young people across 20 cities. Find out here how HBS relies on the services of Year Up and read the HBS case about a crucial inflection point in how the organization positioned itself for growth.


In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Susan Wolf Ditkoff (MBA 2001) explains how audacious philanthropyis behind some of the biggest social movements of our time.



In her recent Impact Insights blog post, Radha Ruparell (MBA 2008) explains how cultivating “collective leadership”in her work at Teach for All has been key to the organization achieving global impact on education in this recent Impact Insights blog post. .



Recognizing a need, serial entrepreneur Randy Haykin (MBA 1988) created The Gratitude Network to support nonprofit organizations looking to scale up. He explains more in this blog post.



Faculty Research on Scaling Impact

Two new cases—on the National Audubon Society and Magic Bus, an Indian nonprofit focused on child poverty—illuminate how organizations can achieve greater impact through re-envisioning their core goals and growth strategies.

In this recent Impact Insights post, Professor Kash Rangan discusses his research around organizations engaged in “transformative scale” through traditional growth strategies as well as alternative paths to impact, such as policy advocacy.

SE in the News

These Harvard Business Grads Are Putting Politics Above Profits, Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2017

Abby Falik – How Travel Exposes the Nerve You Can’t Ignore, Sounds Good Podcast, October 30, 2017 (Abby Falik, MBA 2008, on founding Global Citizen Year)

20 People who are Changing Brazil and the World for the Better, Granito & Capital Press Release, October 20, 2017 (Daniela Barone Soares, MBA 1997)

Ways to Engage

HBS Summer Associate Hiring – Planning for 2018

As you consider your talent needs for the coming year, we encourage you to hire an HBS student as a 2018 summer associate at your organization. The Social Enterprise summer website for employers offers guidelines on planning for the summer and posting a position, and lays out the process for students to apply for supplemental funding through the HBS Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship program.

2018 HBS New Venture Competition – Alumni Track

HBS alumni entrepreneurs from around the globe are invited to compete for three cash prizes totaling $100,000+. More than a dozen regional finalists will pitch live to top VCs during the global semi-finals round in Boston. The competition culminates on April 18, where the winners will be announced. The deadline to apply is January 29, 2018. Application details can be found here.

Impact Investing Alumni Interest Group

  • Sasha Dichter (MBA 2002) recently hosted a webinar: Busting the Myth of Impact Measurement. Watch here.  
  • Sign up here to be part of this group, focused on facilitating connections and sharing ideas—through regular webinars, live gatherings, and a LinkedIn group—amongst alumni interested in impact investing.

Alumni for Impact on the Road

Alumni for Impact continues to connect with alumni across the country. This fall, we hosted a reception in Chicago with Professor Dutch Leonard, a dinner in Boston with Professor Kash Rangan, and a breakfast at the SOCAP conference in San Francisco with Professor Vikram Gandhi. Stay tuned for more events coming up in the winter and spring.
Pictured: Professor Dutch Leonard leads a discussion with alumni in Chicago (top);
alumni gather in Boston with SEI and HBS faculty (bottom).

Bay Area foundation ‘The Gratitude Network’ aims to help children locally, globally

Randy Haykin likes to dream big, but he also puts his dreams into action through his charitable foundation called The Gratitude Network, which helps children locally and globally.

Randy founded the Gratitude Network after a stunningly successful 25 year career in the Silicon Valley tech world.

The goal for the next five years for The Gratitude Network is to impact 50 million underprivileged children around the world.

He’s formed a trifecta of goodness.

He’s applying the lessons he learned as an entrepreneur, to engage other successful entrepreneurs, to “mentor” entrepreneurs involved in social change.

“We search for the most innovative, the most passionate, social entrepreneurs, the ones focused on children, education and youth tend to be really passionate,” said Haykin.

Here’s how it works:

First, programs like the freedom story are carefully selected out of hundreds of applicants in an annual, international contest. The freedom story is working in Thailand, using education and tutoring to help at risk children avoid being sold into sexual slavery.

Then, the awardees begin their intense partnership.

“We give them a yearlong program which includes coaching, mentoring, leadership development, becoming more operationally efficient, so they can grow and we remove the barriers to the growth,” Haykin said.

Chuck Fisher is benefiting from the Gratitude Network partnership. He’s the executive director of a program called “toolbox by dovetail learning” in Sonoma County.

It’s a program with 12 colorful visual tools to help kids learn to manage their emotions, their social interactions and their success in school.

“We are working with some of the poorest, most traumatized communities in the world. Inner city Richmond is a perfect example. One of the most traumatized communities in the nation and kids come into the class and they can’t control themselves. What we do is we give them the first tool which is the breathing tool and the breathing tool is simply accessing the breath,” said Fisher.

He says children are able to listen and learn more easily, when they can calm themselves with the toolbox skills.

“And when the kids start listening with their heart, they understand their friends better, they understand each other and they understand themselves better,” Fisher said. “We’ve been asked for this work from over 35 countries. People have found us on the internet and said we need your work in our country. And, we’re just this little non-profit learning how to scale.”

That’s where The Gratitude Network is making a difference.

“They helped us with our first business plan. They helped us with executive coaching. I wasn’t trained as an executive director. I’m a psychologist and so I have an executive coach that’s provided for free by the gratitude network,” Fisher said.

Chuck’s coach, Renee Cooper, lives on the east coast. So, some of her mentoring is done by Skype. And, it’s already having an impact on the future of the toolbox project.

“Our plan is to take this to children everywhere. The scaling of that and the funding of that is really the key piece,” Fisher said.

Gratitude’s founder has big plans to help with funding. Randy is creating a data base of angel investors who are willing to take a call from gratitude social change makers, looking for financial resources.

Because Randy loves wine, he started a new wine brand called Entrepreneur.

“So, that winery is 100 percent philanthropic,” Haykin said. “The wine becomes a great excuse for getting couples and individuals and even companies together. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

The Gratitude Network is holding its annual fundraiser November 5 in Redwood City. Click here to learn more about the charity’s work.

Originally posted: http://abc7news.com/education/the-gratitude-network-aims-to-help-children-locally-globally/2489466/

The Hidden Power Of A Nonprofit Business Model

Michelle Brown, CEO of CommonLit, with students

When I first started my organization, CommonLit, a free platform for literacy resources and progress tracking tools for grades 5-12, one of the most important decisions I had to make was whether to incorporate as a nonprofit or a for-profit. Many smart people discouraged me from starting a nonprofit. The established tech startup community seemed to view nonprofit corporations as outmoded and foolish.

In retrospect, I’m glad I ignored these people and trusted my gut. In the end, my goal wasn’t to make money; it was to do good in the world.

For starters, goodwill is an unexpectedly powerful asset. Incorporating as a nonprofit can significantly lower startup costs. Lawyers are expensive, and it costs money to start a business. In the early stages of CommonLit, a pro bono legal clinic helped me write and file our articles of incorporation, set up a board of directors, and file a trademark application. They gave me a comprehensive checklist of everything I needed to do to get my organizational ducks in a row. Using this clinic allowed me to focus my time on actually building and piloting my product, which is where a lot of early-stage entrepreneurs get tripped up.

When my organization was in its nascent stages, fifteen graduate students volunteered their free time to amass a library of educational lessons – something that would have been nearly impossible with a for-profit model. Instead of asking about equity stakes or intellectual property ownership, people asked what they could do to advance our mission of helping teachers in low-income schools. Finding volunteers isn’t too difficult. There are a number of websites like Catchafire that match nonprofit organizations with executive level experts in marketing or design who complete projects completely for free. You can also tap your own network. Have you ever looked on LinkedIn? Basically everyone wants to do skills-based volunteering or join a nonprofit board. Fast Forward even launched a Job Board specifically for jobs, volunteer roles, and board positions in the tech nonprofit sector. Doing good unambiguously opens doors.

There is a clear trend in the job market as well. Increasingly, people want to work for companies that make a difference. The UCLA Higher Education Research Institute reported that 2005 marked a 25-year high in students’ belief that it is “essential or important to help others.” Three years into scaling my tech nonprofit, we’ve been able to lure away some of the best engineers and designers from for-profit companies. The bigger we grow our impact, the easier it has been to attract talent.

The freebies nonprofits can get are extraordinarily valuable, and most companies have offered us a nonprofit discount when we asked. The benefits range from software as a service, to Google Adwords, to discounted copyright permissions from authors and publishers. You can use your nonprofit status to get a Salesforce CRM, or offset your hosting costs with Amazon Web Services credits. Our nonprofit status even enabled us to form a partnership with TextHelp, which provides a game-changing assistive technology toolbar for struggling readers. TextHelp, which has developed the single best accessibility toolbar on the market, even wrote custom code so we could embed it in our site. Put simply, for every dollar we have raised, we have received multiples of that value in the form of free products and services. And it’s only possible because we are a mission-focused nonprofit.

I also receive a ton of incredible advice. I’ve been fortunate in that nearly everyone I meet is willing to help me think about how to move my business forward. Highly-paid engineers at some of the largest tech companies have helped us think through how to migrate our servers to meet increased data needs, financial analysts have built fancy powerpoint models to help us chart our future growth, and experienced lawyers have offered us continuing, pro bono legal advice on student data privacy statutes. Beyond that, I have received more introductions to helpful people in the field than I can count.