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Smart Strategies Needed to Solve the World’s Serious Social Problems

Oct. 2, 2017

Engagement, Nonprofits & Associations, Strategy


Pat Nicklin, Executive Vice President

An expanded version of this blog originally appeared on Concordia.net.

I’m an impatient optimist. Working with Share Our Strength founders Billy and Debbie Shore, in 2008 I helped launch the No Kid Hungry campaign at the state level, helping governors enroll more kids and their families in federally funded nutrition programs. Like all successful efforts to achieve real social impact, this campaign required more than good intentions. It took collaboration, a business-planning approach, and smart decision-making among hundreds of people.

The No Kid Hungry campaign was exhausting, time-consuming, and sometimes frustrating. But today, thanks to the Shores’ vision, leadership, and persistence, Share Our Strength and its partners have helped reduce childhood hunger across the nation. As Billy says, “A little goes a little way, but a lot does a lot.”

Fast forward a decade: I’m working with Reingold, an agency dedicated to achieving social impact across a wide range of challenges that are just as daunting as ending childhood hunger. We’re concerned with quality health care — overcoming a raging opioid crisis, lack of patient awareness about appropriate care, and barriers to access in both physical and mental health care. And we focus on economic opportunity — addressing gaps in workforce preparedness for today’s booming industries and underemployment in rural communities and among certain groups, such as veterans. These are problems we can solve, but not easily, and not without smart strategies.


So, what exactly makes the difference between a wasted effort and one that achieves real impact?

Engaging experts and putting them in charge. Sustaining a long-term solution requires inspiring the right people to join the movement and earning their buy-in. Building capacity isn’t enough — we need experts to manage and implement solutions, day after day.

Setting aside individual organizational objectives. While business interests help us sustain and scale our efforts, the plan won’t work unless each partner is committed to achieving the common goal — even when it means individual objectives have to take a back seat.

Closing the deal. The fact is, nonprofits and volunteers can’t solve problems on a national or global scale alone. Sitting down with government leaders, and not just advocating to policymakers, is critical to closing the deal.

Click here to read Ms. Nicklin’s full blog about the smart strategies needed to drive and sustain social impact campaigns at Concordia.net.

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