Commit 72 Minutes for the Future of the Nonprofit Sector

Innovaton by Vermin Inc

Innovaton by Vermin Inc

Call to Action

Commit 72 minutes per day to innovate and create a new future for your nonprofit organization. 72 minutes away from putting out fires and reacting to the economy; 72 minutes from the daily grind; 72 minutes focused on challenging assumptions and generating new ideas; 72 minutes building on what your organization is best at; 72 minutes that in a year from now will create deep and meaningful opportunities and 5 years from now will be known as that game-changing moment in your organization’s history.


Ben Cameron, the Arts Program Director for Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, recently captured the real task ahead for the nonprofit sector during these difficult times. In a speech to a group of Minnesota arts leaders he said: “the single biggest challenge lies in how to balance an increasingly perilous equation: managing short-term survival, while pursuing long-term transformation.

He went on to say:

“The groups most likely to survive will innovate—not chasing the flashy or new but truly innovate—a process that Richard Evans describes as “new pathways to mission fulfillment, discontinuous from previous practice, resulting from shifts in underlying organizational assumptions”—a precise and useful delineation of what innovation should really mean—and that is achieved most often, according to futurist Andrew Zolli, by organizations who assemble teams comprised of very different perspectives and histories focused on a common problem, teams focused on base hits rather than home runs, and who rarely simply adopt best practice, recognizing best practice as outputs, not inputs. The groups most likely to survive will embrace a higher risk tolerance —-risk, not irresponsibility but pushing past our comfort zones, armed with our best instincts, our best data, the counsel of others more expert than we–knowing as we do that a business that does not risk does not grow, a relationship with husband wife or partner that does not risk does not grow, the artist who does not risk–however capable– is doomed merely to technical excellence but never achieved the true artistic moment for which we all live and work.”

Off script, he encouraged us to devote 15% [72 minutes per day] of our time to this effort so that “we will remember these times, not as an ordeal for survival, but as a renaissance.”

Commit Now

I am committing 72 minutes per day to create new models, methods, and tools that will build nonprofit organizations’ capacity to engage the public.

What are you committing to? Tell me.

Send me an email ( or tweet me on Twitter @cmcuesta (use hashtag #72mins) or leave a comment on this blog.

Tell me that you are willing to commit and what you are committing to. Also, if you feel you are unable to commit, tell me what you think the major barriers are.

Go here to read the full transcript of Ben’s speech. The event he spoke at was through the arts learning xchange series presented by Minnesota Community Foundation and Arts Midwest with support from the Wallace Foundation.

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