Guest post: How change happens

Written by Nadine Riopel

I’m often amazed by the wide variety of interesting ways people find to be forces for good:

  • The young woman who, realizing that there the written materials available in the Cree language were inadequate for new learners, started creating an collection of online books for early Cree readers.

  • The businessman who pays his staff more than he needs to, hires people from rough backgrounds, and is flexible on hours and work-from-home arrangements because he believes everyone has the right to make a living in a way that works for them.

  • The investment company that goes to bat on social, environmental and governance issues to pressure the companies they are invested in to become increasingly more ethical and sustainable.

  • The composting expert who’s in the business of helping people “get their yards off drugs” because he believes in the importance of chemical-free living.

    Good 100 group work
    Discussion during the 2013 Good 100 Experiment. Photo: E-Sage Facebook

Most do-gooders can easily find common ground in their shared desire to make the world a better place. Things get interesting, though, when we start choosing our methods for actually making that happen. There are many, many choices, and none of them is the definitive “best.”

As they say, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. What we really need is each changemaker coming at it in the way that makes the most sense for them; that gives them the greatest chance of success.

How, you might ask, are these do-gooders supposed to know what approach is best for them?

That question is the reason we’ve chosen “How Does Change Happen” as this year’s theme for the Good Hundred Experiment. We believe that when people with shared passion but different approaches come together, it’s almost inevitable that they will all go away with the tools they need to refine and improve their approach. Bottom line — we get better by learning from each other.

2013 Good 100 Experiment
Participants in the 2013 Good 100 Experiment. Photo: E-Sage Facebook

Which is why we’ve designed the whole event as a vehicle for making that happen. We gather in small groups and use a variety of metaphors and frameworks to explain our work to each other, in the hopes of both improving our ability to articulate it and increasing our understanding of one another. Other activities have us considering where we fall within the larger group on a number of issues — things like, How successful do we consider ourselves? What struggles do we share? What opportunities?

How do you make change? Could you use some new insights to make your methods work better for you? Is there something about your approach that could be used to enhance the effectiveness of someone coming at it from a different angle? If so, you might be one of the Good Hundred. Get more details and apply here.

A lifetime of searching for the best way to make the world a better place has led Nadine Riopel to the conclusion that the best path for her to do that is to help others make their giving more engaging and effective. On the way here, she studied international development and business administration as a university student; had misadventures as a serial volunteer; co-ordinated workplace giving and fielded solicitations as the executive assistant for a large company; and spent several years as a professional charitable fundraiser. She blogs at and is on Twitter @philanthusiast