Helping the Nonprofit Community

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Every once in a while, I have something that I feel so strongly should be presented because of its importance to community, change and capital that I write it without a question from my readers. Ken Saxon’s work is one such example. Ken Saxon rightly is seen in the Santa Barbara community as the guru of leadership and the nonprofit world. He has a background from a great business school and has proven his ability as an entrepreneur. He is extremely bright, a systems-thinker with great humanity and commitment to helping our community and world. Besides all that, he is

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A Year in Review

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I started this column wanting to highlight how people can have an impact or create positive change, find personal meaning, and sometimes even make money doing it. I hoped to spotlight new and existing opportunities to benefit our community—what’s out there and what can be done to achieve these goals, who is doing it and what we can learn. I wanted to address individual change as well as community change. I hoped to introduce and discuss innovative processes and new tools to balance individual fulfillment and capital needs in the world of “causes,” plus share impact investing avenues and other

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Leadership Vacuum

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QUESTION: Why are there so many stores downtown that are empty? There are other towns like San Luis Obispo and Palm Springs that have made successful efforts. Why isn’t Santa Barbara doing more? . . . Mathew in Montecito Clearly, there are problems with downtown retail struggling all over the country as online purchasing grows and consumer needs shift. However, Mathew, to answer your question I went to a person who is personally and professionally connected to this issue and is putting in great efforts toward addressing the problems. I met with Amy Cooper, who owns Plum Goods on State

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Our Biggest Challenge

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QUESTION: One of the biggest challenges I face as a member of the Santa Barbara community is what to do about climate change. Can you help? . . . Greg in Goleta Thank you for your question, Greg. I went to John Steed for an answer. He is the President of the Board of the Community Environmental Council (CEC), a leading environmental organization in Santa Barbara. John is a fit, very bright, well-read and highly articulate man who looks much younger than his years, with a quiet intensity and occasional flashes of deep emotion. He speaks easily and with well-formed

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Altruism Repays Its Debts

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What really matters in life? What experiences shape our journey? How is today a reflection of our journey and what we have learned and experienced along the way? And mainly, what causes a person to dedicate their life to philanthropy? I have been writing about community, change and capital for months now and I thought I should talk to someone who has spent and does spend the majority of his life dealing with those three concerns. Ron Gallo is a high-energy, intelligent, and charming man with a great sense of humor and who is passionate about effective philanthropy and giving

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A Heroine’s Journey

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QUESTION: Dear Dr. Brill. I have appreciated much of what you have written. I understand that you are interested in what produces change. With the crises in our ocean, could you say something about that? . . . Marlene in Carpinteria   Thank you, Marlene. I thought I would try to answer your question in a different way—by telling you a story of a journey. Many people know the work of author Joseph Campbell. He described myths and an important one was “the hero’s journey”. A hero’s journey is one that starts with an adventure, intended or not, where the

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How to Find Your Passion

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  QUESTION: It is clear to me that you are passionate about impact investing. I am having trouble finding my passion. How did you do it? . . . Michael from Santa Barbara Thank you for the question; it really caused me to think. Very few people actually just walk into passion and success. Passion, like great loves, develops over time. When I first retired at 52, I didn’t like the term retirement. It seemed to focus on withdrawal. I was also interested in how people do this stage of life well. So, I started a radio show called “The

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What makes a person great?

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What makes a person great? If they are rich enough, are they great? What do we look for when we say they are wise? What does it mean when we say they make a difference? If we want to make a difference, are there models we can emulate or admire? I have been answering questions put to me in this column by others so I thought this month I would ask myself a few of my own. I came across someone who I think is a great person, and who has taken me a long way toward answering my questions. Tom

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Dealing with Betrayal and Feelings of Hurt

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QUESTION: I have felt betrayed in my love life and also at work. Can you help me to get over these feelings of hurt? . . . Patricia in Goleta Thank you for your question, Patricia. It is an important question and a large topic. You have given me very few details of either situation, so I am going to have to write in general. I am not going to address betrayal at work in this column, but perhaps in another, as it is a broad topic and deserves one of its own.You have caused me to think deeply about

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The Profitable Future of Traditional Philanthropy

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QUESTION: I hear there are 1,000 non-profits in Santa Barbara. I am newly retired and moved here from Chicago after selling my business. I look at an organization like the Girl Scouts which provides for a significant portion of their financial needs by selling cookies and other things. Why don’t more of these organizations find ways to create revenues to help them sustain themselves? . . . Stephen in Montecito That is an excellent question, Stephen. I feel that this is such an important question that I hired a research assistant, Mariah Miller from UCSB, to help me research it

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