The world has never moved this fast, and it will never move this slowly again.



It was almost as if Duschinsky poured a bucket of ice water over the audience when he exclaimed: “The reason why you are here is to put yourself out of your job.”.


Perhaps all that the non-profit sector needs today is that bucket of ice to refresh our perspective once more.




“Anyone who keeps learning stays young, anyone who stops learning is old”, says Tote Board’s Chief Executive, Mr Fong Yong Kian. Expectations heightened for receptive hearts as the first conference of the Global Leader Series was spearheaded with an ardent crowd- over 250 participants from around 80 organisations joined in the conversation that monday morning.


Jointly organised by the Social Service Institute (SSI) and Tote Board, the heart behind Tote Board-SSI: Global Leader Series for Non-Profits (GLS)’s signature conference series is to bring knowledge-sharing and dynamic conversations to Singapore’s non-profit sector.


The conference darted straight from the get-go: the usual focus on service delivery is often unsustainable without conscious efforts to develop dynamic leadership. Miss Rashika, Head (New Initiatives) at Tote Board, affirms that the higher purpose of knowledge-sharing is crucial to exploring new channels of advocacy. To drive change, she opines that for “a key part of building capacity and knowledge-building, the sector needs to look at new ways of creating sustainability and greater impact.”.


It is increasingly tougher for organisations not to anticipate challenge and deal with disruption today. In a world where you should act and not react, agility is key.


This perspective has been aptly articulated by the keynote speaker, Mr Jon Duschinsky. An integral team member behind the world’s largest social movement to date, Jon authentically injected life into the conference as he shared on several intriguing stories. One of them was the famed Ice Bucket Challenge that raised over $100 million to cure amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).



Duschinsky argues that we have become so good at funding programmes that we lost sight of solving problems.



Most, if not all, charities, NGOs, VWOs and SEs were first created to solve problems. To be a problem-solver, you need to leave behind the world of funding programmes and delve into the one of solving problems. To solve problems, we need to look at solutions beyond sectors and across national borders.


Jeff Kwan, Director of the Social Enterprises & Employment Development (MINDS), agrees that social impact has to be global. The problems we face in society today are the same problems faced by others elsewhere. Hence, collaborations can bridge gaps faster, especially with support from influential individuals or well-known brands. When we think in the world of tomorrow, we change the world.


If you were Kodak, you would probably never have thought that you will be disrupted by someone who’s fighting to combine a phone with a camera, miles away from your home ground advantage. To put it plainly, the challenge that will change everything is from leftfield- a surprisingly unconventional position or style.

Fast-forward to 2017, the main reason why Apple was able to take that risk in 2008 to produce cameras with phones was probably because of this: they honour purpose over function.


Apple had been so clear on purpose- they make computers for people. This strong guiding principle allowed them to stretch beyond existing parameters and take the risk to produce something unheard, unseen and unprecedented. It allowed them to disrupt.


Purpose honoured above function. That gives us a lot more room to flex, breathe and wonder. We are in a world where the division between the for-profit and non-profit disappeared. We are reframing our lines from for-profit and non-profit to for-change and irrelevant.


Pumpkin Lab’s Deputy Director, Miss Kwek Jim See, supported Duschinsky’s point on blurring lines. Disruption doesn’t have to look like Airbnb straight away. Big dreams start small. Disruption can simply just refer to alternative possibilities as we fight preconceived notions of how it should be.


How? Duschinsky touched on three important keys:



Stand for Something

We select our leaders on what they stand for. It’s not about paying lip service; we inject authenticity to root the purpose in sincerity. Find the space that no one else is in, and connect to the people whom you need to talk to.



P&G’s marketing campaign in the London Olympics is a prime example. After thinking about their consumer market (women and household products), they decided to move beyond functionality and become “proud sponsors of mums”.


Give people something to do that allows them to stand with you.

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”, this classic line from Benjamin Franklin accurately brings the message home. Involvement is powerful. You need to make it easy for people to join and to stand with you.


The journey of fighting cancer is often a lonely process. #Winkday is a straightforward campaign that allows people to show their support for cancer patients. They just have to put on blue eyeshadow and wink. This sparked off a national support network, and 4 million people got involved because it resonated with them. This fostered the opportunity for them to lobby for better psychological care for women who go through cancer.



Create tools so that those standing next to you become your ambassadors.


People trust each other. In order to build trust, we need to look at communication on an individual basis. Peer ambassadors work the best.


The Ice bucket Challenge reached out to individuals directly. As you would need to tag 3 other people upon completing the challenge, you become the ambassador yourself. This concept leverages on existing networks and advocates with a personal voice.



Our second conversation


We need to change. We hardly have a choice, do we? It’s either we disrupt or disappear.


Moving forward from the first conference, we now know that we need to readdress ideas and erase old divisions to collaborate on common ground. So, what’s next?


Perhaps the next step is to define a common goal so that we can walk together.


Perhaps we need to ask ourselves on our purpose and realign our hearts again.


What is at our core purpose? How can we tell if we are working towards it?

Our second conversation is going to be just about that. Introducing the Social Value Framework that assisted thousands of SPEs across the world to reevaluate social impact for what it truly is. Our keynote speaker, Jeremy Nicholls, is the CEO of Social Value International- the largest global network of social impact practitioners with 19 country chapters.


The unique master class will be conducted in a hands-on, banquet style. The sharing of real life examples, experiences and case studies will facilitate practical learning points so that you can map out a concrete plan as a pragmatic idealist- with your head in the clouds and feet on the ground. Join in the conversation and register at


Other useful links:


Infographics -


Keynote Address -


Master Class -