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Making Money While Making a Difference Making Money While Making a Difference
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Making Money While Making a Difference

by Dev Aujla Billy Parish

March 31, 2010

In this new series, Dev Aujla and Billy Parish explore opportunities for making money and changing the world-at the same time.


A little under two years ago, we set out to interview more than 150 people in their twenties and thirties in order to find out how they were faring as they set out to get paid to do good. We found a foundation to support us, we hired staff, we held focus groups, and we read everything we could that was written on the simple question that seemed to be on everyone's mind: How do you make money and change the world?

The results came in and we put them into a free e-book that has been downloaded thousands of times. In doing all this, and in hearing the stories of people that read the e-book, we realized one thing-the e-book was only the beginning. Today we are writing a full-length book on the subject and we are uncovering even more stories, examples, and strategies that are actually helping people get jobs. Below are five trends from our research:

  1. The non-linear career path: No one currently making money and changing the world has a linear career path. Understanding what a non-linear career path looks like and how to embrace the non-linearity leads to the understanding that you can gain both stability and earn a good living without following a traditional path.

  2. Career trade-off illusion: Our research showed that the generation now entering the work force clearly wants to do good but they are unwilling to compromise on the amount of money they want to make. It was easy for people to name the steps in order to either do good or to make money, but when asked about doing both, people had a lack of role models and were unclear on the steps they would need to take.

  3. A space to talk: It is important to surround yourself with like-minded, understanding people with whom to discuss this new career direction. In fact, the interviews and focus groups that we held had this effect for hundreds of people. They helped people realize they were not alone, helped them feel comfortable with their career choices, and allowed them to talk about and defend their path to families, colleagues and even themselves.

  4. Green-collar jobs: ?Green jobs, the related training programs and the public stimulus money that has been set aside to enable them are opening up opportunities across lines of race, class and privilege. No longer are the jobs of the "do good" economy just accessible to those with post-graduate degrees and international work experience. Today a wide spectrum of jobs exist in green manufacturing, retrofits and clean technology and they are becoming more available and accessible by the week.

  5. Nontrepreneurs: Social enterprise, the go-to response to the proclamation that you want to make money and change the world, still requires one thing: an entrepreneur. But what about all the people who don't identify that way, who don't want the risk and uncertainty which that path demands? Fortunately, opportunity can be found working to make change from within large institutions ("intrapreneurs") or working for social entrepreneurs. Often overlooked by the media spotlight, these career pathways offer the chance for meaningful work without the stress of a start-up.


Keep checking back with us in coming weeks as we share the stories, strategies, and opportunities we are uncovering, and read the full e-book at myoccupation.org.


Billy Parish is the founder of the Energy Action Coalition and Dev Aujla is the founder of DreamNow.


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Making Money While Making a Difference