It came as no surprise to me that Willie Cheng would write a book about shaping the charity sector for the better.
I have known Willie for many years, and have always admired his integrity, strong work ethic, commitment to the people around him – and above all, his commitment to ‘doing good.’
So much has changed in the world of charitable giving and corporate citizenship since the days when Willie and I worked together at what was then known as Andersen Consulting – now Accenture. As partners of the firm at that time, we were expected to contribute to charities, or the firm would deduct money from our pay and donate on our behalf. Despite how that may sound, the intention was well founded: To instill the value of personal stewardship in making a lasting, positive contribution to the communities around us.
Willie embodies the power of stewardship and giving back. After immersing himself in charity work upon retiring from Accenture, Willie recognized the need for an innovative and thoughtful approach to the dynamics of nonprofit organizations. He set out to combine his understanding of business paradigms from his 26 years as a management consultant with his experience working with many charitable organizations.
The result is a strategic, conceptual and highly readable book…in which he presents a new paradigm for improving the effectiveness and overall performance of nonprofits.
As a business leader, I found Willie’s observations timely and relevant, especially as we see businesses and nonprofits collaborating more frequently. With this book, Willie gives both business and nonprofit executives a fresh perspective. He addresses a number of important issues and shares unique insights about topics ranging from the current status of businesses and nonprofits…to accountability and governance in the nonprofit sector…to the dynamics of giving…to how social entrepreneurs and business entrepreneurs can, and must, co-exist to bring about large-scale social change.
One chapter that caught my attention as a CEO is the one on the role of business. At Accenture, we believe corporate citizenship should evolve from the core capabilities of an organization to deliver mutual benefit and create sustainable livings for individuals, their families and their communities. As Willie points out, there will always be differing points of view on the role that companies should play in this area, yet many companies have found that their corporate citizenship programs help energize and inspire their employees, enhance their image and, most important, make a lasting impact on the world.
The culmination of Willie’s insights is his proposal for a new framework—what he calls the charity ecosystem. He describes a new era of ‘doing good well,’ as more and more charities adopt management concepts and themselves focus on outcomes and high performance. At the end of the day, this is about developing a more holistic and integrated approach to change in the nonprofit sector.
Willie has done a masterful job keeping the content fresh and intriguing – and even infuses the book with his unique style of humor. His ideas are thought provoking and accessible – even to those with no prior business or nonprofit experience. They will provide relevant insights for any individual or organization seeking to better understand the charity landscape and view it in a new way.
It is Willie’s belief that ‘the way we see the world can change the world.’ His book is a powerful reminder that at the individual level we can make a lasting contribution to society…and do good well.
William D. Green
September 1, 2008