Tuesday, November 12, 2013

AARON HURST - Extraordinary People Changing the Game


Aaron Hurst is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, author, speaker and non-profit consultant who is most known for his work in bringing together the non-profit and business sector through the organizations he established, the Taproot Foundation and Imperative. As one of the pioneers of non-profit consultants, Aaron has made a great impact in getting the for-profit and non-profit sectors to work together, yielding better results in the programs and campaigns that are designed to address the issues that the world is facing today.


Throughout his career, Aaron has received quite a number of awards and recognitions that prove just how significant his life and work has been to the improvement of the non-profit sector. Aaron is a fellow of both the Draper Richards Foundation and Ashoka, two prestigious international organizations. He is also a recipient of the Humanitarian Service Award, the highest honor given by the University of Michigan to its alumni. Aside from this, Aaron has also received the Manhattan Institute Award for Social Entrepreneurship and the Innovation Award from the Social Venture Network.


One of the reasons why Aaron is so passionate about what he does is because deep down, he knows and believes that every human being has a heart for serving others, most of them just do not know where to begin. This is why Aaron provided an avenue for people to get to use their skills in a fulfilling and significant way. This is especially true for the young professionals, who are very eager in looking for ways that they can make a significant impact in the world.

Aaron describes this in an interview:

“I believe that everyone likes to help but that’s only one part of it. Really good professionals just love what they do. Good designers love a great design challenge, engineers love solving a difficult technical problem and lawyers love winning a case. They just love being challenged and being able to use their craft to solve a problem. That goes beyond money. Also a lot of people also like meeting new people and networking. Then you also have professionals who are thinking about moving into the Non-Profit sector but they want to try it first.”


And with the knowledge of the human desire to be of service to his/her fellow human beings, Aaron also knows that it is through understanding that cooperation is built, thus making it possible for people to cooperate with each other. This is what made him very successful as a non-profit consultant. Aaron does not go around telling organizations and institutions what to do – instead, he takes time to listen to their needs, look at areas of opportunity, then draw a conclusion which would be for the better of the organization and their cause.

As Aaron states:

“The most important skill in business and in life is empathy. The ability to understand other people and to listen before you talk. That’s the number one challenge with pro bono and it’s the number one challenge for American or European or other companies going into either a non-profit in their own country or in another country. They start by giving advice, they start by trying to make a difference, instead of realizing the first step is to shut up and listen and understand first. I don’t think it’s really an issue of China or another country–just in general with any relationship, listen first. If you do that, you are fine.”


Cooperation. This is the central theme of Aaron’s life and career, and the very reason why he decided to work in the non-profit sector in the first place. The idea is simple: when you bind sticks together, it is more difficult to break them and they produce better results. In an interview, Aaron says:

“The best way to build any kind of partnership is to have a shared vision. So for government, civil society and corporate partners to work together anywhere, the key is for the leaders to develop a common vision and know that they will fail many times along the way, but know that they are committed to that long-term vision and keep trying. That vision has to be something that they all get real value from, they all believe in and they are all willing to fail a little bit to get there. It really requires a single leader standing up and saying, ‘I have a vision for what could be’, and getting people who share that vision to come together and build that strategy.”

Ultimately, Aaron’s work has helped in making non-profit organizations successful all through these years. For him, it does not matter how much money you make for your talents and skills – it would never compare to the fulfilment that you will receive when you exercise those talents and share them with the people that really need it the most – those being served by the non-profits.


  1. Aaron Hurst is the founder of successful non-profit consulting organizations such as Taproot Foundation and Imperative.
  2. He is one of the leading non-profit consultants in the United States.
  3. He was among the pioneers of promoting the idea of getting the for-profit and non-profit sectors working together.
  4. He is among the geniuses behind the conception of the national Billion+Change initiative and the Service Enterprise Model.
  5. He is a fellow of both Ashoka and the Draper Richards Foundation.
  6. He is a recipient of the LSA Humanitarian Service Award, the highest award bestowed by the University of Michigan on its alumni.
  7. His work on the cooperation between that non-profit and business sectors has greatly revolutionized the non-profit industry.
  8. The Taproot Foundation, the organization he started, is the largest non-profit consulting organization in the United States.
  9. He is a recipient of the Manhattan Institute Award for Social Entrepreneurship.
  10. He is a recipient of the Innovation Award, given by the Social Venture Network.

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