LeadingAge Magazine · January-February 2018 • Volume 08 • Number 01

A significant, positive change that addresses a pressing social challenge.”

That’s a clear definition of “social impact” from the Center for Social Impact at the University of Michigan. I think the history of nonprofit aging services constitutes a clear definition of it as well—but expressed in actions rather than words.

Gene Mitchell
Gene Mitchell

Providing services for older adults is, and always has been, a pressing social challenge. LeadingAge members, many of whom trace their origins back to the 19th century, were founded by people who accepted that challenge, overcoming a lack of resources and other obstacles to do so because it was the right thing to do.

Today, their heirs still wear that mantle.

They demonstrate social impact when they donate more than $680,000 in relief funds for member organizations and their employees that suffered through hurricanes Harvey, Irma or Maria, or devastating wildfires in California.

They demonstrate social impact when they organize to advocate for funding to meet the needs of low-income elders and prepare for the much greater future needs we will face.

They demonstrate social impact when they make it easy for their residents to make a difference—by volunteering in their communities.

They demonstrate social impact when they create new models of care for older adults in desperate circumstances—such as victims of elder abuse.

They demonstrate social impact when they volunteer to mentor dozens of college students at the 2017 LeadingAge Annual Meeting & EXPO in New Orleans.

In This Issue

Our Vision Column isn’t a column, but a podcast. Listen to “A Conversation With New LeadingAge Chair Stephen Fleming” to find out where he wants to take us during his 2-year term.

Social Impact in Word and Deed” tells the story of how members meet needs beyond their walls, by creating new ways to respond to local problems.

Tracking social accountability activities is a must for any nonprofit provider. Read “Quantifying Your Impact: Social Accountability” to learn how organizations document and report their activities.

Increasing Social Impact of Residents: Changing the Volunteer Paradigm” is a member-written story about how one organization facilitates residents’ desire for community engagement.

Advocacy at the grass roots level uses both personal relationships and collective action to make a difference. Read “Advocacy Success Stories: Making an Impact,” about a couple of victories at the state level, along with an interview with LeadingAge’s new vice president, grassroots, on his plans for sustainable advocacy.

The students mentioned above had a great time at our 2017 Annual Meeting, thanks to generous members who made them feel welcome, and made the case for careers in aging services. Read “Meeting and Mentoring the Next Generation of Leaders” to see what the students thought about their experiences.

This I Have Learned …” is the latest installment in a series of reflections from leaders in our field. This time, a member shares thoughts about the ways our use of language gets in the way of success in serving older adults.

Finally, in “Violinists, Knitters and Lifelong Friends: These are the People We Serve,” you’ll learn about another group of great stories about the great people we all work for. Keep the stories coming!

Gene Mitchell is editor of LeadingAge magazine.