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Classy Collaborative: A Week Among Incredible Social Innovators



Two weeks ago today, I flew home to Nashville, Tenn., after attending the Collaborative conference in Boston, Mass. Blood:Water was nominated as a Classy Awards finalist for our programming in the integration of HIV/AIDS and WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene), and I was fortunate enough to represent our team along with our interim executive director, Aaron Sands. We may not have won an award this year, but the experience of attending the conference and awards ceremony was reward in itself.

Okay, I am too competitive to say that I didn’t want Blood:Water to win, but the 10 finalists that won Classy Awards were inspiring and deserving. I felt proud to be a part of an organization that was nominated alongside winners such as Lucky Iron Fish, a nonprofit that is working to end iron deficiency around the world. Its winning innovation is, literally, an iron fish that, when cooked in a meal, provides 75 percent of a person’s daily intake of iron. A fish is a symbol of luck in many countries, which makes this innovation culturally appealing. Genius!


Speaking of genius, while at the conference, Aaron and I were able to attend sessions led by some of the biggest names in the nonprofit sphere. We learned more about social impact, turning our mission into a movement, storytelling, strengthening our systems, and the importance of transparency. Along the way we met other world changers and were inspired daily by the great work being done all around the world!

We also had the opportunity to meet for the first time many people we work with every day. The entire Classy staff was there for the conference making sure all attendees were taken care of, and they unveiled some new, exciting features for online fundraising. You can see one of their new suites (and consider giving monthly to Blood:Water) by checking out our Community:Builder fundraising page!


I cannot wait to see what the next year holds for social innovation around the world and at Blood:Water. Sonal Shah, the former director of the office of social innovation and civic participation at the White House, said in her opening keynote at the Collaborative conference, “Change is the new normal. Adapt to it, and lead the next wave!” Maybe the next wave will end the HIV/AIDS and water crises in Africa? We hope so!

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