How did you get the name of the book?
I searched for 1 ½ years. In January 2003 at a Palm Springs conference, a wonderful Dutchman was talking excitedly about ‘passionate visionaries’ and mistakenly combined those two words into “passionaries.” I whispered to my husband: That’s the title of my book!
What does somebody have to do to be in this book?
My criteria for being in this first book is to be an American who started or helped build a nationally known nonprofit within the past 30 years. They also had either:
1. Taken a small step that, combined with purpose, focus and passion, turned into a tremendous force for good.
2. Been a minority, child, elderly, or faced greater-than-usual odds, making a difference.
3. Been famous and changed the world to benefit others, not themselves.
4. Have come back from personal devastation to change the world.
These 35 passionaries range in age from six to eighty-five. Their backgrounds are diverse. Some are physically challenged, broken-hearted or even ex-prisoners—and they still did something significant for others. As Mother Teresa once said, "We can change the world, one by one by one." And they are doing just that!
Did you personally interview every person you wrote about?
Most of the profiles are based on telephone interviews, although a few were written from research on the person or the nonprofit.
How did you identify or chose each story?
Evidence of greatness through nonprofits is huge. Narrowing the field of topics and people was challenging. My goal was to collect, chronicle and share poignant stories. My sources were passionaries I know personally, friends recommending a fascinating person, or public relations staffs of a few large nonprofits. Research on effective nonprofits led me to stories like Gifts In Kind International—when I looked at the 10 biggest charities in the U.S. and saw this unknown name, I was fascinated. With one exception where the information was in the public domain, all stories have been approved by the passionary and/or their designate. These 35 nonprofits have almost 20 million volunteers.
How did the idea of “ripples” come about?
About a year into writing, I started noticing that some great organizations had been spawned from the original passionary and that their efforts created “ripples” of positive momentum by newly enthused activists. I realized that contributions, even small ones, often have ripple effects. Good acts ripple out—we don’t know who they will affect, but they create positive change. Each passionary has created ripples which have gone on to touch others’ lives…then others…then others.
Do you intend to write additional books?
The third book will be focused on international giving and nonprofits and will be out in Winter 2009. We are changing the world!