Michael Norton OBE

Michael Norton OBE

Michael Norton started his career as a scientist, merchant banker and publisher before becoming a social activist. He has spent more than 40 years supporting voluntary organisations, developing creative ideas for a better world and turning them into successful projects, and encouraging others to go out and change the world.

In 1966 he created the first language teaching programme and supplementary school in the UK for non-English speaking immigrant children and their families run entirely with volunteers. In 1975 Michael established the Directory of Social Change, which became the UK’s leading provider of information and training to the non-profit sector.

In 1995, he set up the Centre for Innovation in Voluntary Action where he has initiated a raft of innovative projects worldwide including: street children’s banks in South Asia; village publishing and village libraries in Andhra Pradesh, India; UnLtd, a UK foundation which makes awards to social entrepreneurs and affilaited foundations in India and South Africa; YouthBank which enables young people to become donors, supporting local initiatives run by young people; MyBnk, which enables school students in the UK to set up and run a microbank for saving and borrowing to help develop financial literacy and enterprise skills; FoodWorks, where students cook donated food in donated kitchen space to provide meals for the needy; and the Otesha Project UK, where young people promote the ideas of sustainable living in a fairer world through cycle tours and theatre.

Michael is currently launching Buzzbank, an internet platform to enable the crowdfunding of social ventures. He is author of 365 Ways to Change the World (which has been published in many editions around the world), The Everyday Activist and numerous books on fundraising.

Author's blog

The 365 Ways Blog

Put a Penny On

PennyOn is a simple solution to ensuring every person in the world has what they need – enough to eat, a safe place to sleep, education and their health. It starts with you giving one penny. You can...

Walk to Work

Here’s just one little thing you can do to address global warming, reduce air pollution and improve your fitness – that’s walk to work. If not every day, then at least once a week. It’s a WIN-...

Are you mentally ill?

Mental illness seems to be increasing… at least according to the American Psychiatric Association which keeps finding new conditions which it compiles in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Men...

Go to sleep

A survey, carried out for the BBC suggests that many children are not getting enough sleep. of 1,083 children aged between 9 and 11 across the UK who answered a questionnaire, 314 said that they went ...

Invest in me

In a recent discussion among a select group of social investors and entrepreneurs a strange question was presented. If an investor offered you a large infusion of unrestricted capital, say $300,000, w...

Lending to microentrepreneurs

The Internet is an ideal medium for linking people to people and aggregating their support to achieve something specific. There is a new term for this – crowdfunding. And websites are being launched...

Time to eat your dog?

Should owning a Great Dane make you as much of an eco-outcast as an SUV driver? Yes it should, say Robert and Brenda Vale, two architects at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, who special...

Twixtmas

A new campaign has been launched called Twixtmas, which hopes to improve the world a little bit. And if lots of people take part, it will mean that the little improvements add up to something meanin...

Pitch your ideas for changing the world

Social entrepreneurs take note. Here’s an opportunity to get your entrepreneurial ideas to a wider audience. As part of it’s 25th Anniversary celebrations, the Virgin Atlantic airline is launching...

Celebrating Sarah-ness

Nearly every year, two friends called Sarah at America’s Burning Man festival, host a party for all the Sarahs there. A Sarah Party, where Sarahs gather to share food, music, stories about their n...

Guerrilla tactics for sustainable transport

1. Organise a Parking Meter PartyPay for a bay. The going rate on the meter for as long as you want to party. Place a model car in the space – just to show that you are parked there. Bring some d...

Stop the runway; join the airplot

Plans for building a third runway at London’s Heathrow airport have been approved by the UK government. There is widespread opposition to this from environmentalists as well as the two main oppositi...

Change the world at change.org

The new US President used two catchphrases in his speeches “Change” and “Yes we can”. Change.org is a social action network where you can: learn about causes; connect to good people and non-pr...

Football can change the world

Football is the world’s most popular sport. It can be used in many ways to help create a better world. All sorts of projects have been set up, from homeless and slum football leagues and world cups ...

It’s all a lot of rubbish

I’ve read two books about rubbish recently:Rubbish: the archaeology of garbage by William and Rathje and Cullen Murphy, published in 1982, explores the way in which garbage today and through history...

Pests or partners?

Here is why we need to conserve invertebrates:“If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were...

What do you think you are eating?

More and more of us are eating pre-prepared food. This could be a pre-prepared complete meal or food which has been chilled or frozen; it could be food that has been canned or bottled; it could be dri...

Support the Bhopal victims

The Bhopal Disaster of 1984 was an industrial disaster caused by the accidental release of 40 tonnes of Methyl Isocyanate from a Union Carbide India pesticide plant (50.9% owned by the Union Carbide c...

Dialogue in the dark

The idea is really very simple. In completely a darkened room, blind people lead small groups of guests through an exhibition in which everyday situations are experienced without eyesight.But the expe...

Words, words, words

Words not only enable us to communicate, they also define the society we live in.New words and phrases arise when we have something new to communicate which can’t be expressed in existing language ...

Get some great fundraising ideas

At the International Workshop on Resource Mobilisation held in Kuala Lumpur in 2008, one of the speakers asked the fundraisers in the audience whether they liked asking for money. Only one person put ...

A garden in a bag

Two London architects, Ulrike Steven and Gareth Morris, started WHAT IF: projects to develop ideas for the urban landscape. Their aim is to build on what’s already happening in local communities, a...

Commemorating people who have died on the roads

In Great Britain, there were 3,431 on the road in 2002 (the latest available statistics) and 35,976 serious injuries. Of these, 130 cyclists were killed and 2,420 seriously injured.When people are mur...

Swinging and Surfing

The ageing population: Population ageing is taking place in many highly developed countries. Amongst those countries classified by the United Nations as more developed (with a combined population of 1...

Body gossip

“Everyday I wake up and I tell myself, don’t eat anything today”It’s not fair that this 12-year old girl thinks that she is so fat that she wants to starve herself. I’m Ruth Rogers. I think ...