True Stories

Charles Lee: Ideation Strategist, Networker and Compassionary

By | Apr 9, 2010

Charles Lee is a husband, a father of two, a businessman, a man of faith and a compassion worker, just to name a few. The projects with which he’s involved run the gamut from nonprofits to business consultancies… but, over the years, the greatest foundation for his involvement with compassion work sprang from a reconnection with his faith and a reevaluation of the way in which faith organizations should approach social care.

Charless Lee at the Ideation Conference“The faith tradition I came from didn’t have a high emphasis on social care. Then I began to realize that there are rich traditions in Christianity about the love of Jesus representing caring for your community, and it reinvigorated the passion in me,” Lee said. “I read the Bible and began to see the way Jesus interacted with the most fringed in society. He just cared for people in a very authentic kind of way. It brings something very tangible to my belief in God.”

Around the same time that Lee was going through this reassessment of his life and his faith, his mother started an orphanage in China and several of his friends found their ways into nonprofit work. Being surrounded by the humanitarian efforts of others helped to cement the new approaches he had been considering.

“Everything just kind of flowed in that moment,” he said. “It really inspired me to consider living life in a different sort of way.”

Creativity is a major force in Lee’s approach to his work. After attending several conferences for nonprofit leaders that mainly centered on lectures, he wanted to put together a conference experience that emphasized the “creative element” and allowed nonprofit leaders to network and approach ideas from new angles. Earlier this week, he hosted the inaugural Ideation Conference in Long Beach, CA, which gathered “thinkers and practitioners” from the nonprofit world to develop new creative ideas and tactics. Speakers included representatives from Charity Water, Union Rescue Mission and World Vision, among many others.

“We have keynotes, but they’re quick and more like pep talks,” Lee said. “The creative element is what people will walk away with. They’ll have to approach ideas from a new angle.” In addition to creating new ideas, the conference was also focused on coming up with creative ways to realize those ideas.

“Many great ideas die because people focus on inspiration instead of perspiration,” Lee said. “Nonprofit leaders are known for their passion, but not always known for their ability to have a plan. Implementation is something I really encourage nonprofit organizations to spend time and money on. Don’t just have a big heart; have a big plan.”

Charles Lee is the founder of Ideation, a consultancy that specializes in branding, marketing, social media and event development. He is also a founding member of JustOne, a NPO committed to addressing issues of poverty, orphans and slavery. In addition, Charles leads New Hope, a faith community in the Los Angeles area, and is the creator of grassroots efforts including the Idea Camp, Ideation Conference and the Freeze Project. Charles regularly speaks around the country on topics such as creativity, innovation, leadership, social media, community development and compassionate justice.