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Bill Toliver grew up in the developing world with a deep understanding of the real work required to make change. He spent 20 years creating successful communications programs for Fortune 500 clients, like Westin Hotels and Hewlett-Packard, before he began bringing non-traditional thinking to social impact organizations.

As the executive director of The Matale Line, Toliver has helped a number of organizations reframe their approaches to strategic decision-making and communications, including UNICEF, the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, United Way and World Food Programme.

Now he is a much sought after keynote and plenary speaker to a range of organizations and people involved in social change, including the National Council of Non-Profit Associations, the International Fundraising Congress, TEDx, the United Way of America, The Netherlands Development Organization, Fundraising Institute of Australia and the Center for Non-profit Excellence.

Full Profile

Building a “manageable movement” for your cause or organization.

We live in an era in which 12-year-old children have communications tools that would have blown the minds of Gandhi, King, and Mandela. But we have yet to turn them into anything that resembles the kind of global social movement these leaders created—from the remote villages of India, small towns of the American South, or an island prison. Bill aims to change that. He offers a way for social impact organizations—public, private and nonprofit—to create “manageable movements.” By merging the most innovative tactics of consumer communications and media with the best strategies of social movement building it is possible to build a critical mass of support for worthy causes and organizations.

After 20 years of developing successful communications programs for Fortune 500 clients like Westin Hotels and Hewlett-Packard, Toliver has spent the last several years bringing non-traditional thinking to social impact organizations. As executive director of The Matale Line, Toliver has helped a number of national and international organizations—from UNICEF to the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, from United Way to the World Food Programme—reframe their approach to strategic decision-making and communications.

Toliver has had the privilege of being a much sought after keynote and plenary speaker to a range of organizations and people involved in social change. Among them, the National Council of Non-Profit Associations, the International Fundraising Congress, TEDx, the United Way of America, The Netherlands Development Organisation, Fundraising Institute of Australia and the Center for Non-profit Excellence.

Having grown up in the developing world he has a deep understanding of the real work required to create change.


Bill Toliver Speaker Videos Back to top

Bill Toliver: United Way International Leadership Forum


Speaking at United Way in Central Ohio, Toliver opened by joking that he is “a big deal,” noting that he has “had dinner with Oprah and Gayle at the same time,” and that when he was in college he “threw eggs at the South African ambassador’s house.”

He then explains why he is “the poster child for United Way,” telling the story of how his mother lived in poverty after both of her parents died and she was put into foster care. He then tells the story of how his father’s parents also died, leaving him in the foster care system as well. He says that the “Toliver lineage could have ended if there wasn’t a helping hand there.” Based on this story, he goes on to discuss the “moral necessity” of movements like United Way.

Bill Toliver: Opening Plenary Speech


Bill Toliver: Cancer Council NSW



Speeches / Speaking Engagements Back to top


Toliver believes that by merging the most innovative tactics of consumer communications and media with the best strategies of social movement building it is possible to build a critical mass of support for worthy causes and organizations. In an era in which 12-year-olds have communication tools that would have blown the minds of Gandhi, King and Mandhela, we have yet to turn them into anything that resembles the kind of global social movement these leaders created. Toliver aims to change that by offering a way for social impact organizations to create “manageable movements.”

Toliver’s programs teach leadership and communication skills using a mix of authority and humor. He helps organizations bring about more support by demonstrating effective social movement building efforts around the world and empowering audiences with real world advice.

From Gandhi to Google: Building Social Movements in a World of Social Medias
An insightful discussion on how the marriage of traditional consumer marketing and social movement building can bring about just the kind of support your organization needs. Bill will demonstrate effective movement building efforts around the world, and dissect the essential ingredients of each in a way that empowers his audience with real world advice.

Telling the Difference Between a Fad and a Trend in a World of Change
The first decade of the internet and social media had many times more “rabbit trails” than success stories. Entire companies (and trading indexes) were built quickly, and then literally crashed over night because of flawed business models and the inability to see the difference between a fad and a true trend. This conversation by a guy who worked for IBM when the first PC was shipped, has been through enough boom and bust cycles to speak to this issue with both authority and humour.

The Turning Point in History When History Failed to Turn
A compelling study of powerful social movements that failed, with particular emphasis on the “People’s Spring of 1848.” The discussion will provide important lessons for what will be required to sustain current-day social movements.

Leadership in the 21st Century
An ironic look at how leaders have become profoundly ineffective in the 21st Century—just when we need leadership most. How political vitriol, servant-based management philosophy and political correctness have left leaders across the spectrum afraid of their own shadows. Particular focus on new flatter, leaner models and how not to make the logical mistakes as everyone scrambles to be more progressive.

Of Marketers and Messengers
Most civil society organizations have a healthy aversion to traditional consumer style marketing strategies and sales tactics. It seems unsavory to consider things like “branding,” “market position” and “competitive advantage” when your mission is about the future of our environment, or funding for the arts, or the wellbeing of children. Bill will encourage us to hold on to that healthy skepticism, while at the same time offering a model for communications that merges the tactics of traditional consumer marketing with the best strategies of social movement building. He’ll take us on a fun and informative journey through some of the most effective social movements and nonprofit campaigns over history and help us see how there is a way to build a critical mass of support for the causes we hold so dear.

Swimming Against the Current of Today’s Politics, Economics, and Headlines
Politics seem deadlocked somewhere between “Yes we can” and “Over my dead body.” Economics have left all of us worried about of our next paycheck much less our retirement plans. Headlines that provide hourly reminders of revolutions and tsunamis, terrorism and climate change. It’s no wonder that today’s social impact organizations are having a hard time getting air time—much less lasting support! Bill will offer some key strategies to rally people around your cause. Regardless of what might be in the headlines, or which way the political or economic winds may be blowing.

Ten Critical Mistakes Non-Profit and Civil Society Organizations Make
The U.S. and England are often seen as leaders in innovative communications and fundraising techniques for non-profits and civil society organizations. However, they've also taken many decisions that have created very consequential—though often unforeseen—mistakes. This keynote address provides a frank look at the problems that can arise when “consumer-style” marketing tactics, and “business-style” leadership models are too quickly applied to organizations devoted to social change. This session will provide a fun and informative illustration of how these mistakes were created, and provide sound practical advice on how you can avoid making them yourself. The session will be targeted toward a wide range of people involved in communications, fundraising and non-profit leadership.

Doing Well by Doing Good
Companies have an opportunity to play a far more important role in creating progress in the world, if they had the courage to see social responsibility as something more than an effective marketing or employee retention strategy. This presentation provides an inspirational look at the role corporations could—and sometimes do— play if they had the courage to live closer to their own values and commitments.

What You Didn’t Know about “Them.”
Did you know the country with the largest number of women in Parliament is Rawanda? This presentation is a fun and surprising look at the many different misperceptions and underestimations people in the West have about those in the other hemisphere. It's a an inspirational look at the real-life circumstance of people around the world, and the important difference we could each make if we saw ourselves as brothers and sisters, rather than global competitors for the earth’s resources.



Bill Toliver Speaker Testimonials Back to top

"I am officially a Bill Toliver 'groupie!' His willingness to say what everyone else was thinking was so refreshing and hopeful."
    United Way National Conference

"The most engaging and entertaining speaker I have heard in a long time. Unexpected insights that proved to be quite relevant. Unorthodox, inspiring."
    Association of Fundraising Professionals

"I thought Bill Toliver had a great presentation and true passion. It was very exciting to listen to—the highlight of the conference. What a refreshing change from the usual conference speaker."
    American Marketing Association

"I learned more in 90 minutes than I did in any college class I’ve ever taken. This is one of the best speakers I have ever heard. I’ve never even thought about a fraction of what Bill opened my mind up to today. Thank you."
    Good Samaritan Society

"Bill Toliver and Desmond Tutu were the highlights of our conference.""
    United Way Global Leadership Conference




* Please note that while this speaker’s specific speaking fee falls within the range posted above (for Continental U.S. based events), fees are subject to change. For current fee information or international event fees (which are generally 50-75% more than U.S based event fees), please contact us.

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"I am officially a Bill Toliver 'groupie!' His willingness to say what everyone else was thinking was so refreshing and hopeful."
    United Way National Conference

"The most engaging and entertaining speaker I have heard in a long time. Unexpected insights that proved to be quite relevant. Unorthodox, inspiring."
    Association of Fundraising Professionals

"I thought Bill Toliver had a great presentation and true passion. It was very exciting to listen to—the highlight of the conference. What a refreshing change from the usual conference speaker."
    American Marketing Association

"I learned more in 90 minutes than I did in any college class I’ve ever taken. This is one of the best speakers I have ever heard. I’ve never even thought about a fraction of what Bill opened my mind up to today. Thank you."
    Good Samaritan Society

"Bill Toliver and Desmond Tutu were the highlights of our conference.""
    United Way Global Leadership Conference


From Gandhi to Google: Building Social Movements in a World of Social Medias
An insightful discussion on how the marriage of traditional consumer marketing and social movement building can bring about just the kind of support your organization needs. Bill will demonstrate effective movement building efforts around the world, and dissect the essential ingredients of each in a way that empowers his audience with real world advice.

Telling the Difference Between a Fad and a Trend in a World of Change
The first decade of the internet and social media had many times more “rabbit trails” than success stories. Entire companies (and trading indexes) were built quickly, and then literally crashed over night because of flawed business models and the inability to see the difference between a fad and a true trend. This conversation by a guy who worked for IBM when the first PC was shipped, has been through enough boom and bust cycles to speak to this issue with both authority and humour.

The Turning Point in History When History Failed to Turn
A compelling study of powerful social movements that failed, with particular emphasis on the “People’s Spring of 1848.” The discussion will provide important lessons for what will be required to sustain current-day social movements.

Leadership in the 21st Century
An ironic look at how leaders have become profoundly ineffective in the 21st Century—just when we need leadership most. How political vitriol, servant-based management philosophy and political correctness have left leaders across the spectrum afraid of their own shadows. Particular focus on new flatter, leaner models and how not to make the logical mistakes as everyone scrambles to be more progressive.

Of Marketers and Messengers
Most civil society organizations have a healthy aversion to traditional consumer style marketing strategies and sales tactics. It seems unsavory to consider things like “branding,” “market position” and “competitive advantage” when your mission is about the future of our environment, or funding for the arts, or the wellbeing of children. Bill will encourage us to hold on to that healthy skepticism, while at the same time offering a model for communications that merges the tactics of traditional consumer marketing with the best strategies of social movement building. He’ll take us on a fun and informative journey through some of the most effective social movements and nonprofit campaigns over history and help us see how there is a way to build a critical mass of support for the causes we hold so dear.

Swimming Against the Current of Today’s Politics, Economics, and Headlines
Politics seem deadlocked somewhere between “Yes we can” and “Over my dead body.” Economics have left all of us worried about of our next paycheck much less our retirement plans. Headlines that provide hourly reminders of revolutions and tsunamis, terrorism and climate change. It’s no wonder that today’s social impact organizations are having a hard time getting air time—much less lasting support! Bill will offer some key strategies to rally people around your cause. Regardless of what might be in the headlines, or which way the political or economic winds may be blowing.

Ten Critical Mistakes Non-Profit and Civil Society Organizations Make
The U.S. and England are often seen as leaders in innovative communications and fundraising techniques for non-profits and civil society organizations. However, they've also taken many decisions that have created very consequential—though often unforeseen—mistakes. This keynote address provides a frank look at the problems that can arise when “consumer-style” marketing tactics, and “business-style” leadership models are too quickly applied to organizations devoted to social change. This session will provide a fun and informative illustration of how these mistakes were created, and provide sound practical advice on how you can avoid making them yourself. The session will be targeted toward a wide range of people involved in communications, fundraising and non-profit leadership.

Doing Well by Doing Good
Companies have an opportunity to play a far more important role in creating progress in the world, if they had the courage to see social responsibility as something more than an effective marketing or employee retention strategy. This presentation provides an inspirational look at the role corporations could—and sometimes do— play if they had the courage to live closer to their own values and commitments.

What You Didn’t Know about “Them.”
Did you know the country with the largest number of women in Parliament is Rawanda? This presentation is a fun and surprising look at the many different misperceptions and underestimations people in the West have about those in the other hemisphere. It's a an inspirational look at the real-life circumstance of people around the world, and the important difference we could each make if we saw ourselves as brothers and sisters, rather than global competitors for the earth’s resources.



Bill Toliver: United Way International Leadership Forum


Speaking at United Way in Central Ohio, Toliver opened by joking that he is “a big deal,” noting that he has “had dinner with Oprah and Gayle at the same time,” and that when he was in college he “threw eggs at the South African ambassador’s house.”

He then explains why he is “the poster child for United Way,” telling the story of how his mother lived in poverty after both of her parents died and she was put into foster care. He then tells the story of how his father’s parents also died, leaving him in the foster care system as well. He says that the “Toliver lineage could have ended if there wasn’t a helping hand there.” Based on this story, he goes on to discuss the “moral necessity” of movements like United Way.

Bill Toliver: Opening Plenary Speech


Bill Toliver: Cancer Council NSW