What does the 28th child of a family, lover of pets, student with an emphasis in Mandarin, and marketing guru have in common? They are all leaders of nonprofit organizations, and the panelists of last Tuesday night’s ANTsgiving.
Lydia Natoolo, Kelly Reeves, Shea Rouda, and Jerri Rosen gathered with approximately 50 other entrepreneurs and students in The Cove’s Screening Room to share their experiences about starting a 501(c) organization. Although all four underscored a need for passion, each panelist provided their own focus on establishing and developing nonprofits, and how to connect their actions back to those in need.
“A nonprofit is literally a business in its own sector,” Lydia Natoolo, a UCI Biological Sciences major, summarized. She shared how her own firm, Love a Community, also depended on communities to grow. With various projects underway, such as providing clean water and medical supplies for rural Ugandan villages, tapping into the hearts and minds of people become all the more necessary.
A similar idea was expressed by Kelly Reeves, the president of Paw Prints in the Sand Animal Rescue, Inc. With a background in business, “I would go to clients and former clients and say, ‘I’m starting this nonprofit’, and some of them jumped right on board,” she stated. Tapping into an existing business network enabled her to rapidly develop her organization.
While Shea Rouda, a USC fourth-year, is still waiting for his nonprofit paperwork to be approved, he explained how Drops was born. Beer kegs were bought at the end of each month if he and his friends raised enough spare change by rounding all of their purchases up to the nearest dollar; if not, the sum would go to charity. Shea realized that a far better idea was to funnel that money entirely towards helping the needy.
Shea, a major in Eastern Asian Languages and Cultures, described the necessity of taking advantage of resources open to students, including funding his nonprofit through placing at pitch competitions and reducing cost through legal services offered on the USC campus. (UCI has similar resources – visit the ANTrepreneur Center to learn more).
And as CEO of Working Wardrobes, Jerri Rosen emphasized the need to overcome financial and practical challenges to ensure a nonprofit’s sustainability.
“There are over 1 million nonprofits in this country,” she stated. “In Orange County there are over 11,000 nonprofit organizations. There are roughly 3,000 that are financially sustainable; that means that they’re bringing in over half a million dollars a year or more.”
Given these difficulties, Jerri recommends that the best step to start a nonprofit is to volunteer time to one.
Not all of the nonprofit leaders’ advice could be stuffed into this article. For more, watch the first half hour of the ANTsigiving panel.