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Monthly Archives: July 2017

20 Years In The Making, A Personal Quest Led To A New Venture

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

Eric McCallum says he likes to invest in “simple and elegant business models that have multiple impacts.” A startup called Himalayan Wild Fibers fit the bill and he led a round of financing.

Founder and CEO, Ellie Skeele, 64, has been working in Nepal for nearly two decades to commercialize her idea.

Himalayan Wild Fibers is a company that is commercializing a textile fiber that’s extracted from a wild growing plant, a form of stinging nettle that grows in the forests of the Himalayas. It is wild harvested. We extract from that a fiber, we refine it and then we sell into existing developed supply chains,” she explains.

Watch the full interview in the player at the top of the article.

Himalayan Wild Fibers, HWF, sells the fibers in a refined state, but not as thread or yarn. Her clients use the fibers to create yarns, fabrics and ultimately finished products.

Her goal is to help subsistence farmers who have virtually no cash income. She sees significant environmental benefits in the bargain.

Ellie Skeele

Early during her time in Nepal, she came across the fiber being used for a variety of rudimentary handicrafts, ropes and other rough purposes. Then she encountered someone who had created a blend of cotton and the nettle fiber and her mind began to race.

She and her team determined that the best way to enhance “economic justice” for her Nepali friends was to focus on sourcing the fiber from the farmers, paying them a “really good price for it.”

“HWF creates jobs for some of the poorest people in the world,” he says. “In six to eight weeks they can double their yearly income harvesting giant nettle without interfering with their seasonal subsistence farming,” McCallum boasts.

The fiber, because it grows in the wild, far from any industrial agriculture, has not been exposed to any fertilizers or pesticides. Skeele says, “This is the most sustainable fiber and the cleanest, purest fiber on the market.” She says “emphatically” that the product is not toxic.

She hastens to add that the nettle grows wild on land that cannot be used for farming, so doesn’t compete with food or other crops important to the Nepali farmers she hopes to help. No irrigation is required to grow it and only a fraction of the water required for processing organic cotton is used to refine it.

The nettle is a rhizome. It actually benefits from the harvesting. The stalks are cut off, but the rhizome and roots remain in the ground and flourish season after season.

“The nettle grows wild under the high elevation forest canopy, is very leafy so converts CO2 to oxygen,” notes McCallum. “The Gov. of Nepal is eager to find non-timber forest products to stimulate the local economy in these high elevation forest areas. The nettle needs the forest canopy to thrive. By creating these jobs HWF is protecting the forest.”

For Skeele, the quest to help the Nepali subsistence farmers is personal. “I have two children adopted from Nepal and the came to me from poverty. They come from mountain families.” She felt this was a gift she should repay.

She went to Nepal about 20 years ago after working in Silicon Valley and finding herself unfulfilled. She says she called her sister and said, “I’m going to sell my house and I’m going to stay in Nepal for a while to get my head screwed on straight and see if I can’t do something more meaningful with my life.”

To date, she acknowledges, the impact has been modest. “When we scale it will be, by Nepal’s standards, huge,” she adds. She says she doesn’t expect the business to ever grow to $500 million. There isn’t enough of the fiber to harvest to create a business of that scale. But the benefits to Nepal will be meaningful even at a much smaller scale.

Led by McCallum, HWF has raised money from 19 investors. The company has 14 employees and is just now beginning to generate revenue.

Of his investment in HWF, McCallum says, “For me personally, it’s a test to see if one can invest in the third world, get a modest return and have an impact. Because if this works, it could potentially attract more impact capital from more people who desire to get more than just a financial return but also a social ROI.”

Over 1 million people have read my books; have you? Learn more about my courses on entrepreneurship, crowdfunding and corporate social responsibility here.


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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

 

Wringing Costs From Solar Is Goal For This Berkeley PhD

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

Jason Trager is more than a throwback to the sixties or a cliche. He may have earned a PhD at Berkeley with a focus on improving the energy efficiency in buildings by applying statistical process controls, but he’s also a hard core entrepreneur who relishes profit–so long as it doesn’t adversely impact others.

He calls himself and his firm “Sustainabilist.” He says that unlike a capitalist who hordes profits and socializes externalities like pollution and carbon, a Sustainabilist hordes profits without socializing externalities. He says, “Our quest is carbon reduction. Every dollar that we make can be linked to some amount of carbon that does not make it into the atmosphere.”

Sustainabilist, the firm, is working on a number of projects, but one key area of focus is on applying statistical process controls to the process of solar installation. By doing so, he hopes to not only improve the quality of solar installations but also to reduce costs, thereby accelerating adoption.

Jason explains, “The same statistics and operational frameworks that are used to mass-produce cars, pens, beer, and soda cans can be used to detect and minimize problems with solar installations and building operations.”

He notes that the soft costs of solar installations are especially challenging. “Through our methodology, we have been able to use data to pick out issues with contractor installation techniques. If we can improve the process of the installation of solar, we can potentially eliminate an estimated $181 million in expense that it costs contractors to go back to sites in order to fix problems,” he concludes.

Sustainabilist is also working on a platform called RosettaBlock that employs open-source standards to close the feedback loop between contractors, building owners and operators and the solar manufacturers. He hopes this feedback loop can help further reduce the cost of solar.

With his focus on the environment and sustainability, Jason lives up to the Berkeley reputation. His entrepreneurial drive may allow him to accelerate solar adoption to the benefit of everyone on the planet.

Jason Trager, courtesy of Sustainabilist

Jason Trager, courtesy of Sustainabilist

More about Sustainabilist:

Twitter: @sustainabilist

We provide contracting and consulting services to sustainable businesses and companies that wish to be more sustainable. Our specialities are: quality for solar and energy efficiency control through data science, marketing and communications for sustainable enterprises, and corporate social responsibility for the enterprise. We are also producing SaaS products for social good, such as RosettaBlock and the PlusFarm urban farming controller that we are producing in collaboration with Blue Planet Consulting and CommonGarden.

Jason’s bio:

Dr. Trager is an engineer and sustainability professional with experience in utilizing data to drive profitable results while simultaneously reducing the carbon footprint of businesses. Through his company, Sustainabilist, he demonstrates his passion for building technically sound businesses that reduce the rate of anthropogenic climate change. He earned a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, where he studied the application of statistical process control (SPC) and other mass production methodologies for energy efficiency in buildings. His program also included a designated emphasis in energy science and technology in addition to a certificate in Engineering and Business for Sustainability. He has since focused on applying SPC frameworks to improve the quality of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects with groups such as the Institute for Building Safety and Technology (IBTS), and kW Engineering.

Jason is the founder of Sustainabilist, a personalized political philosophy which guides the company. He believes that being a Sustainabilist is like being a capitalist, but that you are not obligated to maximise profit at expense of all else. Instead, the obligation is to internalize and minimize the negative externalities created by your business. It is acceptable to maximise profit as a Sustainabilist, but the previously given constraint must be satisfied at all times.

Jason’s areas of experience include business development, energy data science, product life cycle assessment, scientific coding, fundraising, team management, and bicycle repair. He is a serial entrepreneur who has been a key founder in three companies. Jason values teamwork and diversity on projects. He is committed to living by sustainable values and is always willing to have a discussion about how to improve the world.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

 

This Miss America Is Working To Thank Veterans For Their Service

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

As Americans head to the beach or the mountains to celebrate Independence Day they may give some thought to the freedoms they enjoy. With a bit of prompting from some patriotic music accompanying fireworks tonight, they may even give some thought to the soldiers who have fought and died to make those freedoms possible.

Former Miss America Sharlene Hawkes, 53, never forgets. In 2005, she helped found the Remember My Service Military Production division of StoryRock. Remember My Service, RMS, produces videos and books about the service of America’s armed forces.

Watch my full interview with Hawkes in the player at the top of this article.

The division got started “kind of accidentally,” Hawkes says. StoryRock produces a variety of personal and group history products, using a digital approach. The products include video yearbooks and scrapbooks that include video. The profitable division employs six people full time and another five on a part-time basis.

The 96th Regional Readiness Command of the Army Reserve approached her to ask for help organizing their growing treasure trove of digital historical assets. “It was hiding on computers everywhere because nobody knew really what to do with it all,” she says.

She didn’t begin to appreciate the scale of the problem initially, thinking that this was limited to the local Army Reserve unit. “Come to find out, it was military-wide where they needed help.”

The records, videos and books RMS helps to organize serve multiple functions. Initially, she was focused on the value of the historical records being kept for each unit. Quickly, she learned that commanders were interested more in building esprit de corps and also in helping to recruit.

The commanders see the potential for younger sisters and brothers to see the records and say, “Wait a minute, that’s what you guys do. Wow. I want to be part of that.”

One of the challenges that RMS faces is that the military doesn’t have a line item for yearbooks in the budget. One of Hawkes’s innovations was to find private sponsors who would pay to produce the materials for the people serving. In 2006, she helped the National Guard unit in Utah to complete a project using that model. It worked so well, she says, “The National Guard has now done four major projects over the last eight years.”

Private sponsors have made it possible for all the guardsmen to receive records of their service. The model has proven successful, but Hawkes acknowledges that it is a lot of work. Essentially, one project has two sales cycles: one for the project and one for the financing.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the service of America’s Vietnam vets, RMS is now working on its biggest project to date. Hawkes notes that these vets got a “double whammy.” They served, risked their lives, saw their friends die and then came home to a country that “didn’t care about them.”

Sharlene Hawkes

“America has grown up,” she says. “We never ever should treat our troops like that again.”

The 50th-anniversary commemoration began in 2012 and will continue through 2025 perhaps as we mark the 50th anniversary of the return of the final Vietnam era veterans.

The book is called A Time to Honor: Stories of Service Duty and Sacrifice. The book is not available for individual purchase. Instead, RMS is working on a state-by-state basis using its sponsorship model to produce copies for each and every veteran in that state. so far, only a handful of the states have gone to print.

The sponsors who support the book don’t get traditional advertisements in the book. Instead, they are invited to provide a tribute to the veterans that are included from a spokesperson for the sponsor.

Utah’s book was financed 50% by the state with the balance coming from three sponsors: the Miller Family Foundation, Merit Medical and Questar.

Born in Paraguay, Hawkes is listed here as the fifth most famous person born there. She lived in neighboring Argentina as a teenager before returning to her family’s traditional home in the United States, so she was rather well known in Argentina as well.

But this Miss America is all about the red, white and blue.

Over 1 million people have read my books; have you? Learn more about my courses on entrepreneurship, crowdfunding and corporate social responsibility here.


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

It Shouldn’t Be Easier To Find Your Mate Than To Find A Co-Investor Online

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

Last summer, at a meeting of Seattle impact investors, one of the members said she didn’t have need for additional deal flow–investment opportunities–what she needed, she said, according to Nancy Reid, director of the Seattle Impact Investing Group, is a way to build an investor syndicate. “What we need is investor flow.”

Michael ‘Luni’ Libes, 47, and Matt Eldridge, 48, who heard that need and set out to create a nonprofit, online platform called Investorflow.org to address the concern.

Matt Eldridge, co-founder and COO of Investorflow.org

“Impact investors are spread around the world, investing all around the globe. This makes it incredibly difficult for those seeking funding to find these investors. It also means that investors tend not to know each other,” Libes said, framing the discussion.

Watch the full interview with Libes and Eldridge at the top of this article.

He points out the investors typically have specific areas of focus, so even if you have dozens of impact investors in a room, chances are there still isn’t a critical mass of interest for any particular deal.

There is a wide range of possible interests for impact investing, he notes. “The UN has organized 17 distinct sustainability goals, but number 1, No Poverty, includes everything from the poorest billion people to affordable housing in New York City.”

“Meanwhile, in reality, most impact investments come from investors talking to other investors, not from companies pitching investors. The problem isn’t a lack of dealflow, nor a lack of crowd. The problem is efficiently matching the right deal to the right investor, one investor to another. Or more simply… the problem isn’t dealflow but investorflow,” Libes says.

Michael ‘Luni’ Libes, Investorflow.org

The investing community is ready for a new solution, Reid suggests. “Fundraising is still awkward.” That is true even for investors. “It can be an uncomfortable dynamic,” she adds.

“Fundraising is also still unbelievably slow and difficult! It’s way easier to find the right babysitter or landscaper or date than it is to find the right co-investors, which is bizarre,” Reid concludes.

Janine Firpo, the impact investor Reid mentioned who coined the phrase investor flow, emphasizes that impact investing is best done in teams. “What I believed we needed was an ‘investor flow’ solution that could put trusted investors together to share deals. Aside from a few very wealthy and committed individuals, this type of investing is not a solo activity. It takes a community. Luni made the idea of an investor flow a reality.”

“The solution is investorflow.org, an online network where impact investors can hear about deals that fit their particular interests, vetted by fellow investors. All the deals are posted by investors seeking co-investors, not by entrepreneurs or fund managers,” Libes explains.

Libes says the site already has 157 investors signed up with 14 deals in the review pipeline. As yet, no deals have closed. Deals are coming in at a rate of about one per week. Still, there aren’t enough investors. “We think at somewhere between here and 1,000 we’ll have a critical mass where when there’s deal posted there will always be someone interested,” Libes says.

This idea represents some fresh thinking in the impact investing world. It will be interesting to see if the site reaches the “critical mass” needed to start funding deals regularly.


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

 

How Addressing ‘Eco-Genocide’ Is Almost Like Spinning Straw Into Gold For This Entrepreneur

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

Plastic pollution in our oceans represents an “Eco-genocide” according to Bonnie Monteleone, Executive Director and Director of Science Research and Academic Partnerships at Plastic Ocean Project, Inc.

Priyanka Bakaya, 34, founder and CEO of PK Clean, invented a scalable process to convert plastics back into the diesel fuel they came from, not quite spinning straw into gold but exciting nonetheless.

When Monteleone had learned that plastics could be converted back into oil. She saw that as a way to emulate nature by creating a circular system where plastics removed from the oceans could be converted back into fuel. When she looked for partners, she was worried about the contaminants in the plastics extracted from the oceans.

PK Clean invited us to send them two pounds of our ocean plastics to turn into oil. They sent the oil back with their analysis that quelled our concerns,” Monteleone said.

PK Clean’s operations generate no toxic emissions and require no special permitting, Bakaya says. The company operates northwest of downtown Salt Lake City, well within city limits. The primary output from the system is diesel fuel.

The process costs $25 to $30 per barrel of diesel produced. With market prices in the range of $60 to $70 per barrel, the operation currently enjoys tremendous margins.

Monteleone now a customer, says, “PK Clean provides both economic and environmental hope to help mitigate the negative impacts caused by plastic pollution.”

Judson Bledsoe uses the benchtop plastic to fuel unit from PK Clean

PK Clean sold a benchtop demonstration unit to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington to perform tests. Monteleone appreciated the transparency and says, “They have earned our confidence as a viable solution.”

PK Clean is a fast-growing start-up already operating at a breakeven that will generate $2 to $5 million in revenue in 2017, Bakaya says. “We have a strong customer pipeline for the coming years.”

The start-up is also raising a $50 million project finance fund to provide capital for the customers’ projects deploying the company’s units.

The pricing model for the units involves an upfront fee for the plastic-to-fuel units plus PK Clean takes a royalty on the production so they get an ongoing revenue stream from the installed units.

Priyanka Bakaya, PK Clean

Bakaya, who earned degrees at Stanford and MIT, says the best customers for PK Clean are folks who are already handling large amounts of plastic waste, some of which may be going into the landfill. She sees the biggest opportunities on the East Coast where high landfill tipping fees create an even bigger incentive to convert waste plastic into diesel fuel.

She notes that the units and the fuel take up relatively little space when compared to the mountains of plastic typically associated with recycling centers, making it optimal to co-locate the PK Clean conversion units.

The opportunity for recycling remains huge, despite global efforts to increase recycling. Bakaya says only 9% of plastic is recycled. Plastics vary in quality as indicated by the numbers stamped on the bottom of plastic packaging. Those that are high scoring are more likely to be recycled using traditional processes, but all plastics–even those horrible shopping bags–can be converted using the PK Clean processing units.

PK Clean’s innovation was to identify a process that was reasonably well understood but that had only been done in small scale, unprofitable operations and to make it scalable, efficient and profitable.

PK Clean is committed to the environment. This fall, the company will launch its “Zero Waste” campaign in Salt Lake City with a goal of getting people to reduce their waste to the size of a mason jar per month. Getting people to recycle all of their plastic will be key to that initiative.

Scaling PK Clean will be its own challenge. Bakaya says they already have hundreds of inquiries coming in from people wanting to build units on their sites.

“We don’t want to promise that we can make a hundred of these in the next year. You know we’re sort of gradually scaling up and picking which sites make the most sense to begin with,” Bakaya says.

Each full-scale unit converts ten tons of plastic per day into about 60 barrels of fuel. Recyclers can install as many units as they may need to process their volume of plastic.

Monteleone is excited about the potential for PK Clean to help mitigate plastic pollution in the oceans. “Plastic consumption increases at roughly 4% annually, according to the World Economic Forum, by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans. We need PK Clean technology to help mitigate the eco-genocide caused by plastic pollution.”


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

How To Be Successful With Affordable Housing Without Being Evil

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

“Our nation is in the midst of a true affordability crisis.” Daryl Carter, founder, chairman and CEO of Avanath Capital Management, sees that as both a problem and an opportunity. He’s found a way to deliver returns to investors while serving working families at the same time, that is, without being evil.

Let’s start by looking at the problem. “The median income of a renter in the United States is $36,000. To be considered affordable, renters should be spending no more than a third of their income toward rent. However,” Carter says, “in many coastal markets such as Los Angeles and New York, over half of all renter households are allocating more than 50% of their income toward rent.”

That threshold matters, because if you are paying more than half of your income in rent, it is difficult to also provide food, healthcare and education for the people living under that roof. “Historically, the reason that many neighborhoods have declined, whether it’s Detroit or Oakland, is not because of who lives there, but rather because there is a lack of investment in those areas,” Carter says.

Watch my entire interview with Carter in the video at the top of this article.

Carter points to an estimate from the Joint Center for Housing Studies that indicates that two million rent-controlled units will expire over the next decade. Most of these are supported by Low Income Housing Tax Credits. He says, “These units are at-risk for redevelopment into market-rate apartments.”

The problem gets worse. Every year, about 100,000 rental units are lost to obsolescence or failure to meet building codes. Most of those units are—or were—affordable.

Carter sums up the situation this way: “The bottom line is: people need quality, affordable places to live – now.”

“Targeting this asset pool is an additional source of investment opportunity for Avanath,” Carter says.

Carter says he is a beneficiary of affordable housing. “My journey as a social entrepreneur began on Detroit’s West Side, in a working class, African American neighborhood. My father, an autoworker, and my mother, a nanny, moved to Detroit to pursue the economic dream tied to the auto industry. With a combined income of $10,000 per year, they purchased a small two-bedroom bungalow in the 60s for $15,000. Their monthly mortgage payment was $130 per month or 16% of their monthly income of $833 per month.”

“While not picture perfect, this home provided a stable setting for my family to pursue the American Dream. My home incubated my dreams of the University of Michigan, MIT, and Avanath long before I had any thought about them. Today, this same dream is simply implausible for much of the population, based on a rampant rise in the price of housing in our nation,” he continued.

That foundation helped to motivate and inspire Avanath’s strategy of bringing institutional capital into areas where affordable housing is most needed.

Daryl J. Carter, Avanath Capital Management

One of the lessons Carter has learned is that keeping good residents helps to foster a successful community. This is a stark contrast to other investors, whom he says often seek to create a “new resident profile.”

Avanath, like other developers, will invest in upgrading the projects they buy. “When we renovate, we raise the rents but we raise the rents to a level that is affordable for the residents that are there. And we try to do what I call ‘smart renovations’ where we put in things like washers and dryers that benefit that family.”

He admits that they don’t do everything they might so they can keep rental rates lower. He says that when he shows his investors the projects, they’ll ask why the popcorn ceilings from the 60s or 70s haven’t been replaced. “They’ll say, ‘It would be great if you can get rid of it.’ And we say, ‘Yeah, it would be great but I’d have to charge $40 more rent.’”

The Avanath strategy for getting good investor returns include buying the properties on good terms. “We buy it on a very favorable basis because in many respects it’s been abandoned by the previous owner.”

Once purchased, Avanath works with the residents and the community, including elected officials to take what Carter calls a “holistic approach.” Not only does the company invest in the buildings but also in things like afterschool programs that will add value.

Carter explains the strategy, “Our investment strategy is to preserve the existing supply of affordable housing and add value to our communities by investing in capital improvements that enhance asset quality without sacrificing affordability.”

“Safe, clean, and affordable housing is the foundation for economically viable neighborhoods,” Carter says, speaking from experience.

“By acquiring affordable and workforce housing, making strategic improvements that increase quality of life without sacrificing affordability, and then investing in social programming such as on-site tutoring, sports programs and financial literacy courses, we are giving residents more than just a place to stay – we are giving them lifestyles, aspirations, and a path toward success.”

“Through this work, we have been successful in advancing positive social change, while also generating attractive, risk-adjusted returns to our investors. It is important to our mission to deliver returns that rival other commercial real estate investments.”


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

How Your Nonprofit Can Use $10,000 Per Month of Free Google Adwords


You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

It may be no secret that Google is giving away $10,000 per month in free Google Ads to nonprofits but many are still not taking full advantage of the opportunity.

Daniela Larsen, who leads both a for-profit marketing agency called Navanas Agency and a nonprofit called the Navanas Institute doing economic development work and education online and around the world, shares insights on how to get and use the monthly grant.

Daniela says most active nonprofits qualify. View eligibility details here. The basic guidelines require that you have a substantive website and that you be a legitimate nonprofit. Hospitals and universities are not eligible.

Be sure to watch the entire interview with Daniela at the top of this article to get all of her insights.

Nonprofits must use ’em or lose ’em. If you don’t actively use the grants, Google will cancel the account. There are other rules for use, mostly aimed at ensuring that the ads benefit your nonprofit–and not a corporate sponsor or partner. What a great program! Google really wants you to take full advantage.

The program gives a nonprofit a daily Adwords budget that represents about 1/30th of the $10,000, Daniela says. Adwords is Google’s advertising platform. Advertisers bid on words and phrases. The grant only allows bids up to $2.00 per word.

Many nonprofits lack the skills to take full advantage of the program and so they let these funds go to waste. Navanas Agency helps nonprofits take full advantage, with advisory fees as low as $500 per month.

There are a variety of tools available online to help you learn how to utilize Google Adwords, so even if you don’t know how today, check Udemy or Youtube for instructions and you can become proficient.

Daniela suggests using a strategy to maximize the return on the $10,000. For example, she explained that one nonprofit that provides sight-restoring surgeries that cost just $25 in the developing world did an effective Father’s Day promotion.

The nonprofit got donors to give their father a gift of someone else’s sight, making Dad a hero for Father’s Day. Making the donor, or in this case the gift recipient, a hero is a powerful way to build a relationship.

In a nutshell, nonprofits can quickly apply and qualify for $10,000 per month of free Google Adwords. With a little, affordable help, any nonprofit should be able to utilize these funds effectively to attract donations and expand its impact.

Daniela Larsen, Navanas

Daniela Larsen, Navanas

Danaiela’s bio:

Twitter: @navanasinc, @navanas1

Daniela has seen the explosive impact non profits can have when they treat themselves like a business and take marketing seriously. She has worked with many non profits to create revenue generating campaigns using email marketing, video, social media and expeditions to create sustainable revenue. She serves on the boards of Small Candles, The Hutchings Natural History Museum, Skymaster’s Wildlife Foundation and MIT Ghana. She is passionate about creating and distributing education that make the world a better place with current projects in Nepal, Madagascar, Kenya and Ghana. Daniela and her husband Nathan have 5 children. They “worldschool” their family by traveling broadly, learning online from the world’s best mentors and teaching other families how to do the same.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

 

Facing Huge Demand, This Charity Needed A Miracle Worker To Raise Money

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

In 2010, between 500 and 700 families were being turned away from the Ronald McDonald House in Salt Lake City every year because the home lacked the rooms to care for all of the families with sick children being treated at area hospitals. To fix that problem, a major expansion requiring a significant capital campaign would be required. That, in turn, would require new leadership.

Enter Carrie Romano, who was recruited to serve as the CEO of the Ronald McDonald House Charities Intermountain Area largely because she had recently led a $20 million capital campaign for the .

If you are fortunate, you’ve never had occasion to stay at a Ronald McDonald House. Romano explains, “We provide a home-away-from-home to ease daily burdens and empower families of hospitalized children with meaningful experiences and quality time together.”

Watch the full interview with Romano at the top of this article.

Sandra Howell recently spent time at the Salt Lake City Ronald McDonald House. She learned about it from her social worker when she delivered premature twins. She says, “I was so concerned what I would do when I was discharged.”

She says the House was the “best miracle that ever happened to me.” She describes it as a House that was a home during the 78 days her babies were in the hospital. Today, she reports the babies are doing well.

To provide that sort of service to the hundreds of families being turned away each year, Romano needed to raise about $12 million for the expansion and to subsequently increase annual fundraising enough to cover an operating budget that would more than double.

McDonald’s, its franchisees and customers provide about 15 percent of the annual operating budget. The rest comes mostly from private philanthropy. About 10% of the annual budget comes from earned revenue, mostly in the form of the modest fees guests pay to stay–which are waived for those without the means to pay–and from Medicaid payments.

Many social entrepreneurs will one day face the difficult decision to bring on a CEO who can grow the enterprise and create more impact.

Romano, who says courage is her superpower, says, “I dare take on big things and see them through.”

She organized a campaign catalyst team to help with the fundraising. She also made sure that every employee felt empowered to help. She notes, “You never know where your biggest supporter may come from.”

Carrie Romano, Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Intermountain Area

Romano understands that most people are uncomfortable asking people for money. She doesn’t suffer from that condition, however. She says, “I love giving people the opportunity to give away their treasure” for a great cause.

She adds, “I am grounded by the mission of the charity.”

Lisa Teske Hudson, a principal at Aspen Consulting Group, Inc., served as president of the Board of the YWCA in Salt Lake during the capital campaign Romano led. When Romano took on the challenge at the Ronald McDonald House she not only solicited contributions from Hudson, she asked her to serve on the board.

Hudson says there are three things she considers before giving her time or her money to a cause: mission, management and gratitude.

She says that last year, the Ronald McDonald House served 3,827 guest families and its family room at Primary Children’s Hospital served 7,400 families “during a very critical time of their lives.” That mission meets the Hudson test.

Of the management, Hudson says, “With my experience on this board and other boards, I feel that the leadership of this charity is among the best in Utah and among the best I’ve seen.” She notes that the nonprofit is received a four-star rating (the highest) from Charity Navigator.

Her thinking about gratitude reflects the thinking of many donors, “My husband and I have not made financial donations significant enough to have a building named after us. But the contributions we make are hard-earned and meaningful to us. We are what the charity refers to as Grand Givers – individuals who give a personal gift of $1,000 or more. The management and staff do an exceptional job of showing gratitude for the support they receive from donors.”

Using her superpower, Romano successfully led the capital campaign and oversaw the construction of an expansion of the House that more than doubled its size, nearly eliminating the need to turn families away. In 2016, only 167 families were turned away.


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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

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