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Crowdfunding for Social Good
Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

Nonprofit

This category includes articles about nonprofit organizations and NGOs that are actively working to accomplish a social mission. The work of foundations that primarily work as grantors to other nonprofits is covered in Philanthropy.

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These Two Have Been Working On Their Nonprofit For A Third Of Their Lives (4 Years)


Abby Levin and Lexi Thomas have devoted themselves to their nonprofit, Flowers for Powers, delivering flowers to people who need a lift. Inspired by the loss of both her grandmothers ten years ago, Abby and Lexi decided to spread joy.

Jumping on a trampoline in the backyard, they spotted flowers, crystalizing an idea. With donated flowers and low-cost vases, they deliver sunshine, most often to seniors, people in hospice care and others with grave diseases.

Their flowers bring joy but not because the flowers are so beautiful, it’s because they remind the recipient of the beautiful smiles of two remarkable girls who delivered them.

Interview with Abigayle Levin, Lexi Thomas, the Founders and Partners of Flowers For Powers.

The following is the pre-interview with Abigayle Levin, Lexi Thomas. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

The problem is we usually see people at their worst. Our goal is to put a smile or their face at help them get through this difficult moment.

More about Flowers For Powers:

Twitter: @flowersfpowers

Facebook: @flowersforpowers

Website: flowersforpowers.com

Flowers for Powers is a nonprofit organization that delivers healing powers through the gifting of flowers to those in need.

For-profit/Nonprofit: 501(c)3 Nonprofit

Revenue model: Florists donate flowers. Currently Weis markets is donating. We get donations from the community to purchase vases and do walks. Tammy Schneider helped with legal filings, Vince Breuning with our website and Andrew Small with our logo and marketing materials.

Scale: Our moms help us with the deliveries. We cannot drive. Weis markets currently donate flowers. We rely on donations from the community to purchase vases. We have also been fortunate to have donated help with our website, logo and legal filings.

Abigayle Levin & Lexi Thomas

Abigayle Levin, Lexi Thomas’s bio:

Instagram: @flowers.for.powers

I started Flowers for Powers with my friend Lexi when we were in 4th grade. My grandmother, Gail Davis passed away from ALS in 2009 and my grandmother Judy Levin from breast cancer in 2008. Lexi and I discussed what we could do to help people who were suffering like them. At the time we were jumping on her trampoline and noticed the beautiful flowers outside. That’s when Lexi and I started Flowers for Powers. – Abby


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How To Organize The Perfect Fundraising Gala

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

For social entrepreneurs looking to upend the status quo and solve the world’s big problems, holding a fundraising gala may seem archaic or even offensive. Still, nonprofit organizations have been holding galas for generations—because they work.

Of course, a gala won’t work for every cause or organization. To begin with, your social enterprise must be a nonprofit. While necessary, 501(c)(3) status is not sufficient for a successful fundraising event.

To learn what makes for a successful gala, I gathered insights from five people who together have successfully organized events that have raised millions of dollars.

The experts are Carla Javits, the CEO of REDF; Fred Reggie, CEO of Fred Reggie Associates; Jordan Levy, chief external relations officer for Ubuntu Pathways; Brett Durbin, CEO of Trash Mountain Project, and Derek Rapp, CEO of JDRF.

Panel of experts CREDIT: PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE RESPECTIVE ORGANIZATIONS

Which Organizations Are Good Candidates?

If every organization is not a good candidate for a gala, which are and which are not?

Organizations must have a “base of supporters who are likely to be energized themselves,” says Carla Javits, whose REDF organization fund nonprofit social enterprises that help people to overcome homelessness and incarceration to return to productive, fulfilling work. The organization’s galas raised millions of dollars over an eight-year span.

She notes that an organization is a good fit when it has a project manager capable of planning and organizing such a big event.

Jordan Levy, whose most recent gala raised “almost $1 million” for the Ubuntu Pathways work in South Africa, explains why it is so important for an organization to have an existing base of support before attempting a gala. “There is overhead involved, and it takes a ton of staff time to plan and execute. A portion of the revenue needs to be predictable. If you don’t have an established network, a gala could be a risky proposition.”

Fred Reggie, whose firm helps to organize galas and other fundraising events for nonprofit organizations, notes that the cause is key. “Organizations that serve children (especially those stricken with devastating illnesses), the arts, hospice and healthcare are those that would tap into an affluent demographic that would feel comfortable in a gala setting.” He adds that galas in support of animals are also successful. Not surprisingly, having a celebrity-driven relief event works well, he says.

Brett Durbin, whose low budget galas have raised up to $300,000 with an average of just $25,000 in expenses, says almost any nonprofit can make it work “if there is a demand for such an event.”

Derek Rapp, whose national organization fighting Type 1 diabetes has chapters around the country that host galas. The key, he says, is to have volunteers who support the staff in planning the events.

Organizing the Organizing

Our experts suggest that planning begin well in advance, perhaps as much as 18 months for a big, first-time event. Levy notes that planning the next event starts with a thorough analysis of the last one.

One key, Javits points out, is to designate one person who is ultimately responsible for the event—someone “with good project management skills.”

At the outset, it is important to organize a planning committee that includes the staff and volunteers—including board members–who will be involved in planning and decision making. Never have a committee meeting without the decision maker; someone needs to be able to approve or reject every spending item, point of messaging or entertainment decision. If the committee meets monthly and a question arises for which no answer can be given, a month of work can be lost.

Before much work can begin, the committee should settle on a theme, financial objectives and contractors. Members of the committee should be chosen mutually—that is the staff should be comfortable with the choice of person and the person should be comfortable with the assignment—to run subcommittees for the key functions:

  • Finance and budget
  • Venue, food and beverage
  • Sponsorships
  • Speakers and entertainment
  • Ticket sales and registration at the event
  • Drawing or raffle
  • Silent auction
  • Live auction
  • Other donations and follow-up

If you choose not to do a drawing, silent auction or live auction, you obviously won’t need those committees formed but you’ll give up the potential revenue that comes from them.

Note that with nine sub-committees, the number of people involved in the planning for the event should quickly rise into the dozens. A few people may be willing to serve on two committees, but you’ll usually want volunteers to be focused on narrow but strategic items so as to keep them engaged but not overwhelmed.

At the first meeting, schedule all of the meetings the full committee will hold until the event. You may want to have less frequent meetings at first and more frequent, perhaps weekly, in the final month of preparation.

The theme chosen by the committee should be aligned closely with the mission and purpose of the organization—you’re planning a fundraiser, not a prom. Once chosen, everything else from the venue, food and beverages to the décor and entertainment should be in harmony with the theme. As Javits says, “Theme is critical. Apply maximum creativity to tying that to your programs: the meals, entertainment, décor, even location should be aligned with that theme which in turn illuminates your program.”

Reggie says, whatever else your theme does, “It has to scream FUN!”

“Don’t overthink it.” Ubuntu’s Levy offers this caution: “Your guests are people with busy lives and this is their evening. Don’t try to put in too much content. Keep the night short. Think about the type of evening you would enjoy. People want to be engaged, entertained and to have a good time. Keep the food simple, make it easy to get a drink and put your best messaging forward.”

Finance and Budget

The cost to do a gala—and the revenue it generates—will be different in Dayton or Little Rock than in Manhattan or San Francisco. Still, some financial metrics will be consistent across most events.

Javits and Reggie both suggest that a gala should generate about a 60% profit margin. Put another way, if the total revenue from all sources, including donations made at the gala, reach $100,000, you would expect to have spent $40,000 or less on all expenses from food and beverage to nametags and decorations.

This highlights one of the arguments against doing galas at all. Does too much of the money go to the venue and caterer? Javits suggests only having a gala if you don’t have another, “less costly” way to activate donors.

Presuming you go ahead, budget your revenue sources carefully. Reggie suggests the following revenue breakdown:

Revenue Breakdown CREDIT: DATA PROVIDED BY FRED REGGIE ASSOCIATES

  • Sponsorships: 10%
  • Ticket sales: 40%
  • Drawing/raffle: 10%
  • Silent Auction: 20%
  • Live Auction: 20%

Using this breakdown, all the costs of the entire event are covered by ticket sales. Others have suggested covering costs between sponsorships and ticket sales. In any case, you want the drawing and the auctions to generate cash for your mission not your chicken.

We’ll discuss the drawing in more detail below, but it is important to note that the revenue you can generate from a raffle or drawing will vary considerably according to what’s legal in your state. If charitable gaming is allowed and is culturally accepted, you could raise much more than 10% of your revenue this way. On the other hand, in states that virtually ban all gaming—even for charity—it may be tough to generate 5% of the night’s revenue while complying with rules that require you to give free entry tickets to anyone who asks. Some states ban raffles altogether.

Early in the preparation phase, the finance and budget committee should prepare a detailed budget for the event, ensuring that no expense is overlooked.

Venue, Food and Drink

The biggest expense and one of the most strategic aspects of a gala is the venue. Typically, the venue will require you to use their kitchen—and perhaps bar. Do not make this decision lightly.

Reggie suggests, “Someone from the organization who is experienced and possesses strong negotiation skills should be involved in finalizing arrangements with the venue. There is always room for negotiation – nothing is ever set in stone. Also, have two or three options whenever possible.”

Durbin notes that the hotel that hosts his event has agreed to do it at cost!

Levy argues for choosing a place that is elegant already. “The less you have to “transform” the space, the lower your overhead will be.”

Javits says the choice of venue should be guided by proximity and convenience to the “highest value attendees.” This includes adequate parking. She adds that it should also be accessible to disabled individuals.

It is also important for the venue to be the right size for the event, including staging for the program and tables for all the participants, along with displays related to the mission, the auction and raffle items. Having the event in too large a space can make a successful event feel like a failure because you didn’t fill the room.

Gala Venue CREDIT: DEPOSITPHOTOS

Rapp suggests using traditional venues. “While we do at times use non-traditional venues, the majority of our events are held in either a hotel or a convention center space.”

Reggie explains why that may be. You need a “seasoned, competent staff, including an on-site manager, to ensure everything the venue promises is delivered without hitches.” He also notes that you’ll want access to the venue in advance for set up.

Finally, it is important to have the right audio-visual equipment. This may require contracting with a venue-approved supplier. Plan—and budget—for a/v up front.

Trash Mountain Project is a Christian ministry. Durbin says they’ve never had adult beverages at one of their events. Most galas, however, include a cocktail reception and wine with dinner. Hotels will typically handle that for you.

Reggie notes that liquor may represent an opportunity to find discounts or sponsorships.

With respect to appetizers and dinner, Javits reminds you to have vegetarian/vegan/gluten free meal options available for those who want them.

Javits also says, “We started serving ‘family style’ dishes that people need to pass around the table instead of plating the meal upfront. People liked that. It added a sense of fun and interactivity.” She also suggests passing appetizers early when people arrive but to not make them too heavy.

Reggie emphasizes creativity.” Of course, food can range from a Texas barbecue to an array of delicacies provided by a cadre of local well-known chefs served buffet style to a multi-course plated dinner.”

“If the tickets are over $100, don’t expect everyone to be thrilled with a warm salad, cold soup, rubber chicken with green beans and potatoes, and a piece of carrot cake already on the table,” Reggie adds.

Levy, who you’ll remember raised almost $1 million at his last gala, cautions, “Keep it simple!” He notes that the food needs to be served quickly, while still hot, to hundreds of people. “Don’t get too fancy.”

Remember, Levy says, “They are not there for the food, but they should enjoy it.”

The JDRF gala includes a unique touch: “the listing of carb counts because carbohydrates are so important in the management of T1D.”

Be sure the food, beverages or venue don’t conflict with your mission. Look for opportunities to tie your food to your theme.

Sponsorships

Finding sponsors is an important step. The more costs that can be funded by sponsors, the fewer costs to be funded by your donors—you want their money to go straight to impact.

Your board should be a great source of contacts for sponsorships, according to Javits.

Reggie breaks his sponsorship planning into four categories. Look for sponsors in all these places:

  1. Past sponsors: if you haven’t had a gala before, look at those who sponsored similar events.
  2. Affinity sponsors: look for companies that have aligned with your mission.
  3. Activation sponsors: there may be organizations willing to pay, in addition to an upfront fee, an additional fee after the event for leads or conversions generated from the event.
  4. Prize/auction sponsors: many charities look to have all their auction items and raffle items donated. You can then recognize those who do donate those items appropriately when their item is auctioned or raffled.

He also suggests functional sponsorships, i.e., “title, presenting, decorations, tables, meal, bar service, food, printing and parking.”

Anyone willing to make the pitch can, but it is best to be prepared with “a structured presentation” that makes the benefits to the sponsor clear, Reggie says. Adding, that it is best if the pitch is made by those who are “adept at sales and negotiations.”

Ubuntu’s Levy warns, “It often takes years to build the right relationships and the necessary network. It’s about constantly searching for new relationships, maintaining relationships with your supporters and promoting your brand.”

Brett Durbin, who has successfully leveraged a modest budget approach to gala success, boasts great success with sponsors. “We have always had one or two underwriters that cover the entire cost of the event, which is a very big deal because then anything else that is raised goes to the work of our organization.”

Sponsorships vary dramatically in size, from a company donating a gift basket for a drawing up to organizations that can write six-figure checks to sponsor an event with 1,000 of New York’s power elite. Start where you are and work up from there.

Speakers and Entertainment

Putting on a program that is as fun and memorable as it is inspirational is a key to getting the right people at the event and for getting them to open their wallets once there.

JDRF’s Rapp says, “Our Galas are a great party for an extremely worthy cause. From the start of the evening, we consider the guest experience for all donors. We respect their time, have auctions filled with items that appeal to their tastes, provide a well-timed program and post-event entertainment.”

Speakers should have a connection to your cause, both Rapp and Javits note. In fact, your program beneficiaries make great speakers. You’ll want to choose those who are willing to accept coaching.

Celebrities make great emcees, Javits notes. She suggests getting speakers and entertainment donated.

Dan Clark, keynote speaker CREDIT: COURTESY OF DAN CLARK

“Keynote speakers should be knowledgeable about the organization, its mission and its contribution to the community,” Reggie says.

He also cautions that if humor is considered, it should be delivered only by a “seasoned humorist” who will be sensitive to the audience. “There is nothing worse than having a board member or supporter who thinks he or she is a comedian and wants to give it a try at the event. I cannot count the times I have seen this blowup and ruin an otherwise wonderful evening.”

Levy says the key to a good speaker or entertainer is engagement. “Can they get the audience involved? That is the absolute number one. Galas can be stiff and formal. The crowd needs to be drawn in and pumped up. Stage presence and connection are key.” Of course, the message must still be aligned with the organization’s mission.

Durbin eschews professional speakers and entertainers, instead flying in people from the communities Trash Mountain serves in the developing world to talk about how the organization has impacted their lives.

He also says, “We try to make it engaging, and not too long because the fun is lost if it goes on forever.”

Ticket Sales

Javits explains the strategy for not only filling the room but filling it with the right people. It starts by “carefully targeting invitees.” Use your board and other supporters to help you identify and invite people who are capable of and likely to give. Then tie the gala theme, venue and program to the interests of the participants you most want there.

Reggie agrees. Everything from the food and drink to the décor and the venue must contribute to the branding of the event.

He suggests asking the following questions to help identify the right people:

  • What motivates them?
  • What other events do they support?
  • How does that align with this event?

“Big hitters in any community are well known; zero in and learn what makes them tick. Invite those who socialize together or who have strong professional ties,” Reggie says.

Levy notes that while some organizations can pull off events with an A list entertainer, most cannot.

“In our case and in the case of most organizations, it takes years to build a network capable of filling the room,” Levy says. “A gala is not only thrown in a night. It is built over years; you must engage supporters, prove your impact and convince them that their investment in your gala will provide returns for the beneficiaries—and that you consistently throw a great party.”

Durbin says that Trash Mountain Project starts by inviting people who are already supporting the organization, knowing that many will invite friends and fill tables. He also promotes the event through local churches.

Rapp says it is the responsibility of the JDRF volunteers to fill the room. “Whether they are corporate or social table focused, the volunteers spend time partnering with our staff in the recruitment of sponsors and tables to fill our ballrooms. Once the tables are secured, the conversation shifts to determine who exactly should be filling the seats at these tables.”

Many organizations use table captains to fill the tables. Javits says, it is their job to invite and encourage the right people. Their role also includes making sure the evening is enjoyable for those who attend, to diplomatically educate guests about the organization and encourage giving.

She says, “A good Captain is eager and excited about the job at hand, takes in coaching well, and is not overly apprehensive about playing the role.”

“Table Captains are the ambassadors for the gala. They are the movers and shakers within the community and within their social and business circles,” Reggie says. “Their responsibility should not be limited to filling their table but to promoting ticket sales at every reasonable opportunity.”

“Table hosts play a very important role at our galas,” Rapp says of the JDRF events. “These people are champions of the cause and of the event itself, passing along information to their guests and setting up an expectation for the night. They lead by example with their giving and bring along guests who can make a similar impact.”

Pricing tickets right is also important. As discussed earlier, you want the event costs fully covered by ticket sales and sponsorships, so all the money raised at the event goes directly into funding the mission of the organization.

Reggie says tickets should be priced appropriately for the audience but never below $100. Still, Durbin has had success with his events and charges just $30 per ticket—after having all the costs underwritten.

Rapp notes that JDRF chapters typically look at the prices charged for similar events in their community to provide a reference point.

Javits points out that pricing should consider the sponsors and others who would like to buy a whole table.

However you choose to price your event, be sure to build and stick to your budget so costs don’t exceed your revenues.

Drawing or Raffle:

The drawing or raffle may be one of the most exciting parts of the evening if done well but can ruin the entire event if rules are not followed and someone is upset, or authorities catch wind.

A few states, including Alabama, Hawaii and Utah ban raffles in any form. It may still be legal to hold an incidental opportunity drawing but be careful. There are three elements to gaming: a prize, a chance and price. By eliminating one of the three, you may avoid gaming. For a charity drawing, it may be easiest to eliminate the price for some participants. Just provide easy to follow instructions for acquiring a free ticket—send in a postcard asking for one. Few if any would ask for a free ticket to a fundraising drawing. (Don’t rely on this guidance as legal advice.)

Still, in these states that ban gaming, it is best not to rely on a raffle or drawing for a significant portion of your fundraising.

In states where charitable gaming is allowed or even encouraged, you’ll likely need to start with obtaining a license. Put that high on the list of things to do early as it may take months to obtain. In that process, you’ll learn the rules about promoting the raffle and the disclosures required. In these states, the raffle could be the biggest fundraiser of the evening.

Reggie offers the following strategic advice:

The prize for the drawing should be significant – a car, a piece of custom-made jewelry, a luxury vacation, fine artwork – with a few substantial secondary prizes. Organizations would be well-advised to avoid items like fur coats or any exotic animal skins or pelts, big game hunts (especially in Africa), guns of any kind, and live pets. These items can draw unwanted attention and possible protests from advocacy groups. Always play it safe.

If tickets are made available to the public, regardless of attendance, begin selling them about eight weeks prior to the giveaway. Offer an “Early-Bird” prize for those purchasing tickets by a specific date. Experience has shown that raffle ticket sales are high at the beginning of the selling period and gradually taper off and pick up during the final two weeks with a surge in the final week.

Make it easy to buy tickets. If online ticket sales are allowed, have a link to a secure purchase on the organization website. You cannot mandate that ticket purchasers need to be present to win. There will always be a few members of the organization who will be willing and very capable of selling a good number of tickets to friends and associates.

Silent Auction

A silent auction, unlike the live auction with an auctioneer calling out prices and pointing at bidders who may bid silently, is traditionally managed with a clipboard and a pen. Items available in the auction are displayed or described and a nearby sheet allows bidders to write in their bids throughout the evening.

In the past ten years as smartphones have become ubiquitous, a number of apps and websites have popped up to bring the process into the modern age. This allows the bidding to continue more easily throughout the program. Guests can be reminded to bid without sending folks out of the room.

Some apps are expensive, however. Some tech-savvy guests don’t like to download new apps without vetting them first or may not be willing to use the app over privacy concerns. Less tech-savvy members may still be intimidated by technology—including some of your biggest donors. Consider all these factors when choosing how to run your silent auction.

As noted above, you’ll want to get your auction items donated. You can recognize the donors as sponsors, being careful to recognize the donor of a luxury vacation you can sell for $5,000 more than someone who donates a $100 gift basket.

Reggie cautions you not to let your silent auction become a garage sale for items that have been collecting dust on a retail shelf or in someone’s home. Auction items should match the demographics and lifestyles of the guests.

In addition to creatively displaying the items to be auctioned, be sure to have fully adequate written descriptions so guests know exactly what they are bidding on.

Durbin says his organization doesn’t raise a lot of money with the silent auction, but they use it to advance the mission and message by selling art and photography that represents their work, helping families escape lives based around picking garbage out of trash piles.

Rapp says the JDRF silent auctions are filled with “high-end, quality items. We truly focus on quality over quantity.” One key to success, he highlights, is a thorough evaluation of what sold and what did not, and which items had the most bidding. Unpopular items can be avoided in future years. “We want our guests to have the opportunity to bid and buy items that appeal to them.”

Live Auction

The success of a live auction depends on the auctioneer. “Hire a professional,” says Reggie. Levy agrees, noting that “if you can create an atmosphere with a good auctioneer, it works.”

The auctioneer will organize spotters in the audience to help identify bidders. You’ll want to alert the auctioneer in advance to the faces and names of some of those you hope may be writing big checks.

Reggie notes, too, that the live auction items should also be displayed, and guests should be encouraged to check them out before the auction begins.

Levy and Rapp both emphasize finding truly unique experiences for auction, things people can’t buy anywhere else. Optimally, you’ll tie this into your mission in some way.

Reggie also suggests encouraging you to get peers to compete in the auction; this begins by making sure that friendly rivals are both in attendance. “Many people enjoy showcasing their generosity around friends and business associates.”

“During live auctions, it is not unusual to have friends engaged in a heated bidding war against one another,” Reggie says.

Donations

After all the fun and games that are used to raise money, there is one final opportunity to raise money simply by asking for donations.

“On the night, the key is to make your pitch relatable,” says Ubuntu’s Levy. “People need to connect to your cause on a personal level. You need to create a story about your work that shows them that this relates to their life. For example, if you are helping children, it needs to be clear that children all over the world need the same things. This gets everyone thinking about what they would want for their children if they were in the same situation.”

Javits from REDF says it is important to profile your beneficiaries. Have them prepared to share their stories both one-on-one at tables and when mingling and then from the stage as well.

Durbin agrees. “Story is number one. Using story to share your vision is key.”

Treat the beneficiaries as guests of honor, Reggie says. They represent your mission.

Javits also notes that donors love to know where their money will go. If you can give them a clear message that a $1,000 contribution will be used to accomplish a specific sort of thing, that’s great. Even better if you can give a donor the opportunity to choose one person, one school, one village, one solar panel, one whatever that his or her money can fund. Charity: Water is great at giving donors reports on the individual wells they funded.

Reggie notes that “Everyone needs to feel like their participation is serving the community in a spectacular way. Attendees need to feel that they are the stars in a great movie – your movie.”

Rapp reminds readers that the speeches, videos and other media need to keep reinforcing the mission of the organization so it is never lost.

Another way to use large donations, Javits says, is to leverage them as matches. Announce that the next $5,000 in donations will be matched by this particularly generous donor.

Follow Up

After planning for your big event for a year or more, it is tempting to think of the day after the event as the first day of vacation, but our experts caution that following up after the gala is a critical part of the event.

Start “as soon as possible,” Levy says. “If you’ve thrown a successful event, your guests will be engaged and excited to speak with you. Call and email the next morning.”

After the gala, Rapp says the JDRF ensures that all guests are acknowledged for their support. “We also ensure that they are aware of updates in T1D research and future gala dates using email and social media correspondence.”

Trash Mountain’s Durbin concurs, noting that everyone who buys a ticket or attends their galas provides some contact information; his team follows up with everyone.

Reggie suggests sending letters to everyone who attended, expressing appreciation, reporting on the total raised and crediting them with the evening’s success. He also suggests using this opportunity to get next year’s gala on their calendar.

The follow through really needs to continue throughout the year, updating guests on the use of funds, progress made and plans for the next event.

Reggie also suggests sharing photos of the evening on your website and social media. Tagging guests in their photos can help them feel appreciated in the days following the event. The faster such photos are posted, the better.

Final Thoughts

The senior leaders of the organization need to have a full roster of all those who contributed to planning the gala and the roles played. Some of them will be working entirely out of sight of those senior leaders; they too will want to be recognized.

Make time during the gala to thank the volunteers and staff who organized the gala. You may even want to consider a relaxed social—a pizza and root beer sort of affair—following the gala to recognize the volunteers and their families who supported them.

Durbin, whose budget galas raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for his small organization, offers a word of caution. “Galas are either great for your organization or can be a major drain to your team and volunteers, you must find a balance that is beneficial to the work you do.”

Still, JDRF’s Rapp offers this assurance, “I’ve been to many Galas, and when the night is well thought through and details considered, and nothing left to chance, magical things can happen.”


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How The 2016 Election Changed This Humanitarian Organization

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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“The humanitarian flag that we had been waving was a privilege that we could no longer afford,” Sera Bonds, 44, says as her board and staff at Circle of Health International decided to increase their activism for women’s rights following the 2016 election.

Activism is in her blood. As a teenager in 1992, with her parents, she attended a National Organization for Women march in Washington, DC. “There was one issue in our family that was abortion and both my parents were very pro-choice,” she explains.

But when she launched the nonprofit, one of her early lessons was that she would have to choose between leading a humanitarian organization or human rights organization.

After finishing her master’s degree in public health, Bonds decided to pass up an opportunity to go work in Afghanistan for a large NGO and instead move with her boyfriend—now husband—into her mother’s Airstream trailer to live cheaply and launch her own organization instead.

After defining mission and purpose, her board encouraged her to tackle two initiatives at once—one easy and one hard. The easy one they chose was midwifery in Tibet. After hearing that, I couldn’t wait to hear what the hard one was. Be sure to watch the full interview with Bonds in the video player at the top of the article.

Sera Bonds, Circle of Health International CREDIT: CIRCLE OF HEALTH INTERNATIONAL

The more difficult project, which ultimately turned out to be much easier, was working on the West Bank to help Palestinian women cut off by the construction of border walls identify and develop alternative access to healthcare, especially for delivering and caring for babies.

Both projects were successful and resulted in funding to do more work.

While in Tibet, the local leader of the NGO with whom she had partnered, sat her down and explained that she had a choice to make. She couldn’t be, he said, both a human rights organization and a humanitarian one. In places like Tibet, human rights organizations would not be welcome.

She decided then to build a humanitarian organization.

Circle of Health International, often abbreviated COHI, provides disaster relief, supplies, professional training and sustainable livelihoods for women in crisis situations. The crises may include conflicts, natural disasters, extreme poverty or the challenges of migration facing refugees.

Since its founding in 2004, the organization boasts of having helped three million women domestically and internationally. They have worked in Sri Lanka, Louisiana, Tibet, Tanzania, Israel, the Philippines, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Oklahoma, Nicaragua, Sudan, Haiti and Afghanistan.

Eric Talbert, the western regional director for MedShare, has worked with COHI to provide medical supplies to communities in need so they can access health care. Recently, the partnership has included a response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico; they continue working there to strengthen the health systems for women and children, having sent enough supplies to care for 12,000 people.

“Based on Sera’s vision, leadership, and integrity COHI provides maternal and child health in partnership with the communities they serve, from Sierra Leone to Southern Texas, which is based in healthcare as a human right so that women and children have access to the care they deserve, the kind of care that is grounded in dignity and respect, the kind of care we want our family and friends to receive,” he says.

After the 2016 election, which she views as a threat to women’s rights and to the LGBTQI community, Bonds and her team felt they couldn’t be “shy” anymore. Still, she admits, they are subtle. “Some people don’t even realize it’s happening or that we’re doing it.”

Today, Circle of Health International is working on the U.S.-Mexico border to send clinical volunteers to help with family reunification and asylee support.

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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!

This Pioneer In Social Enterprise Still Leading Innovation After 3 Decades

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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

Echoing Green has been investing in social entrepreneurs and innovation for nearly three decades. One lesson stands out, says President Cheryl Dorsey: “The leader is the secret sauce of any great social enterprise.”

Throughout its history, Echoing Green has been granting fellowships to innovators who had little more than an idea to change the world. Its accumulated data suggests it’s working.

The nonprofit organization approaches its grantmaking with the mentality of a venture fund, seeking to invest in leaders who will have a big impact. Since 1987, the organization has backed 798 “fellows” who have done work in 85 countries and 39 US states. Those fellows and their organizations have gone on to raise over $5 billion.

Echoing Green reports that 70 percent of the organizations launched by their fellows between 1990 and 2015 are still in operation today. Additionally, 80 percent of the fellows still work in the social sector—and many of the rest work in academia, government and health care.

Among Echoing Green’s alumni are the founders of successful organizations like Teach For America, City Year, One Acre Fund, SKS Microfinance and Public Allies.

Dorsey is an extraordinary example herself. She won an Echoing Green fellowship in 1992—a decade before joining the organization’s staff. A Harvard-trained medical doctor, she applied for the grant to help launch The Family Van, to serve Boston area residents in the African American community, who at the time had the third highest infant mortality rate in the country.

Today, Dorsey’s co-founder, Nancy Oriol continues the work, now having made about 108,000 visits, preventing illness for an estimated 5,648 people.

Dorsey explains what it meant for her to receive the fellowship. First, she points to the “cachet and the imprimatur of receiving the accolade” as “a signal to the world that you were an up and coming leader worth paying attention to.”

She is also grateful for the guidance she received that helped her “fail fast in many ways” while mentors were “providing pearls of wisdom that they had learned before.”

Cheryl Dorsey, Echoing Green CREDIT: ECHOING GREEN

“The entrepreneurial journey is a tremendously lonely and hard one,” she says, highlighting a third aspect of winning the fellowship that proved to be valuable to her. “Feeling a little less alone made a world of difference.”

Others have had existential experiences with their Echoing Green fellowships.

Kathleen Kelly Janus, a lecturer on social entrepreneurship for Stanford and author of Social Startup Success, says, “I interviewed dozens of successful social entrepreneurs for my book, who told me that they literally would not have been able to start their organizations were it not for the early support of Echoing Green.”

Sonal Shah, professor of practice, executive director, Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University, sees the influence of Echoing Green in its willingness to consider candidates early on.

“Echoing Green invests in people and their ideas before they are sexy or popular or trendy,” Shah says. “They are many times the only organization that invests in ideas before they are completely formed. They help fellows improve their ideas and refine them. They create a community of support, which is so critical when starting as a social entrepreneur — fellows around the world are taking on issues in their communities that sometimes no one is doing.”

Shah, remarkably applied for a fellowship not once but twice without winning and still became an active supporter, serving as a judge and mentor. She has even hired some Echoing Green fellows at the Beeck Center. Of her application experience, she says, “The lessons we learned from the application gave us great insight. It taught us to be clear about our message. It taught us to write proposals. It taught us for our own application process. We were always grateful for our Echoing Green experience.”

Shah’s experience highlights the competitive nature of the fellowships.

Dorsey took a few minutes during our visit (you can watch the entire 23-minute interview in the video player at the top of the article) to describe what Echoing Green looks for. It goes beyond, “We know it when we see it.”

First, is passion. “You know, if you can look across a table and ask this person why do you do what you do and the answer literally jumps off the page or across the table from you and it’s almost palpable–you can feel the heat in the room as the person is talking about why they cannot not do the work.”

Second, is the potential for transformative change. She notes, “There are lots of different leadership approaches we’re looking for a particular type of social change leader–transformational leader–someone who is disrupting for good, who has a fundamentally new way of thinking about a problem.”

Third, intriguingly, is “stickiness.” She explains, “We have a term that we call ‘resource magnetism’ that is different than charisma or how we typically think about charisma but it’s the ability of the leader to mobilize others, other people, other resources, cash, volunteers, media attention, maybe other evangelists for your cause.”

Another lesson: “After 30 years of supporting leaders around the globe, it’s clear that those closest to the problem are often closest to the solution.”

Dorsey says, “we are fiercely proud of being a fellowship program, meaning that we will always back the leader.” Echoing Green is now gathering applications for 2019 fellows.

After three decades, Echoing Green’s relentless focus on finding the three key ingredients for the secret sauce–passion, transformational leadership and resource magnetism–drives its continued relevance in social innovation.

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Accelerating Progress Toward Global Solutions Requires Collaboration, Says Nonprofit Founder


Rick Ulfik, the founder and board chair of We, The World, says the impact of organizations acting independently is limited. He argues for active collaboration among the world’s leading NGOs so they can have greater impact.

He says organizations working alone have “horizontal impact” but when they work together they have “vertical impact.” He observes too much of the former and not enough of the latter.

Coming up in September, We, the World is leading an event it calls 11 Days of Global Unity, part of an ongoing series, focused on bringing organizations together to tackle the world’s big problems collaboratively and strategically.

Interview with Rick Ulfik, the Founder and Board Chairman of We, The World.

The following is the pre-interview with Rick Ulfik. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

We, The World has identified a major gap in global organizing efforts that are attempting to address  the core issues facing humanity: Poverty, Rising Inequality, Militarism, Intolerance, Environmental Pollution, and Climate Disruption.

While there are thousands of groups and millions of people committed to creating a better world, most of them generally don’t work together on a regular organized basis.

We call this Horizontal Impact – meaning that their impact is spread thin. The environmental people are working over here, the human rights people are over there, the economic justice people are in another place, and the peace and spiritual people are often reaching to the choir!

Their impact is reduced and up till now it hasn’t been sufficient to address systemic obstacles, and end the preventable crises that cause millions of people and other forms of life to die prematurely each year.

We believe that humanity will continue to only see incremental progress (at best) until a majority of these groups begin to intentionally work together with what we call Vertical Impact: synchronizing calls to action on a large scale, issuing joint Press Releases, collectively supporting solutions that benefit all members of society, not just those with the most wealth and power.

We, The World has already started to make this happen through our WE Strategy!

We, The World is creating the WE Change Agent Network (WE CAN) that has begun to do two things that are crucial for a sustainable future:

#1) Build the mass public support and political will needed to implement social, political, economic and environmental solutions (like making the transition to Renewable Non-Polluting Energy Systems as the primary energy source in the USA and around the world) benefiting all of society and the whole web of life on Earth.
#2) Consciously make a shift in our culture to value and prioritize the idea of “WE” and the Common Good, so that the basic health and well-being of all comes first – for people and the planet.

It’s All About WE: WE is a Consciousness, a Collaboration and a Campaign.

11 Days of Global Unity:  11DaysOfGlobalUnity.org

More about We, The World:

Twitter: @TheWeCampaign

Facebook: facebook.com/TheWeCampaign

Website: WE.net

We, The World (at WE.net) is a global coalition-building non-profit organization founded by Rick Ulfik. Our mission is to maximize social change globally – until we have a world that works for all. We, The World annually connects and promotes thousands of socially conscious organizations and businesses, representing millions of people, to amplify their efforts and generate public awareness and action.

In 2004 We, The World brought together global partners to launch 11 Days of Global Unity September 11 -21 linking local awareness and action campaigns into an inspiring international movement for the promotion of peace, justice, sustainability and transformation. Annually 11 Days includes as many as 700 associated events in over 60 countries around the world. It culminates on September 21st, the U.N. International Day of Peace.

Participants in 11 Days of Global Unity have included: Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jane Goodall, Deepak Chopra, Daniel Ellsberg, Amy Goodman, Bill McKibben, Eve Ensler, Ralph Nader, Arun Gandhi, Marianne Williamson, Patch Adams, Neale Donald Walsch, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Robert Thurman, Hazel Henderson, and many other visionary leaders from around the world.

For-profit/Nonprofit: 501(c)3 Nonprofit

Revenue model: We, The World generates revenue mostly through individual contributions. We also have a “Project Incubator” through which changemakers with inspiring and important programs aligned with our Mission can receive funding as part of We, The World. We, The World has received many foundation grants over the years as well.

Scale: We, The World has touched the lives of more than 6 million people through our Programs, Events, Websites, TV Shows, Newsletters, Video Festivals, Partner Collaborations, Tele-Summits, Broadcasts and Webcasts. We are reaching more than 850,000 people each year and our network of more than 40,000 leaders and members of socially conscious organizations and businesses represents millions of constituents. Our most recent Non-Profit Tax Filing shows our total revenue to be about $170,000.

Rick Ulfik
Photo Credit: Andrew Kaen

Rick Ulfik’s bio:

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/rick-ulfik-1755aa2a

Rick Ulfik is the Founder and Board Chair of We, The World, Founder and a Principal Coordinator of the WE Campaign, and Co-Founder and Principal Organizer of 11 Days of Global Unity September 11-21, a worldwide platform for the promotion of peace, justice, sustainability and transformation that annually includes as many as 700 associated events in over 60 countries around the world. Rick also co-produces Visual Voices a TV Series Sponsored by We, The World which was featured on the Dish Network and available in 15 million homes.

Rick has been a Nonviolent Communication (NVC) workshop facilitator and leader working with the New York Center for Nonviolent Communication, and has participated in many workshops led by internationally acclaimed mediator and creator of NVC Marshall Rosenberg who joined the Advisory Board of We, The World.

Rick Ulfik is also an award-winning composer, musician (keyboards), songwriter and sound design specialist who, over the last 30 years, has written, produced, arranged and performed music for ABC TV, NBC, CBS, the Olympics, feature films, commercials, and records. Rick has performed with major recording artists including Queen Latifah, Phoebe Snow, Carlos Santana, Judy Collins, and Bernadette Peters.

Rick serves each year as a judge for the Emmy Awards in the areas of News, Documentaries, and Music.


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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!

They Say To ‘Follow Your Passion’ But How Exactly Do You Do That?

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

The advice to “follow your passion” is so common as to be considered by thoughtful writers of original prose to be a cliché. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it is bad advice, but it does leave audiences wanting more. Experienced, successful social entrepreneurs model the procedure.

For purposes of this article, I will presume that your passion is something that matters, that someone’s life other than your own is dependent upon your success. If your passion is rounded corners on rectangles, I wish you well but have nothing for you. If your passion is ending the impoverishing bias against pygmy populations in the Congo or fighting echinococcosis or other neglected tropical diseases or implementing age-old agricultural techniques that increase yields while sequestering carbon, please stick around.

Here is my guide for following your passion.

CHOICE co-founder and octogenarian James Mayfield joined the expedition, sleeping on the floor and helping with stoves. CREDIT: CHOICE HUMANITARIAN

Step 1. Find your passion. Regardless of your age, you know you’ve found your passion when making a physical sacrifice—sleeping on the floor, walking long distance, traveling constantly, or going without good food for days at a time—seems a small price to pay for the opportunity to make a difference. James Mayfield, founder of CHOICE Humanitarian, is in his 80s and still finds himself working in remote villages in Nepal, sleeping on the floor, in his quest to end extreme poverty in that country. He found his passion. Find a big problem you’re willing to make physical sacrifices to solve.

Step 2. Develop and deploy a relevant skill. The greater and more relevant your skills to addressing the problem you’ve chosen, the more likely you are to solve the problem. Yes, Médecins Sans Frontières does need lawyers, travel agents, logicians and a variety of other trained and skilled people, but if you really want to play in this arena, you’ll want to develop mad medical skills as a doctor, physician’s assistant or nurse.

Step 3. Spot your spot. At some point in your career—early or late—you’re likely to see a problem, probably a subset of the problem you’ve been working to solve, that is being entirely neglected. For example, Owen Robinson, founder of Haiti Cardiac Alliance, was working for the large international NGO Partners in Health when he noted that no one was tracking the children who needed cardiac care in Haiti. He launched his organization to do just that and has since saved hundreds of children by not only matching them to capable caregivers but also by assiduously tracking their progress over time. His organization is effective—radically so by my analysis—because he knew what he was doing when he spotted his spot and went to work.

Rotary volunteer, George Solomon with Owen Robinson, founder of Haiti Cardiac Alliance. Photo by Devin Thorpe. CREDIT: DEVIN THORPE

Step 4. Scale your good. There are nearly a billion people who are living in extreme poverty, seldom having enough food to eat, often lacking access to clean water and certainly having no sanitary place to defecate. As noble as it is to help the one, you cannot allow yourself to be satisfied by small things. The scale of problems is so vast, you must constantly be thinking about how to increase your impact not 10% but tenfold. The magnitude of the problems the world faces, including climate change, demands a relentless focus on growth. When Ann Cotton helped the first 32 girls in Zimbabwe attend school, she likely didn’t imagine that one day the organization she founded, CAMFED, would have educated 10,000 times that number—but it is quickly approaching that milestone. Having grown its impact by four orders of magnitude, she and the organization must continue to think about growing by yet another order of magnitude to reach millions of girls.

It is easy to conclude that only remarkable people can have great impact. That notion turns reality entirely on its head. The people who have made the greatest change for good in the world are remarkable precisely because of what they did. No one knew Mother Teresa was remarkable when she took her vow of poverty and began her ministry in Calcutta in 1932. The fact is, she wasn’t so remarkable then. She is admired for her work because of what she accomplished not for who she was.

One of the people I have come to admire most, is Susanna Rea Oam, an ordinary woman from Australia. She is a polio survivor, but unlike many others who were paralyzed by the crippling disease, she suffers little apparent harm from the childhood disease. After her first husband passed away, she organized a campaign within Rotary (I, too, am a member) to raise money for the international service organization’s global campaign to eradicate polio. Over the years since, she has helped raise over $3 million by flying around the world to Rotary Clubs and personally asking club members to donate to her “World’s Greatest Meal to End Polio” campaign. With a match from the Gates Foundation, the $3 million has become $9 million, enough to vaccinate 15 million children. This is how ordinary becomes extraordinary.

You can follow your passion. You can do more than round the corners on rectangles. You can change the world.

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This Pair Is Working To Integrate Refugees Into Parisian Employment And Community


Jean Guo, CEO, and Binta Jammeh, COO, of Konexio are working to provide digital skills training to improve the educational and career potential to some of the 200,000 refugees living in Paris. Just as important, they are strategically helping them to connect to the broader Paris community to help them fully integrate into their new community.

Launched less than two years ago, Konexio is already showing results, with most of the participants reporting that they use the skills they learned. Almost three quarters report getting jobs!

Interview with Jean Guo, the CEO, co-founder of Konexio.

The following is the pre-interview with Jean Guo. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

The problem that Konexio seeks to solve is the pressing issue of integration and employment for vulnerable populations, notably refugees and migrants. This problem revolves around three key facts:

There are currently 65 million displaced persons globally.

In France, where Konexio operates, there are over 200,000 refugees and asylum seekers, and the unemployment rate within this group is over 50%.

On average it takes 20 years for refugees to reach the same employment level as nationals.

However, according to the European Commission, 1€ invested in integration efforts can yield 2€ in economic benefits. Furthermore, it is is estimated that there will be 1 million vacancies in jobs requiring digital skills in Europe by 2020, while a staggering 90 % of jobs across Europe already require candidates to have at least a basic level of digital literacy.

Our solution is to provide digital and soft skills training to our students, thus providing refugees with opportunities for professional, social and educational development and a pathway to inclusion and integration in their host community.

We currently operate two programs out of our headquarters in Paris. Developed in line with digital skills standards recognized at both the European and international level, our digital skills program consists of a sequence of cumulative courses covering basic computer use and internet navigation to word processing (Microsoft Word) and spreadsheet proficiency (Microsoft Excel).

Our code skills program starts with basic concepts of web development. Digitous is the following course and a 2-step program. The first part involves a full stack curriculum, while the second focuses on hands-on learning by working on tech projects for businesses to give Konexio students access to their first professional experience in France.

In addition to digital and code skills training, we organize workshops focused on soft skills. Soft skills training, which requires an intimate knowledge of social and cultural codes, are particularly important for our refugee students looking to integrate in France. These interpersonal skills, such as effective communication, teamwork and working in collaborative environments, self-confidence, time management, self-expression and making public presentations, are as important and necessary as digital skills training — both are needed for a streamlined integration not only into the job market, but into the social fabrics of their new host communities.

Donate:  helloasso.com/associations/konexio/formulaires/1/en

More about Konexio:

Twitter: @konexio_eu

Facebook: facebook.com/konexio.eu/

Linkedin: linkedin.com/company/konexio/

Website: konexio.eu

Konexio provides digital skills training and work placement for the most vulnerable, including refugee and migrant populations. With the opportunities presented by growing and unmet labor market demands in Europe for digitally-proficient/skilled individuals, our model focuses on training students in both hard and soft skills; we use innovative, tech-driven tools to deliver our computer skills training modules while tapping into our entrenched network of local and international partnerships to provide our students with access to professional and personal development workshops.

For-profit/Nonprofit: 501(c)3 Nonprofit

Revenue model: We have a mixed portfolio containing several different revenue streams. We receive funding on one end from philanthropic supporters and foundations, as well as government grants, donations from corporate partners. We are moving to increase self-financing options, which include revenue streams from projects carried out by our students in collaboration with tech companies that we source (part of which would go to the students and part of which would be re-invested back into their education), hiring fees paid by employers to recruit long-term from our pool of students and a freemium model of payment for the program.

Scale: Since our creation in November 2016, Konexio has welcomed more than 120 students through 16 promotions, received support from more than 100 volunteers who have donated more than 2000 hours of engagement, and developed more than 30 local and international partnerships in tech, government and the nonprofit sector. In terms of the target outcomes achieved by our students, of the Konexio alumni surveyed, 70% have gone on to find work, launch their own entrepreneurial projects, or continue their education, 94% continue to use the digital skills learned in our courses in both their professional and personal lives, and 94% reported feeling more socially included and connected to their local communities. In 2018, we won the Quick Pitch Prize at the Global Social Venture Competition, and are current finalists in two social innovation tournaments organized by the European Investment Bank and the European Commission.

Jean Guo

Jean Guo’s bio:

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/jean-guo-73a75514/

Jean Guo is the CEO and co-founder of Konexio. She co founded Konexio based on her research as a Fulbright fellow investigating migrant policy at the Paris School of Economics, graduated from Stanford with dual degrees in economics and human biology, and worked as a strategy consultant before moving to Paris.  

For both her and Binta, as children of immigrant families, they saw firsthand the challenges their families faced in navigating the social, cultural, educational, and professional challenges of settling in a new country.

Binta Jammeh
Photo Credit: Maria del Mar Rodriguez

Binta Jammeh’s bio:

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/binta-jammeh-60b488161/

Binta Jammeh is the COO and co-founder, Konexio. She’s a passionate advocate for global education and intercultural communication, with several years experience in education with vulnerable populations. She has worked with refugee communities in the United States, in early language education in Thailand, and more recently at a high-school in an at-risk community in the suburbs of Paris. Her dedication to helping migrants navigate the cultural and socioeconomic complexities of adapting to life in their new host countries lead her to co-founding Konexio.


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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!

Business Is Booming For This Social Entrepreneur and ‘That’s A Bad Thing’


John Hanrahan, co-founder and medical director of the People’s Health Clinic in Park City, Utah will provide 9,000 patient visits this year to uninsured members of the community. Business is absolutely booming and John says, “that’s a bad thing.”

Don’t misunderstand, he’s thrilled to do the work and proud of the service the organization offers as the primary health care provide for thousands of residents in this small, affluent resort town. His concern stems from the fact that but for this small, nonprofit organization, many of these people would go untreated–some would certainly die.

Hanrahan is also the incoming District Governor for Rotary for the district encompassing the entire state of Utah, including 46 clubs and about 1750 Rotarians. I’m not finished. He’s also the founder of the Hope Alliance, a humanitarian organization serving communities in the developing world.

Interview with John Hanrahan, the Medical Director, Co-Founder of The People’s Health Clinic.

The following is the pre-interview with John Hanrahan. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

Many people living of our 2 counties do not have any health insurance.  Because of their lack of insurance and access to health care, they do not receive preventive care or appropriate care for chronic conditions.  We provide this care. We keep them out of the hospital and the Emergency Room. We help them lead healthier and more productive lives. We are a medical home for this group.  

More about The People’s Health Clinic:

Twitter: @peopleshealthpc

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/peopleshealthclinic

Website: peopleshealthclinic.org

The People’s Health Clinic was founded in December 1999 to provide high quality health care for residents of Summit and Wasatch Counties who do not have health insurance.  We provide primary care for infants to seniors through staff and volunteer providers as well as some specialty care depending on our volunteer providers, as well as a prenatal clinic.

For-profit/Nonprofit: 501(c)3 Nonprofit

Revenue model: All patients are asked to make a donation of 25$ at each visit.  More than 85% of our patients are able to do this. People’s Health Clinic is additionally funded by private donors, philanthropic foundations, businesses and trade associations, and municipal governments.  Several fundraising events occur annually as well.

Scale: We are on track to have 9,000 patient visits this year.  This includes primary care, specialty care, referrals, lab visits, and educational visits.  We have one staff MD (myself) a staff Physician Assistant, and 10 additional staff. We have dozens of volunteer providers from various medical fields, as well as dozens of volunteer nurses, translators, patient assistants, etc.  We precept for 3rd year Family Medicine Residents from the University of Utah, medical students, Family Nurse Practitioner students, and physician assistant students. Some of our volunteer providers include infectious disease, Ob/GYN, pediatrics, pharmacy, chiropractor, orthopedics, nutrition, mental health,  neurosurgery, emergency medicine, and others.

John Hanrahan

John Hanrahan’s bio:

Twitter: @JohnHan73581043

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-hanrahan-md-1683b184/

John Hanrahan, MD is the happy father of 2 teens and happy husband of Maura for 30 years.  He is the Medical Director of the People’s Health Clinic, a non-profit providing care to local residents who lack health insurance.  John attended Haverford College, The University of Maryland School of Medicine, and East Carolina University Family Medicine Residency where he served as Chief Resident.  During Residency training, John was selected as the young family physician of the year for the state of North Carolina. He and Maura moved to Park City, UT in 1992 where he joined a private practice.  

John left medicine in 2000 to co-found and run The Hope Alliance, a small international humanitarian organization.  John has led dozens of volunteer groups on medical, public health, and other expeditions in many countries. He also helped found The People’s Health Clinic in 1999.  After years as executive director of The Hope Alliance, John was elected to the Summit County Council and served for 4 years. He reentered medicine in 2011 at his current clinic.  John has volunteered on multiple local Boards. John loves to ski, bike, hike and boat-Park City is perfect!

John joined the Rotary Club of Park City in 2000 and served on the Board for 8 years.  He led the first joint club and Interact expedition internationally to Mexico. John is the District Governor Elect for District 5420, Utah.

He is a member of the Rotary Cadre of Technical Advisors traveling to evaluate projects in Ethiopia and Jamaica. He has been awarded the Rotary Certificate of Meritorious Service, and the Service Above Self Award. John and Maura are major donors, Paul Harris Society members and Bequest Society members.


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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!

Elite US Doctors Share Expertise With Developing World To Improve Global Health

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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

Bhavya Rehani, 37, and her husband, Ankur Bharija, also 37, are physicians at the top of their professions but that isn’t what inspires them. Harvard-trained Rehani practices at University of California San Francisco while Bharija is on the faculty at Stanford to the south. She is also the CEO of a nonprofit they founded, Health4TheWorld.

The 100% volunteer-led organization is working to share health information with doctors and patients around the world to improve health outcomes. Everything they offer is entirely free to the doctors, other healthcare professionals and the patients.

The pair is off to a good start. By localizing the tools for a variety of circumstances, the organization has in its first year of operation begun reaching people in 22 countries, touching 3,500 lives.

Rehani, who serves as the organization’s CEO, says, “The problem is lack of sustainable solutions to address disparities in health care especially in under-resourced communities globally. Short-term solutions which consist of traveling to these communities to provide care are noble but not sustainable and not possible for all communities worldwide.”

“We solve this problem by empowering local health care professionals in these local communities with free education, so they become champions of long-term local change to help their patients.”

Both Rehani and Bharija were born in India and were inspired to start this work to address the healthcare deficits they saw there. “My grandparents were in a small village in India and did not have access to healthcare,” Rehani says. Seeing their struggles inspired her to find sustainable solutions that would provide “long-term relief.”

One of the key tools they have created is live virtual education. Leading US doctors provide training for doctors in remote places in the world. On a recent day a Stanford Doctor was training doctors in Cameroon. After a year of such training sessions—all of which have been recorded—the organization now has a great database of training sessions that are permanently available to doctors in the developing world.

Rehani says they will soon launch a new website to host all of this content, calling it Health4TheWorld Academy.

The initial focus of Health4TheWorld was stroke. Bharija explains that the condition impacts many people around the world and is the number two killer globally. The organization produced mobile apps for both iOS and Android phones to provide education for both patients and their caregivers to improve outcomes.

Ankur Bharija, Health4TheWorld CREDIT: HEALTH4THEWORLD

Dr. Lekhjung Thapa, MD, DM (Neurology), President, Nepal Stroke Association for National Institute of Neurological and Allied Sciences, in Kathmandu, Nepal is a local partner.

He says, Rehani reached out to him before she and a team visited Nepal to introduce the program. “We have been helping people in our country to raise awareness, educate and help them in stroke treatment decision and post-stroke care through the wonderful app that Dr. Rehani and her team has designed,” he says.

“Although we focus mainly on stroke, people actually learn to live a healthy lifestyle through the risk factors reduction lesson outlined in a lucid way in the H4tW app,” Thapa says.

Helping patients to avoid or recover from stroke can improve their overall health; the activities that facilitate recovery tend to enhance many aspects of health and happiness he notes.

While acknowledging the challenges of implementing new technology in Nepal, he says the program is working. “Although we have lots of challenges regarding the use of technology, we have found one of the most exciting tools that we dreamt of, to be used in stroke patients in our community. And it’s helping both health care providers and service receivers.”

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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!

With Help From Rotary, This Clinic Offers Leading Neurorehabilitation in Africa


Mo Sbai lost his brother to a tragic accident that left him struggling for years to regain full capacity. The loss inspired him to open a neurorehabilitation clinic in Marrakech. It has become one of the leading clinics of its type in all of Africa.

Mo lives and works in Salt Lake City but hails from Morocco. Working with his Salt Lake Rotary Club, he obtained multiple grants that include funds from the Rotary Foundation that have enabled him to launch this important piece of the healthcare system in his native country.

Interview with Mo Sbai, the Co-founder and CEO of The MAIR clinic.

The following is the pre-interview with Mo Sbai. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

We are creating first access to adequate neurorehabilitation in Morocco

More about The MAIR clinic:

Twitter: @MAIR_Marrakech

Website: www.mair-rehab.com

Located in Marrakech, Morocco (North Africa), MAIR is a private, not-for-profit clinic specializing in medical treatment and research in the field of neuro-rehabilitation. We provide services to children and adults with cerebral palsy and its complications, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and many other neurological conditions.

For-profit/Nonprofit: Not-For-Profit, self-sustaining in the long-term

Scale: We are not focused on making money, but we need to be self-sustaining in the long-term

Mo Sbai

Mo Sbai’s bio:

Mo is research professor in clinical neurosciences with the University of Utah Brain Institute and the School of Medicine. He he holds a Ph.D in neurosciences from the University of Paris and and MS in molecular neuro-receptology from the Ecole Normal Superieure and University of Paris. After completing a successful post-doctoral training in neuro-genetics and cloning a new gene at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, he was invited to join the New Jersey Medical School as a research faculty where he focused on cancer biology. In 2007, Mo’s brother, Moulay Ali, passed away as a consequence of a severe traumatic brain injury he suffered several years prior while driving in Morocco. This caused Mo to focus his teaching and research on neurological conditions (like TBI, SCI, Stroke, AD, PD, MS and others) as well as cutting-edge neuro-rehabilitation. In 2015, together with Imane Bentahar and many others, Mo co-founded the Moulay Ali Institute for Rehabilitation in Marrakech City, Morocco, the first of its kind. This facility is experiencing exponential growth and already having huge impact on so many lives.

Imane Bentahar

Imane Bentahar’s bio:

Imane is physical therapist by training but since getting involved in the MAIR project (early 2014), she developed skills in neurological rehabilitation. She is also the person who first collaborated in the opening of the MAIR clinic as a co-founder and a recipient of specialized neuro-rehabilitation training both in Morocco and the United States.


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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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