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 The mission of the "Your Mark on the World Center" is to solve the world's biggest problems before 2045 by identifying and championing the work of experts who have created credible plans and programs to end them once and for all.
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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Proven Business Leader Launches The Period Project To Serve Young Women

Lakisha Simmons holds a PhD in Management Information Systems, seeming to make her an unlikely candidate to tackle a distinctly non-business, non-technological social issues. But that didn’t stop her.

Simmons recognized that too many young women here in America struggle to afford feminine hygiene products. To address the issue, Simmons launched the Period Project, to ensure that every young woman has access to period products.

Interview with Lakisha L. Simmons, Ph.D., the Executive Director of The Achiever Academy; Founder Homework Suite App; Associate Professor of MIS at the Jack C. Massey College of Business at Belmont University of The Achiever Academy.

The following is the pre-interview with Lakisha L. Simmons, Ph.D.. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

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

We tackle issues that are obstacles for girls and young women when striving for success. We found that college women, especially minorities, had difficulties with climbing the corporate ladder and achieving personal and professional success. So we provide networking opportunities and soft skills workshops to bridge those gaps. We also know that period poverty is an issue that prevents economically disadvantaged girls from attending school and therefore host a number of product drives each year.

More about The Achiever Academy:

Twitter: @TheAchieverMe

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheAchiever.me/

Website: http://theachiever.me ; http://lakishasimmons.com

The Achiever Academy (501(c)3) (http://theachiever.me), is a mentoring and leadership academy to develop poised, persistent, and prosperous college-educated women. The Achiever Academy targets high school, collegiate, and professional women to participate in its events and workshops.

Our Vision is that young adult women are highly achieved, poised, persistent, and prosperous in their personal and professional lives.

Our mission is to support, mentor and teach girls and young adult women to be poised, persistent, and prosperous through sophisticated and inspiring fine dining, service, and networking experiences.  The Academy hosts fine dining, networking and service experiences (Period Projects) that include leadership events and soft skills workshops focused on three outcomes: career success, community impact, and a prosperous life.

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

Revenue model: The Achiever Academy is supported by generous sponsors and donors.

Scale: The Achiever Academy has served over 400 girls, college women, and professional women in 2018. We have three board members and a small group of volunteers that work to make our event-based model successful.

Dr. Lakisha L. Simmons

Lakisha L. Simmons, Ph.D.’s bio:

Twitter: @drkishasimmons

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/drkishasimmons/

Instagram: @drkishasimmons @theachiever.me

Dr. Lakisha L. Simmons (Dr. Kisha) is a Six Sigma Black Belt (Caterpillar, Inc), and associate professor of management information systems at Belmont University in Nashville, TN.  She is the founder of Homework Suite App and The Achiever Academy nonprofit. Her expertise in business intelligence and her research in data science and edtech have resulted in over 40 peer-reviewed scholarly works and countless awards. Dr. Kisha was awarded the 2018 Nashville Emerging Leader in Education by the Nashville Chamber of Commerce and 2018 Susan Short Jones Emerging Leaders Award by the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc Metro Nashville Chapter.

Dr. Kisha earned her undergraduate degree in Management Information Systems from Tennessee State University. She holds a Ph.D. in Management Information Systems with a minor in Marketing from the University of Mississippi. Prior to receiving her doctorate, Dr. Simmons held several positions with Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation, including Six Sigma Black Belt and IT Business Analyst.

Dr. Kisha’s platform centers on keeping girls in school and successful (through Period Project initiatives and college-women networking events) and developing them into poised, persisted and prosperous women (through workshops). She spends a great deal of her time mentoring, training and speaking to young women about tech careers, adulting and academic success strategies.

She is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Faculty Member of The PhD Project, and the Honor Societies of Phi Kappa Phi and Beta Gamma Sigma International.

More about Lakisha Simmons:  http://lakishasimmons.com


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Friends of Karen Celebrates Four Decades of Hope

This is a guest post from Judith Factor, Executive Director of Friends of Karen

No parent is prepared to hear the words “your child has cancer.” One of the most daunting challenges parents must grapple with when their child has a life-threatening illness is the prospect of dealing with it alone. What would you do if it were you? Who would you turn to?

Families should not face their child’s life-threatening illness alone, and with Friends of Karen’s help, they don’t have to. Friends of Karen provides families with day-to-day necessities so that they can focus on what really matters: their children.

Friends of Karen is effective, efficient and impact in helping families. As Executive Director Judy Factor puts it: “we do what we say we are going to do, and we’re good at it.” While Friends of Karen cannot cure childhood illness, it can help save impacted families by keeping them together, stable and coping throughout the often rigorous and exhausting schedule of treating a child with a critical illness. Friends of Karen takes on the costs of whatever a family needs, ranging from saving homes from foreclosure to covering steep food and medical expenses.But it’s our collective experience, developed over the past 40 years and embodied in our dedicated team of social workers, that really sets us apart and has helped guide families through their illness journey.

We have been honored, humbled and inspired to see the impact of our work progress beyond our own Friends of Karen families. Many families who received support from Friends of Karen at one point in time end up giving back to the organization. Take, for instance, Paula Berkowitz, who tragically lost her husband and two children in less than a year in 2010. Paula, who had been supported by Friends of Karen throughout her daughter Adina’s battle against Leukemia, refused to lose hope after facing such adversity. She founded the Adina’s Angels Fund to give back to Friends of Karen. The fund has raised over $400,000 so far to support Friends of Karen families.

This year, we are celebrating 40 years of bringing help, hope and support to over 15,000 children in the Tri-State area with an Anniversary Celebration event. Friends of Karen will be joined by corporate sponsors and donors this November to honor their commitment to supporting our organization’s mission. Proceeds from our anniversary celebration will help relieve struggling families of the financial hardship of huge medical bills, enormous travel costs for daily hospital visits and mounting expenses for food, housing, childcare, sibling support and other necessities.

In the last 40 years, we have been continually motivated by the tangible impact our support services have had on the families we work with. And while we look forward to celebrating the past four decades, we are set on supporting our current and future families and look forward to the years to come. We hope that there will come a day when Friends of Karen is no longer needed – but until then, we’ll be here.

Judith Factor

About Judith Factor:

Judith Factor is the Executive Director of Friends of Karen, a non-profit organization that provides emotional, financial and advocacy support for children with a life-threatening illness and their families in order to help keep them stable, functioning, and able to cope. She joined friends of Karen in 2008, prior to which she served as Senior Vice President for External Affairs at Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic for nine years.


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Social Entrepreneur Challenges All To See Opportunity In Place Of Risk


Sly Young sees communities commonly called “at risk” differently. He sees “opportunity communities,” places where positive change saves lives and creates new possibilities for people in that place.

Interview with S. L. “Sly” Young, the Founder and President of Saving Our Communities at Risk Through Educational Services (SOCARTES) and Beyond SPRH, LLC.

The following is the pre-interview with S. L. “Sly” Young. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

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

SOCARTES is committed to providing individuals access to personal development opportunities, which can lead to these individuals reaching their career potential and goals.

Beyond SPRH’s goal is to deliver quality services with minimal time, effort, and cost with an objective of highly satisfied customers and measurable performance outcomes.

Sly Young Speaker:  slyoung.com/inspired.html

More about Saving Our Communities at Risk Through Educational Services (SOCARTES) and Beyond SPRH, LLC:

Twitter: @socartes_org  @beyondsprh

Facebook: facebook.com/beyondsprh

Website: socartes.org / beyondsprh.com

SOCARTES is an educational nonprofit founded in December 2012; its focus is to help individuals overcome personal challenges and barriers to achieve educational goals within their communities.

Beyond SPRH, LLC provides solution-oriented services to help individuals and organizations maximize output potential.

For-profit/Nonprofit: SOCARTES is a nonprofit organization, which isn’t a 501(c)3.  Beyond SPRH, LLC is a for-profit company.

Revenue model: SOCARTES is primarily self-funded, but also receives occasional donations from the community to support program delivery within the community.

Beyond SPRH’s revenue is generated from consulting work, speaking engagements, and book sales.

Scale: SOCARTES is operated by S. L. Young with oversight by a Board of Directors.  There isn’t a need for staff as the founder (who is an educator with over ten years of teaching in higher education) teaches inmates at a local jail using books written by the founder.  Also, under this model overhead costs are minimal. Beyond SPRH is a sole proprietorship with under $100K annual revenue.

S. L. “Sly” Young

S. L. “Sly” Young’s bio:

Twitter: @slyoungva

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/staceylyoung

Instagram: @slyoungva

S. L. Young is a multi-award winning educator, mental health advocate, author/writer, program leader, professor, inspirational speaker, and radio host. Mr. Young’s materials provide solution-oriented guidance to address life and business challenges.  During his professional career, Mr. Young managed multi-million dollar projects in various Fortune 500 companies for over 15 years in the areas of billing, engineering, network security, operations, product development, and more.

Mr. Young is also the founder of the non-profit organization – Saving Our Communities at Risk Through Educational Services (SOCARTES), which teaches individuals in opportunity “at-risk” communities about life, business, and soft skills. Mr. Young’s for-profit company, Beyond SPRH, LLC, provides solution-oriented services to help individuals and organizations maximize output potential.

Mr. Young graduated from the American University in Washington, D.C. with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (B.S.B.A.) in International Business with a marketing concentration. He also graduated from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. with a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) in Finance and Investments with a human resources concentration and a Master of Science (M.S.) in Project Management.

In 2018, Mr. Young received special recognition for his work to educate inmates.  The first is the “Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major Innovative Service Award” from the U.S. Department of Education for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, in collaboration with the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for African Americans.  The second is the “Distinguished County Service Award” from Volunteer Arlington (a program of the Leadership Center for Excellence).


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Tragedy Inspires Service To Children Of Cancer Patients


Nick Arquette was still a kid when his mother was diagnosed with cancer. The experience tore him apart, at once wanting to help his mom and still wanting to be with and like all the other kids who weren’t worried about their parents.

Ultimately, his mother succumbed to the cancer. As the years went by and her memory faded, Nick increasingly wanted to do something in her honor. Reflecting on his childhood, he launched Walk With Sally in her name to mentor children of cancer patients so they can enjoy more normal lives.

Interview with Nick Arquette, the Founder & CEO of Walk With Sally.

The following is the pre-interview with Nick Arquette. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

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

At Walk With Sally, I believe we are really filling a crucial support gap in the cancer community by offering hope and mentorship to the children who are often left by the wayside in the wake of a parent’s cancer journey.

Volunteer:  walkwithsally.org/get-involved

More about Walk With Sally:

Twitter: @walkwithsally

Facebook: facebook.com/walkwithsally

Website: www.walkwithsally.org

Walk With Sally believes no child should walk alone in the face of a loved one’s cancer journey. Because we don’t want cancer to define or limit children for the rest of their lives, we create hope, healing and a supportive community through individualized mentoring, which transforms the lives not only of the children but also of the families impacted by cancer.

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

Revenue model: The majority of our annual revenue comes from our special events and fundraising efforts. Rallying the support of the community in order to really grow our fundraising model has had the biggest impact on our growth. This makes up for 50-55% of revenue generated each year. The remaining revenue is generated from either grants or private and corporate donors.

Scale: When Walk With Sally first started back in 2006, it was just a vision, and it all began by testing out the idea of a mentor friendship with one child, thanks to a partnership with the Lawndale school system. From that point until 2014, we were completely volunteer based. In 2014, Nick stepped in as CEO to oversee the nonprofit full time. From 2014 to current day, we have been able to grow the program from all volunteer based support, to now having 7 full-time employees. Our impact has also grown by 300%, from supporting only a few families at a time, to now having helped hundreds of families throughout 35 cities across greater Los Angeles. Since 2014, when Walk With Sally really implemented a solid business model and moved away from being volunteer-based, the annual revenue has increased by 200% between 2014 and current day.  

Photo Credit: Walk With Sally

Nick Arquette’s bio:

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/nicholas-arquette-94376817

Instagram: @walkwithsally

Nick Arquette founded Walk With Sally in 2005, naming it for his mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer and after many years of treatment, died when Nick was sixteen. With an entrepreneurial spirit, Nick never forgot how challenging and isolating the years of his mother’s illness and loss had been for him as a child. Wanting to keep the legacy of his Mother alive while seeking to serve youth facing similar circumstances, Nick searched for mentoring opportunities in the community only to discover that NO organization was filling this critical support gap.  After careful research, he launched Walk With Sally and began mentoring a youth who had recently lost his mother to cancer.  From that first successful friendship, Walk With Sally’s core Mentoring Program has expanded, having served hundreds of families throughout the South Bay over the past 10+ years. Today Walk With Sally has helped countless families along the way and the program currently supports over 100 active children; boys and girls ages 7-17, with trained volunteer mentors throughout Los Angeles County.  With all his work throughout the community, in 2011 Nick was awarded Citizen of the Year by MB Chamber Women in Business and was a finalist for the Daily Breeze Most Philanthropic in 2012. Walk With Sally was awarded the distinction of Nonprofit of the Year in 2017 by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Chamber of Commerce.


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Ending Malaria Will Require Eliminating Fake And Substandard Meds


Ending malaria will require making high-quality medication available universally in the most remote and isolated villages around the malaria-infected world. It will also require eliminating fake and substandard meds, Dr. Benjamin Rolfe, the Chief Executive Officer of Asia Pacific Leaders’ Malaria Alliance, says.

Though malaria has been eliminated from virtually all of the developed world, it remains a scourge in much of the developing world, killing 445,000 in 2016 and infecting millions every year.

Interview with Dr. Benjamin Rolfe, the Chief Executive Officer of Asia Pacific Leaders’ Malaria Alliance.

The following is the pre-interview with Dr. Benjamin Rolfe. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

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

The campaign against malaria is a global health success story. The Asia Pacific region achieved the World Health Assembly Goal reducing the number of cases and deaths between 2000 and 2015 by 75%. Despite remarkable progress, over two billion living in the region are still at risk to the disease.

The nature of malaria means even the most impressive gains are fragile.  Previous success against the disease has been reversed by explosive malaria resurgence threatening decades of progress. One important problem is the rising drug-resistant malaria emerging in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Without urgent action, the most important first-line treatment for malaria could become ineffective within years that would trigger a devastating rise in malaria prevalence and mortality.

A key contributor to the problem is the circulation of fake and substandard antimalarial drugs, although this is not the sole reason for this emergence. Suboptimal doses of artemisinin – a drug used to treat malaria — in a given substandard medicine allow the parasite to develop resistance to the drug. Globally, poor-quality antimalarial drugs caused an estimated 200,000 preventable deaths each year.

Experts agree the best strategy to tackle malaria – and rising drug resistance – is to end it for good, and by strengthening health systems so they are better able to manage the disease – along with other health threats.

APLMA is supporting countries to implement priority actions and accelerate malaria elimination by 2030. APLMA drives the implementation of the APLMA Leaders Malaria Elimination Roadmap by benchmarking progress against priorities, coordinating regional action, brokering policy, providing technical and financing solutions to regional and national challenges and encouraging effective country leadership to expedite elimination of malaria throughout the region.

APLMA is bringing together key players to tackle relevant malaria-related problems. Recently, we convened important stakeholders from Governments, Academia and Pharmaceutical industry that led to the launch of “Regional Regulatory Partnership” seeking to address the growing problem of proliferation of fake and substandard antimalarial drugs and strengthen health regulatory systems in the region.

More about Asia Pacific Leaders’ Malaria Alliance:

Twitter: @APLMA_Malaria

Facebook: facebook.com/MFAP2030/

Website: www.aplma.org

Asia Pacific Leaders’ Malaria Alliance (APLMA) is an affiliation of Asian and Pacific heads of government formed to accelerate progress against malaria and to eliminate it in the region by 2030. The APLMA secretariat was established to ensure the region will be able to deliver the services and financing required to see malaria elimination through. APLMA Secretariat is based in Singapore.

For-profit/Nonprofit: The Secretariat is a registered charity in Singapore (Nonprofit).

Revenue model: APLMA Secretariat receives funding from the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign and Trade (DFAT) and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Scale: Starting from 18 Leaders in 2015, the Alliance now has 23 Heads of Government committed to the 2030 malaria elimination goal and endorsed the APLMA Roadmap as a framework to achieve it. The APLMA secretariat employs 15 staff from diverse expertise and background.

Dr. Benjamin Rolfe

Dr Benjamin Rolfe’s bio:

Twitter: @ben_rolfe

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ben-rolfe-68b7178/

Dr. Benjamin Rolfe is the Chief Executive Officer of the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance. Formerly Pacific Lead Health Advisor at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ben has more than twenty years’ experience in supporting health initiatives across 30 countries. His expertise focuses on health policy, systems strengthening and financing. Ben is currently based in Singapore, having previously lived and worked for long periods in Cambodia, Nepal, India, Tanzania, Australia, Nigeria and Eritrea. Dr. Rolfe holds a PhD from the University of Wales and is a Fellow of the UK Faculty of Public Health Medicine.


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Airplane Crash Kills 11 Volunteers; Their Legacy Lives On In Guatemala


John Porter will never forget the call ten years ago. With some of the key members of his team on a service mission with CHOICE Humanitarian to Guatemala, a survivor called to say the plane had crashed killing ten people, most John’s employees.

Chris Johnson and his wife Liz had devoted themselves to helping those living in extreme poverty to successfully build a path to a brighter future through CHOICE. Liz had taken time off to focus on their small children before getting back into the field on that fateful trip. She survived the crash but succumbed to her injuries while being treated in Guatemala city.

Faced with excruciating decisions about how to move forward, Chris remained at CHOICE. John rebuilt his team and grew his company while continuing to support service. CHOICE continued its work in Guatemala. Ten years on, the community has been dramatically reshaped, with improved literacy and job training, including IT training in the Central American jungle.

Everyone involved committed to making the work and its impact on the people Liz and the others served the living memorial to those who died.

Interview with Christopher Johnson, the Director of Economic Development of CHOICE Humanitarian.

The following is the pre-interview with Christopher Johnson. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

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

We work with rural communities around the globe ending extreme poverty. We do this through an applied approach to local leadership skill building in problem-solving, consensus building, gender equality, results-based management, networking and sustainability. The end result is a community capable of eliminating it’s own extreme poverty and creating a quality of life for its citizens that celebrates its unique culture, values and dreams while offering improved access to health, education, sanitation and economic growth.

More about CHOICE Humanitarian:

Twitter: @CHOICEorg

Facebook: facebook.com/CHOICEorg

Website: https://www.choicehumanitarian.org/

CHOICE Humanitarian is a non-government organization working with rural communities of developing countries to develop sustainable strategies for eliminating extreme poverty in their own communities and in the surrounding area.

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

Revenue model:

CHOICE generates resources in the following ways:

  • Individual donors
  • Foundation Grants
  • Revenue from expeditions
  • Social business investments

Scale: $4M/annual operating budget, 75 employees worldwide, approx 185,000 people directly impacted on an annual basis from leadership development, economic programs and access to basic services

Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson’s bio:

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/chris-johnson-861229/

Instagram: @tzuku68

For the past twenty-five years Christopher has been involved in sustainable development work. He has been employed full-time with CHOICE Humanitarian for the past 20 years and has held positions at CHOICE Humanitarian as director of field operations for 12 years where he worked extensively to build and strengthen the Self-Developing Village Model together with Dr. James B. Mayfield and nine Country directors as it was piloted, tested and perfected in seven countries around the world. This model trains local leaders and their communities in developing and implementing sustainable strategies for accessing adequate education, healthcare, economic development and healthy environment in order to achieve a self-defined high quality of life.

Christopher worked as executive director for two years as Program Director for 5 years developing additional organization-wide initiatives. Christopher now focus his time on economic development connecting products from small-scale farmers and artisans to US markets establishing best-practices, protocols and profitable international trade ventures using a responsible sourcing and sustainable methodology.

In other non-profit work, Christopher worked as assistant executive director of the Humanitarian Resource Center of North America. He has led over 30 humanitarian expeditions for CHOICE as a volunteer as well as served an internship with them for one year working with the Huichol Indigenous tribe in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico. He also spent two years on a service mission in Paraguay.

Christopher has a Bachelors of Science degree in Recreational Management from Brigham Young University and has completed the coarse work of a masters degree in Recreation Administration at California State University Chico.

Christopher is the author of Revitalizing Glendale: People, Resources and Strategies for Community Building. Sits on two other non-profit boards of directors, has been instrumental in starting three non-profit organizations and acts as an advisor to many more. He is father to three beautiful children, enjoys camping, traveling, cycling, mountain biking, snow boarding and just about anything that releases adrenaline into the bloodstream.

Interview with John Porter, the CEO of Focus Services, LLC.

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

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

With the profits and personal of our organizations, we provide resources; financial, professional and labor to elevate abject poverty and fight human trafficking.

More about Focus Services, LLC:

Twitter: @FocusServices1

Facebook: facebook.com/focusservicesllc

Website: Focusservices.com

Linkedin: linkedin.com/company/focus-services/;

Instagram: instagram.com/focus.services/?hl=en

Focus is a multinational BPO (business processing outsourcer).  

For-profit/Nonprofit: For-profit

Revenue model: Our entities are all for profit.  We utilize these funds to support worthy groups.  

Scale: We have thousands of employees working in several countries in the world.  

John Porter’s bio:

Twitter: @jpfsi

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-porter-91033312/

Instagram: @johnporter2228

John is the founder and CEO of Focus Services, LLC and Clearview Technology, LLC and has been a founding member of other businesses.  John loves to build businesses by driving technology, process and developing people. “The fun is in the growth.”

John and the businesses that he operates are very engaged in improving the lives of people in many regions in the world.  He currently sits as a board member for Choice Humanitarian and is also involved in other charities and NGOs.

John has been married to Connie W. Porter for over 30 years.  They have four children and will soon have six grandchildren.


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Cancer Survivor Launches A Movement With A Twist

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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

Still weak from her cancer treatment, 29-year-old Jenna Benn Shersher, now 36, asked her family, friends and followers to help her fight cancer. Wanting to dance but unable to do much on the dance floor, she made a quick video of herself doing the twist and challenged others to do the same. Thousands did.

That launched a movement that became a nonprofit organization she calls Twist Out Cancer.

The 501(c)(3) now has programs in Chicago, Toronto, Montreal, Ann Arbor, Philadelphia and Tel Aviv.

While cancer-free for nearly seven years, Shersher describes her experience with cancer as “horrible.” Despite having the best medical care and a strong network of family and friends, she felt “this sort of overwhelming sense of isolation and loneliness even though I had everything in my favor.”

Jenna Benn Shersher CREDIT: AVI LOREN FOX

She found blogging to be therapeutic. That’s where she posted her Twist Out Cancer challenge and found a ready audience of eager supporters.

She built the nonprofit with a goal of helping cancer survivors—including those who have just learned of their diagnosis—to feel the same connection that Shersher found with her supporters.

One survivor, Anna Swarthout (now Moschner) had the same, rare cancer that Shersher had—grey zone lymphoma. Just a few years younger than Shersher, the two shared some of the same feelings of loss and frustration having cancer while still in their prime.

With the help of Twist Out Cancer, Moschner grew a global support group with people painting works of art and baking cookies to support her.

A new program emerged from the experience: “Brushes With Cancer.” Twist Out Cancer now pairs a cancer survivor with an artist, someone they wouldn’t otherwise know. They provide space and time for them to get to know one another well. In that time, the artist creates a unique work that reflects the survivor’s journey.

“Essentially it allows for the person touched by cancer to articulate their story, come to terms with what they want to share. And then it also gives them an opportunity to see their story through someone else’s eyes. And for the artist it gives them an opportunity to use their talent and their skills to be able to help support someone that needed it,” Shersher says.

Grace Lombardo, a cancer survivor who blogs at Grancer, describes her primary role on her blog as “STAY-AT-HOME-PARENT– Zero consistency, no days off (including sick days), lots of human excrement, emotional garbage disposal, complete loss of sense of self. Managed by tiny dictators. Payment in leftover Goldfish crackers.”

Lombardo participated in Brushes with Cancer. “I was an ‘Inspiration’ at 2017’s Brushes with Cancer event which means that I was paired with an artist who made a beautiful painting of his depiction of my cancer odyssey. Now that painting hangs on the wall in my dining room which reminds me of the struggle and subsequent joy of what I went through during diagnosis, treatment and beyond.”

“TOC finds people at many different stages of their cancer odyssey. For me, I was just out of treatment when it all began so I was raw and in need of some initial healing. Telling my story to my artist and seeing what evolved out of his creative mind was a way to look back through the looking glass at my own story. Every piece of art has meaning, but this particular piece is an actual piece of me and the tapestry of my life,” she concludes.

The artwork is displayed and sold at a fundraising gala that helps keep the program running for the next beneficiary. Shersher says the organization is funded by a combination of crowdfunding, private donations, foundation grants and these galas.

As Shersher reflects on her experience, and the twisting videos people—even strangers—made to support her, she says, “There was something really powerful about video about being brought into other people’s homes and workplaces and celebrations. These are all things that I felt disconnected from and couldn’t be a part of. And so, I saw the power of video; I saw the power of connection, and I saw the power of using creativity in order to educate and advocate for what I needed.” The legacy of her cancer is her work to support other survivors in their journeys.


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His Addiction Recovery Was Strengthened By Religious Conversion

Ellis Lucas is literally on a mission to save souls, sharing his personal faith in Jesus Christ with incarcerated addicts. A recovering addict himself, Ellis now uses the book he wrote to help struggling addicts develop a sense of personal worth and dignity.

The book started as a letter to his estranged son. The words just poured out of him as he sought to share his faith and hope with his adult son. They are still working to heal their relationship, but the book, The Potter and the Clay, has helped many others.

Interview with Ellis Lucas, the President of His Heart United.

The following is the pre-interview with Ellis Lucas. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

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

We deal with the human suffering, loneliness, depression, anger, addiction and abuse that so many of us may endure, and the healing and overcoming we can experience when we put our trust in a God and learn how to use suffering to our advantage to serve as a life preserver for the countless wounded souls sinking in the troubled waters of hopelessness; and empowering us to take back control of our individual destinies. Our deepest internal despair can become the gateway to transformation into a far greater life with purpose and meaning – as God’s gift not only to us but to us to INSPIRE OTHERS to inspire the whole World!

More about His Heart United:

Facebook: facebook.com/AuthorEllisLucas/

Website: www.ellislucas.com

www.hisheartunited.org

The Work of His Heart United – His Heart United is a parent ministry of His Song Evangelism, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit evangelical outreach organization based in Colorado Springs, CO and Smithville, MO.

Concert Outreach Events

We believe music is the universal language that builds a common bridge between every life and culture. Before all else, we were made to glorify Him. It is with that understanding, that we bring tremendous concert/outreach events to your communities with notables such as, John Schlitt, Bread of Stone, Ninth Hour, Ellis Lucas The WANTED Band, Lori Harris and more. Led by Ellis and Peggi Lucas, His Heart United can bring live Concert Outreach events to your community. Our mission is to bring His heart together…one Body, one Spirit, one Hope…to do so as a movement of ministries and/or organizations made up of wounded healers, bringing the healing of our God, to a world of broken lives.
Prison Outreach

“I was in prison and you came to visit me … I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:36, 40). George Arnold of Broken Chains brings his work with prisoners to His Heart United taking the word and worship beyond the walls…beyond the bars… “...how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” With decades if experience, His Heart United’s team of ministers and authors can be booked for your next ministry event, sharing from scripture, story and song…

Teaching

It is our desire, to provide resources that aid the individual from all walks and level of society in moving toward one body, one spirit and one hope – toward His heart being united through the church and moving to the world.

The Potter and the Clay National Book Donation Fund

“Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body!” (Hebrews 13:1-3)

How many people do you know who can say they’ve enjoyed having their face on a WANTED poster in post offices up and down the Eastern Slope of Colorado while doing time inside numerous county jails, correctional facilities, rehab programs, and prisons in numerous states all at the same time? Well, we only know one: Ellis Lucas. Ellis’ autobiography The Potter and the Clay began to fall on fertile soil when the El Paso County Jail in Colorado Springs requested just under fifty copies (two per every cell block).

Then in early 2017, several cases were sent to Minnesota, where they were set to be delivered to various rehab centers as well as county jails. Next was Pueblo County, which stocked both the new and old jail with numerous copies, and Douglas County in Castle Rock, Colorado, after that. On May 4, 2018, hundreds of copies were delivered to prisons in Tucson, Arizona, to Chaplain Martinez, who couldn’t wait to get them distributed.

The following message is from brother Kyle Frewin, who delivered the books: “I met with Chaplain Martinez yesterday morning. What a great man of God. I bet we spent thirty to forty-five minutes just chatting about the prison and his ministry. He thanks you so much for the books and will email me a tax receipt to forward to you. He said it is amazing, when they distribute a new book, how fast they go. As was previously mentioned, they have approx. 2,000 inmates at any given time, but see approx. 40,000 per year. Roughly 26,000 of those he gets to minister to. He is part of the Pima County Prison; however, he has connections to the state and federal prison in Tucson and the Marana (just north of Tucson) Prison. He plans to provide each of those facilities with a box of books. He also said that there is some “event” (sorry, I cannot specifically remember any other details) going on in September and is thinking that, if possible, that would be a good time to have you be a guest speaker. He has another author friend from the Phoenix area who has a similar story to yours that he is going to send one of your books to. He thought maybe the two of you could speak at different prisons together. That person wrote Rescued Not Arrested. Chaplain Martinez will give me/you details later. I have provided his contact info below. He wished I lived closer to the facility as he thought, as a former math teacher, I could teach math basics to the inmates. Wow, that sure would be a “different” experience for me. I spent the rest of the day with Chelsea and told her “Hi” from you and Peggi as well as filled her in on what that meeting at the KC airport has led to. Who knows what’s next? Have a great rest of your week and holiday weekend.” – Kyle Frewin

On June 23, 2018, Bearing Armor, a Kansas-based motorcycle ministry, called to say they, too, were out of books, that every prison they visited in Missouri and Kansas requested a minimum of a case of The Potter and the Clay, so eighty more copies were shipped directly to Bearing Armor in Shawnee, Kansas, just to complete their prison tour before they headed to Sturgis, South Dakota, with more to be handed out there, and more will be needed for prisons once they are back in Kansas and prepare for the next prison tour.

The Potter and the Clay is not just impacting individual lives; it is transforming entire families. And it is in big demand all across America. Ellis and Peggi Lucas have decided to donate all the books needed for rehab programs, county jails, prisons, etc., and have set up a tax-deductible donate page created specifically for this purpose, and are asking for your help to get these books distributed. For every donation of $30 or more, Ellis will send a free signed copy of the newly designed The Potter and the Clay to whomever you’d like to have it signed to. Thank you for helping us fulfill a calling and bring hope and healing to thousands of people who read this book every day. And remember: “No One Is Ever Without Hope!”

How do you place God in your heart when you never believed he was there from the start?

Ellis Lucas saw no hope of salvation or meaning in life or the world around him. Isolation, uncontrollable anger and violence, abandonment, and feeling unwanted describes a lost and broken young Ellis, inebriated by drinking from deceptive cisterns and poisoned waters of this passing age! His life had spiraled into years of addiction, a violent car wreck, almost losing his life in a house fire, mounting debts, jail, a broken marriage, and finally a choice: life or death? As he was ready to surrender, only then did he begin to see the signs around him—even in the cat he swore he’d kill—that there was purpose and promise.

Like clay, we are crafted by the hands that hold us, cherish us, and mold us, but we also make our decisions in a world full of vices we find hard to escape from.
The Potter and the Clay is an extraordinary and poignant testimony of a father to his son, but it is also the remarkable story of one man’s crafted deliverance into the hands of God and how providence can turn ashes and the wreckage of a life into a work of heavenly art. “I came to understand there is no human life beyond God’s infinite desire and passion to love and to know, and no situation, pain, sin, or failure beyond His desire to forgive, heal, and restore.” — Ellis Lucas

“The life of someone like Ellis Lucas normally doesn’t get written in books; instead, it’s often ‘written’ on the garbage heaps and junk piles of blighted urban areas—the saddest parts of our cities which record the tales of those who’ve totally given up to alcoholism, defeat, drug addiction, and a lot more. But not Ellis. Today, his life has become a gift to Life itself.” — Mike Schwager, WorldLink Media

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

Revenue model: Donations/fundraisers

Scale: We are all volunteers, 7 member board while up to 50 volunteers for live events

Ellis Lucas

Ellis Lucas’s bio:

Twitter: @EllisDLucas

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/ellis-lucas-0b84b465/

Ellis Lucas

The New Potter and the Clay

How do you place God in your heart when you never believed he was there from the start?

“Nobody is ever without hope.” — Ellis Lucas

While he never envisioned becoming an author, Ellis Lucas is a natural born storyteller nonetheless. And in an age where it feels like everyone, even the most inconsequential of public figures and celebrities, feels compelled to chronicle their life’s journey in memoir form, Ellis Lucas’s The Potter and the Clay isn’t yet another ho-hum account of a few of humanity’s shared experiences. The Life of someone like Ellis Lucas normally doesn’t get written in books—instead, it’s “written” on the garbage heaps and junk piles of blighted urban areas—the saddest parts of our cities which record the tales of those who’ve totally given up to alcoholism, defeat, drug addiction, and a lot more, but not Ellis Lucas.

Ellis’ story is raw, yet compelling; it reaches down to the gutter of human despair and rises to the height of divine providence. It’s a gritty, real-life story of pain, abuse, and utter transformation. A riveting and transparent nail-biting page-turner biography chronicled in the pages of this impactful book that captures remarkable story of genuine faith and the will to survive, a life filled with love, a veritable mountain of loss, and eventually, sweet redemption. The Potter and the Clay also offers a powerful takeaway, namely that no matter how far someone feels from salvation, hope, change and, yes, even total renewal is never out of reach.

“Through everything, broken relationships, addiction, spending weekends in jail, I began to understand how there is no human life beyond God’s infinite desire and real passion to love and to know,” Ellis shares. “There’s also no situation, pain, sin or failure beyond His desire to forgive, heal and restore if we are willing to humble ourselves in true Biblical repentance and meet God on His own terms.”

While growing up in a small, seemingly idyllic Midwest farming community, Ellis says he encountered authentic Christianity at a young age. His mother, the late Mary Jeanette Lucas, was in his words “an amazing woman” who was “radically” in love with Jesus Christ and made that perfectly clear in everything she did.”

Living in a household guided by the words of Joshua 24:15, Ellis, the youngest of four children and his parents’ only son while growing up, saw a true example of someone who put others before herself and was truly transformed and renewed through her relationship with Jesus.

However, and Notwithstanding, in what’s a key moment in every believer’s life, the faith of his family eventually needed to become Ellis’ own. And it wasn’t until after his beloved mother passed away that Ellis became “a true transformed believer in, and follower of, Jesus Christ.”

Without a doubt, my mother’s consistent devotion left an eternal impression upon my heart that ultimately prevailed, leading me straight into the safe and loving arms of Jesus at age thirty-five,” Ellis says. “I’m forever grateful to her for it! It was the memory of that persistent Christ-centered faith and genuine love lived out in her daily life that remained deeply embedded in my subconscious long after she was gone that somehow managed to transcend life and death, seasons of joy and pain, countless trials and difficult circumstances, including years of drug and alcohol abuse, depression, divorce, isolation and emptiness followed by, complete hopelessness. It all culminated in what would have been lengthy imprisonment from two very serious felony drug charges that were both dismissed four months later for lack of evidence when not as much as a single fingerprint of mine turned up in the house”

“My life had been so completely destroyed and convinced that Jesus Christ simply didn’t love me, I’d come to believe there was absolutely no hope of ever changing, and no hope of Heaven, all I had to look forward to for a future was whatever awaited me beyond the grave—most likely judgment,” Ellis shares. “But while locked up in the Clay County Missouri Jail, at the end of life as I knew it, Jesus Christ stretched out His mighty hand of grace and revealed Himself along with an astonishing revelation, He did along and still does love me and had an amazing plan for my life if I would open my heart and receive Him that day. I did, and what has happened since is a message I want the whole world to hear.”


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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


Help us share the stories of those who are doing the most good in the world. Get an autographed book from Devin when you pledge just $2 per month. Visit helpdevin.org.

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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