Archive of ‘Ladies Who Launch Non-profits’ category

Fashionistas Jacqueline Hurwitz and Sherrie Berger

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“Ladies Who Launch Non-Profits” is an ongoing series celebrating women who are engaged with the world around them and have committed themselves to the selfless act of starting a non-profit. Their positive impact is often immeasurable and most definitely commendable. They inspire us to think big and do better in the world.

What’s the name of your non-profit and what’s its mission?

We are Designed Giving – the nonprofit that funds other nonprofits. It’s alchemy – turning treasures into contribution. Our mission statement is: Designed Giving is a nonprofit 501(c)3 dedicated to increasing charitable giving by connecting nonprofits, donors, and impact shoppers. Designed Giving accepts donations of art, fashion, jewelry, home decor and more, and assembles those assets into a highly curated retail and e-commerce environment. Resulting sales significantly benefit our donor-designated non-profit partners. Donor and buyer efforts combine to build a nonprofit community hub that facilitates otherwise unrealized opportunities to create cash.

What made you decide to start a non-profit?

It began while at a New Year’s Eve party two years ago, when our catch-up conversation quickly turned to career – and then we shared our nonprofit dreams. We quickly realized that merging our efforts and concepts would create a venture with huge impact. Each of us had been involved in nonprofit volunteering and fundraising during our corporate careers. Individually we each had identified a nonprofit funding challenge and its accompanying solution. Together we realized that as a team the Designed Giving venture provided a unique opportunity in nonprofit funding – a viable and valuable niche. We could provide a previously unrealized revenue stream for charities where donors could increase their giving without writing another check. The momentum fueled itself as we enthusiastically engaged in building Designed Giving from the ground up.

What’s been the most rewarding moment since launching?

There are several: First, finding a prestigious law firm that believed in our concept, providing all services necessary to incorporate and obtain our 501c3, pro bono. Another would be the day we were federally approved as a 501c3. Also having our initial board meeting facilitated by Paul Vandeventer, CEO of Community Partners – this was a huge vote of confidence by a significant thought leader in the nonprofit world. But the most rewarding was at year-end, when we actually met with the development directors of some of the most amazing nonprofits to deliver in-person the funds that we had earned over the course of 2014 – this was truly the most rewarding experience.

What are your goals over the next year?

We have three. The first is to find permanent work/retail/warehouse space. The second is to build our ecommerce website. The third is to expand our donor base and cultivate relationships with a few angel donors.

If you could request resources or help, what would it be?

This relates directly back to our goals for 2015. We would love to speak with commercial real estate developers about donated or reduced rate workspace. We have established the specs for upgrading our website and look forward to engaging a supporter/donor to raise the funds to develop such a site and get it up and running. Lastly it would be great to identify a pool of angel donors to both expand our inventory and create funds for us to scale.

What advice do you have for someone who would like to start his or her own charity?

It would be a good idea to research the cause you wish to impact, identify the competition and analyze whether it still makes sense to strike out on your own or see if there’s a way to join an existing operation. It takes lots of time and commitment to get a nonprofit up and running. If you find an established charity, your energy could be spent volunteering or working within their structure if they have a similar mission. It could do more for the cause much sooner. Or you would gain valuable experience enabling success for your new enterprise, when you do set out on your own.

What unexpected obstacles have you encountered?  How did you overcome it?

Our social venture business model may have appeared obstacle ridden to some, as it is a complex business model upon first glance, but we used those experiences to hone our message. Every time we’ve run into an obstacle, we’ve realized that it means there is a lesson in it for us that moves us closer and closer to realizing the dream of what Designed Giving can do.

What is your website? http://www.designedgiving.org and email is: info@designedgiving.org

If you are interested in participating in their non-profit as a patron, donor, corporate sponsor, or volunteer, we encourage you to reach out to them.

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Sherrie (top right) and Jacqueline (lower right) spend the day touring Homeboy Industries and taking a selfie with the HomeBoy chief photographer and Development executives.

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Jacqueline hands over a check to the folks who run Childhelp, a worthy nonprofit, that provides a hotline preventing child abuse in and around Los Angeles county. photo credit: Sherrie Berger for Designed Giving

 

 

 

 

Mentor Shelly Ulaj

shelly_ulaj_525x350Bill and Melinda Gates recently released their annual Gates Foundation letter enlisting millions to participate in their cause—breaking the cycle of poverty. They predict that lives in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history. Something as simple as raising awareness, volunteering your time, or giving a little money can make an impact.

Ladies Who Launch Non-Profits is an ongoing series celebrating women who are engaged with the world around them and have committed themselves to the selfless act of starting a non-profit. Their positive impact is often immeasurable and most definitely commendable. They inspire us to think big and do better in the world.

With these wonderful women leading the charge, Bill and Melinda’s lofty goals seem attainable.

What’s the name of your non-profit and what’s its mission?

Women Empowered is an organization that connects, educates and supports women of all ages and backgrounds, and inspires them to give back to their communities through mentorship, networking and volunteerism.

What made you decide to start a non-profit?

It’s quite a story and a long one but ultimately, I started the group to connect and befriend other women in LA. I grew up in a traditional Albanian home in NY. As the first generation here and having been raised in a strict Albanian home, I found myself struggling to find my voice as a woman. Women in that culture are often seen but not heard and the outgoing, assertive, and open minded person I was I felt like my soul was being diminished. I married at the young age of 17 which ended in divorce. My divorce was the beginning of my life so to speak. It was my chance to finally live my life according to me and no one else. However, during this time I felt alone, disconnected, and lacked the support that I needed to grow. So, I decided to start a women’s social support group called Women Empowered. It wasn’t a nonprofit at the time nor did I have any intention for it to become one. As the group started to grow, I felt like there was something there, I just didn’t know quite what it was. I decided to find out and two years later formed it into a nonprofit. Since 2010, we’ve grown into 400+ members in LA and provide networking opportunities, workshops, mentorship, and volunteer opportunities for our members.

What’s been the most rewarding moment since launching?

Watching women connect with each other and support one another. I started the group to do the same for myself and so seeing that happen for others brings me so much joy. So I suppose it’s many moments and not just one.

What are your goals over the next year?

Our goal is to launch a NYC chapter. Since New York is my hometown, it only made sense, and there seems to be a need for it according to the women I have interacted with in NYC.

If you could request resources or help, what would it be?

We’re constantly looking for more women to get involved. Since our focus is on NYC, we are currently looking for board members to run the show out there.

What advice do you have for someone who would like to start his or her own charity?

Be optimistic and extremely passionate for your cause. You will run into a lot of people and they all may not necessarily be aligned with your vision. Stay focused and always remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s easy to burn out and lose hope. You’ll be wearing a lot of different hats so be flexible and open to change.

What unexpected obstacles have you encountered?  How did you overcome it?

I’ve been lucky that we haven’t run into any major obstacles. I guess the only one that comes to mind is finding someone to work with and then soon realizing they are not a good fit. I’ve learned to manage my expectations. It comes with time and experience. As an idealist (or at least 80% of the time), I tend to have an overly optimistic approach to life and so learning how to manage those expectations has helped me overcome any obstacle.

What is your website?

http://www.women-empowered.com 

If you are interested in participating in their non-profit as a donor, patron, corporate sponsor, or volunteer, we encourage you to reach out to the non-profit. They’d be thrilled to hear from you.

I love this infographic on Why Giving Makes You Feel So Good. It’s reason enough to get involved.