On Tuesday, November 22nd, in honor of Thanksgiving, UCI’s ANTrepreneur Center brought together a panel of non-profit founders to discuss their experience starting a charitable organization at the Cove. The event highlighted the parallels between social entrepreneurs and startups. Addressing the needs or social issues in their community, the panelists explained how they ran their organization like a business. Attendees also engaged in discussions on different ways to affect change.
The program started with an introduction by Breanna Bremer, Assistant Director, ANTrepreneur Center. Next, the moderator, Christy Lin of the ANTrepreneur Center, introduced the panel of non-profit founders. Each panelist provided a brief introduction of their organization and their inspiration for starting it.
Jerri Rosen – Founder of Working Wardrobes: Working Wardrobes focuses on helping men, women, young adults, and veterans overcome their challenges. They prepare them with the skills and tools they need to enter the workforce. “When you can individually touch someone, you are irrevocably changed in that process,” said Rosen when asked about why she started Working Wardrobes.
Lydia Natoolo – Founder of Love a Community: Love a Community focuses on supporting rural Ugandan Villages, empowering them to work toward creating sustainable communities. When asked about why she started Love a Community, Natoolo mentioned that she appreciated the sacrifices of her family, and wanted to give back.
Kelly Reeves – Founder of Paw Prints in the Sand: Paw Prints in the Sand’s mission is to end animal abuse, abandonment, and neglect. They strive to reduce: shelter overpopulation, needless euthanization, and the number of stray animals by promoting responsible pet ownership and pet retention. Reeves started her nonprofit after adopting her first dog which helped increase her awareness about the needs of the animal population she wanted to help.
Shea Rouda – Founder of Drops: Drops is an app that donates members spare change from everyday purchases to the cause of their choice. Starting off as a solution for how to pool money for different communal purchases, Rouda shared that if he and his friends were not able to save enough money for their intended purchase, then the entire amount saved would go to charity. Exploring the idea further, Rouda, and his friends decided to adapt their idea to something that could help charitable organizations and form a startup.
After the panelists had introduced their nonprofit, Lin asked if they originally had a business plan for their nonprofits. Each panelist discussed the steps they took from a business planning perspective in addition to the legal preparation required to receive money as a non-profit organization. Panelists emphasized the importance of learning about business and financial planning–leveraging the help that is available to non-profits to access the information. Additional topics discussed included how each founder formed their team and managed kept their organizations growing and operational from a resource perspective.
Next, Lin asked panelists about their strategy for finding donors. From an undergraduate perspective, Rouda shared that he leveraged resources available at USC to spread awareness about his startup and the causes they supported. Leveraging her previous expertise and connections running a PR firm, Reeves shared that she connected with former clients to rally and help her cause. Collectively, each panelist agreed that every organization would have a particular group of donors who resonate with their mission. Panelists also emphasized that learning to share the passion and commitment for the given cause effectively is a crucial aspect of fundraising.
The event then concluded with a Q&A session with attendees. Panelists thanked ANTrepreneur Center for putting on the event and giving them an opportunity to share their experiences with the community.