When Miranda texted me and said, “Dude, we need to start our own nonprofit!” I said, “Yeah, that’d be awesome. Just let me know when,” and didn’t really know if it would ever come to fruition. We were both busy young moms, Miranda running her own swimming coaching business, and me working full time and already volunteering for the board of another nonprofit. Then, the more we talked about, the more and more it seemed like something that, with help from an amazing group of people, we might actually be able to make happen. So, we did.
Miranda came up with the name, had a logo made, and then created a Facebook group chat with individuals she had met across the country. Some are veterans, some police officers, and some, like me, civilians just hoping to help make a difference. We filed the nonprofit paperwork with the state (Step 1), and patiently awaited our designation letter.
Now what? We didn’t even really know what we wanted the nonprofit to actually DO. So, next step, we developed a Vision and Mission Statement. Though this may seem like a small and trivial thing, these two statements are critical in defining who we are as an organization. It’s not something that you change over time because your identity might change. It is an unwavering commitment to your core values as an organization, and a pledge to those you aim to serve. We knew that we wanted to help those struggling with mental illness, but HOW? Queue the Facebook Group Chat….
Ok, I’ll admit, the Facebook Group Chat is NOT the best team collaboration tool for a nonprofit, and, to be honest, our group doesn’t ALWAYS stay on task.. BUT it’s free, we can add and remove people as we need to, and if you get behind, you can always scroll for a couple hours and get caught up. Eventually, we’ll grow up to something like Microsoft Teams or Slack, but this does the job for now.
So, through a long chain of back and forth and a variety of ideas, our Mission Statement and Vision were born. We knew who we were, what we wanted to do, and had taken the steps towards legal formation.
Next step was spreading the word. Miranda built a Facebook page and Instagram, and I built a website and LinkedIn. We had already begun working with several partners to raise funds for the organization, and now we had places to direct new followers, update existing followers, and gain momentum. And we hit the ground RUNNING. Memes, blog posts, GoFundMe, Amazon wishlist…you name it, we tried it. We took a buckshot approach to digital advertising and guerilla marketing, and watched in amazement as we rapidly grew to hundreds of followers in just a few weeks.
Yesterday, we were finally able to open our nonprofit bank account, and with that, a legitimate channel through which we can take the funds we raise, and allocate them to the support services and networks that we are striving to build. In just a few months, we built a foundation onto which we will continue to build and grow as our mission is able to provide support to those in need.
Article by Ashli Clubine, Treasurer, Fight the War Within Foundation