One day, I want to help homeless people …
I told my mom that as we drove our rented cargo van from Texas back up to Idaho.
My dad had passed away not long before that, and we were going back to finalize the custody battle. My mom won in the end and we left Idaho behind.
What I didn’t know on that drive through Colorado was that we would be homeless in less than two years. Living with people from the church, on couches and floors, I saw firsthand how caring people could be.
Fast forward … I lived in Eastern Europe for seven years after high school. We let a homeless man live in the little house behind our new home, until he burnt it down drunk one night. I could see the blaze two streets over. When I showed up, the fire department was there, all of the neighborhood, and Johnny in his underwear drunk off his ass.
Fast forward … again … I moved back to the USA in 2009. We again were homeless, living with people from the church. This time it was with my wife and two toddlers.
Taking a job in door to door sales, we traveled across the country for the next 6 years until settling in NJ where we live today.
During that time I read the book Start Something That Matters. In the book, Blake mentions his good friend and founder of Charity: Water, Scott Harrison. After a search on Youtube, I couldn’t believe that a Christian guy could do something so impactful outside of the church. I thought if you are a Christian and launch a biz or non-profit, it needs to be classified as a ‘Christian Organization.’ This helped me solidify my thinking that a business can’t actually be a Christian, only people can.
A few years after reading the book, I was able to join their philanthropic group called The Well. The sole purpose of the group is to cover operational expenses. Flights, bills, stationary, office space and salaries. In Scott’s words, The less sexy side of giving. It was $60k / year for a three year commitment. We made it two years, and it was amazing.
Being so close to the organization and its partners, I saw this amazing model that Scott pioneered. The 100% model.
When he launched Charity: Water, he opened two bank accounts. One for operations, and one for the field work of getting water to people. He was going beyond solving the water crisis, he wanted to reinvent charity for our generation. Banking on stats showing 50% of Americans actively distrust charities.
To combat this stat, he made sure not $1 went to overhead costs, to the extreme of paying for credit card processing fees from the operations account so literally 100% of the money donated went to the cause.
During my time with Charity: Water, I was advising another non-profit working with orphans in India. I was coming in after the founder was having an affair with the head of the organizations admin, and the exposure nearly killed the org.
This organization, however, was tied to a church, so I advised to split off and create a board. That happened, and I was one of the founding board members.
At our second board meeting, my faith was challenged by the executive director because I gave my money to another charity until things were transparent on where the money was going. Since it was not in the by-laws to donate to hold a seat on the board, it was merely how he felt about me. In that case, I resigned, and have been supporting a non-profit working with kids in Kenya.
That interaction didn’t leave me, though. I knew that if this happened to me by well meaning people, it must be happening to a lot of people. Now I am determined to do something about it. One, so nobody has their faith challenged as donors, and two, to help organizations in crisis to structure their business model for longterm success.
For the last five years, I have been in executive management at a privately held solar company. It has afforded me to join Titans Mastermind, and give to charities as a major donor.
I travel often, have made great connections, but most of all, I have learned so much about business development and business management.
Originally, this blog was started to share from the books I was reading to help people on their journey. A year ago I decided to get specific about who I was writing to, looking to reach founders and young executives. We are all crunched for time, and sometimes another perspective can give us the next step for our success.
Now, I am getting even more specific, looking to connect with the founders and executives of non-profits that embrace the 100% model. To provide resources for their growth from business experts in the for-profit sector, as well as a mastermind to provide a safe environment to work through their most pressing issues in their orgs.
As I write, it is from the heart. I know my time on earth is limited, and therefore want to make the most impact. Instead of committing to one cause, I am committing to founders of one model. By serving them, and sharing best practices in business, I hope they will be able to change the world in the ways that only they can change it.
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