by Kia Morgan Smith | Featured Contributor
Every week I seem to get emails or phone calls from people who have decided they all of a sudden want to do start a non-profit organization. While it’s honorable to want to take up a cause and lead a movement that will ultimately change lives, I take issue with people who are “conveniently charitable.”
You know what I mean. Those people who decide at the beginning of November that they will lead the charge to collect turkeys and coats and clothes for homeless people and take pictures so they can post on all social media and make themselves look good. Then the rest of the year they could care less that there are hungry kids or families who are struggling and can’t afford to make ends meet. The hunger problem doesn’t happen only during the holidays.
Those “conveniently charitable” people get an immediate ego boost that’s pretty self-serving. And frankly people can see right through it. If you really want to build and create a cause and amplify your message and bring about change, just know that the cause is much bigger than you and your ego.
It takes a great amount of work to run a non-profit organization. And if you really have the heart to become a foot soldier, raise awareness, and fight to make a difference then you definitely will have to get over yourself. Doors will slam in your face. You may operate on a shoestring budget and it’s possible you will need donations just to keep things running smoothly. And you will have to learn to ask, or beg a lot, so get ready to put your pride in your pocket.
So if you’re ready to rise up, take the risk and become a change agent and run a non-profit organization, here are a few tips from the trenches on building a cause that’s bigger than you.
1.) Align with a cause that you relate to – If you are passionate about a cause, then you will be more convincing when you are advocating for that cause. Really caring about a cause from the heart goes a long way.
2.) Work your cause daily – I remember being approached by an organization that wanted my help in reviving their cause. The problem is they only held an event for the cause once a year. You have to work your cause on a regular basis! If you forget about it, then others certainly will as well. Work it daily to keep the momentum of your message going.
3.) Know how to accept “no” graciously – If you plan on running an organization for the long haul, then know that “no” will be a word you’ll hear quite a bit. But just know it only means that you can’t do business with that particular person. A “no” doesn’t immobilize you. It should motivate you to find a yes!
4.) Fear Not! – Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Having too much pride can be a major pitfall. Remember it’s not about you. It’s about furthering your cause and if you are afraid to seek help to get your message to the masses then you are truly silencing yourself, your message and your mission.
5.) Use Social Media for a Meaningful Purpose – Utilizing social media is a must to advance your cause. But it shouldn’t be used as a shallow way to showcase your charitable efforts at homeless shelters. Remember there are real people with real issues there. Use social media like Facebook and Twitter to drum up a call to action and get people interested in backing you in big ways.
Just know if you can’t commit to a cause fully by starting a non-profit organization, you can still support a cause by donating to other organizations that need help. Most non-profit organizations’ coffers are empty and scarce during the year so they really appreciate donations all year long. And helping out regularly will help give you direction on how to build a cause that you can be proud of.
Non-Profit Expert – Kia Morgan Smith from Atlanta Diaper Relief, Atlanta Georgia
Kia Morgan Smith is the Founder and CEO of Atlanta Diaper Relief, the first non-profit diaper bank in Atlanta Georgia. She works tirelessly to ensure that families have an adequate supply of diapers for their infants; and works to raise community awareness that “basic human needs” include diapers and that these needs are not being met for children living in poverty.
With ‘diaper need’ being a relatively new concept to many in Atlanta, Kia was up against the odds in proving children without diapers suffer more than a rash; there are emotional and financial consequences that parents bear too. Kia built awareness and strong community support surrounding this issue in just two years, earning endorsements and support from major Fortune 500 companies like Walmart, Huggies and most recently honored as a Ford Unsung Hero.
With her ‘get-it-done’ attitude and gumption, Kia has harnessed the power of community and built a diaper bank with more than 100,000 diapers which serves thousands of Metro Atlanta families through help from partner agencies. Atlanta Diaper Relief has been making a huge impact by helping Atlanta’s poorest and neediest families who are struggling to pay for a basic essential like diapers.
Kia is a mother of five children, a grandmom, and a loving wife. And when she’s not covering “bottoms” she is an active mommy blogger on Cincomom.com. You can find out more about diaper need at www.AtlantaDiaperRelief.org or follow @AtlDiaperRelief or friend Facebook.com/AtlantaDiaperRelief. Or catch her tweeting about life as a mom of many, @KiaMorganSmith or @TheCincomom.
Melissa Stewart is the founder of SheOwnsIt.com. She is a Purveyor of Possibility, Entrepreneur Advocate and Coffee Addict. She believes that behind every successful woman is her story. What’s your story?