5 tips to start a community service project
Quite a few people have approached me asking how to start a non-profit. I always hesitated on where to begin answering this convoluted question, because I knew all the trial and error it took to get to where I am now. There is no perfect blueprint to graduate from a dreamer to a doer; however, I strongly believe that humility is a core piece in the ability to succeed.
I compiled a few tips on how to mentally push through starting a community service project that I pray you receive and find beneficial. These are all lessons that I learned along my journey.
1. Start where you are.
There is never going to be a perfect time to launch something that you are really passionate about. Instead of waiting for somebody to start changing the world in an area you feel so strongly about, I charge you to be that somebody. Think about important needs facing your neighborhood or community. Write these down along with three things that you can do as an individual or group to help. Better yet, hold a meeting with some of your friends and discuss concerns/issues facing your community. Then you can collaborate to think about what resources skills and assets you will need to accomplish project need.
2. There is no such thing as self-made.
Yes, it is true that being the founder of something gives you the credit of birthing your own legacy; however, you can only go so far without others pouring into your dreams. The best way for others to connect to your purpose is to be transparent about why you want to start this journey and it will bring a humane sense of reliability. In order to build a community of people that believe in your story, you will have to ignite your fire into others who want your dream to happen for them as well.
3. Renew versus Replace
Obviously fundraising is the key competent for any community service initiative. The missions of fulfilling community project’s needs are based off the financial support available. I strongly believe in the concept of Renew versus Replace supporters/ donators. Taking the time to retain and build relationships with sponsors, who have followed your mission, can lead to annual/ residual donations. No matter if it is a local restaurant or your faithful cheerleader of a grandma who sends you checks, they believe in you already, which is half of the battle of fundraising. We all know the amount of work it takes to even get replies from people to buy-in and support the cause. Celebrate the relationships your currently have with supporters versus focusing on replacing them with notable companies. Renewing them annually as a sponsor is a win. Most of us get so focused on landing that big sponsor and rush the process of outreaching to new people because we want to hit our fundraising goals.
4. Don’t be solely motivated on the end goal.
We start our projects because we have defined what success looks like for us. There is nothing wrong by being driven by the end goal; however, sometimes that can limit us from how God wants our mission to honor Him and bless others. Allow room for God to define that. Your project will always be evolving because the needs of the community will change for those you’re trying to help. Allow your mission to be focused on the Good Works which equates to success.
5. Focus on short term goals / gratification versus money raised
Motivation can get slimmer and slimmer when you run into obstacles with your project’s goals. You may start feeling further and further away from the end goal line. In these moments, always remember to celebrate the short term goals and every victory is a win, no matter how small it is. This will fuel your endurance to push through the difficult times in your journey.
My nonprofit, Painted Pink, derived from an internal battle of advocating for answers that I needed for my own breast health journey. I had my first lumpectomy to remove painful lumps from my breast in 2012. It was the same year my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. (She is now 5 years breast cancer free!) I had my second lumpectomy in 2015. Mammograms, surgeries, and breast pain all became my new normal; I became aware of the importance of researching family medical history, understanding my body, making healthy lifestyle changes, and never underestimating the power of support. For four years, I advocated for breast cancer awareness and after two breast cancer charity luncheons and 10k rose, I realized this movement could only go so far with just me. God placed four extraordinary women on my heart to help me expand Painted Pink, serving more communities. We are now in our 4th year, educating every millennial, we can reach, on breast health.