How to raise $25,000+ with a charity gala, step-by-step

Alex Altman and Zeke Copic are longtime supporters of Students Helping Honduras. They have been organizing a charity gala each year in NYC called Brick By Brick to benefit SHH. In this episode, we discuss what it takes—step-by-step—to organize a gala that can raise $25,000+ in one night for your favorite nonprofit organization. Listen to it on iTunes or Stitcher, and hit the subscribe button to download future episodes automatically. Stream by clicking here. Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.” Show Notes The first thing to do is to understand the audience One of the biggest costs is the event venue They wanted to make sure the cost was as low as possible A friend of Zeke organized a charity casino night but ended up spending way too much for the overhead cost Brick By Brick has gotten the event venue spaces donated Sesame Corporation donated the space in 2016 and 2017 Venues need to be reserved [...]

By | February 12th, 2018|

How nonprofits can leave the treadmill of financial survival in 5 steps – Kathleen Janus

Countless nonprofit organizations are stuck on the treadmill of financial survival. Most of their energy is spent trying to make payroll at the end of each month—which means less time is spent maximizing their impact. Does that sound familiar to you? For five years Kathleen Janus traveled the country to find out how successful organizations like Teach for America, City Year, and Charity: Water broke through their barriers. She conducted studies and interviewed 200 social entrepreneurs. She documented their secrets to success and wrote down the five patterns that got them there. Soon, a playbook was created. In this episode, Kathleen talks about her new book, Social Startup Success: How the Best Nonprofits Launch, Scale Up and Make a Difference. She is a lawyer, lecturer at Stanford, and founder of Spark. Listen to it on iTunes or Stitcher, and hit the subscribe button to download future episodes automatically. Stream by clicking here. Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.” Kathleen Janus Reading List The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit: Strategies [...]

By | January 10th, 2018|

How to fundraise $45,000 on campus for Students Helping Honduras – Steve Sexton

"Everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong," said Steve Sexton. His first major fundraising event as the chapter president of Students Helping Honduras at UMD—a 5K— was a "disaster that barely broke even." “I wanted to deflect the blame at first," he said, "But I took a long look in the mirror and said it is my fault. I can’t let this happen again.” He dusted off and said to himself, “You can’t let some naysayers put you down. You gotta keep going!” Steve wanted to improve the team's unity and morale. Soon, barbecues, rollerblading nights, and paintball outings were organized.  His biggest focus as the leader was simple: “to look out for my friends in the chapter.” In this episode, Steve deconstructs how they raised $1,500-$2,100 per day selling Krispy Kreme donuts at metro stations and through their campus thrift shop. “Every waking moment I had to do something," he said, "Planning, organizing, talking to somebody.” [...]

By | December 27th, 2017|

Using standup comedy & improv to help war veterans — Sam Pressler

While studying at the College of William & Mary, Sam Pressler learned about the post-traumatic stress disorder war veterans were facing as they reintegrated into civilian life.  So in 2015, he started Armed Services Arts Partnership (ASAP) to help them re-enter and thrive in their communities. ASAP, based out of Washington DC and Hampton Roads, VA gives veterans a voice by doing something completely unconventional… By offering them free classes and workshops in stand-up comedy, improv, storytelling, and creative writing. But the entrepreneurial journey for Sam Pressler was no joke. He bootstrapped with just two other employees—and during the same week, they both quit. “That was rock bottom for us. I thought we were going to implode,” he said.  “How the heck am I going to do this?” he asked himself. Yet instead of quitting, Sam kept pushing forward. “Time stopped and I immediately went into survival mode." He asked himself one question, "What is the first step to take [...]

By | October 5th, 2017|

Does your NGO need to carry out a randomized control trial? with Noam Angrist

Today’s guest is Noam Angrist, the founder of Young 1ove, an NGO providing sex education to 35,000+ young people in Botswana. Sex-ed is a complicated issue, and over the decades it’s been hard to tell what worked and what didn’t. In Botswana, where 22% of the population has HIV, much of it hadn’t worked. But when Noam used a tool from the scientific community, he could actually tell what interventions worked. Like a scientist, Noam discarded the interventions that didn’t work and focused on the ones that did. Soon, teenage pregnancy dropped by 28% in the communities he worked with, and he had the evidence to prove it. The tool that Noam used was the randomized control trial (RCT). In this episode, Noam talks about his experience carrying out RCTs and discusses their limitations, challenges, and financial costs. He faced countless struggles along the way, like not having funding as launch day [...]

By | September 26th, 2017|


Katy Ashe is the co-founder of Noora Health, a tech NGO in India. When she visited the hospitals of Bangalore as a graduate student, she saw a sea of people sitting around in the hallways. Who were they? They were family members of the patients—and they were scared, bored, and lacked basic health information. Many slept outside the hospitals, waiting for days. They had nothing to do but wait. The incredible waste of time was tragic. But Katy and her cofounders saw opportunity amidst the tragedy. The cofounders asked themselves, what if these people sitting around in the hallways spent those hours learning about health, physical therapy, and disease prevention? After all, some people didn't even know what a pulse was, and at least 40% of the patients had diabetes. Noora Health began by showing one health video that they filmed in a parking lot. To the surprise of the founders, patients and their families loved the video. [...]

By | June 7th, 2017|

How Annie “The Jackfruit Lady” Ryu built a health food company in India to fight unemployment

While volunteering in India as an undergraduate student, Annie Ryu fell in love at first sight. What she saw at the market wasn't tall, dark, and handsome. It was a spiky, green fruit she had never seen. The huge fruit she was looking at was the jackfruit, the largest tree born fruit in the world.  Fascinated, she researched the fruit and ate them. Many of them. So much so that she'd soon be known "The Jackfruit Lady." The jackfruit, which tastes different in its various stages, has several nutritional benefits. It's high in vitamin E, magnesium, fiber, potassium, and manganese. It also tastes great! The jackfruit is incredibly fibrous and has a meaty texture similar to pulled pork. When ripe, Annie describes it as, "a combination of pineapple, banana, and mango." That sounds delicious! The meat industry is the second largest contributor to global warming. The problem is, many meat alternatives don't taste too great. But what if someone could [...]

By | April 27th, 2017|

GROWING A NONPROFIT SINCE AGE 12 TO HELP SOLDIERS & VETERANS IN NEED—with Robbie Bergquist, Cell Phones for Soldiers

Social entrepreneur Robbie Bergquist is the co-founder of Cell Phones for Soldiers. In 2004 when Robbie was 12 and his sister Brittany was 13, they heard the story of a soldier returning from Iraq with a near $8,000 phone bill. They couldn’t believe that a man serving his country was unable to call his family for free. So they decided to do something about it. With just $21 and some help from their parents, Cell Phones for Soldiers was born. Today the nonprofit organization provides cost-free communication services and emergency funding to active-duty military members and veterans. They've provided more than 300 million minutes of free talk time and have recycled 15 million cell phones for the cause. Robbie, now age 25, is the recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service and was recently named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 List.  Donate your used cell phone to Cell Phones for [...]

By | April 18th, 2017|


Most foreigners who visit Indonesia end up at the beaches of Bali. But not Adam Miller, a young conservationist from St. Louis. While volunteering at a pet shop at age 10, he came up with the vision of one day working in Indonesia to help the animals there. His vision quickly became an obsession. Many years later, Adam found himself in a remote village in Borneo, Indonesia. It’s a part of southeast Asia facing the fastest rate of deforestation in the world and the second highest number of endangered species in the world. He lived there for six months on a total budget of $1,000 and built up a nonprofit organization called Planet Indonesia. In this podcast episode, Adam discusses the challenges of working in a country with a culture that is vastly different. When he goes running, random fathers in the community might stop to offer their daughters as wives. And you will find out what Adam [...]

By | April 11th, 2017|

How Swipe Out Hunger served 1.3 million meals using leftover meal swipes on campus—with Rachel Sumekh, Forbes 30 Under 30

Social entrepreneur Rachel Sumekh is the founder and CEO of Swipe Out Hunger. This nonprofit organization works to end hunger by activating college students to donate their unused meal points. Since Swipe Out Hunger began in 2009 as a college pet project, the NGO has served 1.3 million meals. Rachel Sumekh was recently awarded Champion of Change by The White House and named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for Social Entrepreneurship. In this episode, Rachel Sumekh talks openly about her inner doubts, challenges as a Persian-American social entrepreneur, how she responded to opposition from campus administrators, and what she did when she was told "you're just too nice to be a leader." Listen to it on iTunes or Stitcher, and hit the subscribe button to download future episodes automatically. Stream by clicking here. Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.” This episode is sponsored by the Tikker, the death watch that counts down your life [...]

By | April 3rd, 2017|