#TBT: Local Nonprofits making a BIG Difference! (+ Tips on How you can Start your Own!)

LET’S THROW IT BACK TO 2010! Here’s an article I wrote about nonprofits!

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#TBT – Cheers to Giving Back!

Do you know how much of an impact your local nonprofit is making in your community? Check out these star players from the Richmond, Virginia area!

Most people know that a non-profit is an organization dedicated to creating social changes for a particular sector of society – by raising funds to serve the public good through charity work, advocacy training, or fundraising. What many people don’t know is what goes on behind-the-scenes and the real-life differences that the local organizations around them are creating for their community.

“There are more than 200,000 people in central Virginia that are food insecure, which means they don’t know when they’ll be able to eat next,”

said Jeff Baldwin, media and public relations manager for FeedMore Inc., a locally-based nonprofit institution focused on providing a sufficient food supply to members of the community in-need.

FeedMore is composed of three different organizations: Central Virginia Food Bank, Meals on Wheels Serving Central Virginia, and the Community Kitchen.

FeedMore is one of many non-profit organizations that strive to provide a better lifestyle for those that are less fortunate. The institution p[ovides essential food options to thousands of people in need, serving more than 31 counties and five cities throughout Virginia.

“With community, financial and volunteer and food drive support, we are able to give out about 750,000 pounds of food a day,” Baldwin said.

However, considering one out of seven individuals and one out of six children are food insecure, Baldwin said that even though the current food supply is decent, it may only last a few weeks for the families utilizing these programs.

“[FeedMore] relies on financial contributions, grants through foundations and corporate grants, community volunteer support, as well as food drive donors to keep our programs running,” Baldwin said. “We have 92 routes for our Meals on Wheels campaign, meaning we need 92 volunteers a day just distribute these meals across the counties we serve.”

Baldwin says that FeedMore offers flexible schedules for those who wish to help out but are constricted in their availability, especially students. Those interested can visit feedmore.org or feedrichmond.com to get involved with upcoming events. From November 15-17, FeedMore will be hosting their “5th Annual Feed Richmond” food drive campaign, a partnership with Cox Media Group. Volunteers will be onsite at various Kroger locations collecting canned goods and financial donations for those in need.

Nonprofit and charity organizations are important for sustaining a variety of community needs and are especially important in providing goods and services for low-income and poverty struck individuals and families. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), as of August 2012, the county of Richmond has 41 registered nonprofits, bringing in over 39 million in revenue and over 102 million in assets.

NCCS also issued a report in 2011 encouraging local community sustainably for nonprofit organizations. According to the “Community Platform” resource, local support of nonprofit and charitable organizations become particularly essential in the quest to overcome poverty, boost education and influence leadership during times of economic struggle.

“In an era of enormous federal and state budget deficits, high unemployment, and major market failures, the limitations of government and for-profit sectors are evident—the nonprofit sector will need to take on added responsibility.”

Richmond has a number of non-profits serving an assortment of different needs of the community. Many of the top successful organizations depend on the perseverance of its founders and directors as well as the financial support from contributing donors.

“Starting a non-profit is a straight forward process as far as the paperwork goes and is within the capability of most people,” said Heather A. McDonough, business counselor at the Virginia Department of Business Assistance. “[However], the success of a nonprofit depends on many elements, including management, the cause that the organization was established to assist, as well as a strong core of supporters.”

The most recent data from the IRS from the tax years ranging from 1985 to 2008, regarding nonprofit charitable organizations, showed that large organizations received the majority of their funding from program services, while smaller organizations relied on contributions, gifts and grants as their primary source of revenue. For this reason, it is often more difficult for smaller organizations to uphold their basic expenses. This goes to show how much of an impact the support of the community and will-power of the directors can be in the success of an organization.

Renew Richmond, created in 2009, began as an educational program focusing on low-income individuals in Southside Richmond who are malnourished or unable to provide a steady sustainable diet for themselves and their families. John Lewis is a prevention specialist with Richmond’s Behavioral Health Authority.

Lewis decided to join Renew Richmond in 2010 to help build the organization’s outreach and help provide health and wellness advocacy training, as well as increasing knowledge of sustainable food practices in the hopes of building healthier and more connected communities.

“It is important to help our local economy and make our neighborhoods and communities more food—secure, especially in low-income areas that have little accessibility,” Lewis said.

“Our mission is to help empower individuals from all walks of life cultivate healthy life styles through the growth and production of food and offering alternatives to negative health behaviors.”

Renew Richmond has held plenty of events focused on education the public about nutritional food production, sustainability and influencing community connectedness. Lewis established “The Green Team” as a component of Renew Richmond to teach agricultural education and environmental awareness for fourth and fifth graders at G.H. Reid Elementary in Richmond.

On Oct. 16, Renew Richmond partnered with other healthcare providers to host the “Health and Harvest Festival,” to promote healthy eating and obesity prevention. According to Lewis, these types of events depend on a variety of different support outlets.

“We work off grants and donors and the accumulation of donors that are very interested in our project and are consistent in helping us build capacity,” Lewis said. “[While the process of becoming a nonprofit] isn’t very difficult to get started, it is difficult to keep it sustained and relevant. If you’re trying to do something for the greater good and you really mean it, you’ll have the manpower to do it, and then you’ll try to find the resources to do it.”

Nolo, an online network providing consumer-friendly legal information relating to business inquires. In a resource article by Nolo legal experts, “How to Form a Virginia Nonprofit Corporation,” Nolo provides a step-by-step guide for individuals or groups of people looking to form a nonprofit.

First, a board of directors must be outlined, a unique title for the corporation must be proposed. After that, a number of articles must be filed and an organizational meeting must be held and registration requirements must be filed.

James Michael Wright is the manager of regulatory programs in the office of consumer affairs at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Wright said that in order to be recognized as a nonprofit in Virginia, the organizations director simply has to fill out a basic one-page form with the state corporation. However, he said, to become a tax-exempt establishment, as many nonprofits are, the organization must register with the Internal Revenue Service.

“There is about a 30-page form composed of articles, bi-laws, a proposed budget, list of officers and directors, Wright said. “This step is a very complicated process and also can be expensive. The fee ranges from about $300 to $700, depending on the size of the organization.”

Wright said that within a nonprofit, three basic expenses have to go into the financial statements. First, there are ‘programs’, which Wright said would include the funding behind the research for an organization. Then there are “administrative expenses”, including the materials necessary to keep the organization running, such as necessary lighting and a phone-line.

Lastly are fundraising expenses. “The organization must rule in the question: how much does it or will it take to raise a dollar?” Wright said.

Financing and extensive organizing for filing the necessary paperwork is the most time-consuming and work-intensive aspect of forming a nonprofit, which is why it takes a longer time for some organizations to start up than others.

BC Brew Crew is an organization in the process of becoming a charitable nonprofit. The crew started out as a group of longtime friends that were just looking to have a good time. They were known for the parties and large events they held at various locations. While at first the group may have been portrayed in a negative light, around 2010- the organization decided to recreate their public image and work to incorporate a charity aspect into process of organizing events.

“Richmond has a bad history with ‘crews’ and, [in the minds of Richmond authority], the association is thought to relate to gangs and violence,” said Corey Johnson, leader and co-founder of BC Brew Crew. “We aren’t that type of crew, we are a brew crew, here to have a good time and provide for our community, and that is really our only goal.”

BC Brew Crew shifted their focus to charity work in 2010, raising money for already established nonprofits, such as the Richmond SPCA and Planned Parenthood. The unique aspect of the crew is that all of the start-up capital for the events is provided by the actual members, either from a small standing fund or out of their individual pockets.

“We provide a link to a particular part of the Richmond community that does not exist for some of these groups, such as Planned Parenthood, which has had a hard time reaching out and sustaining a connection with our age group, which is primarily 21 to 35 years old,” Johnson said. “When we make a donation or inform an organization of our intent, there is normally a fair amount of surprise when (the organization) realizes who is actually doing the donating and fundraising.”

“I think it helps remind people of the ever present need for a greater sense of community.”

Kathryn Ray, one of the core members of BC Brew Crew in charge of event planning, said that the organization hopes to get even more involved with other organizations in making a difference in the community, despite what might seem as a small impact.

“A little can go a long way, and if anything, our contributions can at least show that a small group of people can make a large effort in helping out the community around them.”

 

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