Marissa Sackler: Profit the world through nonprofits
KANSAS CITY— Marissa Sackler has the entrepreneurial spirit running through her veins. Her father was an successful entrepreneur in the pharmaceutical space. He set out to make people feel better and she is continuing that by making the world a better place.
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Her father was an successful entrepreneur in the pharmaceutical space. He set out to make people feel better and she is continuing that by making the world a better place.
Her first foray into nonprofits, Charity Water started at her kitchen table in 2006 and aimed to bring clean, safe drinking water to developing countries.
Last year, she created Beespace, a non-profit incubator/accelerator to help other companies like Charity Water get off the ground.
She told the Big Kansas City crowd about the four guiding principles for up and coming nonprofits and for profits:
1. Numbers with meaning
• For profits use different types of metrics to justify their decisions and product choices. Traditionally, nonprofits did not always have a sense to prove that they are doing good things.
• Sackler said nonprofits should now be held responsible to their donors by reporting all of their metrics. By tracking them, it will also make charities more transparent and hopefully drive more donations from skeptical donors.
• “Metrics should come from your mission.” If your mission is giving glasses to children for every pair that you sold, you should track how many glasses you gave to children, she said. That is the one of the metrics that you should use to justify your nonprofit to donors.
2. Think like a creative
• Beespace was created to be a safe space to have time to be innovative, not worrying every day about where they are going to get more capital.
• Many startups have time to be creative and try things out before becoming profitable, why doesn’t it not apply to nonprofits?
• Charity Water was able to re-engage a generation, close the donor cycle and grow by using photos and videos to uplift you instead of fill you with guilt.
3. Breadth and depth of scale
• Charity Water was able to scale and now has 60 employees with more than $100 million donated since its launch.
• While on a trip for with Charity Water, Sackler met a man who used a model that worked for 15 years in this one village. They were tiny and had taken the exact opposite form that Charity Water used.
• She said he told her “It wasn’t important how many were helped, it was how they were helped.” This saying led her to not only accept nonprofits structured like Charity Water but all the other non-traditional ones.
4. Organization learning and well-being
• Some of the biggest failure have happened from people not having an organization’s well-being in place before they scaled.
• Beespace is asking “how do we put the building blocks into these companies with a curated lecture series?”
Beespace is made up of five diverse nonprofits. Its youngest founder in the program is 22.
Sackler said she thinks people need to work in a beautiful space and be inspired to be great, with no two days being the same. Beespace has combined a design and coworking space to grow these companies with cross-pollinating ideas and innovative strategies.
Everyone knows that millennials are the future, but they also have really helped grow the nonprofits in the past few years, Sackler said.
“We have changed giving from a chore to giving becoming a way of living,” she said.
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