community impact

The Business of Nonprofits

This blog post has been the hardest I've ever had to write. The answer is so simple and trite; but, deserves a fuller explanation. The one thing that non-profits need most of all in regards to funding is a systemic change in the organization. The trend in non-profits today seems to be that more Executive Directors are coming from the for-profit sector. Therefore, they have the business acumen to lead and grow the organization. However, they still have a Board to contend with as well as a staff that has "traditional non-profit thinking". Now I know you are thinking: "This may be true in some non-profit organization; but, not in mine." Bear with me a bit longer as I dig deeper into this thought. I have spoken to people who consult with non-profit EDs on an almost daily basis; I have sat at round table discussions with consultants who travel the United States speaking, consulting, and training non-profit organizations. This is the norm; systemic change is necessary!

Nancy Lublin stated "Non-profits have huge inefficiencies and overlaps....This is wasteful and bad business." In Nancy's blog "The Foundations Four Biggest Faux Pas" she states: Stop mistaking marketing for overhead -- and stop hating on overhead. We're all running businesses, and we've all got more expenses than we want. But your constant refrain about us spending too much on communications staff, graphic design, and public relations is misguided. "Scaling up" means that people need to know about us. It also means that we'll have to spend money on expenses that you label with the most unfairly pejorative word in our business: overhead.

Non-profits are being seen by philanthropists more as a business; those in the non-profit sector need to think more like businessmen and women. Results are trumping the cause and the personal relationship as high net worth donors look at giving. They are looking at sustainable income, outcomes, ROIs, and a multi-year funding cycle. This is the mindset of an investor not a donor! Funders (investors) and donors think differently in five key areas: a need for funding, an approach to the problem, funding level, measuring success, and delivering results. (More information can be found in "ROI for Nonprofits and Asking Rights" by Tom Ralser.)

Systemic change and a forward-thinking leadership team may just be the keys to your success. Wishing you success!

Soles4Soles Hikes to Costa Rica with an Orlando Writer

One question: “Will you go?” While I was in Nashville, I met a staff member, Lisa Pointe, from Soles4Souls. She kindly gave me a tour after I expressed my interest in social enterprise. From that initial contact I was asked to join a team from Ohio State University that would be doing a shoe distribution in Costa Rica in May and cover the story. What an opportunity! What an adventure!

A simple request is about to change the lives of several and I get to watch it unfold live.

As I landed I was greeted by 10 student athletes, their advisors from OSU, and Taylar Proctor from Soles4Souls. We boarded the bus and headed to our host facility in San Jose. The first evening was uneventful, settling in and doing introductions. Although the students came from Ohio State, home of the Buckeyes, most didn’t know each other.

The next morning though, we boarded the bus early to head to our first shoe distribution at a local school. The team of OSU athletes were diving in, sorting sizes, fitting shoes on little feet, and putting smiles on the little faces. While the kids waited their turn some of our team played soccer, jump rope, and basketball with the Costa Rican children; others put Buckeye “tattoos” on the kids. This team came to serve and serve they did! In under six hours we gave out nearly 1000 pairs of shoes.

The following morning was much like yesterday. Except today we stopped on the way to the distribution site to see where these children lived. The “shanty town” was little more than tin boxes housing as many as 14 people in a home not any larger than a tool shed. Our host said it was one of the most densely populated “shanty towns” in San Jose. Heartbreaking.

These kids definitely needed shoes. The OSU athletes worked tirelessly and quickly. Today more than 800 shoes were given out in under four hours! Again, the athletes didn’t just put shoes on the feet of the students; they interacted and played with them putting ear-to-ear smiles on their faces.

Saturday we were up at 5:00 am to take a bus ride (fully loaded with students and shoes with barely enough room to sit!) for three hours before hopping in a water taxi to ride upstream for an hour. The rainforest was our destination for the third shoe distribution and this was the only way of getting there. By this time the students had become friends. They bus was a frenzy of music, lively conversation, and bantering. Part of the intrigue of the week was watching these students go from nearly strangers on the same campus to a tight-knit group that want to stay in touch when they return home. Somehow serving others will break through the cliques and bind hearts and lives.

After settling in at the rainforest lodge we board the water taxi once again for a short ride upstream. The town has 400 residents and this distribution is open to all; however, due to our shoe sizes remaining we won’t be able to fit men or larger women’s feet. The team sets up quickly and welcomes the throng of people into a small school room to be sized and fitted. We are seeing moms and babes coming together, many without shoes on their feet. Each leave with a pair of shoes and a smile filled with hope on their faces. Sadly, there were some who were so used to walking barefoot, they left carrying their new pair of shoes. But, for many, entire families lives were changed that day by a pair of shoes.

Our last shoe distribution was scheduled as we descended the mountain to return to San Jose. Unfortunately, the road was closed and our team couldn’t meet the delivery of shoes to get where we needed to be. The last distribution had to be postponed for another trip.

Serving others changes lives. As nearly 2,000 pairs of shoes were given out during our six days in Costa Rica we watched the hearts of the OSU students melt. We watched athletes who had never spoken on campus connect on social media and plan to meet regularly once they returned home. We watched as the team stooped on bended knee to share a small gift, a kind word, or a hug with a child that spoke another language. Language, age, and location should never be a reason not to serve. Serving makes all of those things irrelevant and will give you an experience you’ll never forget. I know I’ll never forget how humbled and honored I felt to be invited to write about and participate in a life-changing experience. I had a front row seat as many of these students shared that they had never left the United States to serve others.

Soles4Souls doesn’t just change the lives of those who receive shoes; they change the lives of all who take a few days out of their life to serve. One question: “Will you go?”


Hidden Inside a Hug

Near the Mills 50 District a hidden gem is being constructed. This hidden gem, a custom home, designed and built by Silliman Homes Cityside, will be finished in October 2015. Why is this hidden gem more noteworthy than the other homes they build?

This 2,594 square foot home, House of Hugs, is being sold at market value and the proceeds are being donated to three of Orlando’s charities: Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida, Florida Hospital for Children, and the Greater Orlando Builders Association’s (GOBA) Foundation. These three charities depend on philanthropic donations. Florida Hospital for Children states one out of every two children who need care in the community are served at the Hospital. The Boys and Girls Club serves nearly 13,000 children in Central Florida each year. GOBA Foundation has given more than $1Million to youth related charities and scholarship funds throughout Central Florida. The fundraising efforts of these organizations obviously touch the lives of many in our community.

Lives of our friends and neighbors are touched by these organizations and will benefit from the “House of Hugs”.

The recent groundbreaking was attended by Gary Cain, President of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida, Dick Batchelor, Board Chair of Florida Hospital for Children, Marla Silliman, Senior Executive Officer of Florida Hospital for Children, Eric English, Publisher of Charity Magazine, and other community leaders.

Silliman Homes Cityside is grateful for the support of its contractors and United Legacy Bank. Without their support the construction would not be possible. Hidden within the Mills 50 District is a home that will welcome a new family. In addition, this House of Hugs will serve the youth of our community at-large through the proceeds of the sale.

“Silliman Homes CitySide is doing good in our local community. Thanks to their ‘House of Hugs’ project, we will have the ability to continue providing over 3 million hours of service and support in the areas of academic success, good character & citizenship and healthy lifestyles for the more than 13,000 young people we serve annually,” said Gary Cain, president & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida. “We are grateful for this opportunity and thank everyone behind this project for making children a top priority.”
“Bill Silliman has been a champion of Florida Hospital for Children for many years and we are thrilled with the announcement of his new gift through the House of Hugs. Combining his great talent as a home builder to support one of his favorite charities really is a winning formula. Bill has a deep passion for not only building homes, but building community. It is heartwarming to think that the home owner will not only get a well-built home, but also the special added benefit of knowing their home helped support children’s care at Florida Hospital. Bill really has a heart of gold and the children and families we serve are blessed by his generosity.“ David Collis, FL Hospital Foundation


Kicking…..for the Kid’s Sake

The largest high school soccer tournament in the state is run by volunteers. However, the most impressive part is these volunteers do it on behalf of families whose children are diagnosed with cancer. This year the Kid’s Sake Foundation is providing a vehicle to a family that has a 2 year old fighting for her life, going through chemo and radiation treatments. The father is working to support his wife and four young children, including Sophia, the two year old battling cancer. Dad is putting all his efforts into providing for his young family; Mom is physically worn out tending to her little girl full-time and caring for the other three children. The Kid’s Sake Foundation is the beneficiary of the 19th Annual Hickory Point Invitational Soccer Tournament so they are able to provide a vehicle to this family. Twenty-four teams, 16 boys and 8 girls, will travel from their local high schools from across Florida to descend in Tavares, Florida from December 29-31, 2014. They compete at the Varsity level during their winter break. The teams arrive excited to compete while supporting a great cause. More than 2,000 athletes, family members, coaches, and spectators gather to watch the competitive games. We invite you to join us in “Kicking….for the Kid’s Sake” by becoming a sponsor, making an online donation, or attending the Hickory Point Invitational Soccer Tournament.

Entrepreneurs: Learn, Exchange, and Unite

The vibe in the room was electric as the kickoff event opened in Orlando for Global Entrepreneurship Week on November 17, 2014!  Orlando’s The Big Exchange helped bring Global Entrepreneurship Week, sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation, to Orlando. Global Entrepreneurship Week was announced as an idea in 2007. By 2008, 77 countries and over 3 million participated in the week-long unconference consisting of over 25,000 activities. This is truly a worldwide movement. In Orlando, entrepreneurs spoke, shared, collaborated, taught, learned, and networked. From the feedback and the “Tweet Wall”, we believe everyone that participated was inspired to further action and found the workshops beneficial. Each day workshops and mentoring “open office hours” were offered. There were several networking opportunities, too. This week could not have been successful without the support of the sponsors, the Root Radius team handling the logistics, and the many entrepreneurs that volunteered their time and talent to attend and assist with the power-packed schedule of events. Orlando’s entrepreneurial community really showed their collaborative spirit and their desire to help others succeed. If you are a Thinker, Maker, Artist, or Educator we hope you’ll join us next year.

Gratitude: A Legacy for Lake County

The Leesburg Regional Medical Center Foundation, led by Executive Director Ted Williams, has seen many changes since 2009 when he accepted the position. The Leesburg Regional Medical Center (LRMC) began serving the community in 193 with 15 physicians and 25 support staff members. In their first year they served 2, 357 patients. Today they serve Lake, Sumter, and surrounding counties with the help of their 331 physicians and 1,790 support staff. In 2012 they cared for 52,000 patients. Their legacy continues to be a beacon in our community in many ways including as the largest single employer in Lake County. Ted has championed continued growth as the President of the Foundation and the Vice President of the Medical Center. Ted spends his day dedicated to his work. You may find him bringing a casserole to a sick friend over the weekend, checking on another before surgery at 7am, or reaching out to a colleague who lost a loved one late into the night. He doesn’t do these things because of his job description. He does this because of his heart. Ted’s heart quickly turns strangers into lifelong friends.

Ted states, “I once read that happiness is an attitude. We can choose to make ourselves happy and strong or to make ourselves miserable. The amount of work is the same.”

There are many milestones the Medical Center has been able to celebrate under Ted’s leadership and with the dedication of the medical and support staff. The 25 events each year that are done to raise funds for LRMC are highlights for the staff and the community because they understand that everyone at some time will need medical care. Their participation allows those without the means to pay to receive treatment. The largest event, “Go for the Green” Golf Classic, has been their signature event for the last 17 years. It is hosted at the beautiful Mission Inn each September. Whether you are a constituent that comes to golf or an entrepreneur that supports the event through sponsorship and enjoys the opportunity to network, it is a highlight event for everyone. The day encompasses friendly competition, relaxation, networking, a wonderful lunch, and usually beautiful weather.

The Ladies in Philanthropy are an integral part of the Leesburg Regional Medical Center Foundation as well. This is a group of community minded women who want to change and save lives by collaborating with other women leaders. The Ladies in Philanthropy wish to empower others to fulfill their philanthropic potential by understanding the healthcare needs in Lake County and promote the power of collective giving. The embrace fellowship and strive to educate and inspire women. They provide regularly scheduled lunches and events that allow you to serve on a committee, learn about healthcare issues affecting women, and teach others about the philanthropic potential of women. 92% of men interviewed named their wives as the primary influencer for philanthropic giving (Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund Study 2009). Therefore, our Ladies in Philanthropy program is an instrumental part to our fundraising goals.

Last fall, the LRMC Foundation launched a capital campaign to raise $5 million of the $10 million needed to add 24 rooms on the hospital’s first floor. Approximately $3 million of that has been quietly raised. “Whether someone gives a little or a lot, just the act of giving something provides enormous benefits not just to the quality of healthcare in our community, but to the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of the giver.” Ted prompts us to remember.

The First Annual Philanthropy Day for Lake County

The First Annual Philanthropy Day for Lake County was hosted by the Community Foundation of South Lake. Over 100 people were in attendance.

The day began with an inspiring speech from Renaut Van Der Reit, CEO of Axum Coffee and Founding Pastor of Mosaic Church. Renaut shared how his vision for Axum Coffee was to be different; being a social enterprise allowed them to unapologetically make money to fund justice and mercy projects. Renaut inspired the audience with several profound quotes.

“If you are not driven by a deep desire of passion you won’t sustain what you are doing.”

“You can make money for greed or to change the world”

Once you’ve broken boundaries once you realize they weren’t really boundaries. Someone convinced you it’s a line you can’t cross.”

Renaut believes that in the nonprofit sector you are limited by resources and access. Just because your resources don’t align with those options on the table doesn’t mean you are limited. It means you need to be free to think outside the box and be free to fail, a message he gives his staff often. Your access is only limited by your relational access. Relationships create access. He allows his staff to fail so they can learn, grow, and succeed. The final thought he shared with the audience is that “your passion point must remain central”.

After the audience was inspired with these profound thoughts, they were sent to the breakout sessions offered in a track for CEOs and one for Development staff. Speakers for the CEO track were Royce Gomez on a nimble strategic plan, Stephanie Krick on social entrepreneurship, and Gary Cain sharing how to assess our strengths and weaknesses. Each speaker gave relevant, real life examples and even shared some of their personal learning experiences. The Development track speakers were Todd Roupp on data collection, Vanessa Lopez-Littleton on measurable outcomes, and Susan Kelly on strategic planning.

The evening closed with an Awards Banquet and a Keynote Address by Pat Burke, Founder of HOOPS Life. His message to the audience was investing your time and talents in young people can change the course of their life in a positive direction.

Bryan Williams, the Executive Director of the Community Foundation of South Lake, shared that there are approximately 1,000 nonprofit organizations in Lake County. In 2012 $107M was given to charity. From that figure 47% goes to religious and educational institutions leaving an average of $53,000 per year given to organizations like the nonprofits in attendance. This gives you a brief perspective on the philanthropic picture in Lake County, Florida. This will become an annual event; the staff look forward to planning an amazing lineup again next year.


The vibe in the room is electric! Eight social entrepreneurs came to Downtown Credo to pitch their businesses. Each one resonates with the Credo of meaning, impact, and community. The room is full long before the pitches start. The first pitch is from Care Spotter followed by two urban farming concepts, Edible Orlando Junior Academy and Growing Orlando. The next concepts, Market Colors and One Purse, focused on helping women escape from human trafficking. Next, Rebuild Globally shared the 760% growth they’ve had in the first four years of operation. They focus on helping women produce a sustainable income to remove her family from poverty. The last two business pitches focused on our school-aged children in our local community. These businesses are The Human Experience and SourceCode B46.

The awards will be announced at the third annual CREDO Awards on November 6, 2014. If you’d like to attend, tickets are available here.

Making Strides in the Lives of Women


October 13, 2014/in Community Impact /by Royce Gomez

Julie Colombino went on a life-changing trip to provide disaster relief after the earthquake in Haiti. Little did Julie know it would be more life changing than she could imagine. While she was down there on what was to be a short term trip, providing water and other necessities to the people of Haiti, she was constantly told by the Haitian women, “What I need is a job so I can provide for my family”. Julie was there to pass out water, not give them a job. This statement, repeated over and over again, tugged at her heartstrings. What was she to do? Julie realized that all around her was garbage due to a lack of infrastructure to remove waste. Haitians just threw their garbage in the street, and it stayed there. Tires were abundant in these piles of rubbish. Julie saw opportunity! She came home, quit her corporate job, packed her things, and moved to Haiti to find a solution for these women. August 14, 2010,just 7 months after the unforgiving earthquake on January 12, 2010 that claimed 200,000 lives and left 300,000 homeless and jobless, is the day I will never forget. This is the day we opened the REBUILD Globally (RG) training center and workshop. This is the day that marks the beginning of the bravery of Haitian artisans, a Board of Directors, international and local volunteers and many friends and family. This is the day RG took a plunge to use what most people in the world consider discard-able waste and planned to revolutionize the way waste in Haiti is managed, the way international consumers buy and the way aid is delivered to devastated, poverty stricken communities.

She collected the tires, taught the women how to cut the rubber, and use the tires to manufacture sandals. Julie began to pay these women a living wage, taking no salary for herself. Julie shares, “People asked for jobs and we worked hand in hand in order to provide a dignified living-wage and livelihood opportunities for four Haitian women and men. On that day, August 14, 2010, that was all we could conceive: four people, four lives.” Through disease, sickness, challenges to grow a business, no funding, and no infrastructure in the country to assist her, Julie persisted.

The Strides sandal was created. By 2013, REBUILD Globally had an impact of:


  • 17 REBUILD employees earning a living wage
  • 20 vulnerable youth in Apprenticeship Program
  • 5 street boys given full academic scholarships
  • 2 REBUILD artisan landowners
  • 6 REBUILD artisan homeowners,119 REBUILD renters
  • 4000+ tires recycled
  • 920 sandals sold
  • 250 sandals donated to the Phillipines
  • 25 women in microfinace project


Today, you can find the Strides sandal at the famous Ron Jon’s Surf Shop and support REBUILD Globally. And, you will find Julie spending more time here in the states because she is able to employ local women in Haiti to run the program, while she makes several trips a year to oversee the progress. Julie Columbino is truly a social entrepreneur.

Meaning. Impact. Community.

September 10, 2014/in Community Impact /by Royce Gomez

If you want to be inspired, spend time with Ben Hoyer of Downtown Credo. His
cornerstones of meaning, impact, and community are what this column is about and what
has defined my life as an entrepreneur.

Ben’s Credo states “Life is worth living. I refuse to merely exist. I pursue a life of meaning
and purpose, fulfillment and joy. The world is not yet as it ought to be. Neither is my city.
Neither am I. Yet, I reject apathy and despair. I engage the world, my city, and myself to
make an impact for good. I am not alone. I press through narcissism, isolation and
self-sufficiency striving to live in authentic community.”

If this resonates with you like it did for me you might want to apply to pitch your social
entrepreneurial idea. (I will be submitting my idea. Will you join me?) Ben has worked
tirelessly to get some of the most successful entrepreneurs to invest their time, money, and
knowledge in supporting someone with an idea and courage to live with meaning and have
an impact in their community. I have made Orlando my community over the last couple of
years and am ready to live with meaning and impact while rejecting apathy. If you have an
idea, join me. If not, come and cheer on the contestants October 15th.

Trends in Philanthropy…. Right Here in Central Florida

August 28, 2014/in Community Impact /by Royce Gomez

What an event Trends in Philanthropy was last week! The sponsors couldn’t have organized a better lineup of speakers. First, we heard from Shawn Seipler, Founder of Clean the World (CTW). CTW has earned the first B-corp designation in Florida. Shawn spent time sharing his business model, his vision, and the new programs he is launching.

Next, we heard inspiration from Ben Hoyer, Founder of Downtown Credo. Ben shared how a conversation with a friend ignited a spark of an idea which began a journey to visit coffee farmers in a remote region of Guatemala. Today this journey allows us in the community to drink coffee while giving back.

Finally, Bahiyyah Maroon from Eripio Institute spoke. Bahiyyah is a wealth of knowledge and shares her knowledge as a professor at Rollins College, contributing her knowledge to the Social Entrepreneur students. She shared how the nonprofit sector is the third sector embracing innovation, social transformation, and inspiration. Bahiyyah explained how understanding and digging deeper into your fiscal proxies will help tell your story more fully.

Mark Brewer from the Foundation always presents a program that gives us inspiration, education, and so much more!

Go forward…Re-energized

Losing your job, moving to a new community, or having your hours cut back can have a big impact on your life and your financial well-being.  Many people feel alone in their search, but they don’t have to.  For over 20 years, Christian HELP has been working in the community to connect people with jobs (over 97,000 and counting) and helping to prevent hunger through a full service food pantry that goes beyond the classic canned foods and cereal to stock fresh fruits and vegetables as well as some meat and dairy. Their pantry gave out over 1.4M pounds of food last year alone! As a former recipient, I can share that they provide prayer, a sincere desire to make you feel good, and a week’s worth of food for your family. You never feel like a second rate person while you are served at the pantry. I have seen people that have been asked if anyone has a birthday that week, and they are sent home with a cake to celebrate the birthday! How special is that?!

The other really cool (can I say cool?) program at Christian Help is Central Florida Jobs Initiative (CFJI). This program takes job seekers through 6 free (yes, free) classes to prepare and aid them in getting back to work. They teach how to write a resume and cover letter, interviewing skills, successful onboarding, and more. It’s truly amazing! I have had the pleasure of working near this program and being involved in several ways. It is truly a pleasure to share your enthusiasm and have gifted facilitators volunteer their time to come in and lead a class, perform a mock interview to benefit someone in getting back to work, and read the success stories.

If you, like many I have found in Central Florida, are not familiar with all the services Christian Help provides and the recognition they’ve received, you need to attend a “Come and See”. You will be impressed and wonder why you’ve never been involved.

Follow their page on facebook at or Twitter at @Christian_HELP

Volunteer opportunities can be found at