7 Lessons in 7 Years

Sparklers from our first workshop in 2012.
The Shimmer Sparkle Shine Project technically started in the summer of 2011, but our first big workshop was not until February of 2012. That workshop was when the idea I poked around with that previous summer became a reality. That Saturday in February 2012 is forever one of the best and most meaningful days of my life. It is crazy to me that it was only 7 years ago, because we have grown so much since then! During these past few years I have learned a lot, mostly though trial and error, about what it takes to run a non-profit and to turn your dreams into a reality. I want to share 7 things I have learned being a non-profit founder and director these past 7 years, with hopes it can inspire others who desire to make a change and a difference. By no means am I any type of an expert, but I feel I have gained some wisdom that I wish my 16-year-old self would have known when starting SSSP. 

1. Ask for help!
This is the BIGGEST thing I have had to learn, and often must be reminded to ask for help from time to time. I used to try and do everything on my own, but it is not possible. You will burn yourself out. There are people around who support your cause and support you! Utilize them! You will also have to recruit new volunteers to help you, but its worth the investment of your time. It is exciting to build up supporters for your organization and to find people who support what you do. Asking for help and delegating responsibilities will make your life easier, but it will also allow others the chance to shine and make a difference! 

2. Utilize your resources
I feel as though the best non-profits are the ones that utilize their resources. There are many ways to do this, but my personal favorite is utilizing students who need the experience. For example, SSSP needed a new website, so I posted the opportunity on craigslist for those who may be interested in doing it pro-bono for a portfolio opportunity. You know what happened? A group of college kids from a local university contacted me and used redesigning our website for their class project. We have used students for many types of projects, which has allowed SSSP to have a lot of excellent people help enhance and/or grow our organization. Contact your local colleges and universities! You can help students gain useful experiences while helping your organization/cause! 

3. Invest in Marketing
This is so crucial! The summer of 2015 is when SSSP had the most growth and this is because I invested in marketing for the organization. That summer we paid for an Instagram service and it allowed our message to reach a wider audience, which resulted in more Instagram followers, more supporters, more donations, and new opportunities. Because of that marketing investment SSSP was able to host workshops in new states (Utah, Idaho, and Georgia)!  I loved how marketing allows me to see just how many people support the mission of SSS, and it is extremely motivating! Set aside money for marketing and do your research to make it effective marketing! 

4. Focus on your mission
Mission statements are a requirement for any non-profit, and that is because they help guide what you do. They keep you on track. People will approach you saying “Why don’t you also do x, y, and z.” Or you will have other ideas and projects that come to you as your organization grows. You will have to ask yourself if it fulfills your mission at the core of what you do. For example, we used to do a yearly campaign called “Self-Worth Awareness Day” but it was a lot of work and it was not helping us accomplish our mission to its fullest potential. You are going to want to do a lot of things and help a lot of people but you have to sometimes say no and evaluate if it truly falls within the scope of your organization’s mission statement.

5. Big Trials and obstacles will happen!
With every good thing that is happening there tends to be a negative force trying to bring it down. It sucks, and it will happen at some point (whether it is big or small), but you must remind yourself why you do what you do! You have to channel the passion that made you initiate the change or movement you are behind. Channeling that passion will get you through any obstacle, big or small. 

6. Your passion will never equal anybody else’s. 
Ciara before the first workshop started in 2012.
You will come across people who have a huge passion for what you do, but it will never be the same as your passion. That is not a bad thing, it is just the way it is. What it does mean is that sometimes volunteers may not invest the same time or energy that you do, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t care or want to help. Just realize that you sometimes go above ad beyond and sacrifice things like sleep because you have the passion that started it all.

7. Don’t forget to Shimmer Sparkle Shine! 
Do not forget that you are incredible and are going to make your mark on the world! You have so much offer and are going to leave your trail of sparkle. You SHIMMER SPARKLE SHINE!!

With Love,