In episode 62 of The Charity Charge Show, Stephen speaks with Julia Warren, Founder & Executive Director at Celebrate RVA, with the simple mission to give disadvantaged children a memorable birthday celebration in a safe and fun environment.
Julia founded Celebrate RVA in January 2013 while still in high school and currently serves as the Executive Director. She is a firm believer in the power of a celebration and how joy can impact a child’s heart. Passionate about creating meaningful impact, Julia also works closely with corporate and small business sponsors to help create a culture of community, giving, and philanthropy. She has been named as one of STYLE Weekly’s 2019 Top 40 Under 40, The Prospect’s 20 Under 20, The Law Firm of Allen & Allen’s 2015 Hometown Heroes, and Richmond Inno’s Top 25 under 25.
Here are some snippets from Julia on this week’s podcast episode:
On learning to run a nonprofit like a business:
“There are a lot of really innovative nonprofits that get started by passionate people, but the administrative tasks are just so burdensome, and it’s hard. One thing that we’re told in the nonprofit sector, and one thing that I struggled with to start, was this idea of overhead myth. You know, ‘You can’t spend anything on a lawyer and you can’t spend anything on these things that don’t directly go to your mission.’ A lot of that is from a different time and from a different place. But we internalize that as, ‘We can’t spend a dollar and we have to do it all ourselves and we have to figure it out.’ You look at startups in Silicon Valley. They’re not cutting back on marketing costs and not spending a dime on Facebook. No, they want to get their name out, they want to get their word out. It should be no different for the nonprofit industry. As nonprofits, we should run our nonprofits like businesses because, at the end of the day, that’s what we are. We just do it for social good. We are funneling our additional funds back into our organizations and into our mission. While our missions might be different and our end games might be different, we do have a responsibility to run it like a business.”
On resources for new founders:
“There are so many free tools. Candid Learning is a great one where you can take either free or low-cost classes, just to understand business basics. You can apply those to a nonprofit. This is a big stepping stone that I had to take – just to get a grasp on information. Peer support resources are the largest wealth of knowledge out there. Asking people who have been in your spot before is what I would encourage people to do. Go in with questions that don’t sound like, ‘Hey, I’ve got this idea. I want to do it, how do I make it happen?’ But rather, really pointed and intentional questions of, ‘Hey, I’ve got this idea. This is how we’re solving an issue. These are the funding strategies that I want to deploy. Has anyone ever had any kind of experiences? Or this is what I need to make happen? How do I get to this exact point?’ When you can ask really pointed questions in peer groups, I think that the answers are so much more impactful.”
On the burdens of leadership:
“Something that you mentioned earlier is that you’re stressed out about meeting payroll for your small staff. I think that’s something that is really overlooked as leaders because I, too, have had those moments. When literally, we have people who are relying on us to show up every single week and make that payroll. That’s a really heavy weight that’s placed on leaders, especially of startups, that you are literally responsible for people’s incomes and livelihoods. That’s something I just didn’t want to brush by. That’s something that some people really need to hear — it is a heavy weight. It deserves to be recognized and talked about.”
Interested in listening to the full episode and hearing more from other nonprofits? Check out more episodes here Charity Charge Show