How to run a successful not-for-profit with Ian Steele

Not all kids have the same start in life.1000’s of Australian children are sent to school each day without consuming any food, or having any food during the day. This has a major impact on their learning ability, self-esteem and health. Ian Steele is one of the many people that found this statistic heart-breaking. So he decided to do something about it. In 2011 he foundedKickstart For Kids, a charity founded on the belief that every child, regardless of their social or economic background, should have an equal chance. Even with the best of intentions, running a not for profit (NFP) is hard work. Uniting a community to cohesively take action to make a difference requires clear communication. In this week’s episode of Be The Drop podcast, I talk to Ian about what it takes to make a difference by running a successful charity.

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Be a story teller

Being able to talk about your not-for-profit cause in a compelling and engaging way is a must. Whether Ian is in a boardroom rounding up more financial backing for the kids or engaging with new volunteers, his ability to tell the story of why he started the company and what continues to motivate him can be the difference between success and failure. Compelling story telling is an art, however something that can be learned and refined daily.

Never take no for an answer

No’s are unfortunately more common than yes’s for Ian, especially in the early days. In order to get Kickstart For Kids off the ground Ian took the approach of every ‘no’ is one step closer to a yes. It was this outlook, along with a very clear understanding of his why that kept him motivated and pushing forward. To run a successful NFP you cannot stop when one door closes, you must be tenatious, smart and bold in your approach and those ‘yes’s’ will come pouring in.

Be a great communicator

This is very much in the same vein as being a great story teller, however it speaks a little more to how you interact with your community. Once you can tell the story,  being able to integrate that into your day to day workings of the business requires a high level communicator. You also need to be able to communicate to a wide range of people, taking that same message and reworking it to suite your audience. For instance, speaking to a boardroom of corporates for sponsorship and talking to the kids the program feeds daily, calls for a very different delivery of a similar message. 

Motivate

You need to know what’s motivating your community in order to get the most from them. NFP organisations have a high percentage of volunteers to keep the outfit ticking over – without them the business would cost too much to run and ultimetly not be successful. Ian touches on how he interacts with his voluteers and makes a very concerted effort to touch base with each of them face-to-face at least once a month. This gives him the ability to talk and engage with them and really understand what they want to get our of their Kickstart for Kids experience.

This is no small job, with other 200 volunteer’s on the books – but he says its critical to keeping the community engaged and ensure that they are having their needs met as well. Valuing the volunteers and showing appreciation in person is a fundamental value for Ian, and ensures the day to day execution of the programs is spot on.

To hear all of Ian’s advice on how he uses communiaction to help successfully run KickStart for Kids, listen to his podcast episode:

About Ian.

Ian established Kickstart For Kids, a not for profit organisation, after mentoring “at risk” primary school children. In 2009 Ian noticed that the children he was mentoring were always hungry and could not concentrate properly. After consulting with teachers and students it was discovered that on average 10 to 15% of kids in lower socio-economic areas were coming to school without breakfast and no lunch. 

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In next week’s episode of Be The Drop podcast, I interview James ‘Nutty’ Notorious sydney based baker extrodinaire. If you have a sweet tooth, this is one you don’t want to miss,

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Enjoy! Amelia xx

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CONTACT US at podcast@narrativemarketing.com.au

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About the Author: Amelia Veale

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