Job or Entrepreneur?

Sometimes it's good to have a job and work for other people and other organizations, and sometimes it's good to be a startup and an entrepreneur.

Our experience has been that you do different things at different times in your life, so people who say they could never work for a boss or a board or in a company don't miss out then on all the experience that you get from that place, from learning from others, learning how to cooperate with other people, learning how bureaucracies work; getting money to pay the rent and the mortgage, the kids' school fees, the money that you need to feel comfortable in your life without feeling risked and threatened.

And then other times you need to be out on the edge, stepping out, taking the risks, going to places and doing things that nobody else is doing, because you believe they're really important things to do and you want to go and do them, and you want to do them for yourself and be your own boss and bring people along with you but not be told by people who don't get what you want to do how to do what they think you should do.

So ‘different roles’ at ‘different times’ for ‘different people’; working in more places gives you tremendous experience.

We're looking now for board members who want to help these startups and support them, but not get in their away.

Interview with Morri Young, one of the founders at Just Add Purpose

Here is a transcript of a recent interview with Morri Young to explain Just Add Purpose.

Hi Morri and thanks for talking with us today. Can you tell us what Just Add Purpose is, and what it isn’t?

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Hi and thanks for the invitation. Just Add Purpose is a nonprofit organisation with the mission to support people who are at the very early stages of establishing a nonprofit, charity or social enterprise. We match these startups with volunteer Mentors who will guide them through the process of incorporation, meeting compliance, establishing good governance practice and sound financial management processes.

We don’t assist with finding funding, developing their programs, or pursuing their missions.

How did the idea come about?

As people who have been in the nonprofit sector for many years, our Board members are regularly approached by people who have decided that it’s their time to help solve a problem in their neighbourhood, their community or the world. They are passionate about something they want to do, but aren’t quite sure of the steps to safely and efficiently setup the organisation to deliver the mission.

Sometimes these people have crossed over from another sector, such as education or commercial, while others have worked as volunteers or staff in nonprofits,and in most cases aren’t sure of the steps they need to take to be legal or ready to launch.

It has been said that Australia does not need any more nonprofits or charities. Where does Just Add Purpose fit with that?

We completely agree. 

With over 500,000 nonprofits and 55,000 plus charities in Australia, we are not in the business of adding to the sector. However we also know that the people who passionately believe that they have a unique answer to solve a significant problem, are not going to be easily dissuaded. If they don’t have the correct base and structure for their enterprise, they will burn through their own money or borrowings, they will test and stretch friendships, they will become disillusioned and disappointed, and exhausted. They will make many mistakes along the way, and they generally will choose to pursue their mission over compliance, governance and financial management.

A small percentage will be successful. Many will walk away.

Just Add Purpose’s mission is to help them see the reality of the challenges ahead and to guide them with the infrastructure side of what they need to do. 

And if they are going to abandon their mission to setup a charity, we can help them fold up more quickly and cheaply, and with less of the pain they would go through if they were on their own, and hopefully their self-esteem still intact.

Tell us about the Mentors

The mentors who answered a shoutout to join Just Add Purpose are experienced managers, CEOs, board members and academics who generally know some part of the nonprofit space. We are so pleased that so many have stepped up. We believe they have the essential practical experience and wisdom to support our startups.

Just Add Purpose is providing them with the resources, checklists, and guidance they need to support a Startup, even if they don’t have specific experience in the Startup’s area of interest. They will work within a Community of Practice model where we seek to build support network amongst the cohort.

While the Mentors are there to provide practical walk-throughs of the obligations facing the startups, they have already proved to be effective sounding boards to our startups about strategy, project management, and support as they pass through the “Trough of Despair”.

How are you funded?

At the moment, the Just Add Purpose Board is bootstrapping the project, and there is a lot of pro bono work being done by David Longfield and myself. We have been working on the communication and resource platforms we will need, and these are off-the-shelf software applications.

We are keeping costs to a minimum. Once we have a proven results out there, we will seek financial support. We believe that we can reduce the burden on regulators by streamlining the startup process, and there might be an efficiency there that will encourage a regulator to support Just Add Purpose to assist those startups which chew up a great deal of their time. If we can assist startups and reduce the pressure on the regulator to respond to ‘out of scope’ requests, we believe there is a win-win there.

We are also looking to grantmakers, funders and philanthropists who want to support a particular startup, but want to be assured that the startup will be properly incorporated, governed and financially managed. We offer an ‘Express Lane’ service to assist these funded startups.

There are lots of organisations out there supporting nonprofits and charities. Are you doubling up?

You’re right. There are some fantastic organisations and we have already established great alliances out there. For example, we are not lawyers, so we ask Justice Connect to work with our startups where they can. We use Nonprofit Training to help people learn about financial management and governance. We refer to OurCommunity, AICD, ACNPS, and a whole lot of other excellent services to support our startups. We are here to help build those networks for our startups and have no intention of reinventing the wheel.

And most of these organisations have loads of resources, but we are adding the mentoring and guidance to walk these startups through the process. Because they are startups, they need someone to help them tick all the boxes, sign the papers, fill out the forms.. That’s our value add. Keeping them to task.

What do you need now?

Well we will need funding at some stage to cover software licenses, and to begin paying for research and administration support.

We are looking for startup nonprofits, charities and social enterprises who want to talk about their dreams.

We will soon be looking for new Mentors when the demand from Startups takes off.

How do people find out more.

Make contact through the website to get in touch.

Interesting podcast on direct action to save a bit of the planet

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If you are listening to podcasts, here's one from Koda Capital on how The Nature Conservancy raised $55 million in twelve weeks to purchase environmentally significant land in the Murray Darling basin. This ambitious act of private conservation harnessed philanthropy and investment to secure the future of over 200,000 hectares of prime Australian land.

Help! I need a lawyer...

Key to the success of Just Add Purpose is the way we connect with other organisations supporting nonprofits, charities and startups. So one of our first calls was to Not-for-Profit Law at Justice Connect. They are a valuable organisation providing legal advice, education and self-help resources for Australian charities and not-for-profits.

An important part of establishing and running a nonprofit is getting the legals right. While Just Add Purpose Mentors can ‘pilot our Startups through the channels to reach the open seas of sustainability’, we do this by connecting with the many resources that already exist. We link to these organisations and refer where we can and have no intention of trying to duplicate their specialist knowledge.

Not-for-Profit law - as well as training and online resources - can also access free legal advice for ‘organisations that help marginalised or disadvantaged members of the community or to people living in rural, regional or remote locations in Australia; or organisations that act for the public good.’

Start the process here: