5 Things I’ve Learned in the Past 5 years of Running POINT, the Charity Formerly Known as ONELIFE

(The artist formerly known as Prince reference, please laugh.) 

1. Doing good isn’t always glamorous. 

People, sometimes doing good sucks. I’m not going to gloss it. Over the past 5 years I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to quit, thrown a 2 year-old-like tantrum, procrastinated stupid hard tasks, sulked, hid under the covers… you name it.

Most days there isn’t a reward for doing good. It becomes a mental game in which one’s sheer stubbornness is the key to winning.

Vets on our team know this to be true. We don’t have sick kids smiling at us or rescued puppies snuggling up; nope, we’ve got laptops and each other. It could be so much worse, we could be in harm’s way, but instead it’s just boring.

However, we get those glimpses. Those “doing good is glamours” glimpses. In the past 5 years we have raised almost $15,000 for charity. Our reps and chapters have given away pounds upon pounds of clothing, built a clean water well, accepted donation after donation on our former website and hosted 5ks for various causes.

We know there’s more good (and glam) (and tantrums) to come. And we can’t wait. We’re stubborn enough to keep doing good no matter how we feel.

If you are a someone who wants to do something innovative for good:

Do it. Be stubborn.

2. Be a boss, build a team, but there’s no place for pride.

I’m not always right.

Yep, tell my husband, I’m not. In 2010, with 6 years-worth of preliminary ideas for a charity aggregate site, I thought I knew the direction we were going in. Ha. It’s funny now.

There are some things you shouldn’t be stubborn about; actually, the only things you should be stubborn about is your drive forward and to not forget why you started.

I’m not an expert in everything. I try to talk to them – experts, that is. Yes, I creep around in YouTube, the internets and meetings to ask questions about things I don’t know.

If you hold on to your preconceived ideas and dreams of how a product will be, a team meeting would run, how an event would go … reality will soon set in.

Reality: We didn’t raise enough start up money to build a full fledged app. So we have to start with a small piece of the app and expand from there.

But with that we have the opportunity to start small and expand. Like books were for Amazon, service opportunities will be for us! I’ve learned how to be a boss and make hard choices. I’ve learned how critical it is to build a good team… and BELIEVE in them!   Believe that your team has ownership in what you’re doing and allow them the freedom to do their jobs well, without you.

3. What we set out to do was hard.

Like really hard.

Can we really aggregate all of charity? Will people use POINT? Do millennials want to talk about charity? Do millennials think about charity more than once a month? Where are we going to get content? What does our budget allow? Will nonprofits use another platform? Will millennials show up to a service event only from a app notification? Can our team work full time jobs and pull this off? Will we be able to provide enough current data on each of the 20 some causes? …

I just wanted to give you a sample of the 50 billion questions we ask ourselves.

Please imagine for a minute, our team speaking at more than 20 different meetings to raise money and not raising enough to cover gas. Imagine us getting asked to leave a meeting early because an investor didn’t like the idea. Imagine us giving a pitch and the panelists start arguing amongst each other whether the app would be successful. And then imagine it starts raining and sad music starts playing.

We didn’t think it would be this tough. I mean everyone makes apps right?

The fact that this development is hard gives us hope that it’s all the more worth being pursued.

4. Time is not my friend. 

Where’d the time go?! I’m not talking about the last 5 years. I’m talking about the last 3 hours that Instagram sucked from my soul. Or on other days I’m talking about the time my stomach tells me it’s 9:47 pm and I had a power bar at 11:13 am.

I’m learning time flies and it’s so important how I allocate it. Honestly, as a perfectionist, it’s hard. I can’t be attentive to my faith, be a kick ass ceo, a loving wife, a baller cook, Martha Stewart’s rival housekeeper, an iPhoneographer, fashionista, the organizer of my friends, in shape, a day-time scientist, earn an income and remember to visit my grandfather.

So I try to take small victories and build upon them. Today I’ve taken my vitamins 4 days in a row, the bathroom is clean and the company is still rolling! Enjoy your small victories.

And remember what matters.

Taking a good iPhone pic – doesn’t matter.

Visiting Papa – does.

5. I have a soap box. 

Actually I have many soap boxes, just ask my friends how I feel about recycling.

But regarding POINT:

If this is going to work we are going to need a lot of people. Which the thought of getting that many people to download POINT makes me feel all the feels. When you want to build something that requires a community of us to make it function, it’s no longer any bit about me.

It’s about us.

It’s about us as a generation of millennials making charity accessible for us and the kids younger than us. It’s about the sheer fact that it’s easier to find a clothing store full of clothes we don’t need, than it is to find a charity full of people who need you.

It’s about making charity a priority and the only way we can do that is by making it simple and accessible. And the only way to do that is to change our connection to charity to our phones (like everything else).

Photo Madison Mikhail
Madison Mikhail
CEO & Founder at POINT

No guilt trips, no sad stories. Just a chance to do something good.