Being an athlete as a child and a coach throughout his life, Kevin experienced the benefits of extra-curricular activities first-hand. He believes that participating in football, baseball and track created structure for him and helped him to become goal-oriented. Through sports, he was able to learn how to deal with success and failure. He carried these benefits into his adult life, along with the great friendships he formed because of his involvement with sports.
Benefiting from extra-curricular activities himself, Kevin decided to personally sponsor underprivileged children who were unable to participate because their families could not afford it. Kevin felt rewarded every time he helped a child become a part of an extra-curricular activity because he knew how generosity would impact their lives. For years, Kevin and his brother helped provide opportunities for many children, but Kevin wanted to do more. He wanted to encourage others to do the same because he knew that there were many other underprivileged children in the same situation. He did some research and found that there were a few nonprofit organizations that allowed children to participate in sports, but none like the one he had in mind. He wanted children to be able to play the sport that they actually wanted to play.
After discovering that there were no local organizations that allowed a child to play a sport of their choice, he decided to start one himself. Underprivileged children need help paying for the expense of joining a sports team, as well as the costly equipment that they are constantly outgrowing. Kevin began planning a non-profit organization that would be called Equipment 4 Kids. His intentions were to collect donations in order to sponsor children who wanted to be a part of a particular sport, funding the expense to join and donating equipment in order to play.
Kevin then began to think about all of the other children who wanted to be a part of an extracurricular activity, other than sports. For instance, there were children who were interested in playing an instrument, but could not afford the expense of one or the cost of lessons. Kevin wanted to help these children as well so he decided to expand his cause. He wanted the foundation to help not only potential athletes, but also other children who wanted to get involved. He wanted to give all children the opportunity to be a part of an extra-curricular activity, thus Opportunities 4 Kids was formed.
If you are interested in starting a nonprofit organization first, determine whether there is a need for that specific cause in your area. Simply search the internet for local organizations to see if there are any that have a similar mission. Also check out Guidestar.org to view organizations by keyword and location. If there are other nonprofit organizations that have a similar cause, then it may be hard for you to obtain sponsors and to find other means of support. If an organization already exists consider having them be your fiscal sponsor if you are unable to or do not wish to obtain 501(c)3 status. Also consider becoming a volunteer.
If you do decide to form a nonprofit organization, Kevin’s advice would be to “make sure your heart is in the right place.” His future hopes for his own nonprofit says just that. “I want to see how many different people O4K can help and how many lives we can change because of that.” – Founder, Kevin Van Norman