Future of Chicago Non-profits Uncertain

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As Illinois officials continue to cut nonprofit funding with the burden of a $1.6 billion budget deficit, Illinois nonprofits are scrambling to make hard decisions about reducing their staff and locations. President and CEO of Donor’s Forum, Eric Weinheimer, notes that “this is the reality…our sector does what government no longer can… we shelter, feed, clothe, educate, and keep our communities healthy.”

Illinois prides itself on its humanity and engagement in the charitable sector. In fact, Illinois’ charitable sector consists of 525,000 employees and $20 billion in wages. This leaves charities with an increased pressure in the importance of fundraising right now in order to keep working towards all their individual missions.

As a part of Illinois’ nonprofit sector marketing tactic, the Donors Forum created the “Building Stronger Illinois” campaign. The social return on investment is as follows: For every dollar invested in the Arts and Culture areas yields $27 in socioeconomic return, $58 in the Environmental area, and $45 in the Youth Development area.

According to this research analysis, Illinois currently resides last in the country for fiscal health. This conclusion stems from the state’s statistics on cash, budget, long run, service level, and trust fund solvencies. This is extremely concerning for all of the nonprofits, charities, and philanthropies that we support and are partnered with.

So how can we help these wonderful nonprofits and philanthropies?

The answer lies with WeevU! At WeevU, we empower nonprofits, and grow communities. We want to alleviate much of the stress of state budget cuts that nonprofits are facing with our all-encompassing social media platform. WeevU can help these organizations build, connect, and market their events and mission to find better success. So please join our mission and help us #weevchicago!

-Ellen Stello

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WeevU Friday Recap: 7.24.2015

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This week we met up with up and coming powerhouses in the nonprofit world. The only thing holding these two nonprofits back are… well, nothing.

First, we reconnected with Mike Cavanaugh of the Small Business Advocacy Council. Perseverance and personality are two traits that stand out when talking to Mike. His passion for what he does is incredible. After knowing Mike for a while now, his personality tops all. Mike is both personable and outgoing, making it easy to relate to his passion. From our experiences, showing your passion while simultaneously relating to people is incredibly difficult to do. Mike is a master at his craft and is on the way to changing the world. In fact, the SBAC recently helped pass intrastate crowdfunding for businesses. A big cheers to Mike, Elliot, Ryan, Stephanie and the rest of the SBAC team.

Next, we met with Michael Stark and Stephanie Robuck of Holiday Heroes. Before we dig in, we recommend taking a look at Holiday Heroes’ website and their mission. These two have already accomplished truly incredible things. If we had to choose three words to describe Michael and Stephanie, they would be powerful, passionate and connected. Powerful because they have a vision and will achieve their goal without a doubt. Passionate because they strive to impact every child they meet. And lastly, they are connected. Holiday Heroes is growing at an extraordinary rate due to the power of connecting people in the philanthropy world. They realized that if their supporters are helping them, you must go out of your way to create introductions and be a resource.

The ultimate reason we wanted to share both stories is because their teams hold incredible business acumen. They understand that nonprofits must be run like a business in order to reach their vision. In Cavanaugh’s situation, he focuses his business acumen on unique loyalty strategies to his members. With Holiday Heroes, they focus on partnering and scaling because in the nonprofit world there is one mission and that is to make the world a better place. Meeting both the Small Business Advocacy Council and Holiday Heroes have made this week a unique learning experience in our journey!

Check out these upcoming events to get involved with your community today:

WeevU Friday Recap: 7.17.2015

Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.

-Albert Einstein

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We met with some incredible nonprofits and people this week. For our first Friday Recap, we would like to highlight I.C. Stars co-founder and executive director, Sandee Kastrul. Sandee is an incredible story teller. Immediately, Sandee’s passion for education came out when explaining her model of how I.C. Stars has gotten to where they are today. Sandee has had ups and downs, as many nonprofit professionals do. After hearing her and many other executive directors’ stories, we are beginning to tie everyone’s success to grit. In short, grit is the key trait you need to be an influential  leader and game changer. Grit lets you see the light at the end of the tunnel. Grit empowers you to go past your fullest potential. Grit creates luck. Grit sparks change. Sandee has grit and you can feel it through her stories and passion. We suggest to check out I.C. Stars and see how you can get involved.

If you’re looking to get involved in your community, check out these great upcoming events in the Chicagoland area:

  • This August, The Breast Cancer Fundraiser is hosting their 4th Annual Chicago Breast Cancer Fundraiser, complete with a silent auction and live ballet inspired art and entertainment. We invite you to buy your tickets to this incredible fundraiser sooner than later!
  • Girls in the Game presents “Brush Back” Book Launch with Sarah Paretsky and Guests from Girls in the Game. To learn more about how you can support Girls in the Game, be sure to head to their website!
  • Open Communities presents the 2015 Justice Project: The March Continues in Winnetka Village on July 26th. This event will be a family-friendly event that seeks to redefine what it means to be a “community”, beginning in the northern suburbs of Illinois.
  • If you love the arts, you’ll love the Ridgeville Park District’s “Shakespeare on the Ridge” on Saturday’s and Sunday’s. Admission is free and attendees are welcome to bring a picnic dinner to add to their experience.
  • Tomorrow (July 18th), the Yellow Tractor Project invites you to join their Board Members in an evening of theater and fun. “Join the Club” and support the Yellow Tractor Project!

We hope you find an event or activity that speaks to you and the causes that matter most to you. If you have an event you would like us to promote or highlight, please drop us an email at steph@weevu.com. Have a wonderful and safe weekend!

Meet Mia!

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A nature enthusiast and adventure seeker, Mia Jenssen is a tree hugger spending her college years in the windy city. She loves to get out of the city as much as she can to enjoy hiking, kayaking, and mountain climbing under the sizzling sun, pushing her boundaries. The serenity and isolation she finds in the wilderness is unmatched elsewhere. A sophomore at DePaul University, majoring in Geography and Public Relations and Advertising, with a minor in Art History and Architecture, Mia has a wide range of passions.

Mia’s favorite person in the entire world is Charlie Chaplin. She admires and tries to emulate his understanding, humor, and spontaneity in life.

Mia found out about WeevU through DePaul’s experience page. WeevU jumped out to her on a long list of available internships opportunities with nearby companies or startups that involve marketing and advertising.

We are so lucky to have Mia on our Social Media Team, adding her own ideas and flavor to our advertising needs. Her job is to help market and promote WeevU and it’s dream of pushing nonprofits to reach their full potential. As we have all found, social media is key in the world of nonprofits.

Mia’s favorite part about working at WeevU is being a part of such a passionate team that is trying to make a difference in the community and further. She is also exploring what life after college could look like. A huge advocate for WeevU herself, she sees it being a big component in the world of nonprofit organizations. Although we are starting small, she truly believes in the future success of WeevU and all of the good it can do.

Mia’s best moment of 2015 is getting the WeevU Internship! She also enjoyed her spring break trip down to North Carolina where she hiked the Appalachian Trail for a week and tried her first Southern BBQ ribs…both a success. Her future aspirations include being the star of the next Avengers movie…specifically one with invisibility powers for an edge over opponents.

We love working with Mia here at WeevU! She shares with us our passion for nonprofits and giving back in order to grow the nonprofits of Chicago!

Meet Bria!

Bria

Originally born on the West coast, but having the road be her home, Bria Smith has traveled more than any average 20 year old we have known. Although, she has lived in several different states, it wasn’t until she came to Chicago that this big city captured her big heart!

Lucky for us Bria is a part our dream team here at WeevU, functioning as executive director as well as Matt and Steph’s right hand woman. As a junior at DePaul University, studying public relations and advertising, Bria fits in tremendously! By working mainly on customer service and sales and ALSO managing the multiple internal teams at WeevU, she describes this experience as ‘overwhelmingly incredible’. She feels so blessed to be working with Matt and Steph, whose dreams are finally coming true along with her dedicated fellow interns. She expresses how she loves working with such a passionate team that believes in WeevU so much and puts in extra effort because they all know they’re making something amazing that will be wildly successful.

Besides starting this new internship at WeevU and working towards her dream of working in the nonprofit sector, Bria has had a lot of wonderful moments to celebrate about in 2015! She has found a new and comfortable apartment in Uptown where the WeevU team has already held a fun bonding night. Pushing the boundaries and breaking the rules, Bria Smith is a superhero at WeevU. We’re so lucky to have a leader like her, fighting by our side to make Chicago the most philanthropic city in the world!

Sharing Smiles

Non profit founders often vary in professional background, expertise and the reason they do what they do. But there is one thing that brings them all together: the struggle of starting and maintaining their organization.

In this article on Huffington Post’s blog, Eric Cope, founder of Smile Squared, a non profit that gives toothbrushes and oral health information to children in countries with no access to oral health care, shares his advice for all non profit – and business – owners.

Integrity, perseverance and ambition are just a few of the traits that Cope describes as necessary for a successful start-up and non profit. We’d tend to agree.

His first “nugget” of advice, and our favorite, was to keep your organization’s mission at the heart of every decision you make. At WeevU, we’re pretty fond of organizations that stick to their mission – in fact, we like to think we do a good job of that as well.
Check out Cope’s advice on social entrepreneurship and let us know what you think!

Impact vs. Success

It’s common practice for non profits to be judged on their immediate success rate. How effective they are, how well they spend their donations and the overall impact they make on their cause are general criteria for evaluating how much we should support an organization.

Warren Buffett thinks differently.

Buffett stresses the importance of tackling larger causes that may not have immediate results. Like a country investing in infrastructure, businesses that invest in eliminating issues – and not taking the easy option – are better in the long term.

WeevU 2.0 agrees, which is why we’re working to connect non profits to their communities and improve that success rate no matter the size of the cause.

Read the full article in Forbes and see why big business should take a second look at the non profit sector.