Entering the world of forming and growing a nonprofit organization is no different than starting any other business. The only difference is, the mission of the business is to generate revenue for an overall mission/purpose. Whether it is for cancer research, refugee aid, or environmental conservation, millions of non profit businesses worldwide all share the passion for their cause, and will do whatever it takes to make a difference.
Shalom Lamm, a well-known real estate developer, shares that same passion. He is the CEO of the nonprofit organization Operation Benjamin. This business is dedicated to preserving the memories of American-Jewish servicemen and women who tragically lost their lives during World War II. The organization is named in honor of Private Benjamin Garadetsky. He was a Jewish soldier who was mistakenly buried under a Latin Cross at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. This was the first case where the nonprofit’s team was successful in changing the marker. All of the cases thus far have involved Jewish servicemen whose burials are under Latin Crosses. The team says the work they do is an “honor,” and they are proud to set the record straight.
On the website for Operation Benjamin, Shalom Lamm and his team describe the mission as “the greatest of good deeds” and that the nonprofit is “a labor of purest love, devotion and respect.” Lamm believes that his time is best spent focusing on this organization and helping honor and preserve the memories of the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice.
To start a nonprofit organization, one must have a business plan that focuses on providing help to a certain need. Once that is established, do some research on other nonprofits that focus on the same issue and talk to people of those organizations to get a better understanding of how to approach tackling the mission. In addition, talk to people who may need the services of your nonprofit, find out their needs and how this business can help them. All of the information gathered will help legitimize the company and will help it takeoff.
Once a mission and objective has been identified, it is time to do some market analysis. Figure out what supporters, donors and volunteers this organization should aim towards. To help with these decisions, try writing down what the “ideal” supporter will be like. Think of details such as the person’s income, age, occupation, and why they want to become involved with the company. After that, the next step is to conduct interviews with people who fit the ideal description. This will help decide if they are a good fit with the organization’s mission. If a company is wishing to be as successful as Operation Benjamin, they must have an overwhelming amount of support behind them.
When asked about what brought him to pursuing a career in nonprofit, Lamm answers, “I have always had a natural desire to make meaningful contributions to society in different ways. Even while still running many different successful businesses during my time in the private sector over the last 4 decades, my wife and I have always sought out ways to provide meaningful solutions to various social programs. Although the transition from being an entrepreneur for nearly four decades to operating as the leader of a nationally renowned nonprofit might sound odd, based on the shared values my wife and I have lived by even while I was still in business, it actually makes plenty of sense when put in the proper context.”
If someone wants to make a meaningful difference in their lifetime, Lamm thinks it is worth putting thoughts into action. Anyone can start a business, but why not be the founder of an organization that is for the greater good? It will be an exciting and fulfilling experience.