From environmental protection to creating inclusive programming or raising awareness for cures to disease, nonprofits fight the good fight. They organize people, inspire rhetoric and elevate conversations. And building nonprofits can be a daunting task. That was the subject of our opening panel at the 2018 EVOLVE Summit and why A Walk on a Water’s Sean Swentek and Latino Outdoors’ Maricela Rosales spoke to the triumphs and pitfalls of building a strong nonprofit platform in the surf and outdoor world. Reece Pacheco, who runs WSL’s ocean advocacy group, PURE, moderated the panel.
One of the main challenges faced by any nonprofit is obtaining funding that allows for proper programming, which Maricela addressed. “With any non-profit, funding is a challenge: how do you fund the work so you’re reaching out to the communities at their level,” she said. “And you have to meet the needs of the community without shoving your message down their throats.”
One thing that has helped all nonprofits with that messaging, says Sean, is the influx of social media into everyday life. “Social media has played a huge role for everyone involved in the last 20 years,” he said. “It makes it a lot easier to disseminate information and get the message out there.”
Burnout and stress on families are something every person who works in the nonprofit world deals with, as both Sean and Maricela talked about candidly. But without nonprofits, where would we be? Would we know as much about surf therapy? Would there be as many programs for under-served youth in the inner cities? Not likely. As Maricela so aptly pointed out, “Nonprofits are the underdogs of community service.”