If you feel called to give back, don’t let your career or age stop you. Austin philanthropist Brian L Fontenot shares how he found inspiration to start his non-profit.
Many individuals have poured into my life and contributed to who I am today. From managers to mentors, I have always learned valuable lessons from someone in a position of leadership or seniority. I always felt called to share this guidance with others, but struggled to figure out how to do it. How does one who is under 30, still working in corporate give back to others? The answer for me was starting a non-profit.
Look At What You’re Doing Now
When you’re called to something, you’re probably already in the process of making an impact or creating change. We sometimes think that our impact cannot be felt because our impact doesn’t look like what we thought it would be. But if you take a hard look at what you’re doing, you may realize talents you never noticed before. For myself, I had been making change in my community by mentoring peers, students, and those I cared about the most. I offered career tips, advice on personal branding, and even did interview coaching to help my mentees thrive. I was already doing the work to make an impact, but had one more question for myself. How do I make this impact real?
Look At What Others Have Done
I wanted a mentor and scholarship program to be my agent of change. I saw other organizations doing this through a foundation. Once I landed on this idea, I created a 501(c)(3) non-profit for developing future leaders. The mentorship program could address the skills and talents that hiring managers wanted to see in next generation leaders. The scholarship could help with some of the financial challenges that college students face. With a non-profit focused on finance, mental/emotional health, leadership skills, and technology, I could help students be successful in their academic and professional career.
Look at Your Impact
Watching the students in my mentorship program grow brings a level of enjoyment and satisfaction that I had not experienced through any other mediums. Through our mentorship sessions, their viewpoints on how they would approach situations change. Their thought process expands to include knowledge they never had before. From text messages, to emails, to phone calls, the students share their appreciation for the program and the impact it’s had on them. Far from a failure, this program has been a success beyond my imagination.
If you have a vision for giving back, you can make an impact. The best time to start building your non-profit is today. Do not delay on something so rewarding that can touch the lives of others, AND impact you too!
Want to learn more about Brian’s non-profit?
Check out the BLF Foundation at blffoundation.org.