Not for Profit

The last puzzle piece is hardest to find

Not for Profit

Not For Profit

So, there I was with a team of 50+ members all waiting for the next steps.  The plan was in place and ready to go, but we simply could not do anything “real” until we were in a position to deposit checks from our contributors.  Many supporters wanted to contribute to a Not for Profit or charity but that crucial vehicle was not yet in place.  We needed our not-for-profit entity (or joint venture) to come to life quickly in order for the project to thrive the way it was planned.


Now began the long journey of continuing to nurture relationships with 3 not-for-profit charities that could help facilitate our project.  Why was the school not going to be registered as a not-for-profit itself?  Well, even though the process would have been far easier to do so, I find it much harder to “legacy plan” a movement when it is driven by a board of directors rather than the standard commercial construct.  I know I had the best advisers and executives in the region at my side, but when you think of the biggest innovators in the world, never does major innovation come directly out of a not for profit group. From Apple to Amazon, innovation tends to be birthed from the for-profit sector (even if the for-profit entity never really directly makes big money). 

So with that in mind, we set-forth in establishing joint ventures with one of three local charities.  The goal was to share the success as we all moved forward in our relative missions.  Six months passed and the first charity backed out because there was fear that the Joint Venture did not overlap enough with their bylaws and they did not desire to jeopardise their charitable status in any way.  I greatly respected their decision and appreciated how up front they.  I continued to venture forward with the two remaining charities. 

One more year passed and the second charity finally approved the joint venture!  I thought we had reached the finish line and were finally in a position to move quickly in big ways for our community. But then I noticed that deep down in the joint venture contract, there was a clause that outlined something to the fact of financial disbursements for scholarships and bursaries would be limited to same structures of the charity.  In essence, this restriction limited each contribution to only $200 per family per year.  Unfortunately $200 per year truly does not help a family that desperately needs our alternative education programs when the average financial commitment would be roughly $1200 to $2000 a month for the schooling.   We had members in our community that wanted to directly sponsor entire families for their education with us and that a joint venture approach simply would not work.  My heart fell yet again, and I was deeply disappointed that after almost two years of development, we still were no further ahead then when we first started. 


What about the third charity?  Well, over a year has passed and I have still have-yet to hear from the third charity as to if we can successfully joint venture.  So, here is where my patience ran out.  I am simply not getting younger and I would like to see lives impacted sooner than later. It was time to move in a new direction and I finally found a solution.

Not many know about the numerous careers I have held.  I will save you from the details but I do need to say that one of my many jobs was a top Executive Recruiter (headhunter) for a firm based out of Barrie Ontario.  Through that job, I had directly experienced repeatedly that Americans really knew how to move quickly, decisively and confidently in every way.  As a whole, they thought big, they moved big, and they achieved big.  In-fact I actually preferred to work south of the border for the majority of my career.  I have found many other executives quickly echo my sentiment as well.


My new plan:


I directly contacted every Not for Profit organization that has supported for-profit education centers across North America.  I contacted upward of 15 groups and within 48 hours I was on the phone with a gentleman name Andrew Weckman from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Man, did this guy ever know how to move big in the not for profit sector!  Over the past five years, he worked with a firm that moved many millions of dollars for a large international education group.  His experience was second to none, and within our first hour phone call, we both felt like we had known each other all of our lives.  We both had the same integrity, approach, passions and ethics.  We both trusted first and continued to trust until the second party gave reason not to trust.  We both thought and moved big.  We were not intimated by big numbers, big project and big pressures, and we both lived for great business collaborative experiences.  Andrew was and definitely still is a great mover and shaker!  Within another 48 hours of our phone call, Andrew requested to come to Canada to see our operation and prepare to dig in.  7 days later, he was here in Ontario. 


We spent a great weekend together.  I showed him our Barrie Campus, Midland Campus, Wasaga Beach Campus, Collingwood Campus and even the proposed Angus location for the school.  I showed him the proposed properties for the monster building structures, the staging buildings that we could use right away, and of course the first phase school location that will get us started.  He was truly excited.  After spending an afternoon walking through the beauty of the Bruce Trail escarpment, he and I had a heart to heart. 

He asked me strait up.  “What is it that I needed from him to get everything moving properly”. 

I answered one thing: “I know how to raise a team.  I know how to build an education model and successful school.  I know how to build a successful business plan, market and move in many ways. What I have never done is move over 10 million dollars in a project.  I would not now where to start when it comes to moving 100 million and more in order to get the ‘big project’ going.” 


With that he said: “That’s all?  As soon as I get home I will setup the framework for you.”

With that, I was 100% certain that I was working with the right man.

Within 30 days, I had achieved more with Andrew than I did in the year I was working with Canadian partners. Now this is not a slight to the Canadian not for profits in any way.  It is just how things came together.  In truth: I love the not for profits that I tried to joint venture with and each and every one of them have awesome missions and I support them 110%.  I will wave their flag as strongly as any member in the community and wish them all the best and greatest of success in every way. They are all doing exceptional work for our community! 


Now through Andrew Weckman, we now have a Canadian NFP combined with a strong Canadian Board of Directors.  I do not reside on this board and this new NFP has some exceptional plans to joint venture not only with Spaulding School of The Arts, but also with many other entities across Canada.  We can save those details for another day.   Even though we had a not for profit in place, we were not in the clear as of yet. 


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Part 1: The Beginning
Part 2: The Ramp Up
Part 3: Raising The Octane
Part 4: Getting Real
Part 5: Not For Profit
Part 6: Next Steps
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