At Georgetown, Anthony paired university students with people with intellectual disabilities of a similar age. The program proved so popular that students from other universities asked if he could help them develop similar programs on their campuses. With that, Best Buddies was born.
Today, the organization has 1500 chapters and impacts nearly 400,000 individuals in 50 states and 40 countries. Its mission: to enhance the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for one-to-one friendships and integrated employment.
Recognizing its effectiveness and impact, we have supported Best Buddies for several years.
Recognized internationally for his achievements as a “social entrepreneur,” Anthony described several factors necessary for a non-profit leader to help his or her organization achieve consistent success.
- Be creative. Create unique experiences for your donors and volunteers that they can’t get anywhere else. Don’t be a commodity.
- Be passionate. Make your non-profit job your lifestyle. Engage your family in your work.
- Hire incredible people. Build a great team. Invest in training and coaching so everyone is on the same page.
- Exercise fiscal discipline. Manage your organization efficiently, and if a program or service can’t sustain itself, then drop it.
- Create diversity of revenue. Plan to get revenue from multiple sources; don’t be tempted to focus your fundraising efforts on one primary source.
Being successful in the non-profit world is hard work, Anthony said. “There are no shortcuts. Just set your goals for the top of the mountain and hammer away every single day, and you’ll eventually get there. Just keep going and never give up.”
It was exciting to spend some time with Anthony – to hear firsthand his story – and to think about applying his five success factors to my position at Operation Kids. I’ll also remember his admonishment to “just keep going.”
We are working every day to be better, more efficient, more effective, more impactful – in short, a better organization that betters the lives of more and more children each year. If we keep going, and do a little more each day, just imagine what we, along with organizations like Best Buddies, can accomplish!