3 Reasons We're NOT Starting A Non-Profit (or asking for your money)

3 Reasons We're NOT Starting A Non-Profit (or asking for your money) 1

The past few weeks have been a RUSH.

We are scared out of our pants. We have waves of fear - and then joy - and then "We have way too much to do!" Overarching all of those feelings is overwhelming peace.

Almost every day, Tim and I look at each other and say with amusement, "Want to sell everything we own, live in an RV, and travel the country helping people?"  "This is crazy!" "Is this real?"

When we first told our family, coworkers, and close friends, they almost all responded the same way - Shock, then Encouragement. Inevitably, one of the comments that followed soon after was, "You should start a non-profit!"

At first, we looked at each other and nodded enthusiastically. Yes, a non-profit! We can help even MORE people that way!

But then we talked and prayed and thought it over  - and have decided against it. With confidence. It was like a weight off of our shoulders when we came to that decision (perhaps one day we'll be compelled to start a non-profit, but not today - this adventure is different).

Here are three (of many) reasons why we won't be asking for your money:

1. We have the entrepreneurial itch. In truth, we always have. We have one LLC in place already and we are certain it won't be our last. As we travel and learn, we'll share with you our plans and our business endeavors. We DO intend to make money on the road...so that we can live...so that we can GIVE.

2. We want to give from our pocketbook (not yours). This trip is, in part, about our family - our sacrifice. We want to set an example of how ordinary people can live frugally and give to others...no matter how much (or how little) they make.

3. We want you to be able to dream with us without being pressured to give us money. When we eat dinner w/ your family or go out to coffee with you, we want it to just be dinner or coffee...not "please support us" or "here's how to donate." We want it to be pure fun and inspiration - the energetic exchange of ideas as we encourage each other in our dreams.

So there you have it. Do you feel relieved? So do we.

24 comments on “3 Reasons We're NOT Starting A Non-Profit (or asking for your money)”

  1. I can't wait to see how God works through your family. You guys are an inspiration and the coolest people I "know."

  2. This is so exciting! I am so excited to see how God uses you guys on this adventure! Your girls are going to have a blast and they will be learning SO much...as will you! I get even more excited with I think about having you guys over for dinner! Come on up...you are welcome anytime!!

  3. I TOTALLY understand. As someone who lives off of the support of others, I give a hearty AMEN to your reasons. Especially the last. It's hard. It's annoying. It's where we are right now (altho, we are dreaming of ways for it to NOT be). And while I think there is a place for allowing others to join you in support, it will free you IMMENSELY for the goals and dreams and ambitions and LIFE you want.

  4. I've got the same itch, have all my life. I can so relate to that being one of the reasons. I know God will provide through this adventure. You two obviously have great faith and trust in our glorious Lord. Keep that up and you'll never do without.



    I do think it would be great to have an option on your site somewhere to donate money out of the goodness of our hearts, though. Not a pressure thing, not a begging for money thing, but just a simple link somewhere. Just a thought. I'd love to support you and your family along this adventure of helping people.

  5. We did something similar but on a MUCH smaller scale. From August 1, 2008 to August 1, 2009, our family (me, hubby, 3 young daughters) went to 52 Zoos in 52 Weeks. My husband worked from home, and we went mostly on weekends, holidays, spring break, Christmas break, summer. We stayed with 31 families (17 of whom we met on my blog). We didn't ask for $ either, but zoos gave us free admission and so many families blessed us with meals, beds to sleep on, packed zoo lunches, new friendship. It was awesome, and God has used it as a metaphor for something bigger that He wants to do in our lives. I'm excited to follow along on your journey! And we live in Columbus, OH if you want to stop by! ;)


    1. What a fun adventure, Marla! Did you travel by car, by RV, or by plane? I'd love to hear about the lessons that you learned and your dreams for the future...

  6. I think your decision NOT to start a non-profit is sound. I say this as someone who HAS started a non-profit. This is a time for you all to be agile rather than bogged down. Also, leaving the door open to possibly make a profit someday from this experience is good. You've made everything clear right up front. I HOPE that someday at the conclusion of this journey you'll be able to share your story and experiences widely and maybe make a profit for your family at that point in time.

    It is A LOT of pressure to carry the burden of being responsible for wisely spending others charitable contributions. A LOT of pressure. And paperwork. If you took donations then you'd be subject to judgment about how they are spent and you could expect, no matter HOW wisely you spent them, backlash. Once people have a financial stake in things, they have a justifiable opinion. Your decision NOT to do that right now will enable you to have the experiences you are seeking and the ability to go in the directions you feel led to follow without repercussions. If you choose to do a non-profit at some point, AFTER your experience would likely be the best time for it. I hope your little family has an incredible experience~!

    1. Thanks for weighing in with your thoughts and experiences, Cynthia. It's helpful to hear from someone who has already been a part of the non-profit sector.

  7. Awesome. I have also dealt with Non Profits for a few years and it is a different ball game. I envy what you are doing. We have 4 kids--three with special needs and we can't manage a few weeks without therapy or I would pack it up and move to Africa for a year (I have a few charity's there). I will live vicariously through you! If you ever need a meal or a tour or anything in the San Francisco are, let me know. :-) Good Luck!

  8. I've said it before, but I am so excited to see where your travels take you. My husband and I were discussing your adventure and we both think it sounds so fascinating. While I am most interested in reading about all the ways you will help others, I am also excited to hear about your day-to-day life in the RV. Just the mundane things, like how do you laundry and what are dinners like? I am also eager to hear your tips for living frugally as Chris and I are always looking for ideas to save. Your reasons for not doing a non-profit sound great, I can tell you and Tim have really thought (and prayed) this through.

    1. Thank you for your enthusiasm, Sarah! I'm so glad you'll be following us on our journey. We'll definitely post about the "mundane" as well as the "magnificent." RV life will be brand new to us...and we're certain to learn so much along the way.

  9. Wow! That is truly amazing! :) I'm definitely looking forward to seeing where this journey takes your family and if you're ever in Idaho definitely give us a call, a tweet to let me know you're here.. anything.

    I think this is awesome what you guys are doing and I wish there were more brave people in this world like you guys! :) Good luck and my prayers are with you guys.

  10. Very inspiring! How long do you plan on doing this? How are you going to choose where to go and once you get there how do you know how to help?

    1. We're committing to a year, but may extend our journey beyond that.

      We haven't yet mapped our route, but we'll be blogging about our "anchor projects" and our selection process soon. Stay tuned.

  11. With each word I read from you guys about this amazing adventure it gives me a great desire to want to give. And to give even more then I can to step out of comfort and give to the point of being uncomfortable. Because after all we could all give up a little still be living pretty comfy lives. I can't wait to read about all the ways you guys are giving!!

  12. So excited to find you and your adventure. We are planning something similar for my daughter's 8th grade year in 2012 except we will be traveling Europe. We already have tackled the adventure of being a completely mobile family so I would be happy to answer any questions on that if you have them. The above links to a blog post that might help - it's focused on international mobility but will also work for US. (The blog hasn't officially been launched yet - still in the planning stages so please forgive the lack of content.) Have you read "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Donald Miller? It's about creating the story of your life - it was very inspirational to me and I think it could inform the beginnings of your journey. Looking forward to following you on your adventure.

  13. So excited to have found you. My family is planning on doing something similar when our daughter is in 8th grade in 2012 - except we are planning on Europe. We are already a mobile family - the link above goes to a blog post with some tips on tools for mobile living (this blog hasn't been launched yet so forgive the lack of content). Have you read "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Donald Miller? It's about creating the story of your life. It was very inspirational to me and might inform the beginning of your journey. Looking forward to following your adventure!

    1. We're excited that you found us too! Your trip sounds exciting and is sure to be transformative for all of you. Keep us posted on your plans as you get ready to embark.

  14. Hi Stephanie,

    I just discovered you, your blogs - and your adventure. I've been obsessed with the term "pray and move your feet" since a friend recently blurted out that simply statement to me regarding changes I've been contemplating. Your adventure has inspired and reminded me how important it is to not only think and pray about making a difference, but putting action behind it (even it it's scary). I'll be following you and your precious family!


    1. Hi Jodi. Thanks so much for your words of encouragement. I totally love that phrase: "Pray and Move Your Feet!" It sums up our perspective quite well. :)

Our family spent 2011 traveling the USA in an RV, striving to intentionally "give every day" for the glory of God. We interviewed CEOs of nonprofits and served alongside over 40 organizations and churches.

Our Pledge

We hereby pledge:

- To spend intimate, quantity time with our family.
- To actively help the poor, the sick, the lonely, and the helpless.
- To value, protect, and advocate for children.
- To de-emphasize the importance of “stuff” in our lives.
- To bring publicity to good causes and good people.
- To live with intentionality, as if this year was our very last.
- To observe the needs in our country/community – and then do something about them.
- To give – every day.

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