Starting a new non-profit is hard work. There are so many things to do and the founders often wonder where to focus their attention first – on the brand or on the infrastructure or building the deliverable/service.
We recently worked with a fledgling non profit, Yoga for Parkinson’s, and recommended we start with a Facilitated Discovery Session (FDS) to help them start building their brand. In this blog series we’ll share what we learned during this pro-bono project with you.
“I can stand on one foot. 5 yrs ago, I couldn’t do that,” Carl, founder of Yoga for Parkinson’s told his doctor.
His doctor asked, “What are you doing? What is causing this improvement?”
“Yoga,” Carl replied.
Yoga gives patient's a break
I am a long-time yoga practitioner (in addition to running SDS and being a mountain biking enthusiast), so when Carl told me this story, I believed him right away. I know that yoga builds the mind body connection so it didn’t surprise me that it would help with a disease that deteriorates the mind’s ability to send “messages” to the body for it to move or stop moving. Carl explained to me that he had been practicing yoga before he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and he just kept on practicing because it was helping his core strength and his balance. But what he hadn’t expected was that, while practicing he got a “break from PD,” -- the symptoms literally vanished and that effect lasted for about an hour.
Carl couldn’t keep this to himself, so he started Yoga for Parkinson’s, a 501C3, non-profit with the clear and simple mission to bring yoga to other people with Parkinson’s.
As Carl continued to tell me about his Saturday class for Parkinson’s patients, I was amazed. He explained how someone would attend his class for the first time and then return the next week, bringing others with them who had also been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He even had a student who was a doctor herself and had been diagnosed with Parkinson's -- she was amazed at what Yoga was doing for her condition
How do people find out about you?
Carl knew he had important work to do with his yoga discovery and needed to grow so more people could benefit. But starting a non-profit is hard work and he soon realized he would have to:
- train more yoga teachers his Yoga for Parkinson’s (style / technique)
- produce yoga teacher training materials
- become very clear on his mission for Yoga for Parkinson’s, and
- prepare and apply for additional funding.
And I knew I could help. Our Facilitated Discovery Session (FDS) would be the ideal next step for Carl’s fledgling nonprofit. The process would help articulate and clarify the “brand attributes” of his yoga concept in order to clearly communicate it to the world. I also know that two brains are better than one. So I invited Julie Lang of Julie Lang Design, another communications professional who believes in and practices yoga, to participate with me on this project. Together we agreed to take on the Yoga for Parkinson’s as a pro bono project.
Stephanie Helline (left) and Julie Lang (right) during the Facilitated Discovery Session