Starting a non-profit organization

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Starting a non-profit organization

I went from having a devastating family event, which was having my son diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, and starting an organization to help others because I had to. I promised myself that if my son lived, if he made it through this, all I really wanted to do was go back and help other families and children that are going through this. I had seen how toys and activities helped my own son and I knew they could help other people. On a practical side, how do you start a non-profit organization? I think you have to start with an idea. In this case, it was, The Bottomless Toy Chest, a toy service for Pediatric Cancer patients. Then, it was important for me to -- It's one thing to have an idea, but to really think through the idea. How is this idea really going to work? Will hospitals want this program? What can I do to make this program one that hospitals will really want? So it started with having the idea, then really flushing out the idea and coming up with a business plan. A non-profit is a non-profit, but it is also a business. You have to structure it and figure out what it's going to be. I also wanted to get feedback. I certainly didn't want to take a program into a hospital if the hospital didn't want it. It was very helpful to collaborate with the hospital and other hospitals, to find out what they wanted. You want to surround yourself with really smart people that are on your board of directors and really have an interest in the program. At the end of it, if you have an idea for something and you know it can be a value to somebody else, you just have to go for it. At the end of the day, there are all sorts of reasons why The Bottomless Toy Chest wouldn't work, but I thought; just make it happen.

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Mickey Guisewite

Parent with a Purpose

Mickey Guisewite is a former advertising executive and syndicated newspaper columnist who started The Bottomless Toy Chest after her son successfully completed cancer treatment. The Bottomless Toy Chest is a nonprofit organization devoted to delivering toys, crafts and hands-on activities to hospitalized pediatric cancer patients. Mickey lives at home with her husband, son, daughter, two dogs, two cats and two turtles. When she’s not delivering toys to sick kids, she’s at home trying to find a tiny space on the couch among her two-legged and four-legged family members. 

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