Would I do it again? Absolutely!

A member of TuDiabetes wrote to me asking about my thoughts on starting a nonprofit. I thought I’d share the non-private elements of the conversation on my blog…

1) Starting a nonprofit is not for everyone, but it is one of the most rewarding things you may find yourself doing in your life. Setting a 501(c)(3) (or an equivalent tax exempt organization in the case of other countries) takes up a significant effort. It’s not only about offering your services: it includes staying compliant in a number of fronts once you file for tax exempt status and once you are approved as a 501(c)(3) (sometimes also referred to as, once you receive your “determination letter”). This is something many people are not as fully aware of going into this world. Being able to keep your doors open involves making sure you do things right (compliance) and you get the necessary funding in the door to be a sustainable (fundraising).

2) Would I do this again? I have no doubt about it… but I would also consider avenues such as Fiscal Sponsorships to help alleviate some of the initial burden. Some groups doing amazing social work have remained as a fiscally sponsored project for their entire lives. Some outgrow this stage and spin off into their own 501(c)(3). I have written about fiscal sponsorship before in this post.

3) Partnering and working with others as a way to help: before embarking on doing your own thing, I highly recommend looking at what others are doing. There is an excellent chance that someone out there is already offering such a service or working on doing so. As commendable as it is to take matters in your own hands, it may help even more people if you consider supporting the work someone else is doing… you would be surprised how much help others need and how much you can multiply your impact by partnering. It’s FAR more than the power of 2!

And… while you are reading this, I guess it doesn’t hurt for me to ask you to support our work at the Diabetes Hands Foundation, as we celebrate five years of TuDiabetes.

Before November Starts, Mapping My Projects

Reading this great post by Chris Brogan on the importance of Mapping Your Projects, I realized this would be a useful exercise as November is literally around the corner.

Speaking… speaking… speaking…
The past few weeks I had three speaking engagements. ePatient Connections 2010 (in Philadelphia) and Health 2.0 (in San Francisco), where I spoke about HealthSeeker; and more recently, BlogWorld Expo’s Social Health track, where I spoke about How People Are Using Social Media to Improve their Health.

In November, I will be part of a panel at AIMA Symposium 2010, talking about “Building Online Social Networks for Crowdsourcing Knowledge about Chronic Disease” in Washington D.C.

These are all great opportunities to get the word out about our work (and a good way to put on frequent flyer miles too). At the same time, every time I came back home from a conference, I am way behind on getting other things done and also very tired.

November: Diabetes Awareness Month and World Diabetes Day
November is diabetes month (write it down!) and November 14 is World Diabetes Day. So naturally a lot of diabetes organizations have their hands full. This is what we have done in recent weeks and will be doing in the coming weeks:

  • HealthSeeker en Español: back in June, we launched HealthSeeker, a Facebook game to help players develop and rediscover healthy choices with the support of their FB Friends. In November, we’re launching a Spanish version, that will become HealthSeeker to anyone who has their Facebook Language set to Spanish.
  • TuAnalyze: in May, we launched the TuAnalyze app on TuDiabetes, to help members track, share and compare their A1c numbers. In September, expanded mapping capabilities in TuAnalyze to include Canada. In October, we launched a survey module on TuAnalyze and in late November, we will make TuAnalyze available in Spanish on EsTuDiabetes and start mapping A1c aggregate values from Mexico!
  • The Big Blue Test (La Gran Prueba Azul):This year, we will be repeating the Big Blue Test (La Gran Prueba Azul) once more, but we’ve added two important elements:
    1) Blood glucose entries before and after doing 14 minutes of exercise at 2 pm, Nov. 14, will be entered on a dedicated page (to be announced in a few days), available in both languages, which will show “real-time” stats about the # of participants and median of the values entered and changes in blood sugar levels due to physical activity in between readings.
    2) Between Nov. 1 and Nov. 14 the views of the video we’re working on to promote the Big Blue Test will count towards a max. $75,000 donation from Roche Diagnostics to benefit Insulin for Life and Life For a Child, two life-saving humanitarian assistance programs for people with diabetes around the world. If we pass 100,000 views, they will make a donation of $75,000. Up to 100K views, they will donate an amount proportional to the views.

Other side projects
As if all this wasn’t enough to stay busy, busy, I have taken on a few other projects on the side, mostly to help with additional income.

  • I wrote a chapter for an upcoming Salud 2.0 (Health 2.0) book in Spanish, which I have still to review one last time.
  • I have taken on a consulting project with my friends at Madera Group, to help drive the amazing Make YOURS a Million $ Business program of the non-profit Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence.
  • Currently, I am into my second chapter of helping Joe Waters and Joanna MacDonald with their upcoming Cause Marketing for Dummies, which will be published mid-2011.

Why did I leave life for last? Because as a result of all the projects I have gotten myself into I barely have enough time left for myself… or family life. This is something I intend on reassessing after November, because time passes and I don’t want to wake up one day and realize that my son is a teenager (he is now seven) and I missed what could be some great times with him!

Slow Dance by David L. Weatherford

Reminds me of a friend of mine, in my first job (back in 1998 or so), when he asked me “When was the last time you sat still long enough to see the clouds go by?”

Enjoy this poem, “Slow Dance” by child Psychologist, David L. Weatherford:

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round,
or listened to rain slapping the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight,
or gazed at the sun fading into the night?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Do you run through each day on the fly,
when you ask “How are you?”, do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed,
with the next hundred chores running through your head?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Ever told your child, we’ll do it tomorrow,
and in your haste, not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a friendship die,
’cause you never had time to call and say hi?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere,
you miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,
it’s like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life isn’t a race, so take it slower,
hear the music before your song is over.