Starting a nonprofit organization is hard, and that’s an understatement. But, it was one of the best things I’ve done in my life. I’m 16, about to start applying for college, which is why many of my friends have thought and sometimes even said to me that they thought the reason why I started a not-for-profit organization was because of my upcoming college applications. And that made my blood boil. The thought of exploiting the system like that, pretending to have the motive to make a change in the world, but actually just wishing to go to an ivy league just makes my stomach churn.
I started my organization for one intention only- to make a change in the world.
My nonprofit organization, Plannr Consulting is a not-for-profit organization that focuses on 3 main factors: increasing awareness of mental health issues, offering free consultations (student to student) in an aim to reduce stress for students, and creating a community so that students can have a platform to talk to other students. To achieve this, we have promoted different social media campaigns, like our Positivity Campaign, Empower Interview Campaign, and Corona Care Campaign, consulted with various students across the world, and created a thriving Discord community (now a Gratitude Plus Circle) through which students can feel open to share their feelings.
Mental health activism is often forgotten about in the youth justice sector, where climate justice rises above all other types of activism. Yes, climate justice is extremely important, but mental health is important too. I’ve always felt like I wasn’t thought of as an activist just because I wasn’t into policy change or feminism or something that “actually tried to make a change in the world”. But why isn’t supporting mental health awareness and fighting against the stigma around mental health considered “trying to make a change in the world”? Here’s the thing- it should be.
Even just consulting with one client impacted me in such an amazing way.
Our first client was all the way from Kenya and she asked for help with an essay. It was my first time consulting and I was absolutely ecstatic. Once I was through with the consult, I was bouncing off the walls. I knew I had helped that person, and after I got a great testimonial from her, I only felt better about what we were doing, because I knew we were making a change, one person at a time.
One drawback has been that Plannr Consulting is not non-profit certified.
And it won’t be for a while because it’s hard for teens to go through the extensive process to get certified. The process is expensive and very long, and we didn’t want to get involved that way quite yet. Unfortunately, this also means we can’t fundraise or apply for grants. However, not being certified won’t take away from what we are trying to do. I started this organization with my one goal in mind, and so far I think (and hope) we’ve done a pretty good job at trying to achieve it.
My mental health story is also a huge part of why I started this nonprofit organization. My experiences first formed a vision for Plannr. And that vision was made possible by my one purpose. My purpose drove me to recruit. It drove me to create an Instagram and design the website. My purpose guided me to create campaigns and come up with resources to aid consultants. It urged me to form partnerships to help increase our reach. It pushed me to advertise so people would know about us and that we were there for them. My purpose is what guided me through my worst times and what guides me now.
So, ultimately, yes, starting an organization is incredibly hard and takes a lot of commitment. But all of the commitment and drive stems from a viable purpose- something that is passionate. Anyone can create an organization, but to really nurture and grow it, you need that purpose. A real purpose that isn’t about getting into school or about getting a job. And this is when I encourage you all to reflect- what is your real purpose?