At FGS&Co. we aim to Live Big, Love Hard & Give Back every single day. CoachArt’s co-founders Zander Lurie and Leah Bernthal are a brilliant example of our motto in action. Childhood friends turned philanthropic leaders, Zander and Leah founded CoachArt to provide transformative arts and athletic opportunities and education to children living with chronic illnesses in honor of Zander’s father, Dr. Arthur Lurie. We spoke with both of them to learn what inspires these changemakers and how they balance their personal and professional commitments to giving back.
Co-founders of CoachArt, Leah Bernthal & Zander Lurie
What was your biggest inspiration or motivating factor in founding CoachArt?
Zander: When my dad was getting bone marrow transplants, he spent weeks in the hospitals and I saw all these kids getting treated for chronic illnesses. When he passed away in 1996, I knew I wanted to honor his legacy. In 2001, I was inspired by the marketplace business model that eBay introduced and wanted to offer a similar model for kids with chronic illnesses to get access to coaches willing to donate their time and expertise. Enter CoachArt!
Leah: Philanthropy was not a big part of my childhood. After college, I took a management consulting job and was traveling non-stop, billing insane hours and not fulfilled by my work. I remember the day that Zander took me to breakfast and said, "I want to create an organization in honor of my dad for kids with cancer. Do you want to help?" I immediately started researching how to start a nonprofit, fundraising, board development, and programs for chronically ill youth. I never looked back. I had found my passion.
Why is giving back important to you?
Zander: I look at the resources and time I'm investing in others, and I ask myself, is it enough?
Leah: I have been so blessed in my life - health, family, friends, food, a home, education - that I feel it is my duty to make even the smallest difference in the world.
How would you advise others who want to integrate philanthropy into their everyday life?
Leah: First you have to find your passion. Ask yourself: what do you love to do and what makes you happy? Then find an organization with a mission that matches your interests and how you want to give back or donate your time.
Zander: If it matters to you, the results will be magnified. If you're just spraying money or time across too many organizations, it's too diffuse.
How do you manage a leadership role at CoachArt while balancing other personal and professional commitments?
Zander: Don't take on a nonprofit leadership role unless you are super passionate about its success. Raising money, building a board, supporting management are time consuming labors of love. I always tell folks that you have to be willing to bring up your nonprofit in the first 10 minutes of a cocktail party discussion. CoachArt is always on my mind.
Leah: Be honest with yourself regarding time commitments and financial obligations. Identify the organization(s) that fit into your life and be willing to say no.
As a start-up, we’ve learned that there are different ways to mark internal progress. How do you define success from a personal and professional standpoint?
Leah: I believe that personal and professional success is being able to combine your passion and what you love with your work and what you do.
Zander: Everyone has different measures of success. For me, I ask a few questions: Am I doing all I can to be a good husband/father/sibling/son/friend? Am I growing at work and helping my team succeed? Are we helping more kids get access to high-quality lessons - are we having the positive impact we envisioned?
If you could take your business model and apply it anywhere in the world that you’re not currently working in, where would you go and why?
Leah: Unfortunately, there are children living with chronic illness everywhere in the world. The beautiful thing about CoachArt's business model is that it works in major metropolitan cities, small towns, rural communities and remote villages. If we had the funds, CoachArt would be a global organization.
Inspired by these changemakers? Shop our collection and enter COACHART at checkout to support their mission and give back 25% to their cause.
For more info about CoachArt visit: http://coachart.org.
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