Community Support — A successful nonprofit needs the support of the community in the areas of volunteerism, outreach, partnership and fundraising. I know for certain that Baby’s Bounty would not have the impact that we have had without the generous spirit of Southern Nevadans.
For someone who wants to set aside money to establish a Philanthropic Foundation or Fund, what does it take to make sure your resources are being impactful and truly effective? In this interview series, called “How To Create Philanthropy That Leaves a Lasting Legacy” we are visiting with founders of Philanthropic Foundations, Charitable Organizations, and Non Profit Organizations, to talk about the steps they took to create sustainable success.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelly Maxwell.
Las Vegas native and Baby’s Bounty Executive Director Kelly Maxwell brings business acumen and a true knowledge of her community to her role with the non-profit. Baby’s Bounty is a 13-year-old nonprofit which supports and empowers at-risk families by providing education and the essential tools to ensure a good start for every baby. This is accomplished through two essential programs; the Baby Bundle which provides new families with critical newborn education and all of the supplies to care for a newborn for the first six months of life and our newly created Diaper Bank. The banks are the only consistent diaper resource in Southern Nevada and, since their creation 18 months ago, have provided over 18,000 families with over one million diapers and three million wipes.
Thank you for making time to visit with us about a ‘top of mind’ topic. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?
My stepfather is an entrepreneur who started a transportation business in Las Vegas in the 1970s. Without a formal education or a mentor, he was certain that he would be successful. That success came by way of relentless hard work, resilience, a commitment to excellent customer service, a little luck and quite often 18-hour workdays to ensure his business thrived. His success and also his struggles provided a great roadmap for me.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? We would love to hear a few stories or examples.
- Tenacity — I really don’t take no for an answer. I may try a different angle, identify different resources or expand the solution options but I just don’t believe in roadblocks, only detours.
- Stubbornness — Throughout most of my childhood and all of my marriage, this trait was viewed as negative. I finally found a place where it works to my advantage! Someone told me once that “I would never solve diaper need so I shouldn’t even try”. “Watch me”, I thought, “I guess I won’t sleep until this whole city is diapered!” Since given that admonishment, our team has distributed over one million diapers and three million wipes to over 18,000 families in need so if that came by way of stubbornness, I’ll take it.
- Optimism — People don’t follow pessimistic leaders. They want to be inspired. Sometimes, that alone is enough to change my perspective. I used to have to work hard to have an optimistic outlook, since actively participating in solving problems in my community, it’s now my default point of view.
What’s the most interesting discovery you’ve made since you started leading your organization?
When you turn your life over to being in service of others, amazing things happen. People, corporations, manufacturers, government agencies, elected officials, vendors, churches, media, other nonprofits all lined up to help us. I know for certain that if you give people something and someone to care about and explain the why, they will rise to the challenge.
Can you please tell our readers more about how you or your organization intends to make a significant social impact?
We will solve diaper need in Southern Nevada by 2025. What does that look like? Any parent or caregiver who needs diapers for their child/children will have access to the resources to receive them. We simply cannot sit by with our hands folded while children sit in dirty diapers because their parents cannot afford them. We continue to provide complete Baby Bundles to between 700–800 families per year. These bundles are life changing and lifesaving as they include a brand new infant regulation carseat and a brand new portable crib.
What makes you feel passionate about this cause more than any other?
- 1 in 3 families experience diaper need. Diaper need is defined as not being able to afford enough diapers to keep your baby clean, healthy and dry. There are no federal programs that pay for diapers. They cannot be purchased on food stamps/SNAP benefits. There is no safe alternative to diapers, and they increased in price 14% this year.
- Diapers are preventative healthcare. When babies sit for too long in soiled diapers because their parents can’t afford them, the babies are susceptible to all sorts of health issues like severe diaper rash, urinary tract infections and viral meningitis. This is entirely avoidable.
- Diapers are a critical component to getting parents back to work and getting our economy back on track. In order to take your child to day care, parents need to supply a day’s worth of diapers 8–10. According to a study completed last year by the National Diaper Bank Network, 57% of parents who rely on daycare report calling out of work an average of 4 times per month because they didn’t have the diapers that daycare requires. This is a component of what is referred to as the poverty trap.
Without naming names, could you share a story about an individual who benefitted from your initiatives?
There is a couple who began attending our diaper banks in the summer of 2020. I got to know them a little more each week that they attended as we provided diapers for two of their children. The husband was a porter at one of the hotel/casinos here in town and his wife worked in a gift shop at the same property. They both lost their jobs during the initial shutdown; had spent what little savings they had and were waiting weeks and weeks for unemployment. After a while, we noticed that they stopped attending. About six months later, they started dropping by our diaper banks to donate diapers. Both parents were both back to work and told us that they were so grateful that we were there when they needed the help that they wanted to ‘pay forward the blessing to another family’. This is exactly what we hope to be for our community — a safety net for Southern Nevada’s tiniest residents.
We all want to help and to live a life of purpose. What are three actions anyone could take to help address the root cause of the problem you’re trying to solve?
I’m working to solve diaper need in Nevada but right now, in your community, there are families who want to go to work but lack the diapers required to take their child to day care. Reach out to local childcare providers to see if they accept diaper donations which they can keep on hand for parents who cannot afford them. Make cash donations to diaper banks in your area as they can typically purchase diapers at wholesale prices. You can help us with our mission at babysbounty.org.
Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Create A Successful & Effective Nonprofit That Leaves A Lasting Legacy?” Please share a story or example for each.
- A solid financial foundation — When I accepted the leadership position with Baby’s Bounty, I was fortunate to take over from the founder, who had a lot of for-profit business experience prior to starting a nonprofit. She grew the organization slowly and carefully over 12 years with responsible financial systems and board oversight. When I took over and we needed to grow very quickly in response to the pandemic, we were able to do so because of that rock solid base.
- An inspiring mission — A nonprofit mission statement has to stand on its own, without explanation and provide and accurate description of who you are and who you serve.
- Innovative, fair-minded leaders — Nonprofits need creative problem solvers at the helm. In our dynamically changing world, we cannot be order takers, content on doing things the same way that we have always done them.
- Nimble systems — It is important that we not be so rigid with our systems to the detriment of the communities which we serve. As we all learned in the past 18 months, we should all continue to evaluate our programming and processes to be sure we are as effective, efficient and compassionate as possible.
- Community Support — A successful nonprofit needs the support of the community in the areas of volunteerism, outreach, partnership and fundraising. I know for certain that Baby’s Bounty would not have the impact that we have had without the generous spirit of Southern Nevadans.
How has the pandemic changed your definition of success?
The pandemic completely altered, for the better, the trajectory of my life. I spent the past decade or so generating revenue for organizations, in hospitality, food and beverage and entertainment. While I enjoyed success creating wealth for these organizations, working to better my community is certainly more fulfilling. My new metric for success is how many lives I can positively impact.
How do you get inspired after an inevitable setback?
Typically, I review the process to see if there is a lesson to be learned or room for improvement but beyond that, we move on very quickly. Diapering an entire city is a lot of responsibility. We don’t have time to dwell on what wasn’t meant for us.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world who you would like to talk to, to share the idea behind your non-profit? He, she, or they might just see this, especially if we tag them.
Nancy Brinker, founder of the Susan G. Komen Foundation is my nonprofit role model. Under her leadership, the organization raised over 3 billion dollars for breast cancer research, changing health outcomes for millions of women around the world, including my own. She used her marketing background to create partnerships with large, multinational corporations who raced to affiliate themselves with the pink ribbon campaign.
You’re doing important work. How can our readers follow your progress online?
Please follow us #babysbountylv or visit our website babysbounty.org.
Thank you for a meaningful conversation. We wish you continued success with your mission.