I would say are compassion more than a passion for a cause, commitment to growing and building beyond trends, relationship skills, not taking everyone that supports or stop supporting personally, and an understanding of nonprofit development and sustainability. After 17 years I found that taking my time and learning before expanding or building was important. It’s harder to build as you go. It’s best to have a vision and plan the vision while working with what is working and existing within your organization. Build with smarter people than you. Don’t depend on your own wisdom, rely on a team of other leaders that have knowledge, skills, and connections.
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 Rachel R. Jackson.
Rachel R. Jackson founded Project Compassion, NFP (PC-NFP) at just 25 years old. Since 2005, PC-NFP has assisted over 80,000 homeless, disadvantaged and low-income men, women, and children with food, shelter, seasonal supplies, hygiene items, life-skills workshops, and vocational training.
Rachel received local and national awards for her work, including the BASIC Citizen of Character award. She is a 2014 L’Oreal Paris Woman of Worth and received the Barack Obama Silver Presidential Award for her Community Service. She is also the recipient of the Daily Point of Light Award. Additionally, she is the recipient of the Lindenwood University Outstanding Alum Award.
Rachel is the recipient of Top Ladies of Distinction “Extraordinary Women” award. She is also the recipient of the Delta Economic Development Corp Award “Heroes Among Us.”
Rachel is the recipient of the TOCO “Making a Difference” award.
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?
The death of my mother at the age of 19 shaped my character and getting divorced at 36 with 3 children after 12 years built my faith. Two major forms of grief experienced over a decade apart literally formed me into who I am today.
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.:
Humor, integrity, and confidence. Being able to lead and not be overwhelmed by the small things of leadership is important. Honestly with both myself and my team is important and being sure of myself. Knowing that I was called to lead and that what I’ve been able to build and lead is nothing short of amazing. Being the youngest Executive Director in my community requires that I have my own values and morals. As a nonprofit organization, we empower homeless low-income women and girls. We are a leading organization on empowering women and girls. We consider them when accepting donations and sponsorship. We strive to empower, which means we can’t just make decisions without acknowledging that more than the community is watching.
What’s the most interesting discovery you’ve made since you started leading your organization?
That commitment is a daily decision. There are many highs and lows which require you to pivot and shift frequently. It’s easy to “quit” but being committed makes you realize quitting is not an option.
Can you please tell our readers more about how you or your organization intends to make a significant social impact?
I plan to continue to lead Project Compassion, NFP with innovation and mindfulness. Being able to see and recognize the need beyond funding is crucial. It is important to be able to pivot with the needs and services that we offer as the world around us changes. Every need is different. Being able to break the cycle of “normal” giving. We don’t give food baskets each year, we pay bills so that the lights are on and the house is on. We look for ways to uplift the low-income mother that is working to provide her needs. We ask if can we lift her wants. Being impactful requires you to be intentional and that’s what I intend on doing. Leading with intentionally.
What makes you feel passionate about this cause more than any other?
Understanding that I could have easily been the person on the other side. Knowing that losing my mother at 19 and not having a “home” anymore could have changed my life in many ways. What I had were family and friends, I had a community that at a minimum “held me” they weren’t lifting and empowering but they didn’t allow me to fall. I believe every woman and girl should have that. I am grateful that I held during a time when I was lost in my pain. I was held when I was confused and broken. Once I started healing, once I received clarity, I found the strength within myself, I found a faith in God, that allowed me to lift myself. I just needed someone to hold me until I could. That’s what I strive to be every day through my work and leadership, a person that is holding them but also empowering them.
Without naming names, could you share a story about an individual who benefitted from your initiatives?
A young woman called us at Project Compassion broken and emotional. She was put on a plan in Iowa after refusing to give her baby up for adoption. She said she couldn’t do it. Because of that, the agency returned her back to the area with nothing but a 3-day-old baby. From the airport, she was calling. It was time for us to close. We stated. Completed her in-take, I went to Target and shared with the Manager what I needed for her. We received everything to get her settled into her sister’s apartment for the week. She is now a working mother. Last we spoke she was pursuing nursing.
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?
Listen, connect, and support
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.
The five things I would say are compassion more than a passion for a cause, commitment to growing and building beyond trends, relationship skills, not taking everyone that supports or stop supporting personally, and an understanding of nonprofit development and sustainability. After 17 years I found that taking my time and learning before expanding or building was important. It’s harder to build as you go. It’s best to have a vision and plan the vision while working with what is working and existing within your organization. Build with smarter people than you. Don’t depend on your own wisdom, rely on a team of other leaders that have knowledge, skills, and connections.
How has the pandemic changed your definition of success?
It didn’t. It enhanced it. Being able to pivot as the world changes around you is a life skill had to learn early on.
How do you get inspired after an inevitable setback?
Remembering my faith and knowing that setbacks happen and using it as a setup to keep moving forward. I admire many great leaders not for what they have built, but for how successful they are after setbacks and false starts in life.
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. 🙂 Mackenzie Bezos, Michelle Obama, Oprah, Viola Davis, Sarah Jakes Roberts, and Tyler Perry
You’re doing important work. How can our readers follow your progress online?
Thank you for a meaningful conversation. We wish you continued success with your mission.