Who Can Found a Non-Profit?

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Who can found a non-profit?

In our opening meetings for this semester’s student-lead Quest (how can we help the hunger crisis?) we found ourselves wondering: How do nonprofits get started? Who can found one? What does a nonprofit board look like? How does all of this even happen? What does it take to go from an idea or dream to a fully functional organization? Last week, we were lucky enough to hear from an expert.

The incredible Lucia Hoerr from BackPack Buddies (a recent St. Anne’s-Belfield School graduate and one of my personal heroes) generously shared her time and expertise with our Quest last week, and she left us totally inspired. Lucia, who started Backpack Buddies a decade ago when she was just nine years old, shared the truth of starting a nonprofit as a young person: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

We loved hearing Lucia talk about challenging the conceptions of who can found and head a nonprofit, and how people’s doubts due to her age and gender just made her work that much harder. She shared her best advice (never turn down help, even if you think you don’t need it!), financial details (Backpack Buddies is a 501C3, which is important for receiving large donations), organizational information (the bottom floor of her house is entirely dedicated to Backpack Buddies storage, and they’re growing out of that now!), and her biggest supporters (her amazing parents, friends, and community). But Lucia’s main message was a simple and clear one: Doing good for your community is always worth the effort; if you have a dream and you’re not afraid to work hard, you can make anything happen.

Thank you so much, Lucia, for sharing your wisdom and experience with us. We can’t wait to use what we learned from you to move forward with our goal: Helping hungry kids and families in Charlottesville!


Backpack Buddies helps to “prepare students in need for each upcoming school year by providing them with all of the necessary school supplies and backpacks at no cost. We won’t let any of these children fall behind, either academically or socially, due to starting school without supplies.” They have filled more than 2,700 backpacks with school supplies for children in need in Central Virginia!

Check out their website, and learn more about Lucia, here. You can also follow Backpack Buddies on Instagram and see them in action!

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