Marissa’s lifelong passion for nonprofits led to the formation of Beespace–a New York City-based nonprofit incubator providing early-phase organizations with the office space, mentorship and operational support needed to get off the ground and succeed.
She is a founding sponsor and activist for charity:water and serves on the Board of Directors for Invisible Children, Dia Art Foundation and the Mortimer D. Sackler Foundation. Marissa is also a published photographer and works on an array of social injustice issues.
Marissa grew up in London and considered pursuing a career in the foreign service while in college. Instead Marissa spent much of her twenties working as a photographer and advisor to charity: water, a non-profit that helps provide access to clean water in the developing world. Marissa Sackler who calls herself “a social entrepreneur,” gained much insight into the various challenges non-profits encountered during their early stages, much like their startup counterparts in the tech world.
As a result, Marissa conceived of the first non-profit incubator Beespace, which opened its doors in New York City in the fall of 2013. Beespace offers young promising non-profits free office space and access to teams specialized in tech, design, marketing, and fundraising. Currently Beespace houses the Nobel Peace Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai of the Malala Fund, Organize, The Adventure Project, Practice Makes Perfect and Yoga Foster. Marissa’s hope is to expand Beespace and its services to other non-profits in cities such as London and Rio.
Hi. I’m Marissa Sackler, and I’m the founder and President of Beespace, a nonprofit incubator helping to launch the next generation of innovation non-profits.
I loved working with early stage non-profits. My father was an entrepreneur, that sort of slightly messy, but inspired, and chaotic, and extraordinary stage of what I’ve now dubbed “the teenage years” is just also an enormous amount of fun.
And it was working with these different groups at that same stage that I had come across a frustration that they had such enormous potential, … but they weren’t being fully implemented, and it wasn’t their fault. It was the fact that non-profit operations are incredibly undervalued.
It became a growing frustration that there had to be a better way to grow these groups in a more, sort of, holistic, comprehensive manner. And it was a late-night conversation with a friend who had a tech incubator, where I was probably ranting a little bit and expressing a lot of these frustrations. And he turned to me and he said, “Why don’t you start a non-profit incubator?”
The moment he said those words, it really was a light bulb moment. And I was like, “Wait! That is exactly the model that would work here!”
We have the ability to incubate six non-profits at a time here at Beespace. We call them “incubees.”
The Adventure Project, the Malala Fund, Practice Makes Perfect, Yoga Foster and Organize.
The Malala Fund was introduced to us by Elizabeth Gore at the UN Foundation. The funds had been set up very quickly in the aftermath of Malala’s shooting. At the time, BeeSpace wasn’t ready yet so …
We helped them think about the strategy they wanted, how they were going to develop the fund, what areas they were going to work on.
Malala feels very strongly that every girl should have a right to an education. It’s what she was shot standing up for.
And she herself said that she wants to be known not as the girl who was shot by the Taliban but as the girl who fought for every child’s right for education.
We organizes our latest “incubee.” Jenna and Greg after Greg’s father spent five years waiting for a heart transplant.
Through that entire experience, Greg realized that there had to be some way to improve the organ donation system, in general, and decrease the waiting list.
I’m Jenna Arnold, co-founder of Orgainze.
The problem in the US is there’s not enough Americans registered as organ donors. And that’s because there’s only one place to register, at the DMV.
Organize is going to increase the amount of registered organ donors, and ultimately, decrease the waiting list substantially by making it easier for people to register and by building backend technology for the organ donation space.
And Organize would not be who they are, and would not be able to do everything that we’re looking to do as quickly as we’re looking to do it, if weren’t for Beespace.
I took a lot of lessons from Silicon Valley. They were really the ones who pioneered the incubator model.
But in the tech space in Silicon Valley, people are constantly innovating, constantly pushing forwards.
The non-profit world, due to a lack of resources, and sadly, a mindset that operations shouldn’t be as strongly funded, haven’t been able to push forward and innovate in the same way.
But the groups that have and have taken that leap have seen enormous success from it.
My team, the Beespace team, who have expertise in everything from finance. To online engagement, to design. And we try to give them the building blocks of becoming real professional organizations and to put in best practices that will stand them in good stead when they graduate out from us.
Cinematography: Danielle Calodney
Interviewed by: Laura Lehmann
Edited by: Danielle Calodney