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 Sackler is the founder and President of Beespace, a nonprofit incubator helping to launch the next generation of innovation non-profits.
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 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.
So my advice for early stage non-profits, make sure you get all of the building blocks in place. There’s an enormous importance of branding, and storytelling, and design. Those are things that will help you grow your constituencies, and your donors, and connect with people in a really emotional, tangible way. But none of that will happen if you don’t have your accounting in place, your legal in place, and your HR in place. I truly believe that you cannot have good programming without good operations.
Invest in your team and in your people. Finding great leadership seminars, find talks in your local community. Even if you don’t think it’s directly relevant in the way that here we have leaders in a variety of different fields, you’d be amazed what you learn and bring back to your model by listening to experts in their own field. There’s also an enormous amount of online advice that you can take advantage of.
Get great teambuilding tools. In my space, we use a Sauna (?) to track projects and tasks. Within my team, we recommend it to all of our groups. Get organized. Get on the same page. And it will be much easier to then do the great big vision stuff.
Cinematography: Danielle Calodney
Interviewed by: Laura Lehmann
Edited by: Danielle Calodney