Interested in starting your own journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sara Miller, President and Founder of Student Organ Donation Advocates, located in St. Louis, MO, USA.
What's your organization, and who are your members?
We provide students across the country with the tools they need to be organ donation advocates. Through our online library of resources and advising support, students have everything they need to save lives on their campus through organ donation advocacy. Today, we support more than 50 chapters that have collectively educated more than 77,000 students!
Tell us about yourself
I experienced the power of organ donation firsthand, as my sister donated her liver and saved a life after suddenly passing away. That's why I founded SODA in 2014. We activate students to advocate for organ donation and save lives. In addition to my volunteer leadership at SODA, I work full-time as a Project Manager in Tel Aviv, Israel.
I am motivated to reduce the critical organ shortage - nearly 100,000 people in the US are in desperate need of a life-saving organ. I also find the process of building and strategizing rewarding, and I love that we get to give students the opportunity to build leadership and advocacy skills in high school and college.
What's your biggest accomplishment as an organization?
Growing SODA from our first chapter in 2014 to 50+ chapters today has been immensely rewarding. Since starting on a single campus in St. Louis, we've raised funds (our budget today is $250,000 per year), built a team (we have two full-time employees), developed a library of online resources, formed mission-critical partnerships, and more.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being an organization?
Working full-time while building SODA has been challenging. I have needed to constantly prioritize my time so that the hours I am able to spend on SODA move the needle.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow an organization today?
- Niche down - you are only as good as your niche is specific.
- Prioritize ruthlessly - practice saying "no" when opportunities aren't aligned because those "no's" make room for aligned "yes's."
- Enjoy the process - building and strategizing can be immensely rewarding, so don't lose sight of the joy that exists in the process!
Where can people find you and your group?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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