An Interview With Fred Mednick, Founder, Teachers Without Borders
FS: Have you had any major difficulties or setbacks you've faced along the way? Things you would do differently with your fundraising?
FM: It is important to note that I started this organization 10 years ago with nothing. People rolled their eyes when I talked about connecting the world’s teachers. Our first project took place in May 2001 with Arab friends. After Sept. 11, many thought we were insane. We have faced setback after setback, but we prevail. Creativity and the reliance on our members has been the key.
FS: What advice would you give to organizations similar to yours, in size and annual operating budget?
FM: There’s advice and then there’s action. Right now, TWB is able to serve as a fiscal sponsor and guide to a small number of young organizations seeking their nonprofit status. We do not charge a fee. We would advise, however, that organizations focus on their core mission and leverage what already exists so that they do not think they have to invent everything. Use QuickBooks for finances and wikis for collaboration. Find out what others are doing, and trade and barter. Stand on the shoulders of giants, and rely on partnerships. This, I believe, is key.
FS: Additional thoughts?
FM: More advice, really. For anyone out there reading this that is feeling the pain of this economy, I say, “Keep your integrity strong; join forces with like-minded organizations if your value system is consistent; and don’t take 'no' as a personal attack. In fact, a 'no' and a 'yes' are clear. But don’t think that a 'maybe' is going to turn out for the best. If you receive a 'no,' move on. For what it’s worth, if you receive a 'yes,' prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt. But if you’re constantly getting 'maybes,' consider them a 'no.' ”