Value Added: The Nonprofit Entrepreneur
Atlas keeps $4,000 of the $26,000 to cover its rent and administrative costs. It gives the rest to the Atlas "fellow," which covers a stipend for housing, food and transportation. Atlas covers health care too (at a student rate of $800).
Chief executive Beale and his company live on the cheap. He has five staffers and sublets a tiny, windowless office space near DuPont Circle in the District. (For its first two years, staffers worked out of their own apartments.) Beale collects a salary in the "low $40s" and his five staffers split $120,000 a year. He travels to New York on $25-each-way buses, entertains over coffee and bagels and uses free space at Synergos, another non-profit (sponsored by a Rockefeller heiress) that works in the developing world.
The group currently has 12 fellows in the program, including nine in the Washington area. Atlas also has helped send three Americans to Colombia. When they are finished with the fellowship, participants must return to a nonprofit in their home country.
In addition to the fee Beale collects from host organizations, he has come up with another source of revenue.
This second stream reminds me of the movie about five years ago called "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio," about a 1960s woman who supported her family by winning jingle contests. Beale has entered and won a series of online contests such as AOL mogul Steve Case's America's Giving Challenge and IdeaBlob, which brought in more than $100,000 last year.
The goal of the contests varies, but typically involves amassing the most donations of a certain size or encouraging people to register at a specific site.
To win, Beale contacts old friends from Georgetown and elsewhere, asking them to become captains and contact other friends. The viral network is just like political bundling, where every person you contact in turn contacts five others, and they contact five others, et cetera. To beat the big colleges at the contests, Beale timed his big push for the Christmas break, when students were home relaxing. He asked for money on a YouTube commercial he made featuring his three-year-old nephew.