I of all people should know the difference. In 2006 my dog Charlie started a non-profit called Wags for Hope, which is a local organization whose members take their animals to nursing homes and hospitals to comfort the residents. Having worked in the computer industry for longer than I’m willing to admit, I know that normally for profit organizations take on the “.com” extension and non-profits are usually “.org” as it applies to their web address. I would even sit in petty judgment when I saw a website that was classified improperly. So how did I get myself in this fix? We are a 501(c)(3) charity and our web site ends in “.com”.
As many of you know it was an interview that Charlie Rose conducted with Sir Richard Branson in February of 2008 that was one of the the initial catalysts to get Kids Are Heroes started. It had a profound affect on me. He spoke of social entrepreneurship, which is not charity. It is using knowledge, skills and determination to solve world issues instead of throwing money at a problem. Many social entrepreneurs are just that, entrepreneurs. Tom’s Shoes is a great example of this concept. For every pair of shoes sold, one pair is given away to someone that needs it. Although they perform acts that could be considered charitable, they are not a charity. This was the model that we started to build when Kids Are Heroes was formed. We began with KidsAreHeroes.com because quite frankly, I was trying to create a job for myself. Nothing would make me happier than to make this my life’s work, but since I am not independently wealthy I cannot do that without somehow generating income for myself. So that is why it started as a “.com” organization.
We started building the web site, created marketing materials, banners and the like. The more we did that the more the “.com” part of our site became ingrained in our marketing. Then in July of 2009 it was time to form a corporation. This is not usually how things are supposed to be done. I have read many articles suggesting the corporation and the 501(c)(3) application be completed before anything else begins. However, if you know me you know that I don’t always follow a trail. Before I spent money on the organization I wanted to make sure it was viable. By July of 2009 it was time. We asked for legal help because I didn’t want to mess this up. It was too important. My lawyer suggested we form a non-profit corporation, as he felt we would have more of a chance of being funded. I realized he was correct, because for over a year the “entrepreneur” part of the equation wasn’t going so well. We weren’t making any money nor were there prospects of making any. The reason for that is there was no focus whatsoever on being profitable. We were so convinced that what we were doing was the right thing to do we concentrated on building the organization through social media and other channels. We wanted to recognize more heroes. I have discovered that true wealth doesn’t come in the form of money. I have gained wealth through this organization, its heroes and their families. I have gained wealth from all the new connections we have made because of the organization. This kind of wealth will never pay for a yacht or even a cracker for that matter, but this kind of wealth is far more valuable to me.
So we formed a non-profit corporation and a few months later applied for our tax exempt status. We received that in March of 2010. So now we have a 501(c)(3) charity that is a “.com”.
Luckily for us we claimed the “.org” domain name a long time ago. As a matter of fact if you type it in it will go to our web site. But to make things less confusing, we will be slowly changing over to “.org”. Then all will be right in the world. Please pardon our dust as we make this change.
At the same time we will be changing from Kids Are Heroes™ to Kids Are Heroes®. We recognized early on that Kids Are Heroes has the ability to become a huge organization one day. I wanted to make sure we got the name trademarked so no one else could snatch it up. That was a bit of a bumpy ride, but we made it. We overcame all the obstacles now we are just waiting for the mark itself. One of the “bumps” was that a company accused us of focusing on the word “Heroes” as in our logo the words “Kids Are” are much smaller. They were afraid that we would eventually drop the “Kids Are” portion of our name. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We will always focus on kids and we will always be “Kids Are Heroes”. I had never noticed that before they mentioned it, and they were right. We did some work on the logo to preserve MaryMargaret’s original artwork yet enhance the words “Kids Are”. The new site will feature this slightly altered logo. Here’s a sneak peek:
So that is the long-winded answer why we are a “dot com” right now. Now we go back to doing what we do best, and that is featuring new heroes.
UPDATE: We’ve been busy over the weekend and now our web site does end in “.org”. We have lots of marketing materials to update, but at least we are on our way.