It all started with an “aha” moment. I remember it as if it was yesterday, I was volunteering at a homeless shelter when a man came up to me and said: “Thank you so very much for being here…for helping me!” His thanks gave me a real sense of empowerment that has carried me through ever since. Life is about discovering the talents god has given you and turning them into powerful forces for not only your own wellbeing but others as well.
I grew up in a philanthropic family. My father was a child of the great depression who grew up in an orphanage and my mother was a social worker, and it opened my eyes to the injustices of the world. I remember times on Christmas Eve when we would struggle to get all the food in the fridge and then receive a call for help. My mom would look at my dad and say: “we have to do something!” She’d drive us around to get gifts and different kinds of groceries for disadvantaged families in our neighborhood, helping us understand how privileged we were and our responsibility to help others.
These types of experiences shaped my life and today, as a wife, a mother, a sister and a volunteer, I draw upon those experiences to constantly better myself as a socially minded human being and transform the lives of others around me. From working as the Development Board President of Saints Peter & Paul Catholic School to volunteering with DuPagePADS which aims to end homelessness in DuPage County, I have put my values to work for others. In my own family, I try to raise my son in an environment that emphases the fact that what you do makes a difference. It’s not all about you; the community and world you live in is much larger.
Another “aha” moment came a bit later in life, one that has shaped my life’s journey in the years that have followed. In 2008, I was working as a corporate lawyer and my husband Kevin and I went to a Chicago White Sox game, where we sat in the middle of a mostly empty premium seating section. Surrounded by a surplus of seating, we suddenly realized that if just some of the season ticket holders of these empty seats were to donate that game's unused tickets, thousands of dollars could be raised for charity. Just like that, with a few empty seats and a big idea to shake up the nonprofit and the ticket buying worlds, our social venture tix4cause, was born.
We were inspired by Tom's Shoes and other entrepreneurial companies using for-profit business models to solve difficult social problems. At a time when charities were struggling to get donations and overall charitable donations were on the decline, tix4cause would be a new way for causes to raise money with incremental donations and grow awareness of their mission.
We launched in 2010 with a goal of leveraging financial support from cause-based buyers everywhere to create a new alternative to traditional fundraising. With tix4cause, we gave consumer purchases the power to achieve social change - to help beat cancer, feed a child, give scholarships to deserving students, or protect abused animals while doing the things they love. When consumers buy from tix4cause, up to 100% of the proceeds go to a deserving cause of their choice.
Our inventory comes from generous individuals who donate their unused tickets as well as offerings from our business, affiliate and ticket exchange partners. If you can’t use your tickets, rather than losing 30% or more when you sell with a secondary reseller, you can donate your tickets and when someone else buys them, you can both feel good about a financial transaction that also helps create change. And today, thanks to the response we’ve received, our technology can do even more for our charity members and our customers.
I like to think that there are no coincidences in life. It is entirely within our power to be at the right place at the right time and chose to do things and venture out of our comfort zone, take risks and either reap the benefits or acknowledge and learn from failures. We launched tix4cause knowing that there would be immense challenges. We’ve celebrated our strengths and weaknesses and admitted to both of them quickly. Throughout this journey as a social entrepreneur, besides the chance to give back the best part has been the amazing individuals I’ve met - our staff, supporters, volunteers - who have gone out of their ways to ensure tix4cause’s success.
Life has a way of surprising you. If you had told me 20 years ago that I would be starting a social enterprise, leveraging the power of technology to mobilize philanthropic resources, I would’ve laughed. The joy comes from being open to those surprises, recognizing their potential, not only for yourself but for the greater society, and then turning them into reality while embracing successes and failures as you go along.