Passion is the Secret to Success
By: Ellen Voie
The Women In Trucking Association was formed in 2007 and will celebrate 17 years of growth and achievement in March. What started as an idea has turned into an international organization with over 8,000 current members in ten countries. Every founder of a nonprofit group saw an opportunity for their services or support. Whether it’s a membership-based association or a charitable organization, the founder(s) recognized a need and felt a desire to fill that demand. People often ask how to start a nonprofit organization, and instead of focusing on the legal paperwork, I’ll tell you the secret to success. It’s passion. To promote a mission and gain support from the industry for your goal to increase gender diversity in the trucking industry you must motivate others to support your passion.
There are 1.8 million nonprofit organizations in the United States, the majority (1.3 million) are charitable groups. However, all of them started with a small group of individuals who believed they could meet a need in their community. Most charities are funded by less than $100,000 annually, which means they rely heavily on volunteers to advance their cause. The Women In Trucking Association is one of the five percent with annual revenues in the millions of dollars. The staff has expanded from one person to over a dozen who work to advance the mission.
In 2007, there were a few people who helped launch Women In Trucking. First, Char Pingel, was the first employee who was hired with just a promise of a paycheck. She stayed on for sixteen years despite early financial struggles resulting in delayed payments. Without someone to organize the member lists, director duties, and administrative tasks, there would be no organization. Char was part of the passion.
There are many legal hurdles to address, and Attorney Robert Rothstein was immediately supportive and has spent countless pro bono hours filing paperwork, reviewing contracts, and keeping Women In Trucking Association legal and in compliance. Without Bob’s support and legal expertise, the group would not exist. Bob was part of the passion.
Running an association with such dramatic growth is no simple task, and Joel McGinley of TranStrategy Partners (now with Hubtek) stepped in and offered executive coaching for over a decade. Again, he did this to support the group and initially didn’t even charge for his countless hours and leadership advice. Joel also gave me consulting opportunities, so I had some income while growing Women In Trucking as a startup. Joel was part of the passion.
Every nonprofit needs a board of directors to give advice and guidance as well as support to the group while helping to influence the industry. The initial board of twelve very powerful and prominent women was no exception. They helped write the mission statement and created the brand as well as defining who and what the Women In Trucking Association would be moving forward. This initial board was focused on creating a more gender-diverse transportation environment because they believed in the mission. This group of women whom I still call friends, were all part of the passion.
One definition of passion is, “a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept.” John Maxwell once said, “A great leader’s courage to fulfill his (her) vision comes from passion, not position.” If you want to lead a nonprofit organization, you must have passion. Your followers will see through you if your motivation is fame, power, or money. Your members will lose interest if you can’t share your enthusiasm and desire to create change in your industry or community. The secret to success in building and leading is in sharing your passion.