Interview: A Model (Citizen) Fundraising Partnership, Part 1January 18, 2013 By Joe Boland
[Editor's note: In our January issue, FundRaising Success talked with Dan Fleyshman, founder of the Model Citizen Fund, about his organization's fundraising partnership with the Karma Foundation. Today we run the full interview with Fleyshman. Check back next week for part 2, an interview with the Karma Foundation's Marvin Epstein.]
At age 23, Dan Fleyshman became the youngest owner of a publicly traded company after selling $15 million of clothing to retail stores and securing a $9.5 million licensing deal with Starter Apparel. An avid philanthropist, Fleyshman supported two dozen charities before ultimately founding the Model Citizen Fund, a nonprofit that provides backpacks with more than 100 items to underprivileged people around the world.
Recently, Fleyshman teamed up with the Karma Foundation, a philanthropic, members-only networking group, to raise money and provide more survival packs for the homeless. More than $25,000 has been raised so far through the partnership through a variety of fundraising tactics.
FundRaising Success: Can you talk a bit about the Model Citizen Fund?
Dan Fleyshman: Model Citizen Fund is a nonprofit organization that supplies and distributes life-sustaining goods to homeless and disaster-relief victims all around the world. Our distribution model is to be able to fit about 150 survival items into one backpack, making the emergency relief kits portable and easily accessible. Thanks to our hardworking staff and generous brand-name suppliers, we fill the backpacks with nonperishable food, medical first aid items and other survival necessities. I like to refer to the packs as a "portable mini mart" — everything you truly need is found in there. For an average individual, the items in one backpack are enough supplies to last for about a week.
By providing these kits to the less fortunate, our ultimate goal is to increase the recipients’ overall confidence and belief in their fellow man, and self-esteem. The result is to give them a better chance to improve their lives in a way that they may not have had before. Personally, I believe that the moment you give a homeless person our backpack, it changes two lives forever. More often than not, the donor sees the look in the recipient’s eyes when being handed a backpack, and the emotions simultaneously overcome both parties. That kind of good will you can’t buy or script — it’s truly an unforgettable experience. I find the success of any nonprofit lies in the ability to benefit both the donor and charity’s beneficiary, and to date, Model Citizen has done just that.