What inspired you to start Boots4Troops and how has it grown over time?
While on active duty onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in 2015, I noticed a need. my fellow crewmen were often lonely and missing the comforts of home, and when care packages came, they were often filled with poor quality items or things they didn’t need. Although sent by caring individuals, there was nothing personal about the packages that really touched each person’s heart. Understanding, how important mail is for deployed troops, I decided there had to be a better way. So, while still aboard ship, I launched a GoFundMe campaign that was the start of Boots For Troops. I wanted to make getting a care package an exciting moment for each service member, every care package we send is customized to each recipient.
Can you tell me about the work Boots4Troops does and how it differentiates itself from other non-profit organizations?
What makes us unique is that every care package contains a pair of boots. That customization and included footwear is what sets BFT apart from every other company that sends care packages – and it’s also what makes their packages the favorite of troops worldwide.
What do you think your constituents or beneficiaries would say is the best thing about your organization?
The quality of our services. And the people that work and volunteer at Boots For Troops.
What results does your organization achieve and how has your program improved over time?
Boots For Troops is now in it’s fourth year of operations. Each of the first three years we have at least doubled our monetary support. We have also doubled the amount of care packages delivered each year.
What are your goals for the next three to five years? What priorities will help you achieve them? What barriers are in your way?
Over the next five years I would like to see Boots For Troops continue to expand our brand and support across the country. Additionally, I would like to implement a new program to help active duty families. The first idea that comes to mind is starting a college scholarship for active duty military spouses. I still believe there is a lot of value in getting your education. I think a lot of spouses would take advantage of going to school while their husband or wife is serving if they could afford to pay for it. It would be great for the future of that military family, especially when they get ready to transition back in to civilian life.
What proportion of your revenue for next year will come from similar sources to this year’s revenue? Do you have plans to increase this consistency over time?
I would say that most of the revenue in 2019 will come from sources that we had in 2018. However, we are a young organization that is growing fast. I fully expect new sources to come out of 2019. We are working hard to keep growing and meet the demand of our programs.
Where is your leadership team strong, and where does it need development?
I’ll give you a few words to describe the strengths of our leadership team. Passionate, Teamwork, Loyalty, Determined. I’m so proud of all the leaders at BFT. They genuinely have a passion for supporting our deployed troops and raising their morale.
What is the hardest decision the organization has had to make recently, and how did you evaluate the tradeoffs involved?
There are tough decisions to be made every day. Just one that comes to mind is budgeting and adding new board members. The first thing I do when deciding is evaluate the entire circumstance. I understand all my options and I weigh the good and bad from each option. Then I use critical thinking to make the best decision for Boots For Troops. I tell people all the time that if you ever want to be a great leader you must be good at making decisions and problem solving. Once I decide, it’s my job to help my team overcome any obstacles. As a CEO or any leader, your team is going to look to you to solve problems, because they are confident you can. It’s one of my favorite things to do.
What do you, personally, spend most of your time on with Boots4Troops?
I’m all over the place. My job is to make sure the organization stays funded and the quality of our programs are meeting expectations. I spend my day building the infrastructure of the organization and building relationships with existing sponsors and donors. Seeking new sponsors and donors, upgrading our web presence, building strategic plans for big events, building social media marketing plans. Pretty much overseeing the entire operation of Boots For Troops. I really love seeing the organizations support grow. And I take that challenge on personally. Gaining a new sponsor, donor or support of any kind is really what keeps me excited. I try to poke my head in the operations and programs room as much as I can, but I have a great team in there that does a fantastic job!