Most entrepreneurs seek profit. But Brittany Hebert, founder and CEO of Sky High for Kids sees things differently.
Philanthropy can be a different means to the same end. One of the most successful fundraisers in Texas, Hebert pledged $20 million to fund one of Texas’s child cancer centers. Grit Daily caught up with Hebert to find out how readers can get involved with her work and what most charities are getting so wrong.
Share the news on your latest landmark donation. Who benefits?
Sky High for Kids donated $1.25 million June 2018 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital which completed a $5 million dollar pledge in support of building three essential family and patient rooms in the Eric Trump Foundation Surgery & ICU Center. This center has already serviced over 7200 pediatric cancer patients in their most critical life moments.
In addition, Sky High donated $1.6 million dollars on December 14, 2018 towards a new $20 million dollar pledge to support Texas Children’s Cancer Center’s first and solely dedicated pediatric cancer immunotherapy center in the United States. This will also support Texas Children’s Global Hope project in sub-Saharan Africa building Sky High for Kids training centers to treat thousands of children suffering from cancer.
Most entrepreneurs go the for-profit route. Why go non-profit?
I simply say, why not go non-profit? Sky High is impacting thousands of children around the globe fighting an evil disease called cancer – so the answer is easy for me. I’ve built this non-profit by surrounding myself with people who are smarter, hard working and just as passionate. It’s a business that gives, loves and is dedicated to something bigger than ourselves. When you are passionate about what you do, it gives you the motivation to get up and make it happen every single day.
Does Houston have a particularly “giving” culture? How so?
Houston was named the most philanthropic city in 2015 and 2016 by Charity Navigator. It was in the #2 slot in 2017. For Sky High, Houston’s largest industry, oil and gas, has been our shining star. Since inception, the oil and gas industry has not only supported ending pediatric cancer by partnering with Sky High monetarily, but have adopted our “boots on the ground” style by donating not just a check but also their time and manpower. Hundreds of volunteers have made it possible for us to host large fundraising events, hospital carnivals and more! We could not achieve our mission if it were not for so many amazing people in the city of Houston.
What is one conventional wisdom about charitable giving that is so wrong?
Overhead. Sky High is very proud to say 70 cents of every dollar raised goes towards our mission. But with a lean staff, we often struggle to find time to do it all. Currently, we host 17 fundraising events across Texas and Louisiana with only seven staff members! We are responsible for $6 million dollars in gross annual revenue and $1 million in in-kind donations. It’s a battle to execute what needs to be done in order to fund raise at this level with minimal staff, a small office, and we are constantly monitoring the books (as every nonprofit should) and cutting items from the budget that we need. If we could have just a tad more we would increase fundraising and find the cure faster! At the end of the day, it’s a nonprofit, so we survive on passion not a paycheck to fulfill our vision to end childhood cancer. We won’t sleep until we find a cure.
How are donations shifting as the next generations step up? What’s different?
There is a shift and there is a “generation gap” coming in monetary donations sooner rather than later. The next generation seems to bounce in and out of charities more often rather than committing to one to make a larger impact with their time or money.
Sky High is creating a culture and atmosphere that is not only fun, but filled with passion and energy. We keep the mission first and connect everyone with the hospitals, research centers, families and children that we are fundraising for directly and I believe our Sky High family has something that makes you come back for more. We are working hard to recruit the next generation by creating a Young Professionals Board and an environment that isn’t boring.
How much do events contribute to your yearly funding? Which ones can readers attend, next?
Our events contribute to 95% of yearly funding. What started as a college fundraising project in 2007, has morphed into a giant special event fundraising nonprofit dedicated to eradicating pediatric cancer.
But with our recent pledge to Texas Children’s Cancer Center, we recognize that we must do more to diversify our donor portfolio and expand outside of special events into grant writing and gain support from additional individual family foundations.
You can register to attend our spectacular banquet at the JW Marriott in Houston, Texas on February 8th and Sporting Clay Shoot at Westside Sporting Grounds, February 9th.
Also, we host an annual “Ladies Who Brunch” event in Houston April 7th which includes a very special celebrity guest!