As government shrinks, social entrepreneurs launch charities

As funding for state and federal programs shrink, many cause-minded people are starting non-profit organizations and charities in attempt to meet their communities’ growing needs.

The number of charities registered in Washington rose 49 percent from 2008 to 2012, according to Rebecca Sherrell, charities manager for the Washington Secretary of State office.

That was evident at the secretary of state’s one-day symposium for charities and non-profits on Nov. 8 at the Edward D. Hansen Conference Center in Everett. More than 200 people registered in advance with another 45 wait-listed to engage in training and education.

“The symposium and similar training done through our office is especially valuable for new charities and non-profit organizations,” said Teresa Glidden, charity and nonprofit coordinator for the secretary of state’s office. The office also supports existing organizations with best practices and compliance training.

Starting a non-profit is just as difficult — if not more so — than starting a small business. Glidden has been working with education outreach for charities since 2010.

“We want to help them succeed in every way they can,” Glidden said.

When asked about the significant growth, Glidden said she thought much of the increase was due to greater need.

“There are so many great causes that need support. And with many cuts to government programs, people with heart and passion are stepping in to make a difference. I am just amazed by the generosity of those I come in contact with on a daily basis,” she said.

Some participants at the symposium were looking at a startup. For example, Nancy Miller is semi-retired and a member of the Cherokee Nation. Her goal was to access all the information necessary for the formation of a Puget Sound chapter of the Cherokee community that will maintain and promote ties to culture and community for nearly 4,000 registered Cherokee members in our area.

“I learned so much that will help me build the regional network to mirror 28 other Cherokee groups operating nationwide,” Miller said. “There was plenty of actionable information that was truly beneficial to me.”

Emerging organizations were also gleaning wisdom through the symposium.

Following a career in construction that was cut short by injury, Jack Woods returned to school with the hope of finding something that fit with his passion to help people.

Woods connected with another student, Kitten Burgett, at Edmonds Community College who had similar interest in helping local charities. They joined forces, pursuing their dreams while creating an enterprise to support others in need.

Woods is now the CEO of There’s Always Something We Can Do, which raises money through a thrift store — Always Something — on Everett Mall Way that opened in August 2012. The group is positioned to raise money for several charitable causes.

“Our biggest challenge has been around board development and creating a strategy that will help us to connect with community leaders who see great value in our mission,” Woods said. The training included tips about that topic.

Donna Vanderheiden, longtime member and board president of Unity Whidbey Island, came to the symposium to learn about the various rules and laws governing religious nonprofits. Her concern as a board leader was that the work being done through board leadership is in step with how the state expects programs to operate.

“There is just so much information and materials that will help organizations achieve their mission,” Vanderheiden said. “I came away from the sessions with so much valuable knowledge. It was certainly time well spent.”

There’s tremendous value in learning from the experts. Presenter Lorri Dunsmore, a lawyer at Perkins Coie, one of Seattle’s prominent law firms, set out to train on the roles of board members and the need for high standards in governance.

Emphasis on duties of care, loyalty and obedience were high on the list of board member character traits. Risk exposure, liabilities and indemnification were also significant topics of attention.

Presentations by representatives from the Department of Revenue, the Washington State Gambling Commission and the state Liquor Control Board were also quite enlightening.

Clearly there are many critical facets for those entering the world of nonprofits and charities. Even seasoned veterans discovered new and better ways they’re able to make a difference through their work.

The office of Secretary of State is committed to education and serving their constituents. Resources and upcoming trainings and symposiums around the region can be found at the following website. Visit to learn more.

Juergen Kneifel is a Senior Associate Faculty in the Everett Community College business program. Please send your comments to

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

FILE - A Boeing 737 Max jet prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle, Sept. 30, 2020. Boeing said Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, that it took more than 200 net orders for passenger airplanes in December and finished 2022 with its best year since 2018, which was before two deadly crashes involving its 737 Max jet and a pandemic that choked off demand for new planes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Boeing inks deal for up to 300 737 Max planes with Ryanair

At Boeing’s list prices, the deal would be worth more than $40 billion if Ryanair exercises all the options.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Four recognized for building a better community

Economic Alliance of Snohomish County hosts annual awards

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Business Briefs: Pandemic recovery aid and workforce support program

Snohomish County launches small business COVID recovery program, and is now accepting NOFA grant applications.

Elson S. Floyd Award winner NAACP President Janice Greene. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Janice Greene: An advocate for supplier diversity and BIPOC opportunities

The president of the Snohomish County NAACP since 2008 is the recipient of this year’s Elson S. Floyd Award.

Emerging Leader Rilee Louangphakdy (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Rilee Louangphakdy: A community volunteer since his teens

Volunteering lifted his spirits and connected him with others after the death of a family member.

Emerging Leader Alex McGinty (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Alex Zitnik-McGinty: Find a group you like and volunteer!

Her volunteer activities cover the spectrum. Fitting in “service work is important as we grow.”

Opportunity Lives Here award winner Workforce Snohomish and director, Joy Emory. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Workforce Snohomish receives Opportunity Lives Here Award

Workforce offers a suite of free services to job seekers and businesses in Snohomish County.

Henry M. Jackson award winner Tom Lane. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Tom Lane: An advocate for small and local businesses

The CEO of Dwayne Lane’s Auto Family is a recipient of this year’s Henry M. Jackson Award.

John M. Fluke Sr. award winner Dom Amor. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Dom Amor: Working behind the scenes to improve the region

Dom Amor is the recipient of this year’s John M. Fluke Sr. Award

Dr. David Kirtley at the new Helion headquarters in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022  (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett nuclear fusion energy company nets first customer: Microsoft

The Everett company, on a quest to produce carbon-free electricity, agreed to provide power to the software giant by 2028.

Hunter Mattson, center, is guided by Blake Horton, right, on a virtual welding simulation during a trade fair at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, Washington, on Wednesday, May 3, 2023. High school kids learned about various trades at the event. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Trade fair gives Snohomish County kids glimpse of college alternatives

Showcasing the trades, the Trade Up event in Monroe drew hundreds of high school students from east Snohomish County.

A Tesla Model Y Long Range is displayed on Feb. 24, 2021, at the Tesla Gallery in Troy, Mich.  Opinion polls show that most Americans would consider an EV if it cost less, if more charging stations existed and if a wider variety of models were available. The models are coming, but they may roll out ahead of consumer tastes. And that could spell problems for the U.S. auto industry, which is sinking billions into the new technology with dozens of new vehicles on the way.  (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Tesla leases space at Marysville business park

Elon Musk’s electric car company reportedly leased a massive new building at the Cascade Business Park.