Ignite Louisville Makes Philanthropy Easier and More Fun

Interapt CEO Ankur Gopal recently published an article in the Voice-Tribune describing his experience competing in the YUM! Ignites Louisville Challenge as part of Leadership Louisville’s Ignite Louisville program, for which his team volunteered significant time and technical expertise towards helping St. Elizabeth Charities:

“I want to help my community, but I don’t know where to start. Besides, with my hectic schedule, what could I possibly do?”

I admit I was guilty of saying that line on many occasions. As an entrepreneur, running a hi-tech company is a time-consuming endeavor, as is spending time with family and friends. Factor in grocery shopping, paying bills, business events, meetings, the gym, extra-curricular activities we already have, and there’s no time to join anything new. Right? Wrong.

This year, I had the opportunity to participate in the Leadership Louisville Center’s Ignite Louisville program, which gave me an incredible chance to help a significant number of people. The goal of the program is to educate and empower local young professionals to lead in their careers, but also to have a positive, meaningful impact in the community.

As part of the Ignite Louisville program, I teamed up with several classmates for the Yum! IGNITES Louisville Challenge, including Heather Benson, Visually Impaired Preschool Services; Matt Brotzge, U.S. Senate Office of Mitch McConnell; Kevin Guthrie, Frazier History Museum; Tracy Markert, Hosparus, Inc.; Talley Russell, Norton Healthcare; Kortney Ryan, Deming, Malone, Livesay & Ostroff; and Rich Vollmer, Humana, Inc.

We selected a nonprofit, St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities, and competed with six other teams to achieve real impact for our respective agencies. St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities is located in S. Indiana and has a history of providing physical, emotional and spiritual support through various programs for clients young and old.

In almost no time, our team rolled up our sleeves and got to work improving St. Elizabeth’s infrastructure, marketing and organization. Each team member contributed considerable effort and expertise to the project. We redesigned St. Elizabeth’s logo and website, printed 13,000 brochures, consolidated their database, improved workflow efficiency, outsourced medical billing and collections, and developed a new campus video monitoring system.

All of these and other team efforts saved St. Elizabeth’s staff considerable time and resources. Though we calculated the total value of our efforts at $70,000, in their own words the St. Elizabeth’s staff said our assistance had an “unquantifiable value,” and that our work “moved the organization 20 years into the future.” There’s no substitution for that feeling of appreciation received when a project like this goes so well, with such remarkable results. Furthermore, it’s reassuring to know that an organization as important to public welfare as St. Elizabeth’s is set up for success and longevity far into the future.

I have my team and the Ignite Louisville program to thank for this opportunity to contribute in such a meaningful way to St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities and the surrounding Louisville community, and I look forward to continuing work with them in the future.  I’ve applied many of the lessons and principles learned to my own business and already see positive results. It’s readily apparent that I’ve gained as much from the experience as the organizations that participated, and thus I strongly encourage any Louisville business leader to contact the Leadership Louisville Center (www.leadershiplouisville.org) and apply to the program. When enrolled, I’ve no doubt that you too will soon enjoy these same rewards.

It’s natural to say “I’d love to volunteer, but I’ll volunteer time later on, when I have more time – right now I wouldn’t be much help, given how hectic my life already is.” But the truth is that we will always be busy, have distractions, and may find it hard to give back. With the Ignite Louisville program, you easily work it into your schedule, look forward to the meetings, and you’ll be amazed at how much you can contribute with such little time utilizing your area of expertise. I, for one, will never take the tech skills I have for granted, knowing how a weekend coding on my computer while watching football helped fix a valuable database they were unable to use for almost 2 years. To this day, I am still amazed at the impact my small contributions had on an organization. It makes me want to run into the streets knocking on every non-profit’s door and volunteer a Saturday to fix their IT department – But let’s leave something for the next Ignite Louisville class to do…

Applications for Ignite Louisville are open June 3 – July 26, 2013. Visit www.leadershiplouisville.org to learn more.

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