From Profit to Purpose: How I Built a Lifeline in 3 Days - Sheba Consulting | Fractional Leadership Services | Fractional COO | Fractional CTO | Fractional CPO | Operations and Back-Office Services

From Profit to Purpose: How I Built a Lifeline in 3 Days

 Adi Vaxman
March 14, 2024 8:52pm ET

The massacre that occurred on October 7th in Israel wasn’t just a headline to me;  it was a personal tragedy that echoed through my life as an Israeli-American, a Jew, and a Business Owner. The news tore through my family and community, bringing not just grief, but a call to action that I couldn’t ignore.

As reports of the vicious assault flooded in, so did the distressing realization that people I knew were affected, including a dear friend and member of my team in Kfar Aza. 

This tragedy shook me to the core, and the reality that Israeli soldiers, my son’s age, as well as members of my immediate family, were on the front lines without basic necessities like medical supplies and clothing was a wake-up call. It was a moment that demanded more than sympathy—it required immediate action. So, I tapped into my operational expertise and extensive network to formulate a plan. This wasn’t just about offering help; it was about structuring a lifeline for those in immediate need. 

Developing a Response System

The logistical hurdles on their own were immense. Requests started flooding in immediately, and I had to establish a streamlined intake system. This involved creating a platform for collecting and categorizing the needs of many units and individuals. Given the scale and urgency, this system had to be both robust and agile, capable of quickly adapting to the changing demands in the field, while maintaining strict standards of data security.

Sourcing Equipment and Suppliers

My next focus shifted to sourcing the necessary equipment, a challenge intensified by my lack of experience with military and medical equipment specs, procurement, safety requirements, and export legalities. These are fields most people spend a career mastering, but I had just 3 days to grasp it all.

This high-stakes, urgent situation was unlike any of my previous business ventures; however, it mirrored the early days of a startup— starting from scratch, improvising with available resources, and bringing order to chaos, with very limited resources.

Fundraising and Financial Management

In a crisis, effective fundraising and financial management are crucial. This involves more than just raising funds; it’s about rapidly and sustainably mobilizing resources.

By partnering with a 501(c)3 organization, I enabled tax-deductible donations from day one, enhancing donor appeal. The strategy wasn’t single-source reliant; I used various channels like online crowdfunding, donation appeals, and direct donor purchases. This approach diversified funding sources, reducing risk and expanding resource inflow.

With limited funds and extensive demand, every dollar had to be stretched to a maximum. This meant negotiating with suppliers for the best rates and ensuring resources were used as efficiently as possible. To build and maintain trust while reinforcing donor confidence in our operation, we offered complete transparency and accountability, including providing donors with updates on how funds were used and the impact they were having.

Transporting Equipment

The transportation of essential equipment to Israel required dynamic logistical solutions, especially amid extensive cargo delays and flight cancellations. Navigating the stringent security and regulatory requirements for exporting and importing military-grade equipment was one of our primary challenges. 

Lacking initial contact with the IDF administration, we turned to our connections within the US military and the Department of Defense. Their insights were crucial for ensuring safety and compliance. By forming these strategic alliances and accessing US Military-approved suppliers, we ensured adherence to similar military standards, helping us avoid the very costly mistakes other organizations were making.

Mobilizing Volunteers

Our plans and processes relied heavily on the human element to come to life, and that’s where volunteers played a significant role. Breaking away from traditional business norms of concealing vulnerabilities, we openly shared the urgent needs of the mission.  This candid approach resonated within the community, drawing an overwhelming response of people eager to contribute their time, skills, and energy.

But it wasn’t just about rallying support; our focus was on harnessing talent. Building such a complex operation required more than sheer numbers – it needed quality interactions and professional abilities. So, we didn’t assign tasks randomly – we took the time to understand each volunteer’s unique strengths, strategically placing them in roles where they could make the most impact.

Sustaining the Momentum

As the immediate aftermath of the attack began to fade in the public eye, the challenge shifted from immediate response to sustaining momentum. The ongoing needs were and still are critical, but without the initial surge of attention, maintaining support required a strategic approach to marketing and growth.

Recognizing the power of branding, we rallied a team of volunteers skilled in digital marketing and design. We built an online presence, including a website and social media profiles, which became crucial in keeping the public informed and engaged with our ongoing efforts. 

To broaden our reach, we engaged the services of a public relations firm. Media exposure was instrumental in keeping the mission in the public consciousness and for attracting new supporters.

Most importantly, I tapped into my existing networks, using every meeting, event, and interaction as an opportunity to advocate for our cause. By sharing our mission with colleagues and acquaintances, I was able to garner additional support and resources from people who I already had an established level of trust.

Moving forward

As the situation evolves, so must we; keeping our messaging, communication, and fundraising efforts in step with the evolving landscape. This adaptability isn’t just about responding to change—it’s about anticipating it. By staying agile and responsive, we ensure our actions are not only relevant today but also preemptively aligned with future developments.

Final Thoughts

This story is about more than just starting a relief operation; it’s a powerful testament to the strength of community when faced with adversity. It reminds us that in our most challenging moments, the power to make a difference lies in our collective will and efforts. Our work goes beyond providing aid; it’s about fostering a deep sense of unity and purpose, resonating beyond this tragedy – professionally, personally, and socially, and creating a lasting impact that will stay with us in the years to come.