All this month we have brought you special content celebrating Generocity’s 10th anniversary. And on this last day of October, we end with the beginning.
Our Q&A with Sandra Baldino takes us back to the beginning in 2009 … and casts us forward to 2029 with Baldino’s prediction of what is yet to come for her brainchild.
Generocity: When and how did you identify the need for Generocity to exist?
Sandra Baldino: My late husband, Frank Baldino, Jr., Ph.D., introduced me to several nonprofits that he and his company, Cephalon, Inc., had supported. Although grateful for those introductions, I also wanted to learn about other organizations that were doing great work in the region. While at a bookstore on date night with Frank back in 2008, I browsed through the local magazine section hoping to find more information, but was unsuccessful. I then moved online to find a compendium of such, but I was met with the same fate. I like to use a quote from one of my son’s favorite movies “Robots” at that time, “See a need, fill a need.”
Hence began the journey of Generocity.org!
Generocity: Tell us about the process of founding it. What was the vision you were working toward? How did you shape your team?
Generocity.org was a solutions journalism website that would inspire readers into action through riveting stories then have the tools and technology available for the readers to get involved. It also served as a hub for the region’s nonprofit and other organizations to share ideas that would ultimately strengthen this social impact community.
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I was grateful to have Frank by my side providing me with guidance, support, some early-stage funding, contacts and just really great advice about how to bring an idea to life. He, of course, had done the same back in 1987 when he co-founded Cephalon, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, and successfully ran it for 25 years. His experience as both a father and an entrepreneur made me a better mother and founder; providing a sense of calmness that I otherwise would not have experienced.
It was my intention to become executive director of Generocity.org, but it wasn’t until my husband passed away unexpectedly in late 2010 that I decided not to run this start-up. My primary focus then was our two boys who were under the age of six. Needless to say, I began looking for individuals to carry out my vision.
Generocity: Tell us some of the missteps along the way, and the successes. What did you learn from each?
Baldino: The most important thing I learned was that bringing an idea to life requires 150% of yourself. It’s a great commitment and responsibility, and the tragedy of losing the love of my life impacted me deeply, which didn’t bode well for the individuals hired who are looking for inspiration, motivation and guidance from you. I was not capable of doing so, and therefore it was difficult for all involved to effectively carry out the organization’s mission.
Despite this, they managed to create an essential space for this vibrant, passionate community, and I’m so incredibly grateful to all of Generocity.org’s employees who helped make that happen!
Generocity: Looking back, would you do it again?
Baldino: Absolutely! I truly believed in this project! It’s difficult to look back during that time given my emotional state, but I wanted to give as much as I could of myself at that time to provide the nonprofit, social impact community a space to grow and learn and for the entire region to participate in its success!
Generocity: When and why did you decide you wanted to to hand your organization over to a different media organization? Why Technically Media?
Baldino: After several years, we concluded that the mission and vision was truly not being fully realized, but we knew there was still an incredible need for what we were trying to accomplish. With the guidance of Generocity.org’s impressive board, Stephen Goodman, Fritz Bittenbender, Garrett Melby and Pamela Rainey Lawler, we decided to send out a Request for Concepts to find an organization that could carry out and ultimately enhance what we worked hard to create.
Through that effort we felt the best choice was Technically Media, and hired nonprofit attorney Morgan Chesire, to have Technically Media begin publishing Generocity.org through a program-related investment. I was fortunate to meet Chris Wink years earlier through the Leadership Philadelphia program, led by the great Liz Dow, and appreciated then his professionalism, enthusiasm, business acumen and just great personality.
Chris Wink and his experience in creating a niche journalism site for the region’s tech sector was impressive, and seemed like the obvious choice for him to strengthen the social impact sector via Generocity.org.
Generocity: Are you still a part of the nonprofit sector? What are you doing now? What great things can we expect from you next?
Baldino: I’ve been involved in the nonprofit community for almost two decades, and currently volunteer a great deal of my time as a board member for several nonprofits throughout the region. I received my certificate in Social Impact Strategy from UPenn’s School for Social Policy and Practice, and participate in events with the Center of High Impact Philanthropy run by Katherina Rosqueta.
I was born, raised, and have always lived in the Greater Philadelphia region, and will continue to educate myself and do what I can to support my local nonprofit, social impact community.
Generocity: Do you still read Generocity or come to any of the events?
Baldino: Generocity.org is an essential part of my daily reading repertoire!
Generocity: Give us your predictions — what will Generocity be in 10 years?
Baldino: Technically Media will continue to gain momentum locally, and spread to other regions that deserve a dedicated to space for people and organizations that provide essential services to the social sector!
Generocity: What is your best memory of Generocity?
Baldino: One of the best memories I have occurred prior to Generocity.org being launched. Frank and I agreed that if we were going to invest time and money into this project, we wanted to ensure that the region needed such a resource.
With the help and creativity of Heseung Ann Song and her team at The Mighty Engine, we created the Take Five, Give Five campaign. We asked the community that if they took five minutes to take a survey, we would donate $5 to any nonprofit of their choice.
One week later, we had almost 5,000 responses and donated nearly $25,000 to almost 400 nonprofits. The nonprofits were so appreciative of their small windfall and shared stories of how they benefitted from these gifts. Additionally, the survey confirmed that this type of resource did not exist and was well needed. We had the proof we needed to proceed!
A small side note: I had been talking with The Philadelphia Inquirer for several months about possibly collaborating with them on this website, and they were kind enough to advertise this campaign for free.
On November 12, 2009, as I was in the hospital giving birth to my son, Frank handed me the full-page campaign advertisement in the Inquirer. I remember saying “I’ve given birth to two precious things today!”-30-
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