By Kayla Sosa
Monique Salinas is no stranger to the nonprofit world; she has founded two nonprofits in the course of two decades. For 16 years, she directed Girls Choral Academy – a choir program for girls – and then for five years it was Mind Meets Music – a program that helped kids learn academic skills like math and reading through music.
There’s no doubt she’s managed a lot and would keep a busy schedule. But that all came to a screeching halt when she got into a car accident last year, and had to be on bedrest for six weeks.
“I started to think about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Salinas said. “If I could help nonprofits, I could help even more people.”
With grant funding come to an end for Mind Meets Music, Salinas decided to start a business of her own: Ascend, LLC.
“I want to help nonprofits ‘ascend to greatness,’” she said. “Too often, nonprofits find themselves in a position where they’ve just started or they’re in their medium phase of growing, and they’re at a loss of how to be successful. There’s not a manual to follow, so we often learn on the job.”
Salinas mentors nonprofit leaders in the areas of fund and leadership development, strategic planning and board development.
“I want to use the experience of what I’ve learned by doing things correctly, but also how I learned by doing things incorrectly,” she said.
One mistake Salinas admits she’s made – and surely many other nonprofits and start up businesses have as well – is not diversifying revenue streams.
“They get one big revenue stream and they put too much emphasis on that,” she said. “And when that revenue stream goes away, then they’re left dropping over a cliff.”
Salinas also hopes to help non-profits differentiate themselves from other organizations in order to gain support.
“Most non-profits, especially new nonprofits, are so focused on the mission and the good they want to accomplish in the world… and they forget that it takes dollars to do that,” Salinas said. “They think people will automatically jump on the bandwagon and open their pockets and fund the mission. (But) there are so many missions out there, and a limited number of dollars.”
As time goes on, Salinas hopes to expand to working with not only more nonprofits, but small business owners as well.