How One High School Student Raised $20,000 to Follow Her Dream

When she was a sophomore in high school, Quinn Driggs participated in a service trip to Tijuana, Mexico.

“Even though I had traveled and lived in South America and seen poverty, working closely with a specific family impacted me more,” Quinn says.

Serving in Tijuana got Quinn thinking. What could she do to help others and make a positive difference in more lives?

Passion for non-profit work

When Quinn returned home to Idaho Falls, Idaho, she realized she had a new passion. She wanted to help others through non-profit work.

“I realized serving made me feel happiness, and I wanted to do more of it,” Quinn says.

She began working on a campaign with a mentor who owned an app called Time Machine. The app encouraged people to take meaningful actions by rewarding users for those actions. After her internship ended, Quinn realized that this was a way for her to follow her dream of starting a charity.

Quinn founded To Change a Life, an organization aimed at helping teens get involved in their communities. Not only are teens encouraged to participate in community projects, but they also learn about helping impoverished families in communities around the world.

Teens can receive points by taking simple actions and sharing them on social media. The actions include service projects, educational efforts, and other community-building items.

“I saw the potential of the Time Machine app to help raise awareness and get more people my age involved in service work,” Quinn explains. “So I asked my mentor if I could buy the app.”

Raising $20,000 to follow her dream

The cost to purchase the app for her non-profit was $20,000. Raising that kind of cash can be a daunting task for anyone, but Quinn — a junior in high school at this time — decided to go for it.

First, her mentor put her in touch with Operation Kids, a non-profit located in Salt Lake City, Utah. After learning about her mission and her plans for the app, the organization provided her with a $10,000 grant. Quinn was already halfway there.

Next, Quinn decided to visit local businesses to encourage them to sponsor her app. Part of the app’s design is to recognize sponsors with social media mentions. She found a business in Idaho Falls willing to provide $2,000 for a sponsorship.

Her last move was to talk to friends and family for help raising the remaining $8,000. She sold an old car for $1,500 and collected donations from people she knew. She did all this without starting a GoFundMe campaign; instead, she talked about her vision and got others excited about her idea.

“In a lot of ways, I feel like I got lucky,” Quinn says. “I work hard, but I have people around me who are willing to support me. My mom especially — she always dreams big and encourages me to follow my dreams.”

Once she raised the money, Quinn bought the app and began working on her plan to get teens involved with community service.

What’s next for To Change a Life?

Quinn learned the hard way that launching a non-profit doesn’t always go as planned. There were technical difficulties with retooling the app for her purposes, and she launched later than expected.

Quinn also discovered that filling out paperwork to form a 501(c)(3) can be a headache. Instead of starting an independent non-profit, Quinn ended up working with Charity Anywhere, the organization that put together the trip to Tijuana.

To Change a Life is a branch of Charity Anywhere, but Quinn has autonomy in her finances and efforts. “Partnering with an existing charity just seemed to make more sense when I began looking into it,” Quinn explains.

“I hope to be able to break out with my own 501(c)(3) with the app later,” Quinn says. “Right now, though, I’m still busy with school and extracurriculars on top of doing this non-profit work.”

Today, Quinn is a high school senior. She’s run campaigns for the Humanitarian Center in Idaho Falls, and she’s about to start a campaign for Backyard Broadcast, a Utah charity that raises awareness to help victims of human trafficking.

Quinn has put together a plan to keep the app running by charging charities between two and five percent of what she raises for them. “Right now, everything I receive for running campaigns goes toward the cost of running the app and doing the non-profit work.”

She also has a lot on her plate as she gets ready to attend college. Quinn has applied to a number of schools, including Duke, Princeton, and BYU. She knows there are programs that emphasize non-profit marketing, and she hopes her education will tie in with her ambitions to take To Change a Life to the next level.

“There’s a lot I want to do with international charity, and maybe geopolitics,” Quinn says. “I’m excited to make it happen.”

What you can learn from Quinn

Sometimes, we get bogged down in life and don’t put much thought to our ambitions. Though Quinn wasn’t always sure where her journey would take her, she moved forward anyway and ended up raising $20,000. Now, she’s on a path to even bigger things.

Here are some lessons we can all learn from Quinn as we pursue our dreams:

Create a plan

Quinn mapped out a plan. There were times things didn’t go according to her vision, but she worked out which milestones she needed to hit.

While you might have to move some of your benchmarks, the important thing is to create a plan so you know where to go next. Plus, being able to see your progress can keep you motivated.

Network

Don’t be afraid to get out there and meet people. Quinn found a mentor, presented at networking events, and made it a point to get to know people. Now she has dozens of contacts for future projects and potential fundraising.

Reach out to others and attend events to find like-minded people. You might be surprised at the connections you make, and how they could help you later.

Look for unconventional solutions

When Quinn realized it might not be practical to start her own 501(c)(3) right away, she didn’t give up. Instead, she found a creative workaround. By partnering with a different organization, she was able to be autonomous, but avoid some of the issues she isn’t ready to tackle.

Don’t forget about creative ways to raise money. Quinn sold a car for part of her funds, but there are plenty of other ways you can get the capital you need for your business, including crowdfunding and starting a side gig.

Be ready to work

Even though Quinn is in high school and has extracurricular activities, she’s made To Change a Life a priority. While she still makes time for her social life and school obligations, she also knows it’s important to work on her dream.

You might be surprised at how much time you have if you carve it out. The American Time Use Survey indicates that Americans spend almost three hours a day watching TV — imagine what could be accomplished if that time was spent on other projects.

Have a passion for non-profit work? Here’s how you can change the world with a non-profit career (and get your loans forgiven, too).

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