Turning Your Passion Into a Nonprofit with Audrey Chisholm

Audrey Chisholm  2:38  

So happy to be here.

Luis Scott  2:40  

I love having people who have a laundry list of achievements, because I think that it just shows the body of work. And as entrepreneurs, we really all strive to have that kind of list. You know, what’s the what’s the proudest moment that you’ve had, out of all those things that I mentioned?

Audrey Chisholm  2:57  

Wow, you know, it’s probably one of the ones that you didn’t mention, which is that I’m a wife. My husband, I’ve been married now for 13 years, and a mom of three beautiful girls. So that one would be at the top. 

Luis Scott  3:09  

Audrey, thank you so much for that it’s so true. You know, having balance in your life is really important. And I and I appreciate that. That is one of the greatest achievements you’ve had, because you’re really making a difference not only in the community, but also your family. So that’s really great. So we’re here to talk about entrepreneurship in a way that I’ve never really thought about. I never thought about starting a nonprofit as being an entrepreneurial type of, of endeavor, but it absolutely takes that mindset, all the things that you would consider an entrepreneur, it takes that type of person to really start a nonprofit. And you help people do that. So I’m curious for you to tell us a little bit about what you do and how you help people start their nonprofit.

Audrey Chisholm  3:46  

Sure, absolutely. Luis. So I’m the founder of Chisholm Law Firm. And we are a law firm that helps people start and grow nonprofits that impact the world. So basically, just regular people that want to make a difference. Rather than starting a foundation, a charity, a church, a school, you name it, they come to us and say, Hey, this is my idea. This is how I want to impact the world. And then our legal team, we help them make it happen. Now, what

Luis Scott  4:13  

what really inspired you to get into that? Because a lot of times, well, let me just I’m not gonna say a lot of times when I was going to law school, I don’t remember there being a class on helping people start nonprofits. I actually didn’t know that lawyers did this. And I was a lawyer. Before I found out that there were lawyers who did this. So like, what helped you get started in this type of law?

Audrey Chisholm  4:33  

Sure, absolutely. So for me, I started my own nonprofit. So when I was in college, I was 17 years old. And I just really felt like God inspired me to start my own nonprofit called Revolution Leadership. And when I started that nonprofit, it was really hard, like really hard. I mean, just so many things I didn’t know about the compliance and paperwork. And I mean, just, you know, it’s a laundry list of things. I made a lot of mistakes along the way. And so then when I went to law school, I kind of chose to, you know, niche down and start learning about it. And it was something that I was already doing. Everyone knew, you know, hundreds of nonprofit person because I was always talking about my own nonprofit. And so then as soon as I started my, my law firm, I actually thought I was going to be doing another type of law. But the first thing people started reaching out to me about was, Hey, can you help me start my nonprofit? And I was like, okay, and, you know, one person just turned into, you know, another person and another person. And now, I mean, we’re just really proud of being able to help a lot of people make this happen.

Luis Scott  5:32  

And that’s awesome. And you know, if you go on your website, you’ve helped 1000s of people start their nonprofit, and you have done it with 100% success rate, like that is unheard of, in the industry. What what makes your process so different than other people?

Audrey Chisholm  5:48  

Sure, sure. I mean, I think a benefit that we have, is actually having taken the time to get really, really good at what we do. So a lot of law firms, they, you know, you can go to them for your divorce and, you know, immigration paperwork, and a criminal case, and all these different things. And it’s really hard to kind of get into the nuances of a body of law if you do so many different things. But for us, that’s really the main thing that we do. So it’s just allowed over the years to, you know, really develop best practices and systems around getting it right. And then from there, since we’ve helped so many different nonprofits, it would be really, really rare for us to see, you know, a situation that we haven’t already encountered.

Luis Scott  6:26  

Yeah, no, I agree with that. And I’ll talk a little bit about the nonprofit you helped us start. But before I asked that question, you mentioned Revolution Leadership, that’s your nonprofit that you started when you were 17. You said, Absolutely. Wow. Tell us a little bit more about about that nonprofit.

Audrey Chisholm  6:41  

Yeah, so for me when I went to college, you know, my parents had gone to college out of state, and we moved to Florida, because my dad was in the military. So there was so much about the process that I didn’t know, I was the first one in my family to go away to college. And so the whole process of just navigating financial aid, paying for school, you know, becoming a leader on campus, all these things and still managing to, you know, be involved in your community. While not you know, going crazy. There’s just so much I had to figure out. And so for me, I said, you know, what, I felt like, I was learning so much, I was like, wow, I wish I had known these things when I was in high school. So you know, the idea was to just as I was learning, to teach the things that I was learning along the way, and just to kind of pass them on to high schoolers that were right behind me, so that they could have an easier path. So for me, I was fortunate to graduate from Florida State University and law school debt free. So that’s a lot of what we teach students how to do, you know, how to avoid, you know, student loans, and all that to get out without, you know, having that type of debt, as well as leadership development, career success, entrepreneurship, those are really the key, you know, principles of Revolution Leadership.

Luis Scott  7:48  

I just want to make sure people don’t gloss over what you just said, I graduated from undergrad and law school debt free, like her organization that helps people learn those skills. Like, what if there’s ever a time for us to learn not to be in debt out of school? It’s now so like, if you’re interested in more information about that nonprofit, how would they be able to get in touch with you regarding your nonprofit?

Audrey Chisholm  8:11  

Sure, sure. The best way to reach out is our website revolutionleadership.org

Luis Scott  8:16  

Awesome stuff. So there you go, you can you can get in touch with her. And if you are a parent, and you have kids in high school, I’m assuming those are the those are the people that need to reach out to you and your nonprofits literally changing, changing the the lives of many students. So that’s, that’s amazing work. In addition to that, not just starting your own nonprofit, I mean, I’m, maybe I’m more excited than I need to be about this. But I think it’s such a huge service that you provide, you help people start their own nonprofits, hundreds of 1000s of people are being positively impacted because of the work that you’ve done over the years. So what are some things that people need to know? If they want to start their own nonprofit? What are some good tips?

Audrey Chisholm  8:59  

Absolutely. Well, the first thing I want someone to know is that it doesn’t have to be hard. Okay, so a lot of people when I started mine, it felt really hard everything about the process, what are the legal requirements? And what do you have to file? And how do you do it? What are the rules with the board? How do you get a board, I mean, it’s just so much information overload, and especially now that we’re, you know, able to just kind of type things in, and there are all these blog articles about this, that and the other. It doesn’t have to be hard because you know, the best way to do it is really to, you know, find an expert, someone that already has a system, they can take you through that system, and you can get set up, you know, painless stress thing I would say would just be Yeah, so the first thing I would say is just you know, finding an expert that can help you because that can make the process nice and smooth. And then the next thing that I would say would be just know that it’s needed. You know, if you have, you know, a passion if there’s something that you care about, don’t just ignore that feeling and say, Oh, well, someone else will do it or someone else is addressing it. I mean, if someone was already addressing it, you wouldn’t be thinking that we cared about that if everyone kind of chipped in and you know, did the thing that they were passionate about, then everyone would be really helping to make our community better. So yeah,

Luis Scott  10:10  

I agree with that. You know, I remember listening to Les Brown, he’s one of my favorite speakers. And he always said that the greatest tragedy, the greatest tragedy on earth is dying, with your passion still inside of you. Like, that’s the greatest tragedy. And I agree with that. There’s so many people with great passions, that don’t live out their passions, because of fear, they don’t know what to do. And I absolutely agree. If you have a passion, and you want to do something for your community, there are people out there who want to help. And there are services out there who are ready to help you. You know, I’m a client of yours. And so I need to say that I’m on the air. We started the Bader Scott Foundation for for my law firm, and to help people in our community here in the Atlanta area. And you helped us and it was such a seamless process. I would recommend you to anyone blindly. But why should a person use an attorney versus just doing it on their own? Or do helping, you know, getting a friend their friends out there who, who’s you know, quote, unquote, help people start nonprofits? Where does a law firm really make the difference? Sure. Sure.

Audrey Chisholm  11:17  

That’s a great question. Well, the best way to answer that question is to tell a story. One of our clients I’ll never forget, she called, you know, called her office. And I spoke to her. And she told me about the nonprofit she wanted to start. I was like, great, it sounds good. And then she was almost in tears. She said, but I’m not sure that, you know, it’ll work, you know, that this can happen. And I said, Why? And she told me because she had hired five other people before us, and none of them could get it done. I was like, really, she said, she hired and a CPA, you know, sort of just another friend that said, they do it for free. And then I forgot who the last person was, but it was five different vendors. And some of them, you know, did the paperwork wrong. So it was denied some of them took her money and never returned her phone call. You know, some of them just, you know, said, Hey, I can’t do this and gave everything back to her. So she had spent all that time just trying to get the process done. And here was someone that wanted to change the world, and almost felt that she couldn’t do it. So the first reason I would say to hire a law firm to do it is because one, we actually have expertise in the law, that’s going to be the biggest hang up that nonprofits have is, you know, when you’re setting up a nonprofit, there’s state law and federal law involved. It’s a lot going on. And so you want someone that actually understands that instead of just copying and pasting on forms, or just putting things together, we had another client, like an elderly gentleman. And I remember he came to me, and he’s like, Oh, I want you to, you know, do my nonprofit, I was like, great, happy to help. He’s like, Oh, wait, I already have a part of it done. I was like, Okay, well, let me review everything you know, and I’ll take a look and see where you are with it. I looked at his paperwork. And I think he also had an accountant, do his paperwork for him, took a look at everything. Turns out, he didn’t have a nonprofit setup, they had set up his foundation as what’s called an S corporation, that’s actually a business entity. So that means that legally all the money that he was collecting, and donations and everything, that was all actually taxable income to him personally, because he was structured the wrong way. I mean, he had no idea. And we had to go through this entire process to undo everything and file all the right things, etc, to get them taken care of. But that all could have been avoided by him actually going to someone that really has that expertise, and not just, you know, a generalistic perspective, but actually understanding the law understanding the IRS code to structure it exactly the way he needed to. So he didn’t have any problems.

Luis Scott  13:42  

Yeah, I mean, I agree with that. Because I always tell people, I can change my own oil in my car, but I go to a mechanic to do that. As they change, they change the oil every day. Like they’re an expert on that. And so I think that that’s so true. Now, what’s one of the craziest stories that you’ve heard in starting your own nonprofit, instead of going to a lawyer?

Audrey Chisholm  14:02  

Sure, sure. So one of the craziest stories I heard was, there was one nonprofit in particular that day, you know, decided they were going to do everything themselves. And they didn’t know all the things that they needed to do. So they just started operating. And you know, they just started doing their own thing. And then, you know, a global kind of, you know, natural disaster occurred. And overnight, their GoFundMe account went from nothing to over a million dollars. Wow. And they have no idea what to do, because they hadn’t, you know, hired anyone to help them. Well, actually, they had hired another. They did hire another attorney or someone to do it. That person charged them over $10,000 and still didn’t do anything. So nothing was done. They had over a million dollars in their account, and GoFundMe was like, we can’t release this to you until you have the right documentation and everything is in place.

Luis Scott  14:56  

Oh my God.

Audrey Chisholm  14:57  

That was probably one of the craziest situations and we had to jump in and get everything taken care of and everything done right. So that way they could actually get the funds and disperse it to the people that needed it.

Luis Scott  15:08  

And you need to be very careful because just recently in the news, there was an issue with the GoFundMe account where the people took the money, they didn’t use it correctly, and actually got arrested for that. So make sure that your nonprofit is in the place that it needs to be. Now, you wrote a book on this, it’s Start a 501c3 That Doesn’t Ruin Your Life. Tell us a little bit about that book. And what’s the purpose of the book?

Audrey Chisholm  15:32  

Yeah, you know, Luis, the purpose is just to give plain English, you know, simple advice that everyone can understand on how to start a nonprofit in a way that doesn’t ruin your life, I literally walked through all of the pitfalls, the most common mistakes that we’ve seen, and then share with people how to avoid them. So we talked about the actual things you need to file every year, the things you need to do to protect your brand, you know, how you need to structure it, the things you need to do to avoid lawsuits. And we actually spell out the 16 most common ways that nonprofits get into legal trouble and how to avoid them. So really, it’s a, it’s an easy go to guide for anyone that’s interested. And it also kind of just takes away you know, all the fears, because we often fear the unknown. So before you start, when you’re like, Oh, well, you know, I don’t want to get in trouble. Or I don’t want to make a mistake, or what have you. Well, this book really, you know, covers all of that. So that way you can have the confidence to know, okay, I’m doing it the right way. I’m good to go.

Luis Scott  16:28  

That’s awesome. And you help clients nationally. So if someone’s in California, and they want information on how to start a 501c3, and they want to read your book, it’s going to be beneficial to them, right?

Audrey Chisholm  16:39  

Absolutely. You’ve got it all 50 states and US territories.

Luis Scott  16:43  

So they should go to amazon.com, I’m assuming to get the book.

Audrey Chisholm 16:49  

set up something a little special for, you know, for all of your listeners on the podcast. So if they actually want to get a free paperback copy. Oh, wow. You can go to amazon.com. And if you go to amazon.com, you’re gonna pay $23 for this, all right, it’s over 220 pages. But for your viewers, they want to grab a copy of it, they can go to a special site and set up starta501c3nonprofit.com. And on that site, the book will be absolutely free, all they do is pay for shipping.

Luis Scott  17:21  

So just listening to this show you just made $23 at the very minimum.

Audrey Chisholm  17:28  

Absolutely. That’s good.

Luis Scott  17:30  

Thank you for that offer. Really appreciate that. And I’m going to encourage all the listeners to go out and and get a copy of the book. And we’ll get you to plug that website at the end one more time. And we’ll put it down in the link below. Now, as a high profile entrepreneur, you’re involved in real estate, you’re an author, you have a law firm growing law, $4 million law firm. What are some of the biggest challenges at winning at the game of business? Because people are listening to this, this show and they want to know how to win, whether it’s a nonprofit, or in traditional business, what are some of the biggest obstacles?

Audrey Chisholm  17:59  

Yeah, I mean, I would say the biggest thing is just not knowing what to do. At least that was for me, like I knew I wanted to help people. I knew I was passionate. And I knew I knew how to help people, but I just didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to do to get, you know, clients. For my firm. I didn’t know what to do to you know, hire people, or to get money to hire people or to build a team and you know, how can I find someone who can do the work at the same quality that I would, because I know how much I care about our clients. But if I delegate this, maybe they’ll mess it up. Maybe they won’t care the way that I care. I mean, it was just not knowing you know how to build a business really. And so my first year of running the law firm, I think I made like $12,000. And I remember telling my husband, I mean, it was working hard, like just going to networking events, you know, passing out business cards, speaking engagements, you name it. And I remember telling my husband, I’m like, you know what, I might just need to get a job like this is not. And I’m so thankful that he encouraged me. And I always refer to it as talking me off the ledge. But you know, every year when I was like, Oh, I’m gonna put my resume in somewhere. This entrepreneurship thing is not working out, you know, he just really encouraged me to stick with it. And that was helpful. But yeah, just not knowing you know, how to build a business, I think is one of the biggest challenges.

Luis Scott  19:16  

That’s so true. You know, when we face obstacles, our first inclination is to either want to quit or to hide or not do something. And this morning, I was listening to something, a video I try to listen to some motivational stuff every morning. And on there, the guy who is speaking said, every entrepreneur, every king, every Queen, every giant has had the desire to quit at one point, just don’t quit, just don’t quit. And that’s so powerful, that you don’t have to know everything to be successful. You just have to be willing to not quit. And so I appreciate you saying that. Now, in the process of not quitting, I’m sure you had to make a lot of gutsy decisions. So I’m curious. Whether professionally or personally, like what was the gutsiest thing you ever had to do?

Audrey Chisholm  20:05  

Wow, oh, man, there’s a list of them. But I would say in my personal life, I think it would be when my husband and I decided to have a family. That was a really, for me, because I think society tells you at least if you’re a woman, that you have to choose, you know, you’re either going to have this great career, or you’re going to have a great family, but there’s no way that you can have both. And for me, my mom was primarily a stay at home mom, and she was phenomenal. So I really wrestled with that to thinking, you know, I want to be a great mom like her. But I also want to have a successful business. So how can I really, you know, have the best of both worlds. So that was a real, you know, it took a lot of faith to kind of step out and do that. But what my husband and I learned is that, you know, you can really have, you know, whatever, you can have your cake and eat it too. So Meaning, if you want to have a great family life and a great business, you can’t have both, you don’t have to choose

Luis Scott  20:57  

that that’s really an inspiration. You know, as a man, I’m just gonna be honest, it’s something I never even thought about. I don’t think about those things, because I’m not in that position. And it is absolutely true, that that women have to face challenges that that men don’t. And it is a powerful testament to your desire to win in both family and profession. And so that is truly a gutsy, gutsy decision, I think that there are a lot of women out there wrestling with the same thing. And I think it’s powerful to know that you can do both, and you can win at both things. So that’s an amazing story. Now, along the way, I have found this to be true in my life. And I think that many of the people that I interview find this to be true as well. And that’s that mentors play a huge part. in getting us to the next level, you mentioned your husband, you know, really encouraging you, but but other outside of your husband, what other kind of mentors have you had in your life? And what have they told you that really helped you push through those pain points? Or even get started? Like, who was in your life that helped you do that?

Audrey Chisholm  21:59  

Yeah, that’s a great question. So I was fortunate to have great parents. So I would start there. Just growing up, they always just told me, there was nothing I couldn’t do if I put my mind to it. So that was a huge help. I think next would be my faith in God. So because I read the Bible, I will. There’s a, you know, a passage about a Proverbs:31 woman. And if you read the description of this woman, I mean, she really had it all. She was a merchant, which is like an entrepreneur, she had staff and employees, you know, she owned properties. She was a real estate investor. Plus, she was married, plus, she had a family. And I was always looking at passage of text and say, You know what, like, if she can do it, like in the scriptures are saying, she’s like, the ideal woman, then I know, those things are possible for me too. So that’s helped me a lot, my faith in God, I would say the next thing, of course, is just my husband. I mean, he’s been super supportive. Anytime I’ve wanted to quit, he’s always encouraged me. And he was actually the first business owner that I saw that, you know, really built a business, you know, without him like he had started a school. And, you know, he just from the very beginning hired staff, you know, with a whole business model to not be on campus. And it just blew my mind. And I had been running my law firm for a few years. And I was like, Wow, what a concept. So that really inspired me to kind of start, you know, seeking some other ways to do things. And then from there, just getting specific with, you know, attorneys and mentors, and folks to help. And of course, I mean, Luis, I’m a client of 8 Figure Firm, I mean, I care about the impact that you all have made, probably at the end of last year, my firm, we were at $786,000 for the year, and that was just as far as I could go. And so then, you know, I started working with you all this year, and we have more than doubled. I mean, the year’s not even over yet, we’re already at 1.6 million, we’re gonna break 2 million, this is our first seven figure year. So now I’m ready to get into the eight figure stuff and, but it’s just awesome. So just you know, from the day I first met you, I mean, you were just super generous with sharing information and, you know, sharing about your experience and just helpful tips and knowledge and then working with you through your coaching program. I have been nothing but pleased, I just sent another referral today, like I was like, you’ve got to talk to them. They know everything. But that would be my advice to anyone. I mean, now my my strategy in life is, if there’s something that you want to do that you are not getting the results that you want, you know, I’ve done, I’ve gone through the path of you know, watching YouTube videos and googling free articles, to figure it out, yourself know, the fastest way to get the result that you want is to find whatever expert that already has the results you want, pay them whatever they ask, so that you can get good guidance and get there you know, without the headache and without the hassle. So, hands down, you know that that’s been the most impactful, you know, business decision for the law firm.

Luis Scott  24:51  

Absolutely. And I agree with you 100% and that includes starting a nonprofit you need to find the expert that’s that can help you do that. So thank you so much, Audrey. It’s been a pleasure having you on the show. As always, it’s always great talking about things that inspire you to inspire other people. And for those of you guys who have been listening at the tail end This is Audrey Chisholm, entrepreneur and author of Start a 501c3 Nonprofit, Audrey where can people find you?

Audrey Chisholm  25:19  

Yeah, absolutely. So the best place to connect is I’m on, you know, social media under Audrey K. Chisholm, but also just follow the law firm. So it’s Chisholm Law Firm spelled c-h-i-s-h-o-l-m And so we’re on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, you name it, or check out our law firm site, which is Chisholmfirm.com.

Luis Scott  25:39  

And I don’t want to miss the opportunity to once again, the free offer for your book. Tell us that site one more time.

Audrey Chisholm  25:46  

That’s it. That’s it. So any listeners of Luis’s podcast check out starta501c3nonprofit.com. It’s a special landing page we set up. This is our book, our best selling book. This book was the number one bestseller in the nonprofit and leadership management category on Amazon in the entire world. So a lot of people have already gotten copies of it. And so anyone listening, check out that site starta501c3nonprofit.com. And instead of paying $23 for the paperback version, not the ebook, this actual book that I’m holding right here, 220 gems, instead of paying 23 bucks plus shipping, check out the site, you’ll get the book for free, with just shipping. 

Luis Scott  26:27  

Audrey. Thank you. Thank you so much for that offer. Be sure you don’t miss out on that great offer for the listeners listening today. There you have it, guys, you can start a nonprofit be on the way to helping hundreds, if not 1000s of people with the help of lawyers like Audrey Chisholm anyone can do it but it’s going to take guts, courage and hard work. And remember if you love this episode, be sure to subscribe so you never miss a show. You’ve been listening to The Guts and Glory Show.

Outro  26:53 
You’ve been listening to The Guts and Glory Show with Luis Scott. If you enjoyed the show, be sure to share. For more information on this episode, please see the show notes at www.gutsandgloryshow.com. And join us next time as we talk to another leader in business that had the guts to overcome all odds for the glory of success.