Remember that feeling you used to get as a kid (maybe still today) when you're nearing the end of a good book--excitement, mixed with a little sadness because it's almost over, curiosity of what would happen next in the lives of these characters you've just met, and a sense of accomplishment that you've finished!
Reading takes you on adventures and introduces you to people, places, ideas, and stories that encourage your own imagination and learning. Empowering you and the children in your lives to share this sense of adventure with others through giving is what makes Milk + Bookies so special.
Meredith Alexander is the founder of Milk + Bookies based in Santa Monica, CA. She and her team do great work through M+B and you can tell they all take great joy in their work. Meet Meredith and learn more about this nonprofit and their story below.
- Hi Meredith! Tell us about Milk + Bookies.
Milk + Bookies is a national nonprofit that exposes children to helping others and the byproduct is delivering books to peers in need. People can participate as a family, a scout troop or a classroom, and in LA, we have a large Leaders + Readers book drive program with a 4 step service learning curriculum which results in thousands of books per drive for inner city kids.
- Can you share more about your story, how you started your organization, and the inspiration behind it?
I love books, reading to my kids has brought me complete joy. I want all children to have that. It's imperative that we leave this world better than we found it. I want to spend my time doing just that and I want my children to understand that helping and giving isn't just something our family does around the winter holidays.
- What did you do before you started this program? Is it what you've always wanted to do?
I used to be a florist. I love making things with my hands; wrapping gifts, baking, decorating and redecorating my home. Maybe in my next life I'll be a designer of some sort. That or an acupuncturist.
- How are people finding out about M+B? How are you gaining partners?
Our website has a TON of info and, luckily, people find their way to us there. There are cute videos and loads of info.
- Is M+B your full time job?
This is a full time job and I am the mom of two extraordinary kids. My days are packed.
- Describe what success looks like for you? Do you consider yourself successful, yet?
I consider our program successful. I know that when we arrive at a recipient school with a van full of thousands of books to pass out, that we have done what we set out to do. I know that when a family hosts a "book-raiser" for little Sally's birthday and they delivery a box of 35 books to a local shelter, that that family will remember that experience and want to recreate it as much as possible in as many ways as possible.
- When was a low point in your business and what did you learn from it?
Fundraising is an uphill battle and it challenges every nonprofit every day. I encourage people to watch the TED TALK by Dan Pallotta on "The Way We Think of Charity is Dead Wrong".
- How did you finance the program as you were just starting?
I never set out to have a national nonprofit with a staff and ongoing programming, so it built itself slowly. I didn't have a 5 year plan and we grew very organically. I started this journey 12 years ago and I worked from home until about 4 years ago.
- What is your highest accomplishment, so far, as a business owner and what did it mean for you or your business?
I'm often asked this question and rather than listing awards we've received, I always go back to the kids. If we have inspired a child to be a GIVER and ignited them think about others and ways in which they can help make a difference - then we have accomplished what we've set out to do and the ripples of those actions will forever be our highest honor.
- Is it just you running the show, or do you have a team? If you have team, how did you find them or how did they find you?
I run the show, but I couldn't do any of it without the deeply dedicated crew I have surrounding me daily. Our Operations Manager, Alesha, started out here as an intern and is now running day to day office management. Our Program manager, Courtney has been with me in different capacities since day one and she oversees the Leaders + Readers book drive program, spending a great deal of time in the field with the students. I also have a board of directors that helps with lots of guidance. Laura, our CFO, started the board with me when Milk + Bookies became a 501 (c) 3 many moons ago. We are lucky to have a full office with energetic and dedicated interns - we usually have 3 on staff at a time and we find them through LookSharp, Idealist and some local college job portals.
- Do you outsource any parts of the organization? And why did you chose to or not to do so?
As much as we can. Our website was built by Also Online out of Chicago, our event coordinator is Traci Hoffberg Events, we only hire PR for the spring (when we host our large fundraiser) and we try to be smart about our spending, so when it make more sense to hire from the outside, we outsource.
- What is the best advice someone has ever given you?
Run your own race.
- Introvert or extrovert?
Extrovert who loves to stay home in jammies.
- Favorite television show or movie?
- Is Netflix a noun or a verb?
- Currently reading (or it's on the list)?
Along with my 10 year old, we are reading the Emily Windsnap series about a mermaid.
- Can't start the day without?
Hugs from my family.
- Favorite quote?
Comparison is the thief of joy.
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