Collidescope.io’s 5 in 3 Nonprofit Leadership Series: Kenton Lee, Founder of Because International
Welcome to Collidescope.io’s 5 in 3 nonprofit leadership series. We ask nonprofit leaders all over the world to answer 5 question about their nonprofit experience to create this 3-minute piece. Collidescope.io’s mission is to empower organizations to thrive, inspire, and serve the world. Though we primarily do this through technology, providing a platform to share the stories and experiences of leaders in the nonprofit space is also an important part of executing on that mission.
I am pleased to introduce Kenton Lee. Kenton Lee is the founder of Because International and creator of The Shoe That Grows. Their mission is to use products as solutions to alleviate poverty. He started the nonprofit organization Because International to serve as the structure to get The Shoe That Grows to as many kids as possible who are in desperate need of footwear to protect their feet. This was always meant to be a small hobby for Kenton and his friends. It was something they were passionate about, but they never dreamed it would be the worldwide cause and movement that it is today. Since 2015, they have distributed over 350,000 pairs of The Shoe That Grows to kids in over 100 countries. Kenton lives and works in Nampa, Idaho.
How did you get your start in the nonprofit space?
After college, I lived and volunteered in Kenya at a small orphanage. At that orphanage, I had a life-changing experience where I saw a little girl who had to cut open the front of her shoes to let her toes stick out because her shoes were way too small. That day, I had an idea for a shoe that could grow. I took that idea and started a nonprofit when I got home. It took me and a group of friends back home in Idaho more than six years to take this idea and turn it into a reality. But we finally did it; we made The Shoe That Grows — a shoe that grows five sizes and lasts for years. This was always meant to be a small hobby us. It was something we were passionate about, but we never dreamed it would be the worldwide cause and movement that it is today.
What is one challenge you’ve encountered that you didn’t expect while working for a nonprofit?
One of the challenges has been fundraising. We have amazing donors and supporters. But I didn’t know how hard it would be to consistently raise money to fund our mission. I still have a lot to learn.
What is one opportunity you’ve identified because of the changes due to COVID-19?
Covid forced us to change how we get our shoes to the kids. So we have jumped on that opportunity to get out of our previous mode of distribution — and now we have several smaller ways of distributing our shoes.
What is your most effective nonprofit fundraising medium?
What is one nonprofit fundraising rule you live by?
It’s all about relationships.
Thank you for sharing your story Kenton.
You can learn more about Because International and Kenton below.
Because International: becauseinternational.org
Kenton on LinkedIn: cio.ist/KentonLee
If you are interested in learning more about how brands and nonprofits are scaling their digital partnerships, check out collidescope.io