Passion Drives Non-Profits

Jasbina Ahluwalia asks Ashish Mathur, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the South Asian Heart Center at El Camino Hospital: I can completely appreciate the motivation for you starting such a high impact non-profit here.

I’m wondering if you might have any guidance to our listeners who likewise have a cause they’re passionate about and they also want to found an institution or non-profit to really address that cause and issue.

Is there any guidance you might have based on your personal experiences?



Ashish Mathur

Passion Drives Non-Profits: Prerequisite

Absolutely. I think you already mentioned the word “passion.” I think that is the prerequisite.

I gave up my software career for a healthcare career essentially because I made that switch.

Many people call me “doctor” just because I’ve co-founded the South Asian Heart Center, but I am not a physician by profession. However, I was passionate.


Passion Drives Non-Profits: Ashish Mathur’s Story

Let me give a short story on that. I had the heart attack and it had affected me.

However, it actually took someone from within the community to come to me and say on my birthday following my heart attack, “We’re so glad you’re still with us.”

That’s kind of what shook me up. I said, “Perhaps there is a reason for me to actually still be here.” That was when I started thinking about doing this and getting it going.


Passion Drives Non-Profits: Treat It Like a Startup

The passion is really important, I think. If you have it, that’s 80% of it. You’re already there.

The second part of it is that you have to treat that non-profit like you are starting a startup.

It’s no different than if you are creating a for-profit startup or a not-for-profit startup.

The effort is the same. The thinking is the same. You have to worry about the need. Is there a need for your product or service? You have to be in and about establishing that need if there isn’t one.


Passion Drives Non-Profits: Is There a Need?

We know there is a need for the South Asian Heart Center, but people do not believe the need.

Very often, the young people don’t think this is a need for them. We have to convince them of the need and get them going. It takes many sessions, sometimes a year, to convince them to join the program.

We’re successful because we’ve been able to be persistent with the message within the community.


Passion Drives Non-Profits: Establish the Need

That’s the second thing, to treat it like a startup, establish the need.

Establish a product or a service that others are not offering. You have to be unique. The product has to be unique and address the problem completely.

You mentioned the word “comprehensive.” For us, AIM to Prevent is that product or service that is completely comprehensive. If you are an Indian, you don’t need to do anything else. You just need to do this.

This is because we’ve married the state of the art, looked at everything that we could possibly test and then put it together in a program.

It’s a complete program because the management piece of it is there as well.

Very often you would say, “I can go to the doctor and get myself tested and they provide good advice on what I need to do about my lifestyle.” However, what they are not able to do is the follow through.

Everyone knows you need to do exercise and eat better. How many actually do implement it after they’ve gone to the doctor’s office?


Passion Drives Non-Profits: Differentiate Yourself

With us, because there’s a coach, you are in some way forced to think about it a lot more and that’s the edge. That’s the difference. That’s the differentiation in our service compared to other things that are out there.

I would say that if you take the example of a startup and what startups have to do to succeed, all of the right things in terms of what you have to do to make your non-profit succeed, if there’s a passion, plus treating it like a startup, will get you there.


Passion Drives Non-Profits: Funding

Treating it like a startup means you have to get funding and financing.

We were lucky in that we associated with El Camino Hospital, which provided the seed funding and continues to provide 50% of the funding for our operation.

The rest of the 50% we get from the community.

We are offering a service to the community so we ask them for donations and have been successful at raising money through donations.

We provide our program and all of our consultations at no charge to individuals. We only have a $49 processing fee. People also have to pay for the lab work. Everything else is covered.

We’re able to offer that with the funding model for our center.


Tell Us:

Passion drives non-profits. Share your passions with us in the comments section below.


The above is an excerpt from Jasbina’s interview with Ashish Mathur

The entire interview transcript is at: Ashish Mathur NetIP (Network of Indian Professionals) Interview – Heart Diseases and their Prevention Tools for South Asians

Listen to the entire interview on: Intersections Match Talk Radio – Jasbina’s Lifestyle Show

Listen to the entire interview on Blog Talk Radio: NetIP