Before reading the weekly IMPACT newsletter from the Center for Public Service, I was completely unaware of the NORD Foundation (New Orleans Recreation Development Foundation). After reading through their internship listing, I immediately knew I would qualify for the job—they needed an entrepreneurial-minded business student, preferably with roots in Baltimore, to sell Super Bowl turf donated by the Superdome. Weeks later, I was taken on as an intern, and I have learned a great deal.
The NORD Foundation was founded in December of 2010 as a private sister-organization to the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORDC) and is a private, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. NORDC is tasked with providing “safe, wholesome, educational, recreational and culturally engaging opportunities to the citizens of New Orleans.” The NORD Foundation supports, promotes, stimulates public interest in, and raises and distributes funds to benefit the construction, creation, preservation and maintenance of public parks and playgrounds, recreational facilities and other leisure programs and activities in Orleans Parish. The Foundation facilitates investment in the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORDC), the recreation system of Orleans Parish. The NORD Foundation firmly believes that access to quality recreational opportunities for all New Orleans citizens—youth, young adults, adults, senior citizens—is an achievable goal.
The NORD Foundation was formed to act as the fundraising arm of NORDC and is one part of a multipronged mission to reestablish the once nationally-renowned recreation department. Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the recreational department had, in some respects, fallen by the wayside. With the formation of the new foundation, Mayor Landrieu also doubled the 2011 budget for recreation to over $10 million which gave the program greater stability. In late 2011, the chairman of the NORDC, Roy Glapion, spearheaded a search for a chief executive of the NORD Foundation with the help of DHR International, an independent search firm. The search committee chose Anne LaRock, former director of national philanthropy at United Way. Ms. LaRock has vast experience in fundraising and strategic planning and she has also worked with Catholic Charities, the Arts Council, the Friends of WWOZ, and the Martha Graham Center.
A volunteer Board of Directors leads the organization, and members are mostly business owners and well-known in the New Orleans community. This includes Cooper Manning of Howard Weil, Roy Glapion of NORDC, Roderick West of Entergy, Robert Boh of Boh Brothers, and Dell Demps of the New Orleans Pelicans, among others. A good deal of funding is sourced from local businesses, so it follows logically that those donors would like to manage how their donations are utilized. As stated in the mission statement, the foundation serves Orleans Parish.
The main purpose of my internship is to raise funds for the New Orleans Recreation Development Foundation through the sale of artificial turf used in the Superdome for the NFL’s championship game. After the championship, the entire field of turf was donated by UBU Sports to the NORD Foundation and subsequently installed at Harrell Stadium in Hollygrove. Approximately 2000 square feet of turf remain in storage ready for sale. This project aims to sell all of the leftover turf and raise as much money as possible in time for the end of the semester/Christmas season. The product is scheduled to launch October 15th.
Secondary goals of this undertaking are the advocacy for equitable opportunities for recreation in New Orleans and publicity for NORDC, natural byproducts of marketing and selling the turf. My internship’s purposes are in line with the mission of the NORD Foundation and address the issues in the same way. I will be turning turf, an in-kind donation, into cash. The funds raised through this project will go the same route as any donation to the NORD Foundation; they are given to NORDC and put to work by building fields and playgrounds, purchasing equipment, and paying for programs.
My favorite part of the working at the NORD Foundation is that it lets me apply my academic knowledge and efforts to a project I find exciting, fun, and entrepreneurial. I use the skills I developed in my A.B. Freeman Communication classes on a daily basis. Besides writing to my supervisor and potential customers, I have written two professional documents for the first time. The first step in this project was writing a business plan which details the strategies and operations of the project. Furthermore, I wrote a press release which will be distributed to radio, television, and newspaper agencies in Baltimore, Maryland. To write my business plan I also needed to do some market research on the typical football fan. This was useful in my marketing and advertising because I knew who to target. I also have done some minimal business modeling and I am using my accounting knowledge to keep track of sales and inventory. After getting some experience in all of these areas, I now have an interest in entrepreneurship.
Approximately 2000 square feet of turf are currently stored in a warehouse in New Orleans East. Disregarding expenses and estimates, the project will potentially raise $50,000 of revenue for the NORD Foundation. After taking inventory of the turf, it will be divided based on color and design (red, purple, basic green, and perhaps confetti).
Because these will be the more sought-after sections of turf, there is some freedom in pricing. The starting price is $25 per square foot, though the pricing structure allows for color-based requests as well; for a square foot of either red or purple turf, customers will pay a $5 premium, bringing the cost per square foot to $30. This allows the customer to choose much more specifically what their turf will look like. Quality of color varies and cannot be standardized, so it will be done on a case-by-case basis.
Customers will pay for shipping and handling, which will vary in cost depending on the amount of turf purchased. For small sales (~1’ x 1’), FedEx can ship the turf in polyethylene bags. Cost will vary slightly depending on the weight of piece of turf. Large-lot sales will be shipped in using the same methods that a carpet company would use. Generally, it would be shipped by truck or maybe by FedEx. The rubber pieces will affect how much each piece weighs, so every effort will be made to reduce the amount of rubber pieces in the final product.
For online sales, we will charge via MissionFish. MissionFish is a PayPal account for nonprofits, and it will be linked to a NORD eBay account through which sales will be processed. All sales will be instead regarded as a contribution to NORD. At a fair market value of $10, each donor will receive a square foot of turf for their donation of $25. By doing this, NORD will not have to collect nor pay sales tax.
Each lot of turf will come with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by the original donor of the turf (UBU) and countersigned by Ms. LaRock. As a secondary authenticity control, each piece will be initialed by a NORD representative.
Buy yours today, and you could carpet your room with championship astro-turf! (See Below)