Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is often invisible to the naked eye, but its effects on survivors and their families can be monumental and long-lasting. That’s why the LoveYourBrain Foundation is working to spread awareness for brain health, and provide direct support through its community programs.
The small nonprofit’s fastest-growing initiative is their yoga program, which has trained teachers and clinicians in 16 U.S. states and 2 Canadian provinces on how to use yoga and meditation as healing modalities. LoveYourBrain’s research-backed gentle yoga and meditation curriculum—delivered through a six-week series—is designed to help people who have sustained TBI and their caregivers to foster resilience and compassion.
Although there are millions of cases of TBI reported each year, those who have sustained the injury often feel isolated during their healing journey. “We envision a world that allows everyone affected by a traumatic brain injury to be connected to a compassionate community,” explained LoveYourBrain’s development director, Molly Barrett. The organization creates this community through their yoga program and retreats. They also offer an educational curriculum that’s been implemented in 15 high schools, reaching hundreds of students.
With such far-reaching programs, some might assume LoveYourBrain has a decade of experience or endless resources at hand. In reality, the organization has only been operating for about three years.
“We’re a team of 11 and still only a handful of us are full time,” said Molly Barrett. We spoke with her to find out how LoveYourBrain uses Classy to empower their passionate supporters and quickly grow their impact.
The Story That Created a Movement
Kevin Pearce was a professional snowboarder training for the 2010 Olympics when he suffered a career-ending TBI. He was fortunate to have a close circle of family and friends to support him in his rehabilitation. Each TBI is different but the healing process can include physical therapy or relearning different physical and mental capabilities. Kevin’s accident and his family’s experience was documented in an award-winning HBO film called The Crash Reel, directed by Lucy Walker.
“There were all these people coming out of the woodwork saying, ‘I have a TBI. I need help.’ Or ‘My sister has a TBI and we need support,’” said Barrett. “And so the film in and of itself was a call to action.”
Kevin and his family realized that not only is TBI prevalent, but many people were facing their battle with little guidance and support. Kevin and his brother Adam created the LoveYourBrain Foundation to fill this need.
LoveYourBrain organizes events, yoga classes, and retreats to bring this community together. Early on, they also decided that their fundraising strategy would be community-based as well.
“We have most of our revenue coming in from individuals and a lot of that is coming through Classy. So, it’s such an invaluable tool for us from just an individual donor standpoint,” said Barrett. While LoveYourBrain taps into some partnership and grant-making opportunities, they prioritize individual donors and peer-to-peer fundraising to ensure the time and resources they invest also build awareness and expand their base of support.
LoveYourBrain Invests in Their Community
“One thing that I noticed coming into LoveYourBrain that I really appreciated was that they were thinking outside of the box more than a traditional nonprofit,” said Barrett, who has been with the organization for a year.
“They thought, ‘Okay, we’re trying to start up. What tools do we need to really blow up our brand and give people an easy way to get involved?’
It was this line of thinking that led LoveYourBrain to Classy.
Since the nonprofit’s team is so small, they need to enable supporters to fundraise independently. Online peer-to-peer fundraising raises funds from a wide pool of donors, but creates word-of-mouth. Perhaps most importantly, LoveYourBrain’s supporters have an outlet to share their experience and start conversations about TBI.
“I feel the best thing with Classy is that it’s not necessarily about us telling a story, but it’s allowing our fundraisers to tell their story about why they are getting involved.”
Although LoveYourBrain initially gained traction with Kevin Pearce’s story and his status in the action sports community, there are many more stories to tell. And with only three full-time staff members, LoveYourBrain needs a user-friendly platform that fundraisers can customize themselves.
We have so many people coming to us, asking to get involved and asking to help. We’ve got a platform that allows us to say, ‘Here you go. Here’s your page—customize it and tell us your story.
Plans for the Future
LoveYourBrain is one of the small nonprofits that brings together people who feel isolated by injury. In sharing Kevin’s story, they have encouraged others to keep fighting and to share their experiences. Just as yoga and meditation help people regain focus and physical strength, the ability to bond with others in healing helps people with TBI and their families see a way forward. Classy is one of the tools that enables LoveYourBrain to engage and empower their community.
LoveYourBrain’s early investments in their community have proven fruitful, yet the growing demand for their programs puts pressure on fundraising to keep pace. Barrett and the rest of the team will continue building a fundraising strategy to support the growth of its programs so more people with TBI have access to resources and a compassionate community.
“I work closely with Adam Pearce, our executive director, to establish a multi-year plan and strategy to raise what we need—not just to sustain for one year, but multiple years.” LoveYourBrain knows that the road after a life-changing TBI is a long one, but they plan to be a lasting resource for people on that journey.
Header Image Credit: Lululemon