Sigrid Fry-Revere is president and CEO of the American Living Organ Donor Network, a (501(c)(3) living organ donor support organization. She is also the president of the Center for Ethical Solutions, a patient care ethics think tank, and the ethicist on the Washington Regional Transplant Community’s Organ and Tissue Advisory Committee. Sigrid has been a TEDMED speaker, authored four books, and written hundreds of articles. Her most recent book is a popular non-fiction adventure story The Kidney Sellers: A Journey of Discovery in Iran. She received both her law degree and her Ph.D. in bioethics at Georgetown University. Read our interview with the lovely Sigrid below…
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
A need to bridge the knowledge gap between the academic world of medical ethics and the general public. I wanted to empower individuals when it came to their own healthcare decisions. I do that through websites that provide clear and easily understood information along with references to more detailed medical and bioethics articles, speaking engagements, and a charity that helps living organ donors financially, and though other forms of support.
Tell us about your business.
I have two businesses. My think tank, the Center for Ethical Solutions, is mostly a clearing house for information that hopefully helps individuals make better decisions in cases that pose difficult ethical questions. The charity I run, the American Living Organ Donor Network and Fund is a support organization for living organ donors. It helps them with financial support, but also information, advocacy, and peer support. Occasionally, I even lobby at the national level for living organ donor rights and benefits.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
We have an eBay charity sale where proceeds go to support either the Center or the charity.
Both the Center for Ethical Solutions and the American Living Organ Donor Network are IRS recognized 501C3 non-partisan, public nonprofits. Both have a platinum rating on GuideStar. Sigrid was a TEDMED speaker in Washington, DC in 2014. She will be doing a TEDx in April of this year, both on solving the organ shortage. Sigrid was featured on NPR’s This American Life (Feb. 19, 2016) and had an article published on the front page of the Huffington Post: Where’s the Safety-Net (June 26, 2016).
Where is your business based?
In Lovettsville, Virginia just outside of Washington, DC.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I originally looked for grant money or foundation support to start my non-profits but that didn’t work. I ended up biting the bullet and using my own money to get them started. By getting them started, I mean filing all the paperwork for incorporation and IRS approval to do business as a non-profit charity.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
- Networking at conferences and on the internet
- Media coverage
- Word of mouth
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Money. Both my organizations are public service non-profits that depend on donations. The number of projects the think tank can start and finish depends on funding and the charity only has enough funding to help about one out of ten living organ donors who apply for financial assistance.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I’m trying with networking and by applying for grants, but I haven’t overcome these challenges.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
My friends and colleagues. When you have a mission that saves lives, you need to focus on those you have helped, not those you couldn’t.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
The Center is the only think tank devoted to communicating directly to the general public specifically on issues in patient care ethics. The American Living Organ Donor Network is the only non-profit we know of that is 100% devoted to helping living organ donors. Other organ donation organizations are all focused on deceased organ donation or helping organ recipients. We are here to help the heroes who give of themselves to save others’ lives. Most people don’t know that many living organ donors can’t donate because of financial barriers or they do donate and the suffer dreadful financial consequences. The ALODN exists to prevent that suffering.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Focus on those you have helped, not those you couldn’t.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Passion, persistence, and patience are the key.
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
CES – www.LinkedIn.com/company/the-center-for-ethical-solutions
ALDOF – www.LinkedIn.com/company/American-Living-Organ-Donor-Fund
Stop Organ Trafficking – www.LinkedIn.com/company/Stop-Organ-Trafficking-Now
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
Raise more money. Bring more business know-how to our board of directors. How to achieve it? Network, network, network!!!