Amy Shackelford is the Founder & Lead Planner at Modern Rebel & Co., an alternative event planning company that gives back to local NYC non-profits. In 2015, she started Modern Rebel with the belief that it was possible to "keep the pretty in perspective." She currently lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with her partner, John.
Read the answers below to learn what inspires Amy to give.
How do you give back?
Modern Rebel is an alternative event planning company in Brooklyn with a social impact. So, we partner with 4 non-profits and each time we plan a client event, the client gets to pick which non-profit to give back to. 5% of each event’s profits go to the non-profit that the client picks. At the end of each year, we write checks out to each non-profit. I like to say that we have a for-profit FOR non-profit model.
Our non-profit partners are: JED Foundation, Center Against Domestic Violence, B.E.A.T. Global, and Homes for the Homeless.
What inspired you to start giving?
When I first started event planning, I was just doing weddings, and I was so depressed by the industry. There was a serious lack of perspective not only in the cost of the overall day but in a lot of the attitudes of the couples and vendors, too. We like to say that we put the pretty in perspective. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about an awesome and totally gorgeous event but at the end of the day, the party ends. So, this ensures that there’s some permanence. Homeless kids will get to go to summer camp, kids in homes where there is domestic violence will be offered a chance out and an opportunity to grow safely away from the abuser, etc. It’s not always that simple but the programs that our donations support help to ensure that these programs continue.
What does giving mean to you? Why do you continue to give your time, talents, money, or more
to your community?
I knew that when/if I started a business, I wouldn’t feel truly connected to it if there wasn’t some sort of cause component. In the business world, we have been so trained to maximize profits---and at what cost? I think that as a whole we have lost a lot of perspective because money has been the end goal. I’d like to see a shift where people, especially the marginalized, are the goal. That instead of being surprised by for-profit companies partnering with non-profits, we were shocked at the ones (with billionaires of dollars, too!) who don’t.
Aside from that, I’m a proud feminist who believes that when we fight for an equal playing field for everyone, we all benefit. I love my non-profits and have become close friends with their organizers over time. Whether it’s through the money we raise or running 5Ks or attending galas, I feel a kinship. There’s an understanding that we have each other’s backs.
What would you tell others who are looking to start giving back?
I would say, what causes do you care about? What makes your heart heavy? Start there. If it’s a matter of the heart, it will empower you to not only give financially to a cause but invest time, energy, and emotion in relationships with them, too. That will carry you and your giving much further.
Please share a favorite moment or story from when you volunteered or donated to an organization.
I remember when I first started connecting with the non-profits (when I was starting my business), and the Center Against Domestic Violence took me of a tour of one of their shelters. I walked the halls and saw their rooms but what connected me most was meeting the children. They were in an educational after-school class of sorts. At the time, I was still nannying to pay the bills in Manhattan. I had been around a dozen or so children that had every advantage in the world. The kids I nannied were safe and happy, and I spent a large amount of time telling them to use their “inside voice” because they’d be hyped up on some experience. So, feeling the quiet stillness of this children’s classroom was emotional for me. These kids had an obvious vulnerability to them that felt palpable. I saw some smiles, too. There was definitely joy but it became so prevalent to me that they needed the safety of CADV to carry on after the violence they’d witnessed. I told CADV I wanted my money to go directly to their children’s program. Now, every time a client picks CADV or I raise money through running a 5K, I know exactly who I’m running for.
Photo credit: Erica Reade Instagram- @coupleswhocommit