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Starting Your Own Non-Profit 101

Tyler Steinhardt

Age: 26

Job: Manager of Content, Premier Lacrosse League Location: Los Angeles, California

Tyler and I were connected through a friend from college, but he's also the older brother of my friend from home, Gabby. A Baltimore-native, Tyler founded a non-profit at the age of 18 that has now raised over $4 million and expanded to twelve cities since its inception. After hiring a team to help him fulfill the organization's mission, Tyler moved on to another role that ultimately led him to the Premiere Lacross League, the world's first professional lacrosse league. Lacrosse at the center of his story, Tyler has learned to appreciate the little things that lead to big things, which have played a large role in where he is today.

Let’s start from the beginning. What was your first job?

There's a nonprofit called Fields of Growth International that was running service learning trips in Uganda. It was two weeks long, with a day or two to do volunteer work and also coach lacrosse. I was a junior in high school and was really interested in working in Africa. I got involved and became obsessed with using lacrosse for social good. When I came back to high school for my senior year, I was inspired to do something very similar myself. I kick-started this nonprofit called Shootout for Soldiers which is a 24-hour lacrosse event benefiting wounded American veterans. The goal behind it was to break a world record in year one and we did end up raising a little over $100,000 that first year. That was sort of the genesis of where I've gotten in my career. It started when I was 18 years old, expanded to two cities in 2014 and then five, then eight and now twelve. Most recently, it now goes from as far as Baltimore down to Atlanta, to Seattle and LA and we will keep expanding. We've gone cross country four different times, and one of those times was in an RV. We’ve now raised over $4 million since its inception in 2012.

When did you start working full-time for Shootout for Soldiers?

After college, I decided to commit to full time and really take a shot at working in the nonprofit space with Shootout. I think that one of the things I developed was a skillset during this time. In college, I had done things like work TEDx at American University and I led a sports conference, which allowed me to develop a pretty strong skillset across social media and content marketing. Those skills made me known and allowed me to network in the space of lacrosse. I started full time, at maybe six months in, that winter, I got an initial offer from a company called Whistle Sports that was looking to hire someone to run their business. That kicked off my transition from a nonprofit space to more of a media-centric job.

What does your day-to-day look like in LA?

The PLL is a new professional lacrosse league that launched in October of 2018, founded by Paul Rabil, who is sort of the Lebron of lacrosse. I've known Paul for quite a bit, and he's actually an early supporter of Shootout for Soldiers. Before we even launched, he helped put a name towards it. We built a strong friendship and he’s been a mentor of mine for years now. I've had the joy of working on the content and social for the league. We just finished our inaugural season over the summer and completed a 14-week tour last summer. It’s really exciting for us across the board. During my day-to-day, I assist with promoting and advertising the league across socials.

Can you talk more about Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) and the history behind it?

The PLL is the best lacrosse players in the world. We have a TV partnership with NBC Sports, which is the largest broadcast, reaching over 160 million homes every year. It's a pretty big platform for the sport. We built this league on the premise of pay the players more with health care and benefits, stock options in the league, and then more media exposure as well. That was where the formation of it came to be and it was a big undertaking, definitely not something that happens every day.

Can you talk about a hardship you’ve experienced as a young professional and how you’ve overcome that?

I can say a couple of things on that. One would be not knowing what's next. When I share what I've done over the last few years with you, it seems to all fit together nicely. But that's sort of piecing that story together. Sometimes when we're in our career and not sure where we'll be in a year or two years, it’s tough to see what the future holds. I have an obsession with work, some might say it is unhealthy in a way. When you are constantly thinking about work, it can be tough.

On a funnier note, I bought an RV off Craigslist in 2015 to take a tour cross country with a close friend of mine, RJ. While we were driving it in Utah, it burned down to the ground. It was a 92 Custom Express, 28 feet long, and had 99,000 miles on it. It did not make it to 100,000, so, there we were, sitting on the side of the highway in Utah with all our stuff. That was pretty stressful.

What is something that you're most proud of?

I think transition and institutional knowledge are the biggest things. Building an organization is really tough, but I conditioned myself away from it. I hired people to help run it without me which was really difficult, but also something I'm most proud of. I moved away from attending every Shootout for Soldiers event, maybe a year or two ago. My sister Gabby has worked for the organization for a long time, specifically in merchandise, and she has ended up driving cross country herself two summers in a row now. I wouldn't be able to do it without her since she's definitely the much grittier of the two of us and is able to get things done. I’d say it’s a big accomplishment but it is also a testament to her and the rest of the team.

What is something that motivates you?

There's not a strong external motivation in my life. I’ve naturally always been driven and wired in a certain way. I've been incredibly blessed in life, thanks to my parents. They provided a solid high school and college education for me and a warm home. I've started on third base in my life, so for me not to work hard and to not bust my tail feels foolish.

What is it like being a professional in LA?

I'm adjusting to it since it’s really far away from home. Everyone's super creative here and really friendly. I do miss the subway in New York and walking between houses, but I think it’s really fun to work with people in media and creative spaces.

Where do you see your trajectory? Do you want to come back to the East Coast?

To me, location is not a big deal. Rather, it is more about the actual work. I’m riding the flow right now at PLL. I work with really smart and driven people which has made me up my game. I’m head on here so for now, I’m out in LA.

What is your podcast or book recommendation?

I have two recommendations – Unbuckled Chinstrap and The Inside Feed – both part of our podcast network at the PLL.

Is there anything else you want to share before wrapping up?

I’d say a lot of little things lead to big things. Sometimes we forget the journey that we're on. We learn soft skills and hard skills in different work situations, and it all helps your abilities down the road. There are all sorts of mini experiences such as volunteering, clubs or small media ventures that we do that we don't realize leads to the development of who we are and our skillset.

The YoPro Know's Takeaways:

– You're building soft and hard skills right now that will help you down the road

– Your story will piece together one day

– The challenges and successes of starting a non-profit

– A lot of little things lead to big things

Check it out: Premier Lacrosse League, Shootout for Soldiers, Paul Rabil, Unbuckled Chinstrap, The Inside Feed

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