A conversation with Tony Wall, Founder of Noēsis noesisproject.com
1. So many professionals have a dream of one day starting a non-profit. What advice would you have for others who are considering establishing a nonprofit?
I believe “urgency of mission” must ultimately drive the creation of any non-profit. If I may use Noēsis as an example, our group emerged from a sense of global urgency. Human anxiety on today’s level was not present even a decade ago. I felt a strong sense of urgency and meaningful purpose; that in my opinion is the most important driving factor when forming a nonprofit. A non-profit founder does not require fundraising experience although fundraising is of course an important consideration.
2. What are some of the foundational elements for establishing a nonprofit?
The foundational elements are comprehensive, and they should not be underestimated. Regulators are in place to monitor and enforce the due diligence and legitimacy of many non-profits. The creation of a non-profit therefore carries with it legal, accounting and compliance requirements that are complex and costly. For that reason, only the most passionate and purposeful of founders (assuming that the urgency of mission is there) should proceed. The formation of a non-profit is not a casual undertaking. It’s a life decision. Think it through. Do your research. Prepare to work hard. Prepare to answer to your board. If you value them and enable them, the sky is the limit.
3. How long does the typical process take? For how long were you considering establishing a nonprofit?
My life situation is different than most non-profit founders. As a retired man, I now vigorously emerge from retirement with a lifelong mission – to build a world community of empathic thinkers. Prior to founding Noēsis, I had many opportunities to monetize my ideas by simply writing a book. I reasoned, however, that only an actionable vehicle of influence could one day carry on the mission without me. I plan to lead this group, to build a global movement with critical mass, until the organization can sustain itself into the future for decades to come.
4. What was the impetus that pushed you from considering a nonprofit to establishing one?
Again, this goes back to urgency. The ocean of ideology that forms what we do was already in place. It was forged by decades of recorded observations on highly diverse subject matters. Further, these ideas were judged by those I respect to be authentic. It is in fact an approach to the human condition that has yet to be explored. If that were not the case, I would not have moved forward. Noēsis is here to help. We’re a friend. It is a unique pleasure to create momentum and positive impact.
Also, a non-profit cannot be formed to compete with another. A founder exists only to partner with other efforts to strengthen and complete a team.
5. What did you learn that surprised you?
Decency is its own reward. My sense of purpose is not merely notable – it’s exhilarating. The entire world is plainly starved for truth. The founder’s strict adherence to fact, and his/her full disclosure of literally everything, will meet and never disappoint that fundamental need. A purity of intent must always exist and it cannot be sacrificed for anything.
6. What’s been the most rewarding element of your nonprofit?
“As goes the mind, so goes the body.” The lifetime of service ahead of me has infused me with a vigor that I’ve never experienced and could not have anticipated. Plotting strategies to preserve humanity is an exciting endeavor.
As I close, I point to an interesting but not surprising takeaway. Recognizing and responding to the pain of others is what keeps me free from pain. Doing for others is what truly motivates me.