How one Lodi nonprofit is helping others spread good
Natalie Bowman and her nonprofit, PIC, or Partners International Cooperation, are out to help more people, all over the world, create more good. Natalie grew up in Lodi, moved away for school, and is now back, helping improve our community. She and her team are helping people here in our community and all over the world.
“We provide, in fancy words, consulting services for small community organizations and nonprofits,” explains Natalie. “PIC happened organically. I didn’t plan on starting a nonprofit. It was working with community groups and seeing them have the knowledge and desire to help their community, but not the knowledge of how to run a nonprofit. It’s a very unique industry with different rules. It’s not like running a business where you just do the normal job or just go out there and start something. There’s a lot of, what we would call, barriers to entry. Think about it, how do you get a 501(c)3 status? What even is a 501(c)3? Which, by the way, are designations from the IRS. All of those things are what we do. We don’t run anyone else’s projects, we don’t get involved or manage other people. It’s very much like, okay, you have these goals, how do we help you make them happen.”
PIC’s origin story is pretty interesting. “I originally had come from international studies and foreign aid background,” says Natalie. “I had worked for nonprofits in New York after I graduated and also in Scotland. I just happened to be traveling and doing more volunteering, totally typical of a young person in their 20’s, wanting to see the world kind of thing, but I was volunteering with farming groups in rural Kenya. They found out I knew how to grant write and they were like, ‘Oh, you grant write? Can you help us with some stuff? Can you help us with our website?’ And I was happy to help.” Within a few months, she was helping seven groups in Kenya. She decided she needed some sort of formalization, especially since they were dealing with finances. She created PIC with the 501(c)3 nonprofit status. “It was on my 21st birthday when we incorporated. It seemed crazy but I just decided to do it.”
The project Natalie started with was helping a rural farm in Kenya, which has since brought sustainable jobs and fresh foods, which has improved the health of the Kenyan island. The Kenyans did all the work, PIC just helped with the technical management type stuff. “It was totally their project, it was everything they were able to develop. We were just here to be like, ‘What do you need?’ and then we help them succeed. That’s why I have the best job ever.”
PIC is a part-time gig for Natalie (she’s also a yoga instructor and paralegal), but in only 3 years, working part-time, she’s been able to help about 15 different organizations. She helps local groups and, as you read above, groups internationally. “In any capacity, I’ve worked with about 30 groups at this point. Last year, for example, we helped five groups get their 501(c)3 status. Most of our long term partners are abroad, like in Kenya, because they kind of need a different setup. It’s more about being able to funnel resources to get what they want done, as opposed to here, where most of the time people have access to most of the resources that they need and they just need that foundation to start and move forward.”
PIC has been able to get a lot of local nonprofits established and helped them with the various barriers to entry many individuals and groups face when they start a nonprofit. “We’ve been able to help a lot of dance, art and culture groups that I didn’t know about here in San Joaquin County,” said Natalie. “For example, I didn’t know we have this huge native population in the area. There are multiple Pow Wows in our area. Stockton has a Pow Wow, Manteca has a Pow Wow, usually twice a year, that’s four right there. That’s been a total eye-opening experience for me right there. I didn’t know these Pow Wows were a part of our community. To be able to be part of something that’s so unique and really look forward to what this area of California is, is super neat. I love that.”
Natalie started PIC because she was so inspired by the people around her. “There’s nothing more inspirational than getting to talk to people who have totally been through the trenches, like ‘I was a drug addict or I was involved in all of these horrible things but now I’m running this program to help other people get out of the same situation I was in.’ People’s enthusiasm is amazing. For someone to go and start a nonprofit, it takes energy. It’s not an off the bat, I guess I’m going to go do this type of thing. There’s a lot and things have to be given up. Whether that’s time with family or a higher paying job elsewhere. People don’t just do this for any old reason, so you really do see the best of humanity coming out.”
I want Lodi Live to be a space to inspire you to improve our community. I included this article about PIC because if you have big dreams but don’t know where to start, I want you to know there are people in our community who want to help you.
Thanks to PIC for supporting all the dreamers and helping them create more good in our community and in our world. If you want more information on PIC, check them out on Instagram @pic_nonprofit or on the website at www.picnonprofit.org. PIC is also opening an office at 226 E. Lodi Avenue to better serve the organizations she works with. In order to maintain the nominal fees, she charges nonprofits (which is pretty much just the cost of filing) this office space will be supported by one time and monthly donations.