What is Tsuga?
Tsuga is an all-volunteer network of networks, making it easy and fast for someone to carry out a new community improvement project. We take care of the tedious and complex nonprofit administrative tasks so that people and their passion can get started immediately on the work at hand. We leverage our own grants, business sponsorships and donations to cover administrative costs, as well as provide project management coaching as part of our free services package.
You can serve anyone with any good idea?
From simple projects to full mission statements destined to become their own nonprofit organization, Tsuga is the no cost incubator service for Oregon’s emerging social entrepreneurs. Our five-year strategic plan includes offering $2,000 Summer Project grants so that high-school and college students can complete something exciting over summer break without needing to raise any additional funds. For more long-term projects, we can help set up endowments and a dedicated donor base so the most committed social entrepreneurs can grow their passion project to full fruition.
How do I get started?
Sign up for a free consultation and brainstorming session with one of our Community Improvement Project Advisors. They’ll help you explore your idea and begin some of the project planning with you. If you decide the Tsuga Community is the right partnership for you, you’ll meet with Ethan Erickson, our Founder and Commission President to go over the contracting process. It’s important that every step forward is protected through Tsuga’s 501(c)(3) nonprofit fiscal sponsorship.
Is this too good to be true?
Some nonprofits are set up to fulfill a specific mission, to carry out fundraising and use that funding for a specific purpose. Tsuga’s mission is to help someone’s passion turn them into a proud Social Entrepreneur. Our role in the nonprofit sector isn’t to serve one mission, it’s to allow all kinds of new and exciting work in our communities to begin from a forward position. When people get excited about making the world a better place, they are often unaware of all that goes into setting up a new organization, keeping it in compliance with bylaws and government standards, or knowing what has to happen to legally dissolve the nonprofit should the mission ever end. For those who are simply trying to add something special to their resume early on in their career, or to do something special with their wealth at the end of their working years, Tsuga makes sure people make the best use of their time and talents. There’s no catch.
Specifically, what is Tsuga doing for me that I can’t do for myself?
If all you’re trying to do is volunteer in a food pantry or to bring blankets to those who live outside, you don’t need a partnership with Tsuga to do those things. However, if you’re looking to develop something special, a project where your community can involve their time, talents and treasure, Tsuga can do a lot so that you don’t have to help you see your vision come to life.
How is this different than Go-Fund-Me?
Tsuga is a support network of people who have been successful doing this type of work. GoFundMe is a simple for-profit website. Your dedicated Tsuga.org webpage facilitates all of the same functions as those for-profit fundraising sites, but without you or your donors giving up personal data including social security numbers. As part of GoFundMe’s Terms and Conditions, you declare that you are not providing any goods or services in exchange for the donation of funds. When in fact that’s what you’re trying to do, with Tsuga you don’t have to pay personal income taxes on the money “gifted” to your cause like you would through GoFundMe. Moreover, with direct donor-relation options, you get to employ a higher percentage of funds donated for project purposes. With that said, if someone wants to integrate crowdfunding widgets or third-party sites, those can be embedded and leveraged through your Tsuga.org webpage as well.
Why not just do my work as a for-profit small business?
Setting up a small business is easy enough, but you would still need to file with the state, set up a bank account, pay business taxes on your revenue, do enough bookkeeping to file tax returns at the end of the year and then find time in between to develop and carry out something worthwhile. Tsuga is already set up to take care of all of that for you, as well as to arrange things like nonprofit rate insurance coverage if needed. We’ll host and maintain a web page on your behalf at no additional cost. Most importantly, with Tsuga’s 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, if someone comes along and likes what you’re doing to the point of making a significant donation to your cause, the donor’s gift is tax-deductible for them and not considered taxable income for you.
Community Improvement Project Advisors
Ethan E. Erickson | Tsuga Founder & Commission President
Ethan has fulfilled supervisory roles in four different industries over the last 20 years. He served as a Lieutenant with the Oregon Army National Guard, coached and evaluated field science instructors at various Oregon Outdoor Schools. He currently oversees Tsuga within the nonprofit sector and serves as a manager for the State of Oregon. Ethan’s work in both the nonprofit and public sector involves coalition building, program evaluation, disecting policy and staff training. Ethan aims to be approachable and relatable among our urban and rural folks in Oregon, and when collaborating with more culturally nuanced individuals. He has worked with African immigrants, Hispanic families, LGBTQ Christians and youth who have experienced chronic trauma. Travels to Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle-east have helped Ethan understand more about privilege, implicit bias, systemic racism and cultural intelligence.
As orchestrator of Tsuga’s incubation method, Ethan is passionate about building a network of networks. He has been blessed by those who continue orbiting within the Tsuga Community and looks for new ways to widen and deepen connections between passion and philanthropy.
Kara Landen | Commission Secretary
I’ve always been a quiet people-person in large public settings. But in settings where I can meet for coffee or take a walk one-on-one, that’s where I thrive! My passion is meeting with people to discuss what current events they’re passionate about and to talk about our aspirations – swhat makes our heart soar! My career was rooted for 13 years in childcare. I loved every minute that I spent connecting with each child’s daily experience. I then transitioned to the non-profit sector and into organizational administration. I’ve spent the last four years as a principal Executive Assistant and Sponsor Relations Manager for the Portland Rose Festival. My ability to learn people, how they work, and to help them achieve certain goals has led to my recent successes. As we navigate this world together in the hopes of making it a better place, I look forward to supporting the future endeavors of those who come to partner with us at Tsuga!
My favorite professional achievements involve the progress I have been able to support, encourage and inspire in programs and legislation serving military families around the world, as a volunteer, lobbyist and advisor. Creatively, I managed to seriously up my knitting game in COVID times, which has given me great satisfaction and respite. I’d love to find ways to help every human learn and benefit from the power of networking. I believe that talking with others is highly undervalued – when relationships (even acquaintances) can bridge huge chasms.
My greatest professional achievement is the development and implementation of Oregon E-Cycles, the free electronics recycling program for the state’s citizens and small businesses. Gardening, traveling to new places, exploring Portland’s restaurants with friends, and spending time in nature all helped me maintain a healthy work-life balance. This has also helped me remain connected with my family, friends, and larger community over the years. I have met so many fascinating people who have shared their insights, experiences, and feelings with me. Although my job is rewarding in itself, these relationships are what keep me going year after year.
As written, Oregon’s e-waste law assumes everyone has equal agency, physical abilities, and resources. This year I’m dedicating a significant portion of my time to help people overcome obstacles keeping them from accessing our recycling services, via pickup services, increased collection events, and greater focus on rural communities.