Host, Angelou Ezeilo:
Whether you are looking for a blueprint for how to run a successful non-profit organization, or just interested in reading an inspiring story about how a man from humble beginnings sparked a play movement for children around the country, KaBoom! is a must read.
The book lures you in at the very beginning with Hammond’s description of his childhood at his beloved Mooseheart group home. Mooseheart is indeed an orphanage for children in the community to be taken care of if their parent(s) have experienced some sort of hardship. However, after reading about the 1,200 acre home, you quickly realize that Mooseheart is where Darell and his 7 siblings learned some of life’s important lessons : kindness, generosity and community service.
“The process is as important as the product”, “When better is expected, good is not enough” and “Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect” are only a few of what Hammonds calls “Boomerisms”, which are expressions that guide the work of Boomers (KaBOOM! employees). It is apparent that Hammond’s work ethic is something that is contagious throughout the playspace they call an office. The office is filled with slides, balls and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Boomers certainly understand fun first hand.
With the CDC’s unsettling statistic that less than 20 percent of kids live within a half mile of a park, Hammond does not take his work lightly. Most of the communities where KaBOOM! helps build playgrounds are in cities where children have little options for outdoor play. This single fact is why Hammond is not only focused on promoting KaBOOM!, but is spearheading a movement to ensure that children , in sync with the Surgeon General, have 60 minutes of play everyday- particularly outside! Hammonds stresses throughout the book that most American children are experiencing a deficit of play, which has lead to obesity, diabetes and many other illnesses plaguing children today.
Being the CEO of a non-profit certainly is wrought with challenges and obstacles. However, throughout the book, Hammond shares with the readers how he establishes and nurtures relationships within the corporate world that sets KaBOOM! apart from most non-profit organizations in this country. To date, KaBOOM! has raised about $200 million and built more than 2,000 playgrounds. KaBOOM! has sustained $20 million a year in revenue for 6 years running. KaBOOM! has also rallied one million volunteers….WOW! It’s no wonder why Harvard Business School has done two studies on KaBOOM! One study was done for its mass action model, and the other for its performance dashboard that measures impact and results.
The KaBOOM! movement has attracted the likes of many leaders who have dedicated their lives to children’s causes. Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund is one of Hammond’s mentors. The past three First ladies (Obama, Bush and Clinton) have all participated in KaBOOM! builds and are supporters of the movement. Athletes from the NBA, NFL , NHL and MLB have all been Boomerized. The KaBOOM! model has also been used in Canada and Mexico.
The most critical differentiator with Hammond’s KaBOOM! is the community. Although Hammond acknowledges that there are many communities that are in need of playgrounds, the criteria he uses to determine the next KaBOOM! build are the needs of the community. Is the community engaged? Is there a strong need? Will the community pull together to raise the necessary funds to build a playground, which demonstrates a vested interest? And most importantly, will the community join forces to make the playground a reality? With KaBOOM’s! fee-for-service model, corporate partners pay the majority of costs for the build; however, they benefit because they are able to provide its employees with a meaningful volunteer service opportunity. Undoubtedly, Hammond has created a win-win situation because the community and children also significantly win in the end.
Hammond’s KaBOOM! is refreshing, thought-provoking and interesting. As the owner of a fairly new non-profit, I can’t put it down!
[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]