In 2011, Nancy Lublin, founder of Crisis Text Line, had an idea that would fill a hole in crisis mental health services. At the time, old-school providers dominated the service market but operated primarily via call centers, which had limited hours and limited reach. As a result, many of the 65 million Americans who suffer from mental illness each year—including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicidal thoughts—didn’t have access to resources and support when and where they needed it. Lublin’s solution: Build a highly scalable platform to reach people in crisis, 24/7, via a medium people already use and trust—texting. At the time, most crisis mental health support organizations—mired in the day-to-day of providing crisis telephone service—operated with restricted funding and lacked a profit motivation to add texting service. These conditions made innovation tough.
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Our advice for funders?” she [Nancy Lublin] says, “It’s not a spectator sport. Come in early and stay late. The world’s problems demand it”.
It was a great idea, and Lublin was an experienced entrepreneur with two successful ventures under her belt, but funders were slow to buy the relevance and value of an untested service that broke the mold.
- Taking a For-Profit Tech Startup Approach to Nonprofit Fundraising: From the start, Crisis Text Line was the equal parts social mission and tech company.
- Putting Dollars Toward Data: Significant early funding helped Crisis Text Line respond to 52 million texts over four years. It also fueled an important organization tool: data.
Read the full article about mental health technology by Stephanie Dodson from Stanford Social Innovation Review
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