Blog interview series: Adam Burtner

Adam Burtner is the executive director of HATCH for Hunger -- nonprofit organization committed to providing a sustainable supply of high quality protein to those in need. Adam currently serves on the boards of The Sapphire Theatre Company, Junior Chamber International, and the Indianapolis Zoo Council. He also leads the Indianapolis chapters of the ONE Campaign, the No Labels Organization, and the Save the Children Action Network.

Adam is a lifelong Hoosier who currently resides on the Eastside of Indianapolis in the St. Claire Place neighborhood. He grew up in Brownsburg, IN and graduated from Wabash College in 2017.

Adam’s passion for civic engagement and desire to serve others has lead him to be a successful future leader of the nonprofit realm of the Indianapolis community.

What got you into the nonprofit realm?
I have always had a deep desire to serve others through my professional life. Being able to wake up everyday and have your “work” also be a deep, burning passion is such a blessing in my view. In the past this translated to different roles in government and public service, but up until my work in nonprofit, I never felt as though my impact on the world was as great as it could be. Once I found this sense of vocation and calling fulfilled, there was no turning back from the nonprofit space.

 

What most excites you about the nonprofit world?
I feel most excited about the nonprofit world when I think about the potential of the nonprofit sector to solve our most important issues affecting people’s lives. I think we are the industry that serves as the first line of defense when there is a real crisis that public policy and government may not be able to completely combat. I also am excited for the pure talent and expertise that the nonprofit world continues to cultivate and empower.

 

What’s your inspiration?
I would say that the nonprofit sector is the single field that I feel allows me to have the most impact possible on the world. As I mentioned in another question, I used to work primarily in politics and government, the reason I pursued another path was due to me not feeling my hunger to make positive change in people's lives being fulfilled in the way I though that sector would achieve. I have found that working with HATCH, local organizations I'm apart of, and the broader non profit community. I'm confident that I will never get "burnt out" or lose my enthusiasm for non profit work. This because the fire to help others, promote positive change in our community, and help solve our most pressing problems only burns more intensely as I continue in this work. I don't know if I can necessarily put a finger on where my passion or inspiration came from to enter the field, I just know I could tell it was where I belonged the moment I jumped in, and that was all the convincing I needed.

 

What is HATCH for Hunger?
HATCH for Hunger is a nonprofit organization committed to providing a sustainable supply of high quality protein to those in need. HATCH achieves this by leveraging the power of the protein packed egg into the food pantry system. Currently HATCH delivers over 7 million eggs per year impacting 850,000 undernourished families across the Midwest. Eggs are desperately needed in pantries as they are the most underdonated food item due to their fragileness and short shelf life. HATCH works to fill this void and fight for more food secure models in hunger relief.

 

How did HATCH come about?
HATCH was created by Elanco, the animal health division of Eli Lilly Co. back in 2015 as a shared value project within their corporate affairs team. Elanco identified the pressing need for high quality protein amongst food banks and pantries in Indiana. Through their egg producer customers, they found suppliers who were able to distribute eggs to Indianapolis food pantries. Soon Kroger Co., United Way,  and others jumped on board to help fund the deliveries. After HATCH continued to grow within Elanco, leaders decided to roll HATCH outside of the company and operate instead under the Central Indiana Community Foundation who housed HATCH until January 2018. This year, HATCH operates as its own nonprofit entity with a team of 5 locally based employees who oversee the 5 state operation.

 

What are some challenges you face as a nonprofit?
First, differentiating ourselves in the Food Security space is a challenge. Fortunately, our city and the state of Indiana have amazing hunger relief organizations and folks that are committed to curbing the hunger epidemic alongside us, but we are also battling for the same dollars and media attention. I think we do an awesome job internally on two items that we need to be able to share throughout the community more effectively that I think will help differentiate us. First, we need to tell the story of the egg. An egg has the most protein and nutrients for the smallest package and cheapest price. Not only does one egg a day give a child ¾ of the protein they need, it has also been found to curb memory loss and dementia in the elderly. We need folks to understand the importance of having this diet staple accessible to undernourished people. Secondly, we have identified very innovative revenue streams that enable us to not focus on donors and fundraising which make us sustainable and allows us to grow easier and faster. What we have learned through B2B partnerships and shared value models could be extremely useful for other nonprofits and put HATCH on the cusp of nonprofit revenue innovation.

 

Why are you going to YNPN National Conference? What are you most excited for?
This will be my first YNPN Conference and I could not be more excited. I am coming into conference weekend with a hunger to learn from our field’s best and an excitement to be able to utilize what I learn and the connections I make to progress HATCH and myself as a nonprofit leader through the rest of 2018 and beyond.

 


Want to support Adam's work?

 HATCH for Hunger is a new way to fight hunger that makes it easy for consumers, grocery stores, and local farmers to provide quality protein to undernourished people of all ages. Protein-rich eggs are one of the most commonly requested items at food banks, but are usually in short supply. By donating online or making a donation at your local participating store, you can provide high-quality nutrition to families in your community.

To learn more about #HATCHforHunger, visit hatchforhunger.com

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