Inward Bound Mindfulness Education



"It's kind of like asking a fish how they use water. I'm on it all day."

— Sarah Carr, bookkeeper and registrar

Amazing Nonprofit Recharges Teenagers
with the Help of QuickBooks

Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (iBme) is dedicated to improving the lives of teens through mindfulness retreats. The organization offers weekend and weeklong residential mindfulness retreats for teens, including poor youth and those with major emotional issues. The organization uses donated Intuit QuickBooks for Nonprofits from TechSoup to track grants and automate payroll so that it can help more and more kids. 

Mindfulness Retreats for Teens

Mindfulness is a form of meditation originally introduced to the west as a Buddhist practice. It is now being used more and more for therapeutic purposes, including in the treatment of stress and emotional trauma, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a portion of its website dedicated to it. And 60 Minutes recently did a segment on it as a technique to counterbalance our obsession with electronics devices. 

iBme is a fairly new organization based in western Massachusetts near Amherst. It offers teen and wilderness mindfulness retreats as well as school programs. During the retreats, participants combine periods of mindfulness meditation and loving kindness practices with small group discussions, mindful movement, and creative workshops — nature walks, drawing, mindful sports, theater games, poetry, and facilitated discussions on topics such as gender, diversity, and social justice. The goal is to help teens find some emotional stability on their own amid the turmoil of their lives. 

The organization has a radical sliding scale of $35 to $1,500 for a teen retreat so that poor youth can experience the benefits of mindfulness. Demand for iBme's services has taken off, so the nonprofit now has $0.5 million revenue per year. The organization also does lots of fundraising. iBme has just five employees, plus a lot of volunteers. 

Sarah Carr, iBme's bookkeeper and registrar, says that when the organization started in 2011, "We were doing our accounting on handwritten spreadsheets and then graduated to Excel. We set up a new spreadsheet for each class. As we began organizing many more retreats, we needed a proper accounting system." Intuit QuickBooks was just what iBme needed. "Intuit QuickBooks for Nonprofits … has been a major infrastructure improvement for us," Sarah says.

Future Plans for QuickBooks 

Sarah is looking forward to adding these new functions soon: integrating QuickBooks with even more applications, including a proposed new Salesforce database and a proposed new online credit card payment system to make data entry more automated, and making more appealing financial reports for iBme's board.

Like so many people working in charities, Sarah brings more to iBme than her accounting skills. She was a therapist for five years at a Buddhist-based mental-health charity working with psychotic teens. She says of that work, "We practiced mindfulness with our clients, and when they went in to crisis, we helped ground them. We modeled mindfulness for them. It allowed them to unwind and find their own way out of psychosis." 

Having a solid financial infrastructure enables IBme to bring this much-needed mental-health innovation to troubled young people. As one teen (Ben, age 17) who participated in an iBme retreat said, "At this moment I feel I have learned more lessons about myself and others in the past five days than I did in the last year of school."

This story originally appeared on the TechSoup Blog. It was written by Jim Lynch, director, green technology, at TechSoup.