By Nancy Laichas
Chief Marketing & Development Officer
Direct Selling Education Foundation

I have heard it said that without the Direct Selling Education Foundation, there would be no direct selling industry.

Can you imagine? Millions of people unable to take advantage of a low-cost, low-risk way to be entrepreneurs. Billions of dollars for charitable causes not raised. Thousands of cutting-edge products not developed. And hundreds of companies unable to contribute to our economic landscape, our communities, our citizens, our world.

Can you imagine?

But in 1973, a few industry visionaries recognized that an independent foundation that served the public interest could change the negative perception about direct selling so prevalent at the time. A foundation—a 501(c)(3) organization—could turn foes into friends in a way that the Direct Selling Association (DSA), as a trade association, could not. And so began nearly 40 years of building relationships with consumer advocates, government agencies, academics, women’s organizations, public policy officials and members of the small business and entrepreneurship communities.

Today, through the efforts of DSEF, direct selling is acknowledged in colleges and universities around the country as a vibrant and relevant channel of distribution. Industry executives stand side-by-side with Federal Trade Commission regulators, teaching students about consumer protection issues.  They work hand-in-hand with consumer leaders developing programs that benefit the public. DSEF funds forward-thinking research that can give companies a competitive edge in the marketplace. We’re collaborating closely with DSA to develop online resources to benefit the field.  And we work with DSAs all over the world on global programs that support consumer welfare.

I’m the new kid on the block at DSEF, and when I came on board a little over a year ago, I thought I understood what the foundation was all about. Boy, was I wrong.  I was amazed to learn all that the small, but mighty team at DSEF had accomplished over the years: the depth of its partnerships, the richness of its programs and the power of its commitment to fostering a fair, educated and ethical direct selling marketplace.

And we’re just getting started.

Our ongoing partnership the Council of Better Business Bureaus continues to demonstrate to millions of consumers the industry’s commitment to ethics. We’re developing a curriculum, in partnership with the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship, that will provide direct sellers with the tools and training necessary to become successful entrepreneurs. And we launched a new website and social media presence that helps us better communicate what we do and is building a community of more connected and better educated direct sellers who are can benefiting from and sharing the resources we’ve developed.

Yes, the world would be a different place without DSEF. But it’s you—industry executives, companies, suppliers, individuals—who make our programs possible. Without your financial support, it would indeed be a world without DSEF. We have much more to do and will continue to count on your help. So click on that bright orange button on our homepage—the one that says “Donate Now.”

Nancy Laichas is Director of Marketing & Communications for the Direct Selling Education Foundation and collaborates with the DSEF staff and board to deliver contemporary messages that inspire people to get involved with the foundation’s important work. Nancy has more than fifteen years of publishing, marketing and public relations experience in corporate, entrepreneurial and nonprofit settings.