Ep 159: Helping Veteran Volunteers Find Their Next Mission (with Art delaCruz)

nonprofits are messyDo you know anyone who is a US military veteran? Our sector has many organizations with missions that support the brave individuals who felt compelled to answer the call to serve our country in the military. My guest today, Art delaCruz is the CEO of one of those organizations — Team Rubicon.

Many veterans come home looking for ways to continue the sense of purpose, identity, and community they found while fighting for our country — and Team Rubicon’s mission is to provide these kinds of opportunities. They deploy veteran volunteers as first responders to navigate disaster relief in the US and around the world.

As the leader of this organization, Art has so many lessons to share on volunteerism and the privilege and responsibility of service. We also dig into the real power of community, identity, and purpose when it comes to living a more fulfilling life and making this world of ours a better place.

Join me to learn more about Art’s background, Team Rubicon, and the positive impact that continuing to serve after service has on veteran volunteers.

Click play to learn:

  • What is Team Rubicon? (2:56)
  • What is it like to be one of Team Rubicon veteran volunteers? (13:59)
  • What are some of the best ways to support your volunteers? (18:26)
  • What is the #1 thing that we overlook when it comes to fundraising? (29:31)
  • Why is it so important for nonprofit organizations to invest in their volunteers? (36:50)
  • What are some of the challenges veterans face when they return home? (38:08)

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Ep 158: 3 Big Trends That Are Altering the Nonprofit Sector (with Eric Nee)

nonprofits are messyWhat trends have you been seeing in the nonprofit sector lately? Been too busy to notice?

I totally get it.

That’s why I invited Eric Nee, the Editor in Chief of the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) to talk to us today. Understanding the current trends in our society is a key ingredient for effective social change.

Whether we like it or not, we are all a part of this society’s sphere of influence. Our sector is a clear reflection of the needs, wants, and challenges of our world. As such, the trends going on around us trickle into the nonprofit sector and have a major impact on the way we work and lead. So it’s important to keep up. You do not want to let these trends stay on the back burner as you continue to lead on autopilot…

This works the other way around, too. As the biggest source of leadership in the United States, the nonprofit sector as a whole has a big, fat opportunity to create lasting social change in a society that really needs us to do our very best work right now.

As someone who curates the leading voices in the sector (and is one himself), Eric Nee has some interesting insights on how we can make this happen. He always has his eyes on the latest societal trends and has written countless thought-provoking articles for those who are fully committed to the power, impact, and possibility that the social sector holds.

In my book, he is the true definition of a thought leader. Join us for a robust discussion about power dynamics, systemic issues, and ways we can improve the nonprofit business model to better serve our changing world.

*Warning* This conversation WILL light a fire in your belly.

Click play to learn:

  • What does understanding trends have to do with being a strong nonprofit leader? ​​ (0:04)
  • How did societal trends impact the nonprofit boom during the Vietnam War era? (9:14)
  • What are the current trends impacting the nonprofit sector and social change in 2022? (13:08)
  • What can nonprofit executives do to better navigate the world of DEI? (15:31)
  • What does the future of nonprofits look like? (24:56)
  • What did the pandemic teach us about the role of technology trends in the nonprofit sector? (30:01)
  • How can nonprofits can be the vehicle that brings us together as a society? (39:24)

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Ep 157: How Equitable Technology Can Supercharge Your Mission (with Amy Ward and Afua Bruce)

nonprofits are messyTechnology for nonprofits is often thought of as being external to the work that goes on inside the sector. But, technology and equity are inextricably connected — and both have the potential to extend our social missions. In this episode authors, Amy Ward and Afua Bruce join me to talk about why.

So many of us (including me) have this idea that simply increasing access to technology will put the world on a path towards equity. Turns out there’s a lot more to it than that.

My guests today are strategists, organizers, researchers, technologists… and authors of a new book, The Tech That Comes Next: How Changemakers, Philanthropists, and Technologists Can Build an Equitable World.

Amy and Afua are on a mission to answer the question: How do we change our relationship to technology? From who creates it and with whom to who funds it and uses it to what ends we put it to use — answering these questions allows us to develop equitable technology for nonprofits that supports our work to change the world for the better.

Their book rests on some core beliefs: Since humans create technology, it can’t be neutral! If tech is to be a part of the solution of building a more equitable world, we must build technologies with intention and inclusivity, and we must do so collaboratively.

Click play to learn:

  • Why is equitable technology necessary for today’s nonprofit? (6:48)
  • In what ways does technology give us hope? (9:34)
  • What are the implications about using non-organization-made tools? (13:18)
  • How has the nonprofit sector has pushed technology into a box? (24:06)
  • What does  building a tech culture in your organization looks like? (25:03)
  • How can nonprofit leaders center community in their organization’s tech strategy? (28:34)

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Ep 156: How Leaders Can Promote Belonging In the Workplace (with Rhodes Perry)

nonprofits are messyBelonging. It’s such a powerful word, isn’t it? Just hearing it can ignite tons of strong emotions in nonprofit leaders like you. My guest for today’s episode, two-time bestselling author, Rhodes Perry, describes it as a full-on sensory experience.

For many of us, the word belonging brings up thoughts about issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion as many of us are somewhere on our journeys in this area. In fact, this work is demanded of leaders in our sector right now.

A sense of belonging is something we all crave. In fact, we LONG for it (notice how the word “longing” is embedded in belonging?). But, with this much power behind it, what role does the word “belonging” play within our sector’s hierarchical structure?

My guest, Rhodes Perry, has some great insights on why belonging matters, and the role inclusive leaders play when it comes to building belonging cultures at work. We also get into how leaders like you can and should positively impact workplace culture.

Click play below and learn how feeling seen, supported, connected, and proud can help you bring your whole self to the workplace (and encourage others to do the same).

Listen and Learn:

  • 1:02 How does power impact the culture of belonging in the nonprofit workplace?
  • 7:39 What is ‘belonging’?
  • 8:42 What are the 4 basic elements of “belonging” in the workplace?
  • 20:34 How can an organization support DEI commitments when the fundamental structure of work is at odds with advancing them?
  • 24:26 What are some alternatives to a hierarchy?
  • 27:50 Why is it so important for nonprofit leaders to understand how to use smart technology ethically and responsibly?
  • 44:52 How do you know what kind of workplace culture you have?
  • 46:12 What is the connection between workplace culture and decision making?

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Ep 155: A Once-In-A-Generation Opportunity to Shape the Future of Nonprofit Work (with Allison Fine and Beth Kanter)

nonprofits are messyWhat if I told you that right now, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help shape the future of work in the nonprofit sector and refocus on social change? You like the sound of that don’t you?

In this episode, my guests — authors Allison Fine and Beth Kanter — join me to talk about how we can get there by remaking work in the nonprofit sector with the help of smart technology.

Today’s nonprofit leaders are not short on passion, but they are short on something else — TIME. But by integrating smart tech we can offer ourselves something my guests refer to in their new book, The Smart Nonprofit: Staying Human-Centered in An Automated World, as “the dividend of time.”

Imagine a future where leveraging new technologies and organizational change add value to our missions and for our stakeholders.

Building a smart nonprofit can bring you closer to this vision — but what does this look like? And how can we use the time we get back through digital transformation to reprioritize social change?

Listen in as my guests and I take a deep dive into human-centered software and how to use it ethically, responsibly, and intentionally in today’s nonprofit world.

Click Play to Learn:

  • How can remaking work offer nonprofit leaders the “dividend of time”? (0:56)
  • What is smart technology? What does it look like in the nonprofit sector? (9:48)
  • What is a smart nonprofit? (14:45)
  • How can nonprofit leaders guide and own human-centered automation? (20:07)
  • How can nonprofit leaders use smart technology more intentionally? (22:16)
  • Why is it so important for nonprofit leaders to understand how to use smart technology ethically and responsibly? (27:50)
  • What should nonprofits know about HR automation tools? (31:58)
  • How will smart tech impact the future of work in the nonprofit sector? (43:00)

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Ep 154: The Nonprofit Business Model is Broken (with Vu Le)

nonprofits are messyWhat does the ideal nonprofit business model look like? Does it bear any resemblance to the model we have today?

In this episode, self-proclaimed rabble-rouser and founder of Nonprofit AF, Vu Le, stops by to talk about how we should address the deep flaws that are currently plaguing the nonprofit sector.

From dysfunctional power dynamics to the impact of white supremacy on fundraising to the lack of board diversity that runs rampant in orgs that are meant to serve marginalized communities, Vu has many innovative ideas on how we can evolve as a sector and make a greater impact on our world.

But first, we must address our current system.

According to Vu, nonprofits only exist due to the failures of governments and the market system. Meaning that if corporations and wealthy individuals paid their fair share, we might only have a handful of nonprofits…

Instead, we live in a world that is dependent on nonprofit organizations and the sector as a whole — which has created a system that is rife with competition for scarce resources.

So, where do we go from here? Do we fix the nonprofit business model we have or build something new?

Think of today’s episode as sort of a visioning exercise, if you will. Vu Le and I put our heads together and dig into these questions to discuss a series of alternatives to doing business as usual in philanthropy, including questions on what a successful nonprofit board of directors should look like (and if it should exist at all).

Listen in as we touch on the many ways in which we can bring this aspirational and impactful world into existence.

Click Play to Learn:

  • Who is Vu Le? (0:39)
  • What does the ideal nonprofit look like? (15:47)
  • What does nonprofit fundraising look like in an equitable world? (20:41)
  • In an ideal world, do nonprofit organizations need a board of directors? (27:44)
  • What does an impactful nonprofit board look like? (30:36)
  • What does leadership look like in the ideal nonprofit world? (37:46)
  • How do we get there? (48:56)

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Ep 153: Supervision vs. Management – What’s the Difference? (with Rita Sever)

nonprofits are messyIs there really a difference between leadership vs. management? And what about supervision vs. management?

Many of us in the nonprofit sector use these terms interchangeably. But today’s guest, certified professional coach and author of “Supervision Matters”, Rita Sever, is here to explain why these skills are actually quite different — and why nonprofit leaders need to be proficient in all of them.

The ongoing Great Resignation has ignited many leaders to invest in creating equitable workplaces where people feel a strong sense of job satisfaction. But making this a reality within your nonprofit org requires you to not only foster inclusivity and belonging, but also to set up a path for success for those you lead — and that’s where outstanding supervision comes in.

When it comes down to it, leadership is all about values, but supervision is about where those values lead people.

To dig deeper into this topic and learn more about the impact that human connection and relationships have on leadership, management, and supervision, join us in this conversation.

Rita has an MA in Organizational Psychology and is a certified professional coach who now works as a consultant with social justice organizations throughout the country.

Tune in to hear her expert advice on how nonprofit leaders can do to take care of these internal dynamics all while working to save the outside world.

Tune in to Learn:

  • What can nonprofit leaders learn from Rita’s book, “Supervision Matters”? (4:24)
  • What is the difference between leadership and management? (05:47)
  • What is supervision? (07:58)
  • How can first time supervisors build better relationships with their first hires? (12:02)
  • How does micromanaging impact the nonprofit workplace? (13:43)
  • How can nonprofit leaders enable their teammates to have a voice (even if they don’t have a vote)? (25:09)
  • What are some ways a nonprofit leader overcome a “pleaser personality”? (42:00)

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Ep 152: Secrets of a High-Functioning Board of Directors (with Joan Garry)

nonprofits are messyIf I had a dime for every time I heard a nonprofit ED complain about their dysfunctional, disengaged board of directors…I’d probably have enough to buy a twin-engine jet!

Board bashing is pretty much an Olympic sport in the nonprofit sector these days. EDs are always complaining about board members who are asleep at the switch, micromanaging, or abusing their power. Some even complain that their boards have zero connection to the work.

But, it’s like I always say, the board you have is the board you build. So why then, don’t nonprofit leaders build boards that are high-functioning, engaged, and excited to serve?

Here’s my hypothesis: Most nonprofit leaders don’t actually know what a high-functioning board of directors even looks like.

Tune in to learn what I see as a high-functioning nonprofit board that will truly help your org thrive. And once I paint this picture for you, we will talk about the five crucial elements that you need to focus on to get the right people in the right seats on the bus — and why this all matters so much for your org’s mission.

Listen in to Uncover:

  • Why should you bother with building a high-functioning nonprofit board of directors? (2:15)
  • Who should serve on a board of directors? Are your board members recruiting with intention? (4:53)
  • Why are well-run board meetings so important? (6:00)
  • Why do nonprofits need clearly defined board of directors positions and roles? (7:25)
  • Is there a strong relationship between your nonprofit board members and staff? (8:50)
  • How do you get the right people on the right seats on the bus? (11:11)

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Ep 151: Using Pop Culture for Social Good (with Noelani Pearl Hunt)

nonprofits are messyCan nonprofit leaders use popular culture and media advocacy to raise awareness for the work that we do and the people we serve?

We can, and we should.

It is no secret that media images and stories play a huge role in how we see the world and other people — and the nonprofit sector and nonprofit leaders are no exception.

This is one of the main reasons why we need to talk about one of the hottest shows on Netflix right now — MAID.

Based on Stephanie Land’s powerful memoir of the same name, this limited series follows the journey of a young woman named Alex who flees her abusive husband in search of a safe space for herself and her beautiful daughter, Maddy.

Naturally, they turn to the nonprofit sector and social services for help — and that is where you come into the story.

Not only does this series give viewers a glimpse at the lived experience of domestic abuse survivors, but it also highlights the very real challenges that nonprofit leaders and staff members — especially in the social service sector — face every single day.

My colleague Noelani Pearl Hunt, who has over two decades of nonprofit and political campaign management experience, joins me on this episode to discuss how we can use popular media like MAID to impact how folks see nonprofits and nonprofit leaders.

We also share some practical advice about how you can use pop culture as a tool for nonprofit storytelling and media advocacy.

Listen in to Learn:

  • How does MAID depict the nonprofit sector and nonprofit leaders? (5:46)
  • How does lived experience impact social service? (11:18)
  • Does white privilege impact access to social services? (18:27)
  • Which social issues that the nonprofit sector deals with come up in MAID? (30:54)
  • How can media like MAID help nonprofits share their stories? (32:07)

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Ep 150: Reflection – How My White Privilege Affects My Leadership

nonprofits are messyI have watched countless nonprofit leaders who serve communities of color work tirelessly to educate mostly white boards about the unique challenges that recent events like the ongoing COVID pandemic and the killing of George Floyd have created for their clients.

This lack of nonprofit board diversity is one of the many ways that racial inequality shapes our sector.

To overcome the gaps in lived experience between nonprofit orgs’ executives and boards and the communities they serve, we need to address the white privilege that is embedded in our governance models, financial support, and leadership.

I have spent decades working in and with the nonprofit sector — and I want to do everything that I can to understand and address how racial bias is embedded in every nook and cranny of it. It is my responsibility to help reshape our sector into one that champions leadership diversity. (Click here to learn more about my commitment for 2022.)

As ignited as I am about this mission, I am still not 100% confident on issues of diversity and inclusion.

That is one of the key reasons why we found it so important to invest in diversity, equity, and inclusion training for the Nonprofit Leadership Lab. We aspire to support our members on their journeys and through this work play a role in building and supporting more diversity in leadership.

It is also a reason why it is important for me to self-reflect on how my own white privilege, and its intersection with my sexual orientation, has impacted my position in the nonprofit sector. In this episode, I dig deep into this topic, out loud and in front of a microphone for the first time — and it gets very personal.

Click play to listen.

In This Episode:

  • Why does the nonprofit sector need more diversity in leadership? (0:48)
  • How has my intersectional identity as a white lesbian impacted my career in nonprofit work? (6:45)
  • What did the events of January 6, 2021, teach me about racial inequality in the US? (9:54)
  • What if you’re not confident addressing issues of diversity and inclusion? (11:24)
  • What is the “age of minorities” and how will it impact the nonprofit sector? (12:58)

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