Ep 136: Who’s Afraid to Return to the Office? (with Ellen LaPointe and Nick Turner)

nonprofits are messyAs more and more of us are fully vaccinated, many are getting back into the physical work space. But what do we do when people are afraid to come to work? This is a question a lot of Executive Directors are struggling with.

Sure, prior to the pandemic we all knew our staff had kids and dogs and spouses, maybe even a messy kitchen. But we learned so much about each over the last year working from home. Maybe we didn’t realize the depth of an underlying condition or that a mother-in-law was that much of a challenge. Maybe we suffered or witnessed losses.

We learned about and accepted each other’s vulnerabilities. Now we need to sustain that care as we think long term about our organizations. We must navigate this return to work in a way that will build stronger organizations to foster higher retention, and stay on the path of ‘built to last.’

Today, two of my favorite nonprofit leaders joined me to talk about where they are now as it relates to staff returning to the office. Ellen LaPointe, CEO of Fenway Health and Nick Turner, President at Vera Institute of Justice offer their insights.

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Ep 135: Building the Resilience to Withstand a Disaster (with Nina Meehan)

nonprofits are messyWhen you want to work effectively with your board, work on your staffing structure, be present for your family, and ALSO have time for standup paddleboard yoga – you need to really reflect on your priorities. My guest today really did all the work – she got an executive coach and put her life in order leading up to March 2020 when she thought she had it all down pat. Then a global pandemic shut down her entire industry. She needed resilience.

In today’s episode, Nina Meehan, CEO and Founder of Bay Area Children’s Theatre, explains how she found herself with no revenue and no live theatre. But she took the inability to do the usual things, her experience as a mother, and her newly renovated relationship with her board, to create an entirely new model. And it worked so well during the pandemic that it will stay with her institution and with a conglomerate of 41 theatres across the country (who produced A Kid’s Show About Racism) for the long haul. That’s resilience.

This episode is about the opportunity to stop, reflect, and re-emerge stronger and better even in the darkest of times. The principle — always focus on your big rocks!

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Ep 134: An Alternative to Strategic Planning (with Lindsay Hoffman)

nonprofits are messyStrategic planning, as a traditional process, can be costly, stressful, and deeply draining for everyone involved … and you’re often left with a very long document that sits on a shelf – or these days, in a forgotten folder in “the cloud”.

But you want your org to succeed, so what choice do you have? Lindsay Hoffman, a nonprofit consultant whose practice combines organizational development, strategic visioning and planning, program design, and fundraising strategy, for a wide range of organizations joins us to talk about Strategic Visioning – the alternative to strategic planning.

We talk about how to think expansively so you can create a process that will be energizing, not draining, for you and your team. In fact, it will leave your organization more aligned, more ambitious, and more ready to thrive in achieving your mission.

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Ep 133: Choosing the Right Nonprofit Business Model (with Rinku Sen)

nonprofits are messyThe nonprofit sector grows by leaps and bounds every year. In 2019, there were over 100,000 501c3 applications and the overwhelming majority of them sailed through. The paperwork may be a pain, but let’s just say that the U.S. government is not terribly selective on which they approve.

But does it always make sense to organize as a 501c3? What is the difference between movements like Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, or Women’s March – and a formal organization? What are the limitations and benefits of forming an organization? What questions should you ask yourself when deciding whether you need a c3, c4 or even a for-profit LLC?

My guest today is Rinku Sen, a writer and social justice strategist. Her books Stir it Up and The Accidental American theorize a model of community organizing that integrates a political analysis of race, gender, class, poverty, sexuality, and other systems.

Rinku joins us today to talk through these questions. We explore how to determine whether your current organizational model is working or constraining you, what other models exist, how they work, and dissect the pros and cons of building institutions. Our discussion was fascinating. Hope you enjoy it.

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Ep 132: Let’s Make Program Evaluation Simpler (with Chari Smith)

nonprofits are messyOne of the biggest Achilles heels in the nonprofit sector is program evaluation.

We’re not good at it – we think it’s too hard, we don’t know how to do it. And our boards don’t hold us accountable to figure it out. Oh yes, and of course funders want to know all about it.

Chari Smith, the author of Nonprofit Program Evaluation Made Simple: Get Your Data. Show Your Impact. Improve Your Programs, insists there is an easy way to make steering your ship fun and exciting with good data.

Learn what fears underlie our reluctance to do program evaluation and how we can overcome them.

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Ep 131: Becoming a Social Prophet (with Lynne Twist)

nonprofits are messyRemember homonyms from junior high English class – to listen (HEAR) / a place (HERE)?

Today, my guest, Lynne Twist, will introduce us to another one – to make money (PROFIT) and, then its homonym – PROPHET (spell). Don’t overthink this word – it’s not really about predicting the future – maybe it’s more about imagining one.

She calls the people who work for, or donate to, a dot org “Social Prophets”, describing them as people who take responsibility for what they worry about and whose behavior is consistent with the future they stand for.

Lynne has been a recognized global visionary committed to alleviating poverty, ending world hunger and supporting social justice and environmental sustainability. She has developed a deep understanding of our relationship with money and describes fundraising as an act of love.

In fact, Lynne calls fundraising sacred holy work! She sees it as the reallocation of financial resources away from overconsumption, destruction of the environment, and other nefarious endeavors, toward the health and well being of our families, environment, and communities.

If you are an ED struggling with fundraising or a board member having trouble getting people you know to open their hearts and pockets you might want to have a listen for tips on how you can inspire others to become social prophets.

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Ep 130: A Powerful Approach to Keeping Remote Staff Motivated (with Dr. Paul White)

nonprofits are messyHow do we continue to motivate and appreciate our staff in times of prolonged crisis? It has been over a year since the world shut down due to the pandemic and it has been challenging to stay motivated and connected in a virtual work environment.

Dr. Paul White makes work relationships work. He is a speaker and trainer who has taught all around the world, from NASA to the CDC, and has co-authored The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.

In this episode he shares the 5 ways to show your coworkers appreciation, but perhaps more importantly, he shares how learning which actions matter most to the person you are interacting with is essential – and – how easily you can miss the mark if you don’t get that right.

How do you know what is important, or conversely, what is least motivational in remote work relationships?

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Ep 129: Finding the Right Leader For Your Org (with Melissa Madzel)

nonprofits are messyYour long tenured E.D. decides to retire. Your CEO is running out the clock. Or worst case scenario – you made the wrong hire and it took you two or three years to make a move. Now you want to get it right. You want to know how to prepare for a successful search and you are wondering if a search firm is key.

There is no point in an organization’s life in which it is more vulnerable than the moment a decision is made that the CEO will move on. Today I want to talk about how a board of directors prepares an organization for a terrific search, thus exponentially increasing the potential for success.

What do you need to do for a search firm to have an understanding of the mission, culture and values of the institution? Does the search firm need to meet with the board before a search?

My guest, Melissa Madzel, is the Managing Director of Equity Initiatives and Koya Partners who claims her superpower is to figure out who the smartest and most interesting people are in the room and introducing them to each other.

What are the elements that go into making great and diverse hires? Who should be on the search committee? How long in advance do you plan for a hire? What are some of the key elements in a candidate? When do you engage staff? And what are some of the DEI factors to consider, especially when hiring in a leadership position?

Today she answers these and more questions about the planning and scaffolding that needs to be in place in order to set up a leader for success.

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Ep 128: Making Beautiful Music With Community-Driven Partnerships (with Henry Donahue)

nonprofits are messyWhen public schools look to cut costs, music and the arts often become casualties. They move from core pieces of a school’s culture and community to the easiest programs to toss overboard. Yet study after study shows how music and arts education makes students and schools more successful, with concrete benefits to academic performance and students’ well-being.

Former colleagues of mine at MTV Networks understood this power and their own responsibility to make music education a priority. And so it was that in 1997, they launched VH1 Save The Music.

My guest today Henry Donahue is an advocate, a musician and the Executive Director of the Save The Music Foundation, now a standalone nonprofit that has started music programs at thousands of schools in hundreds of U.S. public school districts.

In this episode he shares the story of Save the Music and what it takes to build community-driven partnerships that lead to multi-year investments in large public school districts.

We discuss how Save the Music creates long-term renewable relationships with the philanthropic funders for those projects, and what it takes to make systemic change through music.

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Ep 127: Building a Grassroots Movement From Scratch (with Donna Dees and Shikha Hamilton)

nonprofits are messyJust over 20 years ago Buford O. Furrow, Jr. a white supremecist gunman walked into a Los Angeles Jewish Community Center and fired 70 shots using a semi-automatic weapon, wounding three children, a teenage counselor, and an office worker. Later that day, he randomly shot a mail carrier. It had been only 4 months since The Columbine High School Massacre. 12 students and one teacher. Murdered.

Every one of these victims had moms. Moms whose lives were changed in an instant and forever. Millions of moms watched the news and felt this to be insanity – a summer of madness. But one of those moms watched the news, stood up and made a plan. Roughly 9 months later, on Mothers Day 2000, hundreds of thousands marched on the Washington DC Mall to support gun safety. How did she build such a large grassroots movement from scratch in only 9 months?

Today I have two guests who tell us what it took for them to get off the couch and do something. But beyond their individual contributions they share what it took to lay the groundwork for a grassroots base and to build a successful movement, how to steward volunteers (and in this case) promote gun safety over the course of 20+ years.

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