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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Ep 126: Creating 5-Star Special Events in the Virtual Age (with Liz Page and Amanda Harless)

nonprofits are messyIn the spring of 2020, just like that, no more in person gatherings. A terrifying pandemic ignited the problem solver in you. You know? The attribute that led you to nonprofit leadership to begin with.

Some folks approached the challenge with: “I guess I’ll have to take my event virtual.” Others went to the root: “I just have to think differently about how to meet the goals that a special event previously met.”

Today, we’ll talk to folks who, for over 25 years, have been fueling nonprofit organizations in the Northeast by designing and executing five-star special events. I thought it would be helpful to all of you to hear what they saw in 2020 and how it shaped the future.

Can social pressures and rewards be replicated in a virtual room ask?

Our guests share specific case studies and the overall crucial elements to succeed in the planning and execution stages of a truly successful virtual event. Learn what barriers you can eliminate and what tools you can use to offer expanded visibility benefits to corporate sponsors.

Plus some advice on embracing online events and learning how intimate virtual can actually be.

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Ep 125: What Will You Carry Into 2021?

nonprofits are messyAs we close out the most devastating year in my own lifetime, I have been thinking about the battles we fought. How many we lost to the war with COVID, what makes our society a community, and the role of racial and societal inequities even in surviving a pandemic.

I do think it’s fair game to consider 2020 through the lens of war. By April of 2021, the CDC projects that American deaths from COVID will surpass the total American lives lost in World War II. And so what are the things WE will carry into this new year?

It’s really quite a different question from the standard “what are your new year’s resolutions?”

And so today I’d like to offer you my own reflections on the things I am carrying into 2021 and how they might help me navigate this new year. Perhaps my reflections will propel you to consider this question too.

What are the things you will carry into 2021?

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Ep 124: The 5 Giving Trends That Will Define Online Fundraising (with Scot Chisholm)

nonprofits are messyFor decades I have worried that nonprofit leaders don’t have what they need, have no time for professional development, and about how nonprofits raise money.

Over the past year, this last worry was exacerbated. From cancelled annual events to lack of robust individual giving programs, nonprofits had to overcome enormous challenges.

This is an episode that explores what happened to giving when COVID-19 hit, but also new opportunities that 2020 made possible. In many cases, accelerated by the pandemic, nonprofits had a renewed focus on how to get online giving right.

My guest today has helped empower nonprofits to raise over $2 billion dollars online through Classy, a social enterprise that helps nonprofits maximize their impact through a suite of world class online fundraising tools. Scot Chisholm started Classy as a passion project to raise money for a cancer society, and since then Classy has become one of the most successful online giving platforms available.

Have a look at his crystal ball and the five giving trends he sees for 2021. I think you will really benefit from what he has learned and shared with us today.

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Ep 123: The Single Best Sign of a Healthy Nonprofit (with Carlos de la Rosa and Rosanne Siino)

nonprofits are messyDo you know the single best indicator of the health of a nonprofit? There is one KEY ingredient for a healthy nonprofit. And it’s even more important during a crisis.

In this episode I talk with Carlos de la Rosa and Rosanne Siino, Executive Director and Board Chair of the Lindsay Wildlife Preserve.

Hint: Notice I invited an E.D. AND a board chair on the podcast… The “co-pilots” of the organization.

Carlos and Rosanne tell me all about the Preserve and in particular about the process of hiring Carlos as executive director.

They also tell the story of how they were affected by Covid 19. On Friday the 13th of March 2020, everything was shutting down; Lindsay was closing the doors to the 100,000 people who support their mission.

What structure, buffers, reserves, or relationships were in place that could (and did) sustain them through the ensuing months?

My guests discuss how they used the down time to create opportunities for a sustainable future and tell us what allowed Lindsay Wildlife Preserve to not only survive, but thrive.

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Ep 122: How to Use Artificial Intelligence to Improve Donor Retention (with Allison Fine and Beth Kanter)

nonprofits are messyThis episode is about the future of philanthropy and the power of analytics to transform how we raise money. It’s about the role that artificial intelligence is starting to play in transforming philanthropy by reducing rote tasks and fueling donor retention.

While we often talk about revenue increases year over year by looking at the cost of fundraising on each of our special events, what I have seen missing dozens of times is one key metric – donor retention!

My guests today, Allison Fine and Beth Kanter are here to connect the dots for us and show us how AI is poised to reshape philanthropy by helping to identify prospects, match people to causes, and improve donor retention. We discuss ways to introduce AI into your current fundraising efforts and cover potential emotional obstacles to getting started.

Allison and Beth co-authored The Networked Nonprofit and are long-time champions for tech use in the nonprofit sector.

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Ep 121: Creating a 5-Star Board Retreat (with Dolph Goldenburg)

nonprofits are messyWhile I believe deeply in board retreats, I also believe they are often a big fat missed opportunity. How come? For starters, lack of clarity about the why. Lack of understanding about how outside support can help bring out the best in the group. No clear action items. And when there are action items, often the retreat ends with a list of things that should happen but no accountability mechanism for how to make them happen. Leaving you with the same retreat agenda next time around.

Struggling nonprofits rely on boards more than ever for expertise, growing reach, and influence so it’s really important to build strong boards.

Today’s guest, Dolph Goldenburg, helps do just that. He and I discuss our views on why boards matter, when to have a retreat, how retreats have gone virtual, and what it takes to make a retreat a home run.

Dolph Goldenburg has experience as a nonprofit CEO, interim CEO, he has years of fundraising experience and he has written a bunch of grants resulting in millions of dollars. His consulting practice focuses on board development, strategic planning and executive transitions.

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Bonus Episode: Turn Your Impatience to Your Heroic Pursuits

nonprofits are messyI don’t like it at all when things are not OK. Not in my family. Not in my country.

Oh, sure we all knew it would be messy. It’s 2020 after all. But some of us might have been hoping that after such a long year of uncertainty, at least knowing who the next president was on the morning after the election would provide some comfort.

As Mr. Rogers would say…

I like to be told
If it’s going to hurt,
If it’s going to be hard,
If it’s not going to hurt.
I like to be told.
I like to be told.

Well, I realize the 8-year-old trapped inside me is very impatient and wants to know but the 63-year-old is reminding me that I have a role in how it all turns out and that there is only so much I can do right now.

And so, as we await the outcome, I would like to encourage you to turn your impatience toward your heroic pursuits. After all, there’s a reason you become a nonprofit superhero….

Ep 120: Raising the Next Generation of Nonprofit Leaders (with Charlotte Alter)

nonprofits are messyBoomers are aging out of nonprofit leadership in droves. Many started organizations post Vietnam and there is a huge impending leadership void in the sector that needs to be filled. Nonprofit boards tend to skew old and are distrusting of youth and “inexperience”. And so the cycle continues.

So who will fill this void? How do we build a leadership pipeline?

In May of 2017 Charlotte Alter, national correspondent at Time, heard President Trump’s speech on how the US was withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement. She looked up each person who advised him to do so and began to feel that the decisions being made were examples of the old eating the young. This took her on a journey to write her book.

Today she takes us through the people, events and forces that she believes have shaped the political thinking of the rising generation of leaders in America.

We discuss how today’s leaders differ from yesterday’s and what we might do to nurture millennial leadership.

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