Ep 112: What Foundations Are Thinking Right Now (with Caryl M. Stern)

nonprofits are messyYou know that old saying, “May you live in interesting times”?

Yeah, about that….

The times have been terrifying and surreal. In particular for those of us that fall into the category of “older Americans with underlying conditions.” Yeah, people like me.

But hope is medicine. And I find hope in the work of the nonprofit leaders I am privileged to serve. The juxtaposition of your immense struggles (read: funding, resources) and the exponential need for your work is like nothing I have ever seen.

I could tell stories for days of small and mighty nonprofits that are delivering against all odds – with resilience, creativity, collaboration and sheer grit.

That said, I get it. So many of you are struggling. Facing crises that are existential. Will we make it?

I wanted to know what funders, especially foundations, are thinking at this time. I’m imagining program officers inundated with requests for emergency grants.

And so I spoke with the Executive Director of the Walton Family Foundation, Caryl Stern. In 2018 this foundation awarded nearly $600 million(!) in grants with a focus on the environment, K-12 education and the place the Waltons call home, Northwest Arkansas. The foundation invests around the world, on farms and back yards, and in the kids who are the future.

For all of you nonprofit superheroes with tattered capes, this conversation is for you.

About Caryl M. Stern

Caryl M. Stern is the executive director of the Walton Family Foundation. Previously, she was president and CEO of UNICEF USA. A dynamic change-maker, Caryl has dedicated her career to helping others through education, compassion, advocacy and rolling up her sleeves. For 12 years, she served as president and CEO of UNICEF USA, an organization that supports UNICEF’s lifesaving work to put children first.

Caryl has traveled to more than 30 countries in support of UNICEF’s work and has spearheaded UNICEF USA’s emergency relief efforts for children affected by disasters, including the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the 2011 East Africa drought, the Ebola and Zika epidemics and the ongoing global refugee and migrant crisis.

A sought-after public speaker on the topics of Kids Helping Kids, children and philanthropy, anti-bullying and international development, Caryl was invited to present at the White House’s inaugural summit on The United State of Women and was named one of “25 Women Changing the World in 2017” by People Magazine, “20 Most Influential Moms of 2017” by Family Circle, “25 Moms We Love” by Working Mother Magazine and “Ten Women to Watch” by Jewish Women International.

She serves on the boards of directors of The Container Store and the We Are Family Foundation. In addition, Caryl is a member of the Advisory Board of Chime for Change and a trustee of The World’s Big Sleep Out. Prior to joining UNICEF USA, Caryl was an executive at the Anti-Defamation League, the founding director of it’s A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute, and the Dean of Students at Polytechnic University.

Caryl is an activist, author, executive, public speaker, mother of three and grandmother of two.

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Ep 111: Once Upon a Time There Was a Fundraiser Who… (with Dan Portnoy)

nonprofits are messyJust for a moment, imagine what it would mean for your organization if you could double your online fundraising next year. I’m thinking it would increase your impact for sure. Sounds pretty great.

So how do you do that?

My guest, Dan Portnoy, says you start with a good story. Dan is the author of The Non-Profit Narrative: How Telling Stories Can Change the World and is the founder of Portnoy Media Group.

In the episode, Dan teaches us how to effectively use the framework of the hero’s journey to achieve phenomenal fundraising results.

If you want to improve your fundraising over the next year, you’ll want to pay attention.

About Dan Portnoy

Dan is the founder of Portnoy Media Group and the author of The Non-Profit Narrative: How Telling Stories Can Change the World. For over two decades, Dan has worked with the toughest outposts of Fortune 500 companies to get them back on track with big results. He is a sought after to help flesh out ideas, coach teams, and lead senior staff through the digital age. He is a story expert and builds narratives that remove the barriers between traditional cultivation and acquisition.

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Ep 110: How to Have Difficult Conversations – Part 2 (with Sheila Heen)

nonprofits are messyThere sure are a lot of difficult conversations happening right now. All over the place. We learned all about how to approach them in part 1 of this 2-part episode.

Today, we’ll dig deeper into a critical component of a productive difficult conversation. Receiving feedback.

Receiving feedback can be especially difficult, particularly when you think it’s not deserved. Not needed. Not wanted.

But if you won’t listen, nothing will change. And conversely, if you’re the one giving the feedback, your listener won’t be open to what you’re saying if they’re feeling judged. If you don’t approach it the right way.

Remember, the goal in these conversations isn’t to “be right”. It’s to affect change in some way. To improve something that’s been going on.

My guest, consultant and author Sheila Heen, discusses three triggers that can help us process feedback productively, even when it feels “off base, unfair, poorly delivered, and frankly, you’re not in the mood”.

About Sheila Heen

Sheila is a Founder of Triad Consulting Group and has been on the Harvard Law School faculty since 1995. Sheila’s corporate clients include Pixar, Hugo Boss, the NBA, the Federal Reserve Bank, Ford, Novartis, AT&T and numerous family businesses. She often works with executive teams, helping them to work through conflict, repair working relationships, and make sound decisions together.

In the public sector she has also provided training for the New England Organ Bank, the Singapore Supreme Court, the Obama White House, and theologians struggling with disagreement over the nature of truth and God. Sheila has spent more than twenty years with the Harvard Negotiation Project, developing negotiation theory and practice. She specializes in particularly difficult negotiations – where emotions run high and relationships become strained.

Sheila is co-author of two New York Times bestsellers: Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most (Penguin 2nd ed 2010), and the recently released Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (Even When It’s Off Base, Unfair, Poorly Delivered, and Frankly, You’re Not in the Mood) (Penguin 2014).

She has written for the Harvard Business Review, for the New York Times as a guest expert and as a Modern Love writer. Sheila has appeared on shows as diverse as Oprah and the G. Gordon Liddy show, NPR, Fox News, and CNBC’s Power Lunch. She has spoken at the Global Leadership Summit, Nordic Business Forum, Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Harvard Negotiation Journal, and Real Simple.

Sheila is a graduate of Occidental College in Los Angeles, and Harvard Law School. She is schooled in negotiation daily by her three children.

In this Podcast:

  • I am so skillful in giving feedback, why can’t you hear me?
  • Is feedback always judgmental?
  • What are the three triggers and why does it matter to recognize them?
  • Three different types of feedback with distinct purposes
  • What if the person evaluating me doesn’t know me well enough?
  • What if as an E.D. I am not crushing my job because I have a weak board chair?Continue Reading

Ep 109: How to Have Difficult Conversations – Part 1 (with Sheila Heen)

nonprofits are messyThink about a dreaded moment in which you had to tell someone something they didn’t want to hear or just didn’t want to know… Or that you knew would lead to a confrontation.

This episode is about difficult conversations and how to approach them.

Most of us try to avoid these kinds of difficult conversations. They are just so uncomfortable. But if you handle them the right way, you can actually come out better on the other side.

Sheila Heen, co-author of the best-selling book Difficult Conversations, has been a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School since 1995. She joins the podcast today to discuss how there are actually more than two sides to every story.

How do you build the muscle to make sure difficult conversations go well? What might you not be aware of that could change everything?

This is part 1 of a 2-part podcast.

About Sheila Heen

Sheila is a Founder of Triad Consulting Group and has been on the Harvard Law School faculty since 1995. Sheila’s corporate clients include Pixar, Hugo Boss, the NBA, the Federal Reserve Bank, Ford, Novartis, AT&T and numerous family businesses. She often works with executive teams, helping them to work through conflict, repair working relationships, and make sound decisions together.

In the public sector she has also provided training for the New England Organ Bank, the Singapore Supreme Court, the Obama White House, and theologians struggling with disagreement over the nature of truth and God. Sheila has spent more than twenty years with the Harvard Negotiation Project, developing negotiation theory and practice. She specializes in particularly difficult negotiations – where emotions run high and relationships become strained.

Sheila is co-author of two New York Times bestsellers: Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most (Penguin 2nd ed 2010), and the recently released Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (Even When It’s Off Base, Unfair, Poorly Delivered, and Frankly, You’re Not in the Mood) (Penguin 2014).

She has written for the Harvard Business Review, for the New York Times as a guest expert and as a Modern Love writer. Sheila has appeared on shows as diverse as Oprah and the G. Gordon Liddy show, NPR, Fox News, and CNBC’s Power Lunch. She has spoken at the Global Leadership Summit, Nordic Business Forum, Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Harvard Negotiation Journal, and Real Simple.

Sheila is a graduate of Occidental College in Los Angeles, and Harvard Law School. She is schooled in negotiation daily by her three children.

In this Podcast:

  • Wrestling with the inner voices
  • The three conversations or stories
  • The meaning of what is not said
  • Are you being too defensive?
  • Using feedback to grow
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Ep 108: A New CEO Job Starts in the Heat of a Pandemic (with Ellen LaPointe)

nonprofits are messyImagine you were just hired as the CEO of a wonderful nonprofit. A health organization. It’s exciting. You feel a sense of pride and privilege. You gather your belongings and leave your family on the West Coast to start your new job on the East Coast. They will join you soon.

While you know the Coronavirus is becoming a big problem, it doesn’t quite register how it will impact work and home.

You arrive at your new job and 18 hours later find yourself leading the Incident Command Team for a pandemic that is now clearly sweeping the globe. Oh, and borders have closed and COVID-19 has kept the family apart since March 7th.

Ellen LaPointe, CEO of Fenway Health joins the podcast to tell the story of how she took on her new role, met and bonded with her team, and how they came together. How their ingenuity, teamwork and force-of-will helped them to make immediate and dramatic shifts to reduce community spread of COVID-19, all while delivering care to patients in a completely new way.

Ellen also shared a bit about her personal story and how she affected an onboarding 101 plan at both a leadership and staff level.

Listen for tips on leadership during a crisis and beyond.

About Ellen

Ellen LaPointe is the Chief Executive Officer of Fenway Health in Boston.

Ellen has held numerous leadership roles in the nonprofit and public health sectors, working in social justice, research, LGBTQIA+/HIV activism and advocacy, health policy, law, and equity over the last three decades.

Prior to joining Fenway, she was President and Chief Executive Officer of Northern California Grantmakers in San Francisco, a nonprofit that brings together Bay Area philanthropy to advance the common good. During her tenure over five years, the organization strengthened its leading role within a member-based philanthropic community that gives over $3.5 billion annually. Ellen is also credited with transforming the culture of the organization, including the establishment of a robust equity framework to inform organizational priorities and practices.

Previously, Ellen served as Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at HopeLab, an operating foundation that focuses on technology-based approaches to promoting positive health behavior, and she was Executive Director of Project Inform.

She began her career as Coordinator of the Brown University AIDS Program, where she was involved in some of the earliest efforts to ensure access to promising experimental AIDS treatments and life-saving care. Ellen moved to San Francisco to become Director of Clinical Research at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital and later practiced law at a large firm, where she represented pro bono clients in cases involving marriage equality, wrongful eviction, end-of-life liberty, and other matters.

A native of Maine, Ellen earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University and her Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. She currently serves on the boards of the Lambda Literary Foundation and One Justice.

In this Podcast:

  • The challenges of converting to telehealth with HIPAA compliance
  • How imagination kicks in during a crisis
  • Will there be capacity to integrate telehealth going forward? Or will we go back to business as usual?
  • How does communication lead to success?
  • 5 things you need to do during onboarding
  • How does humble confidence play a role in success
  • The art and value of self-care
  • You might not be able to plan for a specific crisis, but you can still plan
  • Reusing structures that were in place during previous crisis
  • A priest and a therapist walk into a bar…

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Ep 107: The Top 20 Attributes of an Outstanding Board

nonprofits are messyDoes your nonprofit have an outstanding board of directors? Some really do!

But there’s the flip side. I know folks who have run screaming from board service, vowing never to join another nonprofit board. Why is that?

What does an outstanding board actually look like anyway? And whose job is it to find board members?

When you are looking to build an outstanding board think of it as a strategic casting call! Today’s podcast reviews the top characteristics of an outstanding board and lists the ideal attributes of a board leader.

Spoiler alert, many are the same as the top attributes of an executive director.

Inside This Podcast

  • How do you design your board with intentionality?
  • Should we consider paying board members so they’ll be more accountable?
  • Whose job is it to promote engagement?
  • What’s the secret sauce for building a leadership pipeline?
  • What does board success look like?
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Ep 106: Introducing Your Nonprofit Life (with Laura Zielke)

nonprofits are messyThere is nothing like a good spinoff. Some of the best TV shows of all time found their origins in another show. And now there’s a spinoff of this podcast!

My guest today is the host of the new podcast, Your Nonprofit Life, Laura Zielke. Laura is the Director of Community Experience for the Nonprofit Leadership Lab. She has provided support, encouragement, and advice to more than 5,000 nonprofit leaders worldwide. And her new podcast is about you, the small nonprofit. Laura’s been blown away by the conversations she’s already had. People are so motivated by their passion to help others. And she wants to tell you all about it. Learn, be inspired, become motivated. Spend 20 minutes each week being introduced to somebody who’s doing something that makes the world a better place.

Find Your Nonprofit Life on iTunes, Spotify, and other places you get your podcasts weekly. Also www.yournonprofitlife.com, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter (@yournplife), and YouTube.

  • Why launch a new podcast?
  • What are the goals of the new podcast?
  • What topics or themes will be explored?
  • Who will be some of the guests?

About Laura Zielke:

Laura is the Community Manager for The Nonprofit Leadership Lab, our online membership site for board and staff leaders of small nonprofits. She serves our community by facilitating meaningful connections and fostering authenticity, generosity, and laughter.

For the past two decades, Laura has worked as graphics/website designer and marketing consultant for a variety of organizations spanning the nonprofit sector from environmental and health to education and arts & culture and faith based organizations.

Laura earned her Master of Divinity degree from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where she focused her studies on Biblical Studies, Greek, and Archaeology after earning a Bachelor of Arts at California Baptist University with a major in Religion.

No fiercer advocate for nonprofit leaders will you find than Laura. She goes above and beyond to ensure that nonprofit leaders have the resources and advice they need and deserve. The thousands of active members of our Lab feel a true sense of community because of Laura’s “divine” intervention.

Laura lives in North Carolina. John is her lucky husband and Zachary is their lucky home schooled teenage son.
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Ep 105: Leadership in the Time of COVID-19

nonprofits are messyLike all of us, I am struggling. Not gonna lie. I’ve come face to face with a label I’d been ignoring. My wife and I are older Americans with some underlying health conditions. We are following all the rules and feel lucky that not only do we love each other but we like each other a lot too. No one else I’d rather be quarantined with. But this is stressful.

Everyone contends with pervasive anxiety in different ways. It’s pretty clear what my coping mechanism is. It’s the hardwiring that led me to become a nonprofit executive director. I obsess with helping. And that obsession is now on overdrive.

In a world so very hungry for leadership I have five pieces of advice from me to all of you leaders and helpers out there.

Hoping all who can stay at home will do so while we are trying to contain the pandemic. You may notice from the quality of my audio that I was home when I recorded this.

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Ep 104: Creating a Nonprofit Communications Engine (with Sarah Durham)

nonprofits are messyIs your nonprofit clear about how to effectively communicate and build engagement? Is your organizational voice clear and compelling across the board? And what exactly is a “nonprofit communications engine”?

The answers to these questions and more is the topic of today’s podcast.

In writing her new book, today’s guest, Sarah Durham, CEO and founder of Big Duck Communications, asked herself whether there was a scalable model that Executive Directors can use to manage communications that help to build an “army of the engaged” regardless of what kind of organization they are running.

Big Duck’s mission is to help organizations use communications in a strategic way with a clear voice and smart branding. And we’re lucky to have Sarah come onto the podcast to instruct us on how to do just that.

About Sarah Durham

Sarah launched Big Duck in 1994, Big Duck is a marketing company designed for non-profits. In 2019, she acquired Advomatic, a company that helps nonprofit and advocacy driven companies to improve their online technologies. Clients include the ACLU, Universities and Governmental organizations. In 2020, Sarah released her second book, The Nonprofit Communications Engine. Serves as Chair of National Brain Tumor Society’s Board of Directors.

Sarah Durham is a nonprofit communications nerd. Sarah Durham is an adjunct professor at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Sarah Also contributes expertise to The Chronicles of Philanthropy Website. In 2006, Durham was named a “top fundraiser under 40” by Fundraising Success Magazine. Sarah is driven by social justice and believes that it is important to fight for what is right and fighting against inequality.

Big Duck recently completed a complete rebrand for Shriver Center on Poverty Law, focusing on creating a more inclusive and interactive appearance.

In This Podcast

  • What are nonprofits most unclear about?
  • How does communications tie into branding work?
  • What thwarts nonprofits from investing enough in communications?
  • Do you need a big budget for communications?
  • The three outcomes that lead to effective communication
  • How to achieve sustainable momentum
  • How to identify and prioritize your audience
  • The value of setting priorities

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Ep 103: Stronger Together: The Power of Cohort Learning (with Darlene Nipper)

nonprofits are messyI teach that there are three “big rocks” for nonprofit leaders to prioritize… 3 areas of focus that – more than anything else – make or break a nonprofit.

The first of those rocks is all about leadership development. How important it is to invest in yourself as a leader.

That’s all well and good, Joan. But what kind of leadership development? Well, the most valuable kind of leadership development happens in a group. And that’s what this episode is all about.

Darlene Nipper, CEO of Rockwood Leadership Institute, joins me in this episode to discuss how working within a diverse cohort not only breeds creativity but improves the ability of a leader to create better and more productive work environments, and to focus on purpose, vision, performance, and partnership.

And guess what? Being in a cohort may help cure your imposter syndrome too.

Nonprofit leadership doesn’t have to be lonely. Not one bit.

About Darlene Nipper

With over 25 years of leadership and advocacy experience, Darlene joined Rockwood in 2012 as a member of the training team. She previously served as deputy executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, executive director of the BET Foundation, chief operating officer at NAMI and founder of its Multicultural and International Policy Center, and director of LGBT affairs in the Executive Office of the Mayor of D.C. Darlene, a native Washingtonian, is also an ordained interfaith minister, practices mindfulness meditation, deep presence, and living joy.

In This Podcast

  • How Rockwood creates cohorts that are most effective at developing leadership skills
  • The value of cross sector experience
  • Leadership development as an asset that can be sold to funders
  • Understanding how to connect with other people
  • Focusing on the leadership rather than on the procedural
  • Getting rid of imposter syndrome
  • The transition from corporate to nonprofit America
  • Moving at the speed of trust
  • Shift from individual to collective to make dreams come true and change happen
  • Leadership development ROI
  • Thinking like a collaborator
  • The importance of clarity of purpose, vision, and team alignment

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