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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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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