Ep 140: How to Attract, Develop, and Retain Top Nonprofit Talent (with Gali Cooks)

nonprofits are messy

It’s no secret that attracting, developing, and retaining the best nonprofit talent is not always our sector’s strong suit. Today’s guest, Gali Cooks, is a nonprofit leader who works daily to help organizations find rockstar talent and set them up for success in lasting nonprofit careers.

I’m not naïve. I know that filling positions in a nonprofit organization comes with many challenges. After all, you want the right people in the right seats on the bus (not just butts in seats) — and the time and money constraints are real.

But, so too is the reality that having the right talent by your side is essential if you want your organization to last in the long run. That’s why having solid nonprofit leadership development and effective succession planning strategies in place at your organization is a must.

Luckily, helping organizations navigate these issues is today’s guest’s sweet spot. Gali is the founding president and chief executive officer of Leading Edge, an organization funded by organizations and formed to influence, inspire, and enable dramatic change in attracting, developing, and retaining top talent for Jewish organizations.

She joins us today to share how you can create a nonprofit workplace culture that empowers your best talent to grow and thrive.

Listen in to learn:

  • How do organizations attract and develop top nonprofit talent (Rockstars)?
  • What are the six ingredients that impact nonprofit workplace culture and, in turn, nonprofit talent retention?
  • How do nonprofit leadership development and succession planning impact an organization’s future?
  • How do nonprofit leaders get started with nonprofit succession planning?
  • How do today’s hiring decisions impact the future of your nonprofit organization?

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Ep 139: Interpersonal Skills are Hard Work (with Carole Robin)

nonprofits are messy

Executive directors, your interpersonal skills have a much bigger impact on your org’s success than you might think. Yet, so many nonprofit leaders struggle to navigate workplace relationships — with staff, with volunteers, and yes, with their boards.

Why do so many nonprofit leaders have a hard time with these interpersonal dynamics? Today’s guest, award-winning Stanford University professor and Co-Founder of Leaders in Tech, Carole Robin, is here to give us the scoop.

She’s the co-author of Connect: Building Exceptional Relationships, a book modeled off the most popular class taught in Stanford’s MBA program — Interpersonal Dynamics, affectionately called “Touchy Feely Class”.

Today We’ll Uncover:

  • How do interpersonal skills impact nonprofit leadership?
  • How does the power balance between staff and leadership affect interpersonal dynamics at work?
  • How does modeling vulnerability lead to exceptional workplace relationships?
  • How can nonprofit leaders vet potential hires for strong interpersonal skills?

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Ep 138: Joan’s Favorite Books for Nonprofit Leaders

nonprofits are messyIn my book, reading is one of the best investments you can make in your professional development. That’s why, today, I’m in the hot seat. Ah yes, the tables are turning and Cindy Pereira is asking all the questions—about my favorite books for nonprofit leaders!

I’ve shared with you some of my favorite books on nonprofit leadership on my blog. But it recently occurred to me that there is so much that nonprofit leaders can learn from every genre.

That’s why Cindy and I thought it would be fun to put together a summer reading list for nonprofit leaders that covers everything from nonprofit leadership to murder mystery (hopefully not in the same story!)

Cindy produces my podcast and runs my consulting business. She also worked closely with my team to launch the second edition of my book, Joan Garry’s Guide to Nonprofit Leadership in 2020. Needless to say, Cindy and I have had lots of talks about books…and today we’re adding you to the conversation.

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Ep 137: Cryptocurrency and the Future of Donor Advised Funds (with Robbie Heeger)

nonprofits are messySometimes I feel really cutting edge. Not often, but every now and then.

A few months back I hosted an episode with Beth Kanter and Alison Fine and we talked about how artificial intelligence can be used in nonprofits. I actually kept up with the conversation. Like I said… cutting edge.

But I have to admit that the topic of today’s podcast made me a little nervous. Cryptocurrency and its role with donor advised funds. Really? Why yes.

It seems that more and more folks are donating with cryptocurrency. You know, bitcoin, ethereum, stuff like that? And meanwhile, only a few large nonprofits have any idea what to do with it.

So I’m kind of a podcast host toddler here being thrown into the deep end of the pool without swimmies. So it’s a little daunting. But it’s also really exciting!

My guest today is Robbie Heeger who is the CEO of Endaoment, America’s first Community Foundation to be powered by a blockchain. Blockchain? I leave it to Robbie to explain.

Here’s the thing. This new financial infrastructure just might be the future of fundraising. It’s fascinating stuff and I invite you to have a listen.

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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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