Ep 46: Strategic Program Design (with Lindsay Hoffman)

nonprofits are messy

Bright Shiny Object Syndrome, or “BSOS.” Ever experience it?

When it comes to programs, BSOS is when nonprofits neglect their current (probably underfunded) programming because they are distracted by the newest and shiniest programming. And when that happens, big opportunities can be missed.

Today we’re going to talk about strategic program design with Lindsay Hoffman.

About Lindsay Hoffman

Lindsay is a nonprofit consultant with a 14-year background helping organizations with strategic planning, program design and planning, and fund development.

Lindsay spent 5 years as a Senior Vice President of Program Development at Seedco and was Managing Director of Institutional Development at GMHC. She has designed programs and then found funding for them.

Lindsay has directly secured over $145 million for nonprofit causes. I think she has the perfect balance of knowledge to guide us through this topic. Don’t listen to this one while driving — you’ll want to take notes.

In this episode:

  • How to keep focus and avoid Bright Shiny Object Syndrome
  • How to evaluate if ideas are actually GOOD ideas
  • Whose responsibility is it to put the meat on the bones of a program?
  • Lindsay’s “Quick Win” to turn an idea into something tangible for a potential funder on short notice
  • Building “Human-centered” program design into your ongoing work
  • The benefits of starting small

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Ep 45: The Final 60 Days of the Year (with Seth Rosen)

nonprofits are messy

Where has the year gone?!

With October now in the rear view mirror, most nonprofit board members, Executive Directors and (especially) development staff are facing down the barrel of (less than) the final 60 days remaining to raise funds before the year is over.

That can be daunting, I know. But I’ve got someone on today’s podcast who will help you sort it out and make the most of these 2 months… and maybe set you up for the upcoming year too!

About Seth Rosen

My guest is fundraising expert, Seth Rosen. Seth is a development guru, former client, and colleague. He is an attorney and currently works in development for Lambda Legal.

Seth has raised millions of dollars both domestically and internationally, so he knows what he’s talking about. He has decades of experience working for a law school, he’s raised money to end malaria, and was the development director for the oldest and largest organization fighting HIV and AIDS, the Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

If anyone knows the pressure you’re under as you approach year’s end, it’s Seth. And he’s here to help.

In this episode:

  • What you should have already done by now
  • The 2 most important things you need to start doing today
  • Who’s really on your team and what are their roles during this time of year?
  • What to do even if the seeds haven’t been planted over the last 10 months
  • How to make the most of year-end fundraising if your organization has little (or no) development staff
  • What about Giving Tuesday?
  • How to get board members more involved in the final 60 days

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Ep 44: The Executive Director With No Staff (with Sarah Audet)

nonprofits are messy

Nonprofit leaders struggle constantly with getting it all done.

Fundraising. Managing boards. Wrangling volunteers. Keeping an eye on cash flow. Hiring and managing staff. Recruiting new board members. And, oh yeah, maybe we’ll throw strategic planning in on top of that.

Let’s face it – these jobs can feel completely undoable. Everyone is overworked and stretched too thin.

Now I want you to think about all that work and I want you to imagine that you actually have to do it all by yourself. Imagine that you are the only staff person in your organization. What would that look like? I wanted to know.

And so I invited Sarah Audet onto the podcast. Sarah is the Executive Director of Dinners With Love and the only staff member. She’s also one of the charter members of the Nonprofit Leadership Lab, my online community, support, and education portal designed especially to help smaller nonprofits.

We talk about how exactly she manages this, how she plans to grow, the difference the Nonprofit Leadership Lab has made for her personally and for her organization, and so much more.

About Sarah Audet

Sarah Audet is the Executive Director of Dinners With Love, an organization that partners hospice agencies with local restaurants to care for hospice patients and their families by providing free, delivered meals.

For many years prior to joining Dinners With Love in 2015, Sarah worked in higher education, assisting administrators with research, communications, and project management. She has worked on projects addressing a broad spectrum of social and educational issues, including sustainable living and diversity & inclusion. In addition to serving as Dinners With Love’s Executive Director, Sarah is a nonprofit communications and board development consultant. She is a graduate of Middlebury College and earned her Master of Education at Northeastern University. Originally from Maine, Sarah is now a Vermonter-for-life in Bridport with her husband Nathan, their daughter Margo, and a herd of dairy cows.

In this episode:

  • How to craft a “home run” elevator pitch
  • A day in the life of a “no-staff” Executive Director
  • Can it actually be easier to not have any staff?
  • At single-staff nonprofits, is the role of the board any different?
  • The key to successful engagement and management of volunteers
  • What does it take for a solo-staff nonprofit to grow?
  • The value of joining the Nonprofit Leadership Lab
  • Why it’s so important to follow the Lab’s “Nonprofit Success Path”
  • What Sarah has implemented from the Nonprofit Leadership Lab
  • Sarah’s feelings about being a member of the Lab

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Ep 43: Nonprofits, Storytelling, and ‘This American Life’ (with Alex Blumberg)

nonprofits are messy

In this episode, I’m honored and excited to have the opportunity to interview Alex Blumberg, a former producer of the uber-popular public radio show, This American Life and the founder of Gimlet Media. The main topic of our conversation? Storytelling.

Stories are core to what make us human. Mastering storytelling is certainly a primary key to becoming a successful nonprofit. And yet, when doing the research for my book, I discovered that the topic of storytelling was largely missing from most other books on nonprofit leadership.

I think that’s a mistake. So I decided to write an entire chapter on the subject.

And so it was terrific to have an opportunity to discuss the power of stories with one of the great storytellers of our time. We discussed how important it is to be able to tell the story of your nonprofit in a compelling way that brings it to life for potential donors, advocates, and your own staff and board members.

About Alex Blumberg

Alex Blumberg is the CEO and co-founder of Gimlet Media. Blumberg is an award-winning radio journalist known for his work as a producer on the wildly popular podcasts This American Life and Planet Money. Blumberg was a co-founder of Planet Money and hosted the first season of the podcast Startup.

Prior to Gimlet, Alex had a long career in public radio where he learned the ins and outs of the nonprofit world.

Blumberg’s work has won every major award in broadcast journalism, including the Polk, the duPont-Columbia and the Peabody. His award-winning documentary on the housing crisis, The Giant Pool of Money, which he co-reported and produced with Adam Davidson, was named one of the last decade’s top ten works of journalism by the Arthur L. Carter School of Journalism and New York University.

Blumberg co-founded Planet Money with Adam Davidson. Through podcasts, radio stories, documentaries, and blog posts, Planet Money delivers economic journalism in a fresh, accessible, humorous and yet hard-hitting way. Blumberg executive produced the interactive project Planet Money Makes a T-Shirt, which won almost every major online award including an Emmy.

Blumberg also served as executive producer on the television version of This American Life, which aired on the Showtime network. The show earned rave reviews from almost every major market television critic. It won three Emmy Awards, including the award for Outstanding Nonfiction Series.

Throughout his extensive career in audio journalism, Blumberg has done radio documentaries covering such diverse topics as life aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier, teenage Steve Forbes supporters and prisoners staging a production of Hamlet. Blumberg has been a featured guest on Meet the Press and other television programs. He lives with his wife and two children in Brooklyn, New York.

In this episode:

  • The key elements of a good story
  • The poison of jargon
  • Typical mistakes we all make when we try to tell a story
  • How to really bring your nonprofit work to life
  • What leadership looks like at a thriving organization – nonprofit or for-profit
  • How nonprofits and startups are similar

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Ep 42: What’s With All The Ribbons? (with Dan Osheyack)

nonprofits are messy

Remember those red ribbons people wore at the 1991 Tony Awards? They symbolized a breakthrough in creating awareness of the AIDS crisis.

Since then, we’ve seen all variety of colored ribbons and rubber bracelets. But given how many are out there, does it still benefit your cause to be associated with ribbons or bracelets? Does it help you raise more money? Does the awareness it can bring lead to real action?

In this podcast, my guest Dan Osheyack and I will explore these issues of awareness, action, and cause marketing.

About Dan Osheyack

My guest today is non-profit foundation expert and marketing guru, Dan Osheyack. Dan has spent most of his life as a professional marketer. He was with Time Warner for 30 years, most recently as the company’s head of philanthropy and VP of the Time Warner Foundation. After retiring from Time Warner, Dan went on to become the CMO of the Clinton Global Initiative. I’ve worked with him several times and know very well how much great information he has to offer my listeners.

In this episode:

  • Do ribbons actually help bring in more money?
  • What happens when the color “teal” ends up representing 6 different causes at the same time?
  • How the pink ribbon and the yellow wristband got it right
  • Why creating community is central to your cause
  • Do ribbons encourage “slacktivism”?
  • How to get people involved in your cause, rather than just checking an “awareness box”
  • How to convert cause marketing into action, awareness or fundraising success

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Ep 41: What Every New Board Member Needs to Understand

nonprofits are messy

Maybe you are about to attend your first board meeting as a board member.

Maybe you have been to a few meetings are just simply not clear.

It all seems daunting. It was flattering to be asked, right?

You are deeply passionate about the mission of the organization and the work it does.

At least I sure hope so.

But what should you expect? What does the organization expect from you?

This episode has no other guest. Just yours truly. And I chose this topic and format because I’d love for this podcast to be played for new board members – maybe at an orientation. Or perhaps at a board retreat when you are setting (or resetting expectations).

In this episode:

  • Is a board position actually a “job”?
  • Should the board consider itself at the center or periphery of a nonprofit?
  • What a good board orientation needs to accomplish.
  • Your primary job as a board member (it’s probably not what you think)
  • Why you don’t need to know rich people to be a great board member
  • Is it actually important to donate to your own organization?
  • What board members should be doing at your annual gala
  • 20 things every board member ought to understand

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Ep 40: Overcoming Fundraising Mistakes (with Jim Bennett)

nonprofits are messy

Fundraising can be full of landmines.

You call a lapsed donor who tells you this isn’t a good time because, well, her husband recently passed away. Or another who is still holding a grudge because he got a crappy seat at the last gala.

But is there a way to turn these kinds of lemons into lemonade? Why yes, I do believe there is.

Time for some role playing with a Development Director with decades of experience asking for money. Oh, and he’s also an instructor at Second City, one of the most important improv comedy groups in the country, having graduated the likes of Tina Fey, Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Bill Murray, and so many of our greatest comedians.

Let’s have some fun, shall we?

About Jim Bennett

Jim Bennett is the Chief Development Officer for Lambda Legal, the nation’s largest legal organization dedicated to securing the full civil rights of the LGBT community and those living with HIV. Jim has more than 25 years of experience in advocacy, strategic planning, and development.

Prior to Lambda, Jim was the marketing and development director for the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and has led development marketing and programmatic departments at the American Red Cross.

He also serves on the board of RefugeeOne and is a member of the Broadway United Methodist Church.

He has an MBA from the University of Illinois and an undergraduate degree in marketing from ISU.

Oh, and about the improv and sketch comedy… in 2013, Jim was Moth Storytelling Grand Slam Champion for his story about his experience in Iowa after Lambda Legal’s marriage equality victory. It was called, “Church of Hamballs”.

In this episode:

  • How learning improv can make you a better fundraiser
  • Typical fundraising mistakes
  • Jim’s first time asking for money
  • Getting over asking for a large donation
  • Why you need to care about specifically about who you’re raising money for
  • How to overcome the fear of asking for money
  • Fundraising role playing
  • How to know if you’re asking for the right amount
  • What to do if you asked for too much
  • How to handle a donor that feels slighted
  • How being a board member can make you a better fundraiser

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Ep 39: From Kitchen Volunteer to Board Chair (with Sylvia Vogelman)

nonprofits are messyOne of my absolute favorite nonprofit stories centers on today’s guest. It has to do with the reason she was able to go in short order from being a volunteer in a kitchen to becoming the chair of the board of a significant nonprofit organization.

I’m not going to spoil it here. You’ll have to listen to the episode.

But more broadly, we talk about the power of volunteering. Multiple studies show the positive benefits of volunteering.

But the positive benefits aren’t just for the people receiving services. They’re for the VOLUNTEER too.

The benefits are even more pronounced in volunteers over 50. But what about the impact on the nonprofit? Let’s talk about the “Ladder of Engagement” and what you can do to move volunteers up that ladder. Maybe even all the way to board chair.

About Sylvia Vogelman

After Sylvia Vogelman retired from a successful career in publishing and direct marketing, she became a volunteer at God’s Love We Deliver, chopping vegetables and preparing meals for homebound residents of New York. Eventually, she became a fundraiser and, ultimately, the board chair at GLWD.

Her story is inspiring and teaches all of us a whole lot about cultivating the assets your volunteers bring to the table (no pun intended).

In this episode:

  • How to grow your volunteers as your organization pivots or matures
  • How volunteers can save you literally millions of dollars
  • One very simple thing you can do to make your volunteers feel appreciated. It’s so simple, and costs nothing.
  • What you can do as a volunteer to grow into a new role at your organization
  • The importance of allowing giving at ALL levels a.k.a. “The Tile Story” (my favorite nonprofit story ever.)
  • How to identify volunteers who might be prime to move up the ladder
  • The care and feeding of volunteers (yeah, another food pun)

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Ep 37: The Partnership That Drives a Thriving Nonprofit (with Kim Freedman and Nick Purrington)

nonprofits are messy

What is the single best indicator of a thriving nonprofit?

Ask five people and you’ll get five different answers. But I believe the answer is a strong partnership between the board leader and staff leader of the organization.

I think of it as a twin-engine jet with the Executive Director (or equivalent) and the Board Chair as co-pilots. When this partnership is working well, everyone gets to the destination on time and with minimal turbulence.

So I thought about how interesting it would be to have BOTH co-pilots on the podcast at the same. So today I spoke with the both the Head of School and her Board Chair to get their thoughts on how this partnership can help an organization fly smoothly.

About Kim Freedman

Kim is the Head of School at New Garden Friends School, a K-12 Quaker school in Greensboro, North Carolina. She came from the for-profit sector and moved into the nonprofit world in a variety of ways. She started an ADHD camp in Greensboro, worked in higher education in communications and social media and before taking over as Head of School at New Garden Friends, was the school’s Director of Admissions.

About Nick Purrington

Nick, the Board Chair at New Garden Friends School, is an attorney who founded Purrington Moody Weil LLC with offices in Greensboro and New York specializing in representing private investment fund managers. He is also a strategic advisor to The Center for Board Excellence.

In this episode:

  • How to make the time to be a great board chair, even when you’re insanely busy
  • Ways to leverage corporate experience in working with your board
  • The 3 most important words that define the partnership between the staff and board leaders
  • Fostering great communication: How often should you meet? Who sets the agenda? How do you decide the appropriate altitude of the conversation?
  • How to be the bearer (and the receiver) of bad news
  • Our guests’ best advice to others in their respective roles

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Ep 36: The Community Builder Who Became a Philanthropist (with Stu McLaren)

nonprofits are messy

How does a highly successful entrepreneur – one of the foremost experts in building online communities – end up devoting his time and energy to making sure thousands of children in Africa have a chance for a daily education?

What motivates this entrepreneur, who no longer feels guilty about making lots of money due to the nonprofit he co-founded?

What can he teach us about funding a tiny nonprofit (only 2 full time staff) so it can make an enormous impact?

And how has he used his deep knowledge of how to build a raving fan base online to benefit his charity?

We cover all of this and more in today’s episode of Nonprofits Are Messy.

About Stu McLaren

Stu McLaren is the co-founder of World Teacher Aid, a Canadian charity with the mission to improve education in the developing world. This philanthropy has become his passion and his “big why.”

As the former founder of the world’s #1 membership platform for WordPress, WishList Member, he had the chance to serve and support over 60,000+ online communities and membership sites. Through that experience, he gained a unique insight into the subtle membership nuances that produce massive results.

Today Stu uses that knowledge to help his clients launch and grow high-revenue membership sites. He also coaches and consults New York Times best-selling authors, top rated speakers, experts and niche celebrities on how to launch, grow and scale high-profit recurring revenue streams.

His goal is to give to his charity the bulk of the revenues that come into his business.

In this episode:

  • How a successful entrepreneur turned his eye to philanthropy
  • Why you shouldn’t feel guilty if you do make a lot of money
  • Why Stu chose to focus on Africa
  • Why working insane hours is exactly the wrong approach
  • How “touching the work” makes all the difference
  • The impact of Oprah’s “The Big Give”
  • How World Teacher Aid started (it’s kind of crazy…)
  • Getting the right people on the bus
  • How Stu approached fundraising
  • How to make donors feel like “members”
  • How to attract the people who want to get involved
  • The keys to building online communities

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