Ep 77: Navigating the Tension Between Development and Communications (with Steve Ralls)

nonprofits are messyDevelopment and Communications departments in nonprofits have not always seen eye to eye. It’s more than just a lack of interaction – more than just, “We know enough about what ‘they’ do.”

There has historically been tension between the two. Staying on message is the wheelhouse of the Communications team and there are times when the development folks need the message to be different. A certain kind of arrogance maybe? Development staff might say, “We know the messaging that really speaks to donors and your branding messaging does not work – we can’t hit our goals using that messaging.”

This tension leads to silos – never a good thing in nonprofit organizations. And silos lead to competing messages. Also never a good thing.

More and more nonprofits are merging these functions under one umbrella – often called External Affairs.

I found us a guest who can help us make sense of all this. He is a career nonprofit communications professional who less than a year ago took charge of the Development function and is in fact his organization’s Director of External Affairs.

I wanted to learn more about all of this – the origins of the tensions and whether this merging works or muddies the water. And I thought you might benefit from learning about it too.

About Steve Ralls

Steve Ralls is Director of External Affairs for Public Justice, a non-profit legal advocacy organization that pursues high impact lawsuits to combat social and economic injustice, protect the Earth’s sustainability, and challenge predatory corporate conduct and government abuses. Steve oversees Public Justice’s media, messaging, outreach and development initiatives. Prior to joining Public Justice, Steve was Communications Director for Immigration Equality, a legal aid and advocacy organization dedicated to securing equal access to immigration rights, including asylum and marital immigration benefits, for LGBT immigrants and their families. He also worked for nearly a decade with Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, where he spearheaded communications for the successful campaign to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on lesbian and gay service members. Steve’s work has included national media coverage in the nation’s leading print, online, television and radio news outlets. He has placed media stories in, and been quoted by, The Washington Post, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Politico, Associated Press, National Public Radio, CBS News, CNN and numerous other outlets. He has also placed dozens of op-eds and editorials and has coordinated coverage of impact litigation cases, and diverse legal issues, on national news magazines, including 20/20, Nightline and a groundbreaking 60 Minutes report on openly gay troops serving in the war zone.

In this episode

  • The challenge of having two functions under external affairs
  • How to communicate to a general audience
  • What happens when different departments want to talk about different things
  • The benefits of having development and communications under one roof
  • Where does the messaging buck stop?
  • How does prioritizing mission and message affect donors’ reactions?
  • What is the role of an Executive Director and how can they inspire everyone to have a seat at the table?

Continue Reading

Ep 76: The 4 Obstacles to a Diverse Board

nonprofits are messy

It seems to me that an all white board for the NAACP wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense but having some diversity on a board may be more critical than you think. Without diversity boards lack differing perspectives, skill sets, and backgrounds.

It’s time to speak the truth. To stop hiding behind ‘code.’ Seems to me it is time for us to take a close look at what we mean by diversity and why it matters.

I hear it all the time. “We need to diversify our board.” It’s interesting how often people answer the question using some form of the word “diversity”.

We need diverse perspectives. We have to avoid groupthink – it’s probably impacting our ability to think differently.

I believe there are 4 primary obstacles to building a diverse board. In this episode, I explain what they are and I’ll tell you exactly how you can overcome them.

In this episode

  • What I mean by “diversity”
  • How do founders build boards?
  • What your nonprofit has in common with a Broadway play?
  • The 4 obstacles to a diverse board and how to overcome them
  • How much planning is really necessary for diversity?
  • The importance of “layering”
  • Truth or myth:
    • All board members must be wealthy or know people who are
    • The best place to find board members is in your hometown
    • Term limits are not practical

Continue Reading

Ep 75: What’s Your One Big 2019 Goal?

nonprofits are messyAs you may know, I am a founder of the Nonprofit Leadership Lab, an online membership site for board and staff leaders of small nonprofits. Since its launch, more than 3,000 folks have become a part of our village and I have grown to know many of them. They are remarkable leaders who are deeply committed to making the world a more whole and just place.

I wanted to hear their thoughts on one big goal they were going to focus on this coming year.

So I asked.

I hope you find their responses as motivating and inspiring as I do.

Our Guests

Ep 74: Good People, Hidden Biases, and Navigating Your Blind Spots (with Anthony Greenwald)

nonprofits are messyYou are a good person and you do important work.

But guess what? You still have all sorts of hidden blind spots and biases. Sometimes you’re “judgy”. It affects how you interact in this world, and how the world interacts with you.

You’re a nonprofit person, so you probably want to change hearts and minds. Whether you realize it or not, your blind spots are likely getting in the way. What can you do about it?

Anthony Greenwald is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington, with a bachelor’s degree from Yale and a PhD from Harvard. He’s been studying how minds operate in social contexts. In the book he co-authored, Blindspot – Hidden Biases of Good People, he uses the term blindspot to discuss the extent to which social groups – without awareness or conscious control – shape our likes and dislikes, our judgments about people’s character, abilities, and potential.

Learn how unconscious, automatic, less reflective aspects of the mind affect the decisions we make about ourselves and others in society on social categories of gender, race, age, class, sexuality, disability, religion, politics, nationality and more.

More importantly, are we stuck with these biases? Once they go from hidden to visible, is there hope?

About Anthony

Anthony G. Greenwald is Professor of Psychology at University of Washington (1986-present) and was previously at Ohio State University (1965-86). He received his BA from Yale (1959) and MA (1961) and PhD (1961) from Harvard. Published over 180 scholarly articles and has served on editorial boards of 13 psychological journals. His research career awards include the Donald T. Campbell. Award from the Society of Personality and Social Psychology (1995), the Distinguished Scientist Award from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology (2006), the William James Fellow Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Psychological Science (2013), the Kurt Lewin Award from the Society for Psychological Study of Social Issues (2016), and the Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award from the American Psychological Association (jointly with Mahzarin Banaji, 2017). He was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007 and the Washington State Academy of Sciences in 2015. He is a co-founder (2005) and President of the non-profit organization, Project Implicit.

Greenwald provoked modern attention to the psychological self with his 1980 article, “The Totalitarian Ego”. His 1990s methods made unconscious cognition and subliminal perception orderly research topics. In 1994 Greenwald invented the Implicit Association Test (IAT; published in 1998). The IAT rapidly became a standard for assessing individual differences in implicit social cognition. Its method has provided the basis for three patent applications and numerous applications in clinical psychology, education, marketing, and diversity management, and has been used for data collection in 2,000+ peer-reviewed articles. The story of the IAT’s development and significance appears in Blindspot: Hidden biases of good people (Delacorte Press, 2013, co-authored with Mahzarin Banaji).

In this episode

  • The emotions of blind spots
  • Mindbugs – what they are and why they matter
  • How the “Implicit Association Test” works and why Malcolm Gladwell shared his results on Oprah
  • How stereotypes play into our reactions
  • Are we stuck with our biases? Can we overcome them?
  • Has there been a shift in societal biases over time?
  • How might a nonprofit leader use these teachings inside his/her organization?Continue Reading

Ep 73: The Arc of a Successful Capital Campaign (with Eric Javier)

nonprofits are messy

You need to do something spectacular and make a huge leap in your nonprofit. And so you require a significant amount of money in a certain period of time.

You may need a campaign. But each need may require a different type of campaign.

Eric Javier, who has helped to design and direct more than 200 fundraising campaigns and initiatives that have raised more than $2 billion, explains the difference between capital, endowment, and comprehensive campaigns, as well as the steps needed to create the arc of a successful capital campaign.

Perhaps if you’re struggling to hit payroll next week, you might think this is not the podcast for you. But I can’t tell you how many heroic nonprofit leaders have dug an organization out of a ditch and driven it right into the thrill of a capital campaign.

Listen up and file it all away.

About Eric

Eric Javier is a Principal and Managing Director with CCS. For the last 20 years Eric has advised leading executives, trustees, and development leaders from across the nonprofit sector.  Eric’s primary areas of expertise include feasibility and planning studies; capital and endowment campaigns; major donor programs; principal gift solicitation strategies; strategic development planning; case messaging and storytelling; and coaching and training.

“The truest definition of philanthropy is ‘love of humanity.’ It’s a privilege to work with passionate leaders who are working so hard to make positive change in the world. Philanthropy is the fuel that makes that change possible,” says Eric.

Eric frequently speaks about philanthropy and development strategy at professional conferences, including the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), and the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).

Eric resides in Westchester, NY with his wife, Kristin, their two daughters, and rescued dog, Oscar.

In this episode

  • Why engage in a capital campaign?
  • What is the difference between an endowment and a reserve?
  • Where does strategic planning fit into your ‘why’ and your ‘what’?
  • What are the key ingredients of a 5-star case statement?
  • How do feasibility studies factor into it?
  • Impact is one thing on the list of donor motivations. What else?
  • Advice on campaign fatigue.Continue Reading

Ep 72: Successful Year End Fundraising (with Gail Perry)

nonprofits are messyWe’ve reached prime-time giving season, and I have some good news.

It’s absolutely not too late to exceed your goals, no matter where you currently are in your process.

Right now, donors are thinking deeply about the causes they support. Are you ready? Have you communicated your needs and impact in a cheerful, abundant, and timely way?

My guest today, international fundraising consultant Gail Perry, will walk you through the logistical and emotional steps to ending the year on an amazing and successful note.

Gail’s tips include many specific strategies from phone banking to cutting through the Giving Tuesday clutter, to identifying ambassadors… and so much more.

If you want to make sure you meet – and exceed – your fundraising goals for the year, you’ll want to hear what Gail told me.

About Gail Perry

Gail Perry, MBA, CFRE, is an international fundraising consultant, speaker and trainer. Her following includes over 10,000 nonprofit readers around the world who follow her popular Fired-Up Fundraising blog.

Gail is also the best-selling author of Fired-Up Fundraising: Turn Board Passion into Action that was touted as the “gold standard guide to building successful fundraising boards.”

Her Fired-Up Fundraising approach, developed over the past 25 years as a non-profit philanthropy expert, has helped organizations raise hundreds of millions in gifts and support. Gail helps nonprofits and NGO’s all over the world fire up their boards, engage their donors and secure major funding for their missions.

She is the founder of Gail Perry Associates, a Raleigh-based consulting and training firm, and is past President of the Triangle Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, which recently awarded her 2011 Outstanding Fundraising Executive of the Year.

In addition, Gail is a frequent guest on nonprofit interview shows, fundraising blogs, and writes frequently for Guidestar, NonProfit PRO (formerly Fundraising Success) and BoardSource.

In this episode

  • Readiness is a moving target. How do you deal with that?
  • What happens if you don’t have the budget for a Development Director?
  • Enthusiasm as ‘the story of being cheerfully aggressive’
  • How your energy and tone of voice can affect your numbers
  • Major political seasons – do they impact fundraising?
  • Tapping into “rage donations”
  • What is the impact of inviting a donor to an event they cannot attend?
  • What makes an appeal letter appealing?
  • The best ways to activate your board members
  • The sharable materials and direction ED’s should provide their boards
  • How to differentiate well-meaning strategies from effective onesContinue Reading

Ep 71: A Smart Nonprofit Budgeting Process (with Hilda Polanco)

nonprofits are messy

Your budgeting process can go one of two ways. It’s either a royal pain, or it’s a living, breathing plan for your leaders to determine and support priorities of your organization.

Sometimes on my podcast we wax philosophical. Today, we’re going to get nuts and bolts practical.

My guest, Hilda Polanco, discusses the elements of a good budgeting process, the difference between a zero-based budget and other types of budgets, and how planning is critical throughout the year – not just when funds are lacking, but even when there is excess.

Reflecting on risks and opportunities, Hilda describes how inclusiveness, clarity of assumptions, and reality checks must be balanced against your wishlist.

She shares tips and advice such as how to handle restricted grants, the roles and responsibilities of the various entities from treasurer, to board, to management, and how to deal with projecting, forecasting and… yes, recalibrating.

About Hilda Polanco

As Founder and CEO, Hilda has led FMA to become the go-to capacity builder foundation and nonprofit leaders seek to address nonprofit financial management issues. A nationally recognized and sought after leader in the field, Hilda serves the sector in many ways. Hilda was a founding member of the selection committee of the New York Nonprofit Excellence Awards, established by the New York Times and the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee. Hilda has served as an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Department of Health Policy and Management and is on the faculty of Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation’s Board Leadership Training Series.

When not speaking publicly or leading FMA’s team, she provides direct capacity building, training and coaching services to foundations and nonprofits throughout the country. Hilda served on the NYC Human Services Council’s special commission to study the closure of high-profile human services organizations. She also serves as Chair of the Board of Directors for the New York Better Business Bureau Foundation, as well as on the Board (as Audit Committee Chair) for Acelero Learning, an organization that works with local communities to support high quality Head Start programs.

Additionally, she serves on the National Advisory Board of the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy and is Treasurer of the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers. In 2016, Hilda was recognized as a Leap of Reason Ambassador for being a nonprofit thought leader and practitioner. Her previous honors include SmartCEO magazine’s New York Brava! award for Top Female CEO, the Social Entrepreneur Award from the National Association of Women Business Owners-New York City, an award from WHEDCO for outstanding leadership in the field of nonprofit finance, and the Latina Excellence Award in Community Service from HISPANIC Magazine.

In this episode

  • How can you call it a plan if it’s constantly changing?
  • Who needs to be involved?
  • What are the best ways to mitigate tension between program and development staff?
  • What is a zero-based budget?
  • What is the board’s role?
  • What type of communication should follow a board-approved budgeting process?
  • Should you break down elements of a program based budget prior to seeking funding?
  • What is a working capital credit line and what’s the criteria around applying for one?
  • Forecast vs. Actual… when do you revise a budget?Continue Reading

Ep 70: Unicorns, Superheroes and Nonprofit Leaders (With Vu Le)

nonprofits are messyIt’s a bird, it’s a plane… no, it’s a nonprofit leader. Today’s guest, Vu Le, writer, speaker, and the Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps says that besides being known as a wildly good looking bunch of people, nonprofit leaders are incredibly creative, smart and talented.

This episode both celebrates nonprofit leaders as the champions they are and offers tips on fueling the fire that mobilizes disparate groups of people to take action.

The work you do matters more than you know and more than anyone will ever tell you.

About Vu Le

Vu Le (“voo lay”) is a writer, speaker, vegan, Pisces, and the Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps, a nonprofit in Seattle that promotes social justice by developing leaders of color, strengthening organizations led by communities of color, and fostering collaboration between diverse communities. Known for his no-BS approach, irreverent sense of humor, and love of unicorns, Vu has been featured in dozens, if not hundreds, of his own blog posts at NonprofitAF.com, formerly nonprofitwithballs.com. Vu does keynotes, panels, and other speaking gigs and can talk about a variety of subjects: funding dynamics, cultural competency, self-care, unicorns, and what Game of Thrones can teach us about the nonprofit field.

Vu Le was the previous Executive Director at Vietnamese Friendship Association and the current Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps, an exceptional organization based in Seattle, Washington focused on cultivating leaders of color and placing them in nonprofit organizations for the last four years and four months, and is also the writer behind Nonprofit With Balls blog in Seattle.

Founder of a private Facebook group (41,000 members) Nonprofit Happy Hour in which he works to bring confidence to a sector dominated by humble, compassionate who are seldom assertive. For executive directors, there’s ED Happy Hour, a monthly meetup in more than a dozen cities including New York, Portland, and Ontario.

Vu Le is a graduate of Washington University in Saint Louis graduating with a B.A. in Psychology and a Masters in Social Work (M.S.W), socio-economic development.

In this episode

  • What to do when social circumstances make your battle tougher?
  • When immediate action is needed, is it important to strategize first anyway?
  • The inherent dangers of intellectualizing and overthinking
  • How to create new spheres of influence
  • Does participation mean something different to millennials?
  • Do we spend too much time preaching to the converted?
  • How to reach across the aisle
  • What happens when an organization is too risk averse? Continue Reading

Ep 69: New Power and the Building of Movements (with Henry Timms)

nonprofits are messyGiving Tuesday, #MeToo, the Ice Bucket Challenge, the out-of-nowhere victories of Obama and Trump…

They all have something important in common – they were movements forged by “New Power”. A deeper understanding of this new power shift gives all of us a better opportunity to build an “army of the engaged” and make a much bigger impact.

What is New Power? You may have heard of a state of flow; you know, being in the zone, focused, energized. You could explain New Power in that way, but not just for the individual, a supercharge for all. But it goes deeper than that.

In this episode, Henry Timms, President and CEO of the 92nd Street YMCA and co-author of New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World talks about old versus new power, describing one as held by a handful while the other as collaborative and participatory.

Timms shares the five critical steps you must take to build a New Power movement, and reveals the skills and attributes the best leaders must have in order to create that dynamic.

Using contemporary phenomenons that foster giving back, our guest describes New Power as a current that flows and surges, moves, is open and accessible for all and can propel us into the 21st century.

About Henry Timms

Henry Timms is President and CEO of 92nd Street Y, a cultural and community center that creates programs and movements that foster learning and civic engagement. Under his leadership, the 144-year-old institution was named to Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Companies” list. He is the co-founder of #GivingTuesday, a global philanthropic movement that engages people in close to 100 countries that has generated hundreds of millions of dollars for good causes. Henry is a Hauser Visiting Leader, Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School and Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. With Jeremy Heimans, Henry co-authored the book New Power: How Power Works In Our Hyperconnected World – and How to Make it Work for You, described by David Brooks in the New York Times as “the best window I’ve seen into this new world”.

In this episode

  • How New Power values different things than Old Power
  • How New Power manifests in large organizations
  • Does New Power diminish the value of expertise and experience?
  • Is the person at the top of an organization still the one in charge?
  • A critical piece of advice for a nonprofit leader in today’s changing world
  • Who are your “connected connectors” and how can they help you spread the word?
  • TED as a perfect example of the transition from Old Power to New Power
  • How to build a New Power crowd
  • How does unionizing relate to the Old Power/New Power structure?Continue Reading

Ep 68: No, You Can’t Do It All

nonprofits are messy“I feel like I’ve taken on the care of every gay person in America.”

That’s how I felt after starting as the new Executive Director at GLAAD. That wasn’t healthy. Way too much to take on my shoulders.

Look, you are a helper, and you work day and night fighting the good fight. But what is falling by the wayside? Your health? Your sanity? Your relationships? Will it take your spouse having an affair for you to realize not only you can’t do it all, but you shouldn’t?

How do you take care of yourself and still be responsible to your organization and the people you serve?

This is a solo podcast. Yup, just me, with three time management ideas, three conceptual remedies, and one place to go for support.

About Joan Garry

Joan Garry is the Principal of Joan Garry Consulting, a boutique nonprofit consulting firm that helps nonprofits across a wide variety of sectors to untangle strategic knots, enabling them to have a clearer path in pursuit of their missions.

Joan began her career as part of the management team that launched MTV. She followed this with a successful eight-year tenure as an executive at Showtime Networks. In 1997, Garry left corporate America and was named the executive director of GLAAD, one of the largest organizations working for LGBT equality.

Since leaving GLAAD, Garry has worked as a consultant for hundreds of nonprofits, teaching them the keys to effective nonprofit leadership with wisdom, joy and humor.  Joan is a regular panelist on NBC’s Emmy Award winning nonprofit reality show, GIVE. Garry is also an instructor at the Annenberg School for Communications at the University of Pennsylvania where she teaches Nonprofit Media Strategy, as well as a sought after speaker on nonprofit leadership.

She blogs regularly at the popular https://www.joangarry.com and hosts one of the top nonprofit podcasts on iTunes: Nonprofits Are Messy.

Her book, Joan Garry’s Guide to Nonprofit Leadership published by John Wiley and Sons was published in March 2017 and was in its second printing after only four months.

Lastly, Joan is the founder of newly launched The Nonprofit Leadership Lab, an online membership site serving the needs of board and staff leaders of small to mid-sized nonprofits.

Joan lives in New Jersey with her wife of 34 years and they have three grown children.

In this episode

  • Why I got myself a therapist shortly after starting as the E.D. of GLAAD
  • What Stephen Sondheim can teach us about being a leader
  • 3 smart ways to manage your calendar
  • The key decisions to make each week
  • The power of “why”
  • What would Kermit do?
  • Make time to laugh
  • Time for piano lessons!Continue Reading