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

Episode Links:

Joan Garry
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Joan Garry

Widely known as the "Dear Abby" of nonprofit leadership, Joan works with board and staff as a strategic advisor, crisis manager, change agent and strategic planner. Joan also teaches at the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on nonprofit communications and leadership.
Joan Garry
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  • Monica Richardson

    Joan, this Podcast seriously spoke to me. Thank you for interviewing Sarah. My role in my organization is so similar to Sarah’s and I was really inspired to keep going and keep working to get my organization where it needs to go. THANK YOU!

    • Sarah Audet

      Hi Monica! Sarah Audet, here. I am so glad that you found our conversation to be useful to the work that you do. What organization are you with? I’d love to check out your group.

      • Monica Richardson

        Hi Sarah! I founded Triangle Area Parenting Support in Raleigh, NC (www.tapsnc.org) about 18 months ago. I work part time, don’t get paid (yet), and am sometimes overwhelmed by the number of hats that I have to wear in a day! It’s so helpful to know that other directors are doing it (and doing it well) without a staff to help.