Ep 180: Tackling Internal Conflict – Strategies for Nonprofit Organizations (with Aarati Kasturirangan)

by Joan Garry

When fierce advocates clash, who you gonna call? Nonprofit internal conflict busters! Tune in to learn how Aarati Kasturirangan, Senior Partner and Managing Director of Dragonfly Partners, navigates this important work.


Subscribe on Apple Podcasts
Subscribe on Android
Subscribe on Google Podcasts
Subscribe on Spotify

What happens when the values you espouse for the world or for your clients don’t show up at the office? Many advocates take their anger out on each other. Today, we’re going to talk about internal conflict within nonprofit organizations and why it seems to be hard-wired into the DNA of the nonprofit sector’s strongest champions… 

If you’ve ever been part of a nonprofit team, then you know that we’re a passionate bunch. We’re fierce, gritty, persistent, and feisty – attributes that make us great advocates for the causes we care about. 

But sometimes, these same attributes can make us challenging colleagues to work with…

I remember my days working with an LGBTQ organization back in the late 90s. Whenever I’d do media appearances, I would face blatant homophobia and receive TONS of hate mail. I even remember one media personality telling me that if they could, they would work to have my children taken from me.  

Sometimes these experiences would leave me in tears and other times, they left me infuriated. 

That anger fueled my advocacy work, but it would also spill over into my day-to-day life as a member of the staff at the organization, leading to internal conflict and challenging workplace dynamics. I’m sure many of you reading this can relate in your own way. 

Today we’ll talk about what that looks like, and what folks like my guest, ​​Aarati Kasturirangan, and her team do about it.

Aarati has spent over 22 years working with diverse changemakers from all walks of life to transform internal cultures and structures, and build effective, values-aligned strategies for change. 

In this episode, we talk about the most effective ways for nonprofit organizations to navigate the internal conflict that can arise in the midst of the fierce advocacy that drives our work, and how we can all work together to create healthier, more supportive environments for everyone working in the nonprofit sector.

Tune in to learn:

  • How do internal conflicts arise from the inside/outside values of nonprofit organizations? (6:10)
  • What are some common reasons for problematic work cultures and internal conflict in nonprofit organizations, and how do leaders contribute to this? (10:27)
  • How do you know if your nonprofit organization has a workplace culture problem? What signs should you look for? (14:44)
  • What role does DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) play in addressing internal conflict within nonprofit organizations? (17:16)
  • What is the most effective way for nonprofit leaders to address internal conflict and communicate with advocates without triggering defensiveness? (20:46)
  • How do you keep advocates engaged and motivated within a diverse team of doers and thinkers? (23:56)
  • What essential soft skills should nonprofit leaders develop to better manage internal conflict and create a positive work culture? (39:51)


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

About Aarati Kasturirangan

Aarati Kasturirangan is the Senior Partner and Managing Director at Dragonfly Partners. She does strategic planning, values alignment and organizational development for changemakers and supports organizations through transition and change. 

Connect with Aarati Kasturirangan