Watch the Interview
Highlights and Key Points from Recent Interviews of The Nonprofit Exchange
Hugh Ballou and Russell Dennis, co-hosts of The Nonprofit Exchange
provide highlights from interviews over the past few months.
Russ and Hugh distill some of the key points and sound bites from these wonderful interviews with people making a difference in nonprofit leadership.
Co-Hosts, Hugh Ballou and Russell Dennis share highlights from the past six months of episodes of The Nonprofit Exchange.
Read the Interview
Hugh Ballou: Greetings, welcome to The Nonprofit Exchange. It’s a great day in Virginia. How is it in Colorado, Russell?
Russell Dennis: It’s a little cloudy and overcast. We had some thunderstorms yesterday. It looks like we may be in for some more rain today. However, the temperature is great. Just came back from a mastermind and met some of my people there. It’s a great day here for sure.
Hugh: Let’s talk a little bit about masterminds. What do you get out of a mastermind group, and why should people have one?
Russell: Masterminds are a great opportunity to leverage genius of other people who are in your group. Not only that, but you uncover your own genius when people ask you questions. You can find yourself going through the same challenges. It becomes clearer when somebody else explains something similar. The other thing is you find people who worked through those and have found new ways to get through them. The beauty of a mastermind is that you get together with like-minded people. The best masterminds have people who may be a little bit ahead of where you are in certain areas. I love being able to leverage group knowledge.
Hugh: We have a saying in the South that none of us is as smart as all of us. I like that. There is great strength in numbers.
Russell, it’s always fun to go back and look. We have had a string of good guests. We haven’t had a chance to do this at our normal frequency. We may or may not catch up with where we left off last time. I suggested we start with our current ones and go backwards.
Russell: I think that’s a great idea for people who have not tuned in before, who may not have tuned in recently. We’ve had an amazing slate of business leaders and nonprofit leaders come in to talk to us about quite a few different things.
Starting back with last week, we had a young man by the name of Jeb Banner, who created an organization called Boardable. He had tips on becoming an exceptional board member and running an exceptional board. He is talking about having tools and using them effectively to communicate with one another.
Hugh: He highlighted all those reasons that a board is important. Many times, people sit on a board of directors and don’t really know what they’re supposed to do. They’re not really sure of the level of responsibility that has been entrusted to them. Exceptional board member.
I was looking at our stats on the podcast. Just about every week, people are downloading them from the podcast supply system, and it tracks them. We also have them on each page. There is a video replay and an audio replay of these.
I didn’t know what to expect with Jeb Banner. This Boardable is a container that keeps track of your minutes, the essential things you have to report on. I would say that that is an essential process, whether you use Boardable or not. It’s essential that board members understand their role and responsibility. I found in my 32 years of doing this very few people do.
Let’s go back to the 45 Minute Breakthrough to Create More Income. What stood out for you on that?
Russell: John Gies is here in Colorado. Really talked about how we can overcomplicate a lot of things. Don’t have the best systems in place to get things done. Creating more income is something that we have to set by intention. It can be done without overcomplicating things in your organization. When it comes to revenue and organization, one of the things he emphasized with nonprofits is to think of revenue as something that’s neutral. Your tax status or the type of organization really doesn’t matter. What’s important is doing things the right way to bring in revenue, to track it and maintain it, and to have a focus on generating income as part of what you’re doing. It’s not all about money, but it’s one of those things that we measure here.
Hugh: It is so true. 45-minute breakthrough. If you listen to this, it’s a little over 45 minutes, but it gives you a good idea of what we’re doing wrong, and how we think about the value that we give people. What is the value? How do we stay in touch with people?
Michelle Fisher was the week before that. That was somebody from Colorado, but it was the Healing Hoof Foundation. She thinks of horses as a co-therapist, which is fascinating to me.
Russell: I just spoke with her this morning. We’re working on an event called Face to Face. It’s bringing people together with therapy horses. Coming outside the box with new therapy. She works with veterans and children. Eliminating trauma is pretty important. She has been doing equine therapy for a long time. She is a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children here in Colorado. With post-traumatic stress, those are the audiences she works with. In bringing organizations together, there are a lot of mental health organizations out there. Her goal is really to bring them all together to the table. Her experience is that we’re more effective as a group. I love what she’s doing. She’s about collaboration, sequencing, scaling, and doing things in a proper order. I love that about her. Doing outreach in the community and looking for synergies. That is the lay of the land for nonprofits now. If we are going to be effective at handling some of the problems, we have got to have community.
Hugh: Absolutely. I think it’s time to point out that sometimes we have people who are subject matter experts who are teaching us something like Boardable or the 45-Minute Breakthrough. But often, we have stories of people who are in the trenches doing important things. It’s their story of how they approach running a nonprofit to implement the vision we have. Russell, there are probably 100 people who have a vision, and three of them actually do something about it. Only a small percentage of those reach success.
Russell: Yeah. It’s an all-hands-on-deck proposition. You have to learn by doing. So many people get out and try to do those things. Some are more successful than others. What I love is the collaborative effort that a lot of people make. They get back up and keep trying. Michelle Fisher is a great example of going out there and collaborating and doing that.
One of the other things about her is not only does she provide that therapy, but she has also a small foundation. She funds other organizations that do that work.
Hugh: Before that, we had John Sebesta. The title of that was Sustainability: Will the Path You’re On Lead You to Where You Want to Go? That was basically his message. It’s being good stewards of resources entrusted to us. Running a nonprofit, we need to understand stewardship because we are stewarding other people’s resources. Those are not really our resources. In your previous work with the IRS, I guess you found that people don’t understand that. They think it’s their money, their resources. Being good stewards, to me, that was a profitable lesson to learn about the duty and delight we have been given. What is your remembrance of that?
Russell: The importance of taking care of the things that you’re given that are entrusted to you is that you are creating value. You are doing that in partnership with people. It’s looking at the whole approach of working together, not looking through a handout to get something done. Sustainability is about keeping the doors open. It’s about keeping the resources in place to get your mission done. That is a lot of what John touched upon with collaboration, with having different types of entities in the community come together to get it done. It’s the management of these resources. That is important as well. This is a very good podcast to watch because we talk about all sorts of things here. Keeping the lights on is just as important as delivering the service. No structure, no program. I would go back and listen to this one; this is a very good one.
Hugh: You said “watch” instead of “listen” in that narrative. We have both for people. Seth Goden said that smartphones are not really smart; they’re fast. Downloading these on your phones and listening to them while you drive is a good way to keep the learning curve. Yes, sir?
Russell: Just to make sure that you don’t miss a beat, there are a couple of other things you can do. You can go to our YouTube channel and subscribe. You can also find the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher. When you subscribe to those two places, you have the option to watch or listen, and you never miss an episode.
Hugh: I will say that Russell and Hugh are pretty good interviewers. People always thank us. We always allow them to share some good secrets. Like Von Nuy said about music, he is the composer/conductor from Great Britain. He said, “Music did not reveal all of its secrets to just one person.” We can say that about leadership, about nonprofits, about most of the topics we deal with.
Marketing Partners. This is a friend, David Dunworth. He has been working on some really great stuff. SynerVision is about to launch a robust marketing program that he’s got. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. He talks about our marketing focus. People that we’re talking to certainly get messages from every other nonprofit in town, and maybe some others. There are a lot of requests for their money. We were focusing on our message and some system that cuts through the clutter. Russell, do you have clutter in your inbox?
Russell: Yes, I have too many inboxes. That’s part of the problem. But there is clutter there. What David is talking about is attraction marketing. We don’t want to become part of the noise that’s out there. We want to be clear on our message. That means we need to get clear about who we serve and what it is we are trying to convey. What exactly is our message? Once we discover what our message is, what is the best channel to deliver it through? I think David is onto something with his new system here.
Hugh: Absolutely. Speaking of messaging, the week before was Ross Halleck. Ross is a talented guy. He owns a winery called Halleck Vineyards. He’s got a pinot noir that won- The San Francisco Chronicle has a wine contest every year. This last year, there were 8,600 wines in it. His pinot noir won the best pinot noir in North America. Not only does he know how to make wine, but he also knows how to build a brand around his wine and his winery. He also gives back to the community through these vintner dinners, kind of like a wine tasting. I think he said that in the last few years, he’s raised $750,000 for various charities through these wine tasting events. Have you ever participated in something like that, Russ?
Russell: I’ve seen some, but I haven’t seen anything that has worked quite on this scale. He is modest in the work he does. He is out in the Bay Area. He got himself connected to a young musician by the name of Josh Groban who I’m sure a lot of our listeners have heard of. Through these events, he actually got into a conversation, and there are a lot of conversations that take place around wine. They actually connected and began to talk, and he has been connected with a few other foundations. The work they are doing is tremendous. A lot of it is around community and building those relationships. He has managed to do that with wine. It’s phenomenal, the work he has done. The thing I like about his work is he is willing to talk to people. He has done this in other parts of the country, even though his winery is in the Bay Area. He is open to having these events in other places and is looking to grow that operation.
Hugh: Another friend of ours, Danna Olivo, has Marketatomy. Her session was the Seven Steps to Building Awesome Customer and Donor Relations. You know what? It’s a process to acquire new donors and to keep them donating and to grow their donations. There are three parts to this. We forget that we need to tell the story of what we’ve done with the money they gave us.
Russell: It’s really important. The seven steps actually spell out SERVICE. S is for Scalable. E is for essential. R is for relatable. V is for valuable. I is for involvement. C is for credible. E is for expected. Her overall message to our audience was that the best path to acquiring and maintaining your donor base and keeping donors is to create an experience for them. They want to have an experience with your organization. That is why they contribute.
Hugh: I wonder if people want to look at something other than you or me on the screen. If people are watching on video, we have a page on TheNonprofitExchange.org. You click on the Archives of previous episodes. We have a list of each one of these. Russell, I have been doing this for five years.
Russell: Yeah, and I made the mistake of showing up two or three weeks in a row. It’s just like being at my church. You hang around long enough, and they find something for you to do. The optimist did that to me, too. Everywhere I show up, I get drafted. It’s a labor of love everywhere I show up.
Hugh: And if you weren’t so gifted, they wouldn’t ask you.
Russell: Must be the curly hair.
Hugh: It’s the curly hair. Developing Relationships for Winning Partnerships. This was Barbara Jaynes. Speak a little bit about Barbara. She was an interesting guest.
Russell: Barbara has worked with both for-profit and nonprofit entities. Her primary goal is to build collaborations. She works with government agencies, with nonprofits, with businesses to create win-win-win propositions to go out there and make a difference and do things here in the community. She has been active in the Boulder area, working with nonprofits of all sizes, and networking with business leaders and other folks. Positively Funded is her organization she established to help connect small businesses and nonprofits with the funds and resources they need. She is doing good work here.
Hugh: That’s really important. Businesses want to support us. We have to give them a reason. Just like our private donors, we need to stay in touch with them. Businesses that are savvy, the triple bottom line businesses that care about the culture and environment as well as their profit want to bring value to their communities they operate in. They realize it’s good for business to support local nonprofits.
AdWords with Hank Robinson. I was just talking to Hank a minute ago. Nonprofits can apply to Google and get a $10,000 grant per month for AdWords directed to your website. That is only a part of the story. You can set it up for free, but making it work is the real challenge. What happens is we want people to do something. We want them to bring us revenue, bring us participants, bring us volunteers. There is a positive result. We tend to think about how much traffic. We talk about hits. The acronym I learned is How Idiots Track Success. We don’t care how many people come to the website. We care how many people do something. They come to our events, they subscribe to our services, they donate money. It’s really about the conversion. That’s hard work. Most of us don’t have a clue. Our friend Hank Robinson from down in St. Pete, Florida works with business owners, but he really has a heart for helping nonprofits. What do you remember about that session?
Russell: The grants are given out of Google’s primary revenue source: AdWords. People want to be found. Google is the 800-pound gorilla on the block. People invest a lot of money to get to the people they want to get to, to get to the right people. This can either turn into a black hole for money, or it can be a very effective tool when it’s directed the right way. The only way for this platform to be effective is to manage it well because while it will give you up to $10,000 of AdWords for your nonprofit, that can create a lot of reach. There are some restrictions around how you use it. You need the right expertise in-house. If you don’t use that $10,000, they will suspend it until you start generating that traffic again. It’s a platform that can really help you. That is one of the things that Hank does at Sunray Marketing: managing those accounts. $10,000 worth of Google advertising, if you don’t think that’s huge, try talking to some of your corporate friends and find out what they are spending for AdWords. You will quickly see how valuable it is. Getting some resources into having someone manage that, and it does need to be managed, is really important because you want to create that visibility.
Like Hugh is talking about, it’s one thing to have a lot of people show up on the website. That’s all well and good. But what do people do after you get them to your site? What is it that you want them to know, feel, and do? You probably want them to write a check or volunteer or learn more about the organization. The word he had for that was “conversions,” people taking an action you intend for them to take through your marketing and outreach. It’s all in the conversions, not how many people show up. 5,000 could show up, but if none of them take action, then nothing happens. If 50 show up, and five or ten of those 50 do something, then you have a high conversion rate. This is the key to getting people to do those things you want them to do.
Hugh: We go to How Fundraising Really Works: How to Secure the Best Talent. Jason Lewis. He is a fundraising professional, right?
Russell: He is. He is a certified fundraising executive. The work he does is actually working with, mentoring, coaching certified fundraising executives and helping them look at ways to be more effective at their craft. This is a fairly new designation in terms of professional licensure. Raising money is something everyone has to be better at. He wrote a book on that. I need to review his book, but I can find that and give you the name of it here.
Hugh: That’s a hat you used to wear in your former career. You know something about that. You learn it, and it changes. You have to keep up-to-date with it.
Russell: It does change. There are revenue streams that a nonprofit can have. My particular wheelhouse was grants. You often find yourself working with donors, mission-based revenue. There is all sorts of planned giving, which is long-term. That is born out of building relationships.
This book that Jason wrote, we’ll be talking about that book and some other books that some of our guests have written. We will get those on our resource list. It’s all about getting you the education and tools that will help you get to where you want to go. We have that. SynerVision will be your one-stop source for all of these materials.
Hugh: Yes, sir. Before that, we had a panel. The panel were people in my former profession: church music. These were associations. The Association of Lutheran Musicians, the Fellowship of United Methodist and Worship Arts, and the Presbyterian Association of Musicians. These are three of the larger musician associations and three of the most active. At least two of the three, maybe all three, are having monthly workshops or conferences. This summer, they are all very active in original and national conferences. You might know my wife is coming on as president of the Methodist association. She is a month away from taking that position.
There are unique challenges for leaders who run associations. In this day and time, a lot of folks are not joining associations because they think they can get everything online. There is power in coming together with people like you, people who have common values and principles and goals and challenges. What do you know about associations? That was an intense and good session.
Russell: One of the things, and I know there are some church leaders who watch here. Music is very important to the worship in a lot of places. This cuts across denominations. A lot of people, I’ll give you an example. In my church, one that I grew up with as a youngster, almost half of the people that came stayed because they liked the music. The music really drove them spiritually and touched them in a way they were able to connect with the rest of the community.
Associations are a place where you have a clearing house for information, for best practices. What are we doing? What are we going through? What are some of the things that are working for us? A lot of associations put learning materials together for their members. They help promote their members. They help put together promotional and educational events. We talked about the importance of the mastermind. It’s a place where you get like-minded people who are doing the same work to come together and learn from one another and collaborate with one another. It’s a challenge because you are trying to draw members. We have all sorts of nonprofits, but there are quirks with a membership organization that are different from others’ experiences. There are types of membership organizations. They don’t all fall under the charity designation. A good example of that is Rotarians. There is a lot there. Trying to bring all that knowledge and wisdom to the table is not easy. The alternative is to go it alone. I found that most associations- I haven’t come across one that isn’t helpful.
Hugh: Ditto. It brings to mind that we have our own association in the SynerVision Leadership Foundation called the Online Community for Community Builders. It’s only $47 a month at our top level. We have $10 level and a free level. At the top level, you have access to all of our archives. We have a live mastermind every Thursday at 3. It’s a chance for people to talk to the founder and president of SynerVision about what questions they have and talk to people around the globe. We are adding new content available to people every month. We are getting ready to add another level of content. If people go to TheNonprofitExchange.org, it takes you to that site. At the top, there is a blue button that says “Join Today.” If you join today, you get my free program for a limited time called “The Five Pillars of Success.”
We have people that are business leaders as well as nonprofit leaders. Business leaders, if you’re not, ought to be serving on a nonprofit board. There are specific things to nonprofits that are more difficult than business leadership. That’s an invitation for listeners to come join the community and take advantage of the resources we have.
Before that, Marc Probst is an intern with the Lynchburg Business Alliance. It was a merger of the chamber of commerce and something else that became the business alliance. Russell, a lot of places I have lived, the chamber of commerce was a place that wanted your money and sold you things, and you paid to go to events. This business alliance creates high value for its members, whether they are nonprofits or businesses. Marc is an intern there. He is a graduate student at the University of Lynchburg and an activist. He taught us about using interns. We think we just get an intern in and say, “Do this.” An intern can teach us stuff. They are there to learn as well. It’s a two-way street. I don’t think many people know how to get value out of an intern. What did you learn from that?
Russell: For me, I believe that any transaction has to be win-win. Interns are a part of what we would call in-kind or pro bono assistance that you can get. You can provide valuable experience for an intern to go in and do a project, build something that is in line with his/her studies, and they can bring a lot of value. This young man was very instrumental in bringing the chamber and nonprofits together. I think more chambers of commerce, at least here in the Denver metro area, we are starting to see more charitable activity and more of a meld of businesses and nonprofits working together. We have had a small Shark Tank-type event that one of our chambers here has put on at the botanic gardens. There has been three years of a pitch competition, where people get to showcase their nonprofit. They get prize money. The charitable work that has been going on is starting to expand here locally in Denver, where charities are concerned. It’s really important to have that type of a merger to bring businesses and charities together. Interns are an integral part of that.
The other thing is having the next generation of nonprofit leaders. What better way to groom them than to have them come in and have actual live work experiences and get connected with these things that matter to them than to serve as an intern? These younger generations, both millennials and Gen Z, want to do work that matters. That is one thing I have discovered. They want to see real, measurable impact. I think their involvement as young professionals and students is going to get us going a long way. We need to engage them. They have a lot to teach us. I am a fan of the idea of reverse mentoring.
Hugh: Ooh, I like that. We go to the week before with Annette-
Russell: Annette Shtivelband. It’s tough to pronounce. Annette is a data scientist. It’s amazing to me. You look at her picture, and she looks like she’s 12. She’s absolutely brilliant and has been successful at helping nonprofits of all sizes here in the Denver metro area create the type of measurements for impact that matters on both the quantitative and qualitative level. Making sure that you keep track of everything you do and do it successfully. She helps nonprofits do that.
Hugh: She’s very understated. She’s quiet. But when she starts to talk, you listen because she really knows her stuff.
Also knowing her stuff is Julie Cottineau. She worked with Richard Branson as a branding expert. I had her on my business podcast as a guest, and I invited her to come back a couple years later. She talked on this podcast because I bet you most nonprofits haven’t even thought about their brand. But she highlighted the top three branding mistakes your nonprofit needs to stop making now. Her methodology is about a twist, called the brand twist. She has a book out called Twist. She sent me a copy of the book. I think the word “twist” is on every single page of that book. The way she found me, the conductor teaches leadership, is because of my brand. She thought it stood out and wanted to have a chat with me. It’s about putting a twist to your brand. I think people need to listen to that to find out more about what those three branding mistakes are. That was a really powerful session. We have had a number of branding people. I would go back to my quote: you don’t learn everything from just one person. What do you remember from this really good podcast?
Russell: There are a lot of important subjects. Part of the problem that a lot of organizations have is they don’t distinguish themselves.
They have this me-too message. What happens is you get lost in the noise. She wants to help organizations, whether they are nonprofit or for-profit, break away from that. You have to take every opportunity to put your brand out there. Some organizations don’t do enough. Your brand is what is the promise. What is the promise that comes from working with your nonprofit? What is that ulatime impact people get? If you’re not clear on that, then your message gets lost. You have to have brand ambassadors. You have to have people out there singing your song. It’s important for everybody in your organization to be singing off the same sheet of music. You as a conductor can appreciate that because if everybody is picking their own key, it won’t sound very good.
Hugh: We make a mistake often thinking that our logo is our brand, and it’s not.
Russell: There is a lot more to a brand than a logo. A logo doesn’t tell the full story. The brand is everything about you. To go back to what Danna was talking about, it’s creating an experience. How do people view you? That goes into building a brand. Creating that experience. Everything you do. It’s how you approach things. It’s your DNA as an organization. Who are we? What are we about?
Hugh: Before that, Pip Patten from Orlando. He has a search intelligence company. He talks about how websites aren’t dead. We sometimes think websites are dead, but websites are your credibility. It’s not a placeholder; it’s a place of engagement. We designed the SynerVision website as a web experience, not just a website. He talks specifically about why every nonprofit and business should have a sales funnel. We don’t think about selling what we have. We shy away from that. Then we moan and whine. We talked about wine tasting; this is whine tasting. We whine about not having money, but we aren’t willing to put in some business principles. What do you think of that, Mr. Funding Specialist?
Russell: What he is talking about is critical. A sales funnel. There were probably people who were choking on their coffee that day or gasping. A sales funnel for a nonprofit? Yes. What happens with nonprofits is they are no different from any other entity. You start building relationships, but at a smaller level. You get some awareness. Maybe somebody donates $5-$25 to your cause. Over time, you want to grow that relationship. How do you do that? You lead people through a sales funnel. You lead them through a funnel. You increase that level of engagement. You want to grow what it is you do, through grants, donations, or mission-driven revenue. That comes by building relationships and increasing the level of engagement, building the trust over time. This is what Pip talks about when he says to create a sales funnel. You take people through the same process, even though you have a social mission. You still take them through the same process to grow the engagement and increase your resource base.
Hugh: The previous week was Steve Merager. He is a financial services professional. He believes that true clarity for a business leader happens when the company’s books tell the same story in numbers. We don’t want to show our numbers or talk about them. There is a greater profit in peace of mind are available. We poo-poo profitability, but the word “nonprofit” is not a fair description of what we do. He gave us some tools to think about having a proper CFO to help us think about the financial accountability and the generation of income so we can fully achieve our mission.
Russell: It’s all about being able to tell a story using the numbers. That is where the rubber meets the road. If you can marry the actual dollars to what it is you’re doing. You have to be able to keep score. By being able to keep score and tell a story and show where those dollars are going, you are in a sweet spot. It’s important to keep an eye on the ball. Boards have a fiduciary responsibility. You are responsible for all of the resources at your disposal. You have to have an acquaintance, a comfort level, people who do know these numbers, and who can create systems that help you keep track and maximize so you can explain where your dollars are going. It’s critical to have all of that. You can have it all. You can keep your story in front of people in an engaging way and show them where those funds are going. Having that expertise in-house is critical.
Hugh: Another one you brought to the table is Bud Michael. He has a book called Favorite One-Liners for Business. 2010. We have a lot of people who have intellectual property. It’s starting and scaling companies. In business, we want to be able to have somebody acquire it. That is where you make big money. Nonprofits can’t do that, but it’s creating a legacy, so it’s sustainable in the future after we’re gone.
Russell: Scaling it is important. You want to grow this mission. That is what Bud has done over this 40-year career. He scaled organizations. A lot of times, we think about the day-to-day. You have an organization that goes in, and it’s not about- We talked about sustainability, just being able to keep the lights on. Talking about growing our impact is as important. If we have the right tools and systems in place, we can do that. Setting up an organization in an entrepreneurial growth, if you set the systems up, to facilitate growth when you are building a nonprofit, it is possible to do that. Getting people thinking in that mode is critical.
Hugh: Before that, How to Produce Successful Fundraising Events. Laurien Towers. I believe that was another connection from you.
Russell: Yeah, Laurien has done a lot of work in the Los Angeles area. She has actually returned to Palm Springs, California, and has an event that she is working on with a great line-up of speakers. She was actually on the team that produced LiveAID back in 1985. She has been here. She has done events of all sizes, even huge ones. The place that she says a lot of organizations really trip up is poor planning. That is born mainly out of not giving yourself enough time based on the scale and magnitude of the event you are bringing to the forefront. She talked with us about that and talked about some tools she has that people can reach out to her to acquire and talk with her about how to go about doing that.
Hugh: Absolutely. We are going to make it to the beginning of 2019. We are recording this halfway through 2019. We will go about six months. That is about all we can handle in an hour. Innovative Approaches to Finding Solutions to Poverty and Homelessness. Was this another great connection from Russell Dennis?
Russell: This is young Mary Putman from the Reciprocity Collective. She is an entrepreneur and business owner here in Denver who was running a business. She was trying to find people to hire. She noticed a lot of homelessness. Of course, you know what happens. You end up volunteering on the board. The next thing you know, you’re swimming in it. That’s Mary’s experience. She ran into some compartmentalization as far as trying to serve homeless people and wanting to connect them with jobs, but found out there are a lot of other issues that hinder moving a person from homelessness into a stable environment. Employment is not the only one. There was difficulty marrying people with services. That is what the Reciprocity Collective was designed to do: help them find meaningful work, but to be able to get other organizations to partner with to make sure that you have a whole purse of solutions so that they can become employable so that we can remove other barriers to being in the homeless situation.
Hugh: That’s a big deal. We have Lauren Cohen. The Scale-Up Check-Up. She has a system. She is an attorney. She is also a bestselling author. We have a lot of really good authors, don’t we?
Russell: Yes. I am looking forward to putting that resource up. We are working on that. Resources you can get from our guests. We bring in authors and speakers, but these are tools you can get after the podcast in addition to the podcast. With each episode, we have links to these resources that our guests bring to the table and ways to contact them and look at their site. She is another who talks about scaling your nonprofit. What are some things you can do to grow it? She has a great set of tools that she offered to help you do that.
Hugh: We had an archive recording we played as we were traveling in January. Dawn Gluskin is a professional storyteller. She teaches people how to write their story. Russell, we tell people way too much that we think is interesting, but we don’t create a story that grabs their attention. What Dawn gave us was valuable content in that.
Russell: I took one of her quotes and put it on my Instagram page. Own your story, or it will own you. The most interesting piece of this was how she talked about using stories not just to highlight your work, but what stories do is make us relatable to other people. That is how we connect. An effective story creates that connection where we relate to one another. That is how we reach one another. That is her wheelhouse. She wants to help you do that in a way that is effective. That was a really good podcast. You want to tune into that. Find out what you can do to improve your storytelling. What are some of the steps to building a good story?
Hugh: That is key. We want to raise money, but we can’t tell people why it’s important. We can’t describe the impact of the work the previous dollars provided. We have a lot of case studies we could create stories out of, which would impact our future to be able to do more because we can bring in more dollars by articulating the value that we provided.
The very beginning of this year, we had Ellie Shoja talk about meditation. I don’t know about you, but my brain gets full. Too much stimulation, too much anxiety. It’s a chore. The meditation helps clear my mind. It doesn’t happen instantly. She gave us a process to think about how to let your mind be idle. It’s amazing what happens when you clear your mind. Is yours crowded like mine?
Russell: Mine is like the 405 or the 128 in Massachusetts. I start my day off with meditation. It’s important for me to get centered and take a few minutes out of the day to be quiet and still. This is a part of what she talks about as a way for leaders to take care of themselves. If we are not at our best, we can’t serve at our best. This way of keeping ourselves calm, of calming ourselves, or being centered or present in the moment, especially when it’s something everybody in the organization can take advantage of, really helps to keep the energy flow high so that you’re effective at helping others. She has some great tools.
It’s good to think about slowing down and unplugging. I’m attached to my gadgets. I have gadgets everywhere. I have to be careful to unplug from them from time to time. I inadvertently left on Saturday morning to go do a food bank delivery and left the phone. Part of me wanted to go back up the stairs and get it, but I left it. It’s been the last 12 or 14 years of carrying a phone. I didn’t carry a phone. I had a pager when I was on call in the service. I didn’t have something that was there. We can feel like we walked outside without our shoes on sometimes if we don’t have our gadgets in tow. Being able to unplug and reconnect with ourselves and be quiet and still is something that is very important because we are overstimulated in our current times with gadgets and 24/7 news. Just to be able to unplug and breathe is good.
Hugh: I remember we added emails, cell phones, texting. We don’t take anything away.
Russell: *Sponsor message from Wordsprint*
Hugh: Russell, thank you for this trip down memory lane. I can imagine people driving down the road in their car listening to this. You can’t see it, but go to TheNonprofitExchange.org and check out any of these podcasts. Go to Stitcher or iTunes as well. Join us live on Tuesdays at 2. Watch us on Facebook. Thank you for being here. Russell, thank you for being the co-host all these years.
Russell: It’s always a pleasure. Lots of fun. Thank you to our audience. Until next time, be blessed and keep making the difference you make.