Watch the Interview
Highlights and Key Points from Recent Interviews
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.
Read the Interview
Hugh Ballou: Welcome to The Nonprofit Exchange. This is Hugh Ballou and Russell David Dennis. How are you today, Russ?
Russell: Greetings. Great day out here in Denver, Colorado. It’s been a remarkable year for The Nonprofit Exchange. We still got a little more than a full quarter to go as we are bringing you great content here, folks.
Hugh: We do. Of course, it’s timely so we don’t mention dates. If we did mention dates, it would be September. This is the year 2018. The stuff that I find over and over, Russell, that the content our guests share with us is really timeless. It’s information we can use all the time. Hanging on to these is something I’d recommend. What about you?
Russell: I would say go to the iTunes Store and subscribe if you haven’t done so yet. You can find us there and on a number of other platforms as well. This is information you can take with you on the go, on your mobile device, you can listen to it in the car. The principles we talk about are timeless, as Hugh said, and they cover all sorts of areas of excellence, not just for nonprofits, but for profit-making businesses, too. We feature thought leaders in their industry here every week at 2pm EST to give you the information you need to continue to do the work that you do, do it effectively, do it efficiently, and have new things to think about and consider and share with your teams.
Hugh: We occasionally two or three times a year set aside one of these sessions to go back and review the highlights of the past sessions, the things that stood out to us. Russell and I of course sometimes note different things and sometimes the same things. It’s really helpful to have your perspective, Russell. Let’s dig in to point out the highlights. Like Russell said, subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher, and you can go back and listen to these. I play podcasts on trips, and it gives me something to focus on and stay awake, but it also creates a new thinking brain for me. I think possibilities. I find it very helpful to have a podcast playing when I am trying to navigate traffic or an interstate where there are cars keeping me from going where I want to go. It’s good to have that inspiration. We are going to go backwards from today.
The first one we are going to talk about is Wendy Adams, who I have known for almost a year since I moved to Lynchburg. The one thing I said, “You should be a guest on the podcast.” She said sure, so the next week, I brought her in the schedule. We try to schedule ahead, but occasionally we have some openings, so she was able to get in there. I just kept dropping my jaw. Russell, you had a conflict that day and couldn’t be here.
Wendy is the chief relationship officer of this nonprofit that is about five blocks from my house. I never knew that. We met at what would be normally called the chamber of commerce; it’s the Lynchburg Business Alliance. It’s like a chamber of commerce on steroids; it’s a good business organization. We were networking and got to talking. She is the development person, but they have named it relationship officer because we have to have relationships to get people to support us, either showing up as board members, donors, or sponsors. It’s an international organization based down the street from me. There are interesting things here in Lynchburg. There is national headquarters for several entities. I found out the other day that J. Crew has a major shipping office here that ships to the whole country.
Anyway, this interview with her had a number of very good sound bites. Very substantial pieces of wisdom. Her wisdom vastly exceeds her young age. She knows how to engage the board. We find a lot of boards that want to help with fundraising, but they don’t know how. Her engagement with the board and her conversations and her tutoring, she trains the board and helps them do what they want to do but don’t know how to do. I highlighted a number of things in that interview.
Russell, when you go back and take a peek at it, the transcript is on the site and posted into the podcast, so when you download it, you can look at the interview. She gave substantial advice about how to create a paradigm that your supporters want to give to. She builds teams. She doesn’t, the organization builds sports teams. It’s a Christian ministry. They build sports teams, and they build relationships so they can have those meaningful conversation with people. It was like she scripted the interview. She had so much on the ball. It’s Stepping On and Off the Field of Hope and Transformation. Transformation is the story of that podcast.
Russell, when you get a chance to go back and listen, I bet you’ll find that being the funding resource consultant that you are, a lot of value in that podcast.
Russell: 30 years they have been at it now. It’s remarkable. There are a number of things that struck out at me. She talked about how she is immersed in what she does. To her, work is not a four-letter word. She loves that. Being there and building relationships with others is really important. They use the language of sports that they use to connect with in storytelling. She brings people into the story so that it becomes theirs. That starts with good listening. What she talks about is building relationships. That is at the root of all of our work. She does that intentionally. She talks about intentional listening to build relationships and to make connections with everybody throughout the organization and in the organization. One of the things she talked about was working on herself. She talked about that being almost more important than the work. Working on yourself so that you can be effective at taking care of others and bringing them into the fold. That’s building a community. I don’t know how many organizations think of themselves as community-builders, but we operate in the same community. When talking to one another, it’s critical to look at each other’s community members, and that builds collaboration. Very brilliant young lady. I don’t know how she got so brilliant so quickly.
Hugh: I don’t know either, but I knew she was on the ball. I didn’t know she had that much depth to her. Being older, I think we have to be older to have that much wisdom. But I have been wrong.
Russell: Some work faster than others, I think. She works a little faster. It’s all good though because she’s out there, making a difference in the community, and continuing to build relationships.
Hugh: In reframing her title to be the chief relationship officer, there is a lot of depth. You picked up on some different highlights.
In the week before, we interviewed Jim Dygert. I have known him for a number of years, seven, eight, nine years. I never knew he had a stint with the U.S. Treasury Department and understood the banking system. I know he has been in some large organizations doing some analytical work. But what he talked about was having an alternative to a balance scorecard. We specifically works with corporations. We specifically talked about how for nonprofit organizations you have the right kind of data so that you can make effective decisions. I misjudged him from the start. I thought it was financial analysis to make financial decisions. That’s only part of it. He brought a new perspective to how we create the window to find the real facts so we can make fact-based decisions and not just go with the Kentucky windage.
Russell: It’s a combination. The work that for-purpose entities does, there is a meeting between compassion and compliance that we all have to make. A piece of that is understanding how well we’re doing, how effective and efficient we are. Getting tools to measure what we’re doing, this is what he is talking about at a very high level. He is doing that with larger companies. We have to be able to tell that story. We have to have that data. Data is a way of life. It’s important to have it and to measure the most important things for each organization. It varies a little bit. You have to have a conversation about what you’re doing with Jim to figure out which things are most important to measure. It goes to not just finances, but to performance.
Hugh: And then the week before that, it was very specific for church leaders. As you might imagine, that is something I know a lot about, having served a church for 40 years. Russ, I started when I was extremely young. You know that.
Russell: I know that, but sometimes you forget.
Hugh: I found that I resonated with Jim Chandler. He is a consultant, an ordained Methodist pastor, but he works with other pastors. He helps them think through their systems, but he does it from a very strong Christian spiritual viewpoint. We dealt with a number of different topics, like leader burnout, like overfunctioning leaders. Clergy or even higher on the burnout scale than nonprofit leaders at large. Part of it is they don’t have an outside perspective to get out of the trenches. We learned something, we repeat what we have learned, we see a model, we have inherited a model. It’s particularly difficult for mainline church pastors to think in a different way because they are so deeply embedded into a system that really doesn’t work. I found that the tools and systems that he talked about were yet again very practical. He encourages, and I know because he is working with a group of churches in Lynchburg, he lives up in Charlottesville, Virginia, but the buzz on him is he’s got them thinking in a very different perspective. What are the points that stood out for you, sir?
Russell: The challenge that he sees is when it comes to pastors, they are overloaded, as it were by the very nature of their position because not only are they expected to provide a spiritual and moral leadership to the congregation, they are expected to be an effective chief executive officer, chief operating officer as well. They have all of these roles rolled up into one that they are responsible for. That makes it difficult for them to pass things on. The business of running a church may be something that’s not just in their wheelhouse, yet they are responsible for it. It makes it difficult for some of them to delegate things. Having effective team members around you is a lot of what we discussed. That’s how we build better churches. We bring level five leaders into the fold so that they can help build that ministry and spread that message. He’s got a lot of really great tools. If you want to listen to that podcast, go back if you are a church leader. We talked about a lot of things. He has a lot of great tools that you can access.
Hugh: I think, even though it’s specifically for the Christian church, there are lessons that rabbis and board chairs for synagogues can learn. The standard community cause-based charity is people rallied around a particular philosophy in the culture of volunteerism. I think the principles are pretty much the same. What do you think?
Russell: They are. They are very much the same. The lessons around building that team and being able to delegate are huge clues that everyone who is in that type of organization, you can glean a lot from that. Trying to be everything and having everything thrust upon you is too much for any leader no matter where they are. It’s being able to build good leaders around you that will help you be more effective. The better the people around you are, the better you look as a leader.
Hugh: That’s right. I remember your statement: When you are the smartest person on your team-
Russell: When I am the smartest guy in the room, I run and look for another room.
Hugh: Before that, there was Ruke. Daniel Ruke, who goes by Ruke. I have known him so long that I call him Daniel, but most people call him Ruke. Ruke has worked for Disney and other bigger companies. He has his own consulting enterprise around marketing, but it’s about branding a website, and it’s fully integrated. Therefore, he thinks about the brand image, not only the- A lot of times, people think their logo is their brand. No, that’s the symbol for your brand. The brand is the identity that ought to be consistent throughout everything you do: your culture, your website, your business cards, your verbiage. This should be consistent with your brand representation, your brand promise, your brand identity, your brand image.
You did this because I was on a flight to San Diego that day, so I kicked it off. I’m looking at the transcript here. I know Ruke has tons of great ideas. When I am at a convention or conference that he’s teaching at, the room is always full and energized. Why don’t you highlight a few of the things? You were the solo interviewer there like I was with Wendy. I’m sure you extracted some good stuff from his brain.
Russell: We talked branding, creating that image in the minds of others about what it is that you do, and letting people know what you do. He talked about being vocal. You almost have to be shameless in what it is that you do, in talking to people. He talked about dominating your market with branding. Branding is letting people know not just who you are, but what you do and getting out there and using tools to get out there and become visible. One of his favorite tools is Facebook. He has done some remarkable material to help you get out and find out who it is that you are relating with, how to connect with them, what moves them, how to learn about who they are, and to make your nonprofit visible. That was a great deal of what we talked about. It’s all about who you are, who the people around you are, and getting out there and letting them know what you do. If you tuned into that podcast, there are some great resources that he has that you can plug in to to help put together a social media strategy. It’s important to be visible, and you have to be where your audiences are. We have sponsors like Bill Gilmer who do that to make sure that we are visible to people we work with so that we reach everybody on the channel that they like and to be visible there and just to dominate that brand. But be clear about who we are with a consistent message.
Hugh: Absolutely. We get ideas, and we go out and do a big push about who we are, and then we forget about it. The last word I heard you say was consistency, which is a big secret I took away. As I said earlier in this interview, if you go to the website, you can find us at thenonprofitexchange.org, and it takes you to the SynerVision Leadership page for what is coming up next and what was last week. It’s a holding page. You can click at the bottom and see the Archives. Right now, we have a number of archives, and they will be protected for people who join our online community for community builders. Russell, we just launched it. This is like having the value of Facebook, but it’s very specific for others like you who are serious about building their teams, building revenue for their for-purpose (as you were careful to say) organization, and managing ourselves so that we are not getting into this burnout mode. When you go there, you will find under each interview there is the transcript. I skim it a lot when I read new articles. Looking at some of the sound bites and the pieces that have been talked about in the interview, you can print it out, highlight it, and save it in their leadership notebook. I encourage people to have a place to store things. If you have a tool like Evernote, you can clip it and put it in your Evernote notebook for interviews. We have put them there for people to get value. You will be able to access- When I go to my PBS app on my Apple TV, I can view PBS shows that were just recent and after that I have to be a subscriber to be able to watch those episodes. That is the model we are using with The Nonprofit Exchange. We have four years’ worth of interviews, Russ. They go back to some really great interviews throughout. On those pages, you have every word of the interview. We typically have a link to the website for the person we are interviewing. Some of these people offer services to nonprofit leaders. Others are instrumental in running a charity. These are people who have a proven track record, been there, done it, and can talk about it. I encourage you to look at them.
The week before that was an archive reporting we had done months before that, which coincidentally was with Juliet Clark, who is a book publishing expert. Since that first interview, she has joined forces with Ruke, who we just talked about, as the marketing expert on his team. She talks about assessments, really finding out what people think, what they want before we go and market to them. Building a trusted relationship with people. She does it through social media as well, but she does it through several other means. We had David Dunworth chime in and ask some questions on that one. He is one of our previous guests. She talks about building community like we are beginning to do with the SynerVision Leadership Community for Community Builders. I found that to be another interview- I listen with ears saying what I need to learn. Every week, there is a lot of stuff I need to learn. These are great, fun interviews, but they are also helpful. What stood out to you with Juliet?
Russell: What she talks about is keeping the pulse on people, asking questions. Last week’s interview, we talked about building relationships. It’s asking questions, talking to people to find out what matters to them. This is how we enhance that connection. An assessment is a wonderful tool. I actually had a call with her a few weeks ago. She has some phenomenal tools for any organization to use to build a relationship. Her contact information, her website, is in the transcript. Connecting with her, she has a Facebook page, too. Building platforms. That is what Juliet does. That is what Daniel does. They talk about getting your message out there to the people that matter. It’s not just a one-way conversation; you want to engage with folks and talk to them. If you aren’t working actively to create a brand, people will decide what your brand is for you. It’s staying connected, talking with them. Juliet is a master at what she does. She helps writers, she helps organizations. Give that a listen.
The best way to keep up with what we have is to subscribe. It’s not just available at the iTunes Store. Stitcher is another place where this podcast is available. But you definitely want to check out the new SynerVision Leadership website. We have loads of cool tools for you to get in there and have a look at and enjoy because that is where we bring you the value that you get here in our podcast. We have other tools and ways to connect with people. You can build a library. Once you’re subscribed, you get notified every time a new podcast comes in. You have them all there. You have access to the whole library. As Hugh said, we have four years of broadcasts. We have lots of value and thought leaders. We want to hear from you. There is a comments section in there. We want to hear what you found was most valuable, what you love about this. You can do that in Facebook comments. If there are people who you have heard that you really love and want to have them back, we want to know that, too because this show is to bring you value. Let us know what it is that you want to hear more about, what you want to learn more about, who you want to see come back. We are here to accommodate.
Hugh: Absolutely. Juliet lives in Salt Lake City, and Ruke lives in Orlando. The one before that was Barry Auchettl. We interviewed him at a different time because our normal time at 2pm on Tuesdays was 4am in Australia. I have known Barry for at least 10 years. I have seen the conversations game. It’s an amazing tool. If people who are fighting each other end up asking each other for their phone number and talking like they are friends because it opens up a whole new way of relating. It’s a board game called Communications. He did a sample demo on the interview. I would encourage people to watch it. It’s remarkable what he has created. He has done a number of remarkable things, but this game is certainly on the top of my list of important tools. How many organizations have you been in where there are people who are cut off from each other? We could go to our nation’s capital and find a bunch of these. People have been willing to listen. He gave me a new term. I have always used the term “active listening,” but he gave us a term “empathetic listening.” You are listening at a deeper level. What is the intent? What is the emotion behind it? That was your first exposure to Barry and the game. So what stood out for you?
Russell: Wendy Adams used that empathetic listening term. The way that we talk to each other is something that we can think through. The way that this game is structured is phenomenal. A lot of times we don’t think about how we use language. Within ten minutes, this was a tool he put together because he wanted to improve the relationships within his family. He built the thing for himself. That’s the thing that is so remarkable. Where it started off as something that was used for personal relationships, well, wait a minute, aren’t all relationships personal? Yes, to some degree, they are. How we talk and speak to one another is important. This game is called a game, but it’s a power tool for having conversations, difficult conversations especially. It’s a power tool for how you have conversations with one another. It could be something that could take the lid off of how you talk to one another in the board room. Imagine going in and having a session of Communications the game with every board meeting you went into, Hugh. Would you be looking forward to going to those meetings or avoiding them? For me, it would be a lot more entertaining and fulfilling than anything that’s done by following Robert’s rules of orders. I think you could get to deeper meaning and honor everybody in the room because the way that you speak in this game removes all of the judgment, the criticism, and the things that really can throw a wrench into a conversation. I thought it was remarkable.
Please go back and watch this podcast to find out more about Communications the game. Our guest Barry Auchettl is in Australia. This game was very remarkable. Communications the game, it’s great for not just the board room, but for your personal relationships as well. This was very good.
Hugh: I got too many things open on the computer. What I was going to ask is he turned the paradigm around when we started playing the game. Sometimes we listen in order to respond with our opinion. He told us that we weren’t to respond to the other person, we were just to listen. Remember that, how he- It’s really about listening to each other. What he does is turns it around. It magically creates an open connection. He has different cards that he pulls out randomly. It’s not something we normally do. We reposition everything. I found it to be a whole new perspective in conversation, which is the whole point of it. Do you remember how he set that up for us to be better listeners at the beginning?
Russell: He talked about addressing issues or things that we’re talking about and doing that openly without preconceived notion, asking questions and having that be the best way to do it. Instead of talking at each other, we are talking about a perspective on a different subject. This is the difficulty. When we went into this broadcast, it was his idea that we probably should can’t really explain it, you can’t describe it. It’s something you have to experience to get the gist of how it works. That was a piece of the broadcast I appreciated. To actually describe that process would be difficult. I encourage folks to listen to that podcast. Barry Auchettl.
Hugh: Barry Auchettl.
Russell: I couldn’t remember how to pronounce his name. I apologize, Barry. I love the game. But you really have to watch the interaction with the game and how everything was set up and how the follow-up questions were set up. He didn’t try to describe it even though he created it. It’s just phenomenal. I encourage you to go back.
Hugh: He set it up with the active/empathetic listening. Before that, he said authentic communication is a two-way process. We need to be able to speak and feel safe speaking. Authentically speak, he says, and know that we won’t be criticized. When someone speaks, no one comments. They get to speak without anyone saying it was a good answer or a bad answer or try to fix someone. There is no fixing. We use “I” statements. Instead of saying “You need to do this,” it’s for me, “I might choose to meditate more.” That’s the first part. The second part was that empathetic listening.
The week before that, you brought somebody to the interview who knew me, but I didn’t know them. Jess Dewell. Talk about Jess and her brilliance. That was a great interview.
Russell: Jess speaks to a lot about culture and turning everything we do upside down, looking at it from different angles, and being willing to be more open and effective at what we do. She builds cultures. She builds cultures that are inclusive. That’s a strength she has is going in and taking a fresh look at what you’re doing and doing it better.
Hugh: Yeah. That was another time I was traveling and in a lobby of a hotel in Orlando. I remember I had some background noise. I had some people in the audience down there with me, and we had some good conversations. It was purposeful decision-making and effective problem-solving through this culture piece that you and I know something about. Another person whose wisdom greatly is ahead of her years chronologically. We have two people. Where was Jess from?
Russell: She lives in Boulder. She is here in my neck of the woods.
Hugh: Out there in those square states.
Russell: Rectangular out here in Colorado.
Hugh: We will come back to Lynchburg in the previous ones before we go to California. I interviewed a communications professor at Liberty University, which is here in the backyard. He happens to have a marketing business, and he is working with the Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra as the marketing person. He is teaching them different things, whether it’s about the instruments or the composers. He interviewed me about how to do strategic planning for nonprofits. He is giving the people that are reading the promotions useful information, and then he says, “By the way, we are doing a great concert. Why don’t you come?” His views on the site and Facebook have accelerated dramatically because he is taking a giving aspect at marketing.
He is giving them information and a good time. He is a tuba player. He named his tuba Marvin. He dresses Marvin up and puts him somewhere around town and takes a video of him. He has done a game on Facebook, “Where in the World is Marvin?” It is fascinating how he has taken this very somber topic of marketing and turned it around to give people a good time and teach them something. People are responding to that in a very positive way. If you are looking at telling your story, there is another way to do it. Do you remember that one, Russ?
Russell: I think Daniel and Juliet talk about those things so well. How do we distinguish ourselves yet understand that everything is about the cause? Standing out in the way that draws people in and giving them a message. People want to know what’s in things for them. What’s in it for me? Jess talked about that, how we can become disconnected from our work and the people we are serving. It’s about being there and being present and being able to communicate what it is that the value is that you bring to people. You give them something. Every time you communicate with somebody, it’s not about an ask, it’s about telling them what their support is enabling you and empowering you to do, and getting out there and having fun with what you’re doing. Just be yourselves. Be authentic. That’s important as far as reaching other people.
Hugh: It’s cool. Sarah is another person in my neighborhood that I met. She was doing a presentation at my rotary. What I discovered is that she is this person who is the executive director of this charity called Miriam’s House. Went from zero to the top. She didn’t train to be executive director. She was a social worker, but she applied herself and used her brilliance to move into the leader seat. She has embraced that position and done some remarkable work. What stood out for you in Sarah’s story?
Russell: Homelessness is such a difficult issue to deal with. The homeless people require so many different things. What was clear about the operation at Miriam’s House is they had the mindset that you have to get somebody in a stable place. You have to get them in housing. If you have people bouncing around all over the place, they are not sure where they are going to be from one day to the next, you can’t really help them solve the problems that they have. They look at the whole person. They are masters at collaborating with other agencies around them. They thrive on collaboration. This is something that she emphasized again, the power of collaboration and the need to take a holistic approach. They are doing remarkable work. We talked about everything from the homeless population and some of the statistics to how to bring people through the system. What are some of the challenges? One that we talked about was affordable housing everywhere. They have a great little operation. They have been effective in the amount of impact they made. If you look at the work they do, you can look at it in two ways. They have either funneled a lot of people through, or a few people through, but the few people through have seen remarkable changes. It’s the amount of impact in the lives of the people that Miriam’s House has served, not necessarily the numbers. They are huge numbers, but it’s where people start and where they finish up. They have been very good at what they do.
Hugh: Absolutely. Before that, we were in California with a gentleman named Christian LeFer. Christian helps set up nonprofit organizations. He is a turnkey, start to finish, do it for you, at a reasonable price. He has a business called Changemakers. It is now called that. Besides doing that, he does the compliance piece. With your background and the work you have done in the past, I don’t know how many charities you have run across in the past that don’t know they have to register in every state. There are 41 states that require you to register in order to raise money. There are a lot of charities that aren’t aware of that. Was that new for you, or was that old information represented?
Russell: When I met him, that was part of the fascination. I knew about this, but there was no streamlined process where you could do an application in one place and register all over the country. That’s different, thanks to Christian. He does that for you. He has an automated system, and he can get you registered everywhere so that you are good in all 50 states. That program was phenomenal because these are the things that people struggle with. You have your mission, but you have these regulations, laws, and required things to follow and look at. That was a program where we had a lot of people who were active. I encourage you to look at that program because we discussed a lot of things from a compliance standpoint that a lot of people don’t necessarily think about. I am working on a series of blog posts myself that cover different compliance topics. Christian is another one who is here in my backyard. He is in the Denver metropolitan area. I have brilliant people, him and Jessica Dewell, right here in my backyard. It’s great to know them. We covered all sorts of things. It’s not just fundraising registration, but we talk about businesses you have. He has systems he can set up for you that will keep you in compliance. That podcast will be informative.
Hugh: Absolutely. I said he was in California, but he was in Denver. Before that, we were down in Raleigh, North Carolina. I think people may have heard of a charity that feeds people that was founded by a friend of ours, Ray Buchanan, as Stop Hunger Now. They couldn’t use that brand in some countries, so they rebranded it, which is a big deal, as Rise Against Hunger. They are on target to produce 78 million meals. My rotary did a packaging. My church did a packaging. A whole bunch of people come together and package 20-30,000 meals, and before you are done, they are on a truck going to a location. These were going to Haiti. But he talks about succession here. He is the executive director, and he replaced the founder Ray Buchanan. What Ray did is set up a project as a legacy project. What I found to be extremely valuable is their clarity of their vision and mission statement. We struggle with that a lot. Our impact, let me see if I can find it on their website. For Ray, for many years, he had a board that didn’t like his vision. His vision was to end hunger in our lifetime. I don’t know about you, but that’s a pretty big deal.
Russell: 2030 was the year that he mentioned. That’s a tall order. But he’s operating at a number of countries. There is a young man he mentored, and his name escapes me right now, who is now the CEO that he brought in to replace him.
Hugh: Rod Brooks.
Hugh: Rod Brooks.
Russell: Yeah, I was looking for him. We actually talked to Rod, and I was looking at the interview. The succession planning and bringing on partners is another one who does a lot of collaboration to grow that impact. They drive that with volunteers. You really have to be plugged into the pulse of people you’re serving and connecting with to create a volunteer. Do you remember right off the top how large that volunteer base was? I thought he gave us a number.
Hugh: He did. It’s worldwide. They have organizations in Malaysia, India, Italy, South Africa, Philippines, and informal relationships in other places. They have offices around the United States with 140 employees. People come together. My rotary used the money they raised from the golf tournament to pay for the food that we then packaged. The brilliance of this is they could automate putting these food packets together. People are having a social event to help other people. The scope of their work is not limited to these meals. These meals are a bridge. Some organizations have fisheries, some do farming, and some do other things to feed people in their community.
Let me read you what’s on their website under Our Mission. I told you what their vision was. I find over and over that people struggle with articulating a vision and mission statement. They want to tell you how to build a clock when all you want to know is what time it is. Listen to the latest iteration. They have combined it in this mission statement: “Rise Against Hunger is driven by the vision of a world without hunger.” That’s their vision. By the way, the UN has that same vision. “Our mission is to end hunger in our lifetime by providing food and life-changing aid to the world’s most vulnerable and creating a global commitment to mobilize the necessary resources.” It isn’t every detail about everything they do, but that moves me. That was a profound statement.
That piece about what they do and how they motivate their volunteers and how they engage their board, but the big takeaway for me is how to replace a founder. He said it wasn’t a smooth transition. But the commitment of Ray Buchanan who was the founder and Rod who Ray brought in, they were committed to how we will take the wisdom that Ray had over the years and the underlying passion for what he created and how to create this legacy that goes on past Ray. He still is healthy. He lives in Lynchburg and is a friend of mine. He is the cover photo, and Rise Against Hunger is the featured article in the issue of Nonprofit Performance 360 Magazine, which people can find at NonprofitPerformance.org.
Part of what we do in our articles and our interviews is for people to tell stories of how they were successful, which isn’t always I did everything right, but it’s how did we learn from what we struggled with?
Russell: Having those conversations, it goes back to the podcast with Jess. Create a problem solver, and not ignoring everything that is not going well. I think there is a mistaken assumption, for example with grant programs that nonprofits get, that if things aren’t necessarily going according to the plan that you laid out, maybe you don’t want to talk about it. You just want to find a way to fix it. But you have to put it on the table and take advantage of the genius around you to help solve it and look at things as they are. People don’t relate to superhumans or perfect people. They relate to other folks who are going through the same challenges that they have gone through and are able to use the lessons they learned to overcome those challenges. It’s remarkable because what Ray looked at was how big this vision is, how important this vision is. We have to find a way to make it go on. We have to bring people into the tent and make it everybody’s vision so that it doesn’t belong to one person. Engaging volunteers is an important way to do that. It’s remarkable how many volunteers it’s been able to mobilize. That is the power of what he has created. He wanted something that is going to go on beyond him. The most remarkable leaders want something that will be a legacy, that will go on beyond their years, grow, and become something even better as it grows and goes along.
Hugh: Russell, we have just seen another hour go whizzing by. We can’t go in depth, but we have already gone back 90 days. Before that, we had three bishops in a row. Bishop Younger with the RAMP church down in Lynchburg here. Evangelist Carlton Bishop who has his movie out on Netflix. He shared his story of how he got ostracized by his church. That was fascinating. That was one you did because I was meeting with the mayor that day. Before that, Bishop Willimon. I went down to Duke Divinity School to interview Bishop Willimon. I don’t know how that happened, but we had three bishops in a row.
Then our friend Sherita Herring. She talked about nonprofit, the stepchild of business. Nonprofits is her space, and she is the queen. She recently got married, so I think her name is different. Listen to Sherita. Chuck Vollmer, who is creating 20 million jobs in this decade. A lot of those will happen in the nonprofit community. Our friend Mark Smith, how to get the most out of the year ahead. The revenue generation programs. There was some guy I found on the street, Russell Dennis. That was a brilliant interview you did. You had lots of nuggets. It was eight months ago. There was a lot in between there we skipped over.
You get the idea at this point there is a whole lot of meat in these. There is something every week for you. Get on the subscription and continue to upgrade your skills. I don’t know if you ever experienced Jim Rohn in person, but he would always say to work on yourself harder than you work on your business.
Russell: That’s great advice from Jim. I would also like to point out that the Nonprofit Performance 360 Magazine, there is an app in the app store that you can subscribe to and get electronic copies of that magazine. That publication features articles from thought leaders all over the world. That has a lot of outstanding material that is published every quarter. There are giants of industry who come by and share their thoughts on excellence, both personal and organizational, and ways to build your nonprofit. Same way we try to convey these messages in the nonprofit. I love the work we’re doing.
Hugh: *Sponsor message from Wordsprint*
Thank you for these great interviews.
Russell: It’s a pleasure. I love this show. We have lots out there. iTunes Store. Go in and subscribe to The Nonprofit Exchange. It’s also available on Stitcher and other podcast platforms. Until we meet again, 2pm EST next week, be here, be there, be square, stay safe. Replays are always up and available. Go to the site, peruse the site, take a look at all the great nonprofit organizations and thought leaders that we have featured here, and grab some nuggets. Our guests always leave something of value for our listeners and viewers to take advantage of, to help enhance your operation. With that, Hugh, I think we will say goodbye until next week. Thank you for joining us on this edition of The Nonprofit Exchange.
Hugh: Well stated, Russell. Thank you.