111 episodes

What if you could hang out with experienced nonprofit professionals and ask them your burning questions about the day-to-day life of nonprofits? What if you could take their wisdom and bring it back to your organization, for free? That's what we do on Charity Therapy. Hosted by Jess Birken - owner and lawyer at Birken Law Office. Every episode is an in-depth look at how to run a nonprofit, from fundraising to IRS woes to people problems and more! Our goal is to empower nonprofits to achieve your mission by doing things right.

Charity Therapy Jess Birken, MNM, JD

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 12 Ratings

What if you could hang out with experienced nonprofit professionals and ask them your burning questions about the day-to-day life of nonprofits? What if you could take their wisdom and bring it back to your organization, for free? That's what we do on Charity Therapy. Hosted by Jess Birken - owner and lawyer at Birken Law Office. Every episode is an in-depth look at how to run a nonprofit, from fundraising to IRS woes to people problems and more! Our goal is to empower nonprofits to achieve your mission by doing things right.

    110: Don’t Do It, Emmanuel! | When NOT to Start a Public Charity Nonprofit

    110: Don’t Do It, Emmanuel! | When NOT to Start a Public Charity Nonprofit

    Ever thought running a charity is all about helping people and feeling good? Strap in because Meghan and I are about to take you on a wild ride through the real ins and outs of starting and keeping a nonprofit afloat. Spoiler alert: it's not all sunshine and rainbows. There are hoops to jump through and some pretty sticky rules that can trip you up. But don't worry. We're here to help you through it without pulling your hair out.
    In this episode of Charity Therapy, we get super honest about how starting a nonprofit isn't as simple as just wanting to do good things. There's a bunch of rules and paperwork that can make your head spin. We talk about why it's tough and why sometimes the best thing to do might be to skip starting a nonprofit altogether. Yep, you heard that right. Sometimes, it's easier to help in your community without all the formal stuff. We're here to share our stories and tips and remind you that if you're feeling overwhelmed, you're totally not alone.
    Lastly, if you're already running a nonprofit and find yourself tangled in red tape, we've got your back. We dive into why there are so many rules and what you can do instead of getting stuck. We even tackle the big question: why is it all set up this way? Trust me, we feel your pain, and we might just have a few laughs along the way because sometimes you've just got to laugh to keep from crying, right?
    So come hang with us, bring your toughest questions, and let's navigate this nonprofit jungle together.
    In this episode, you will hear: Spilling the tea on how starting a nonprofit is like an obstacle course with the IRS and state laws ready to trip you up The mountains of rules surrounding nonprofits Why doing good doesn't mean you gotta start a nonprofit When to skip the headache and do good in your community without the red tape The reasons behind the government’s tight leash on nonprofits Other ways to make an impact without the paperwork pain A listener's vent about nonprofit startup costs and Jess's hot take Solutions for small missions with big hearts Resources from this Episode Sign up for the Birken Law Email list: https://birkenlaw.com/signup/
    Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/birkenlaw
    Follow and Review: We’d love for you to follow us if you haven’t yet. Click that purple '+' in the top right corner of your Apple Podcasts app. We’d love it even more if you could drop a review or 5-star rating over on Apple Podcasts. Simply select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” then a quick line with your favorite part of the episode. It only takes a second and it helps spread the word about the podcast.
    Episode Credits If you like this podcast and are thinking of creating your own, consider talking to my producer, Emerald City Productions. They helped me grow and produce the podcast you are listening to right now. Find out more at https://emeraldcitypro.com Let them know we sent you.

    • 16 min
    109: SMART Goals & Cans of Worms

    109: SMART Goals & Cans of Worms

    I've got a real treat for you in this episode of Charity Therapy. It's all about finding that sweet spot for your nonprofit's mission and vision without tripping over those pesky legal lines.
    Meghan and I dive into why your mission should feel like a finish line you can cross—not just some far-off dream you're chasing forever. We also get real about those missions that are so big and messy that they could keep you busy till the end of time. But don't worry—we're all about keeping it real and making sure you've got goals you can tick off your list.
    Then, we're chatting about sprucing up your mission to match all the cool new stuff your nonprofit is up to. Because let's face it, your group isn't the same as it was 20 years ago, and neither should your mission statement. I'll let you in on the secrets of keeping it fresh and legal so the IRS stays off your back while you're out there changing the world. Remember, it's like giving your nonprofit a new haircut—you want to look sharp but don't want to end up with a style that screams, “I lost a bet.” Lastly, we're giving high-fives to those forward-thinking nonprofits planning for the future like champs.
    Together, we're making the nonprofit journey less of a solo hike and more of a group road trip—complete with cheesy snacks and off-key singalongs. Let's hit the road and make some magic happen for your nonprofit!
    In this episode, you will hear: Diving into the confusion between nonprofit mission vs. vision
    Why mission vs. vision is like comparing your wildest dreams to the steps you need to take toward them
    The achievability of a nonprofit mission can be a can of worms
    Being too successful might put you out of business
    Updating your mission statement and keeping the tax folks happy
    Broadening your mission statement to help growth, but clarity is key!
    Resources from this Episode Sign up for the Birken Law Email list: https://birkenlaw.com/signup/
    Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/birkenlaw
    Follow and Review: We’d love for you to follow us if you haven’t yet. Click that purple '+' in the top right corner of your Apple Podcasts app. We’d love it even more if you could drop a review or 5-star rating over on Apple Podcasts. Simply select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” then a quick line with your favorite part of the episode. It only takes a second and it helps spread the word about the podcast.
    Episode Credits If you like this podcast and are thinking of creating your own, consider talking to my producer, Emerald City Productions. They helped me grow and produce the podcast you are listening to right now. Find out more at https://emeraldcitypro.com Let them know we sent you.

    • 16 min
    108: Clover the B | Navigating Tax Status and Exploring IRS Forms

    108: Clover the B | Navigating Tax Status and Exploring IRS Forms

    Today on Charity Therapy, Meghan and I dive into the sometimes tricky and often murky waters of nonprofit tax exemption and financial compliance. Think of us as your guides on a thrilling trek through the IRS jungle, equipped with the know-how to tackle those intimidating forms 1023 and 1024. And yes, we'll even chat about my duck Clover's latest shenanigans – because why not mix a little quack with our quality advice?
    We're talking shop and celebrating a nonprofit that totally crushed its fundraising goals (high fives all around!). But, as they say, with great fundraising comes great paperwork responsibility. Transitioning from a simple 990N to the full 990 form can be daunting, but fear not! We're here to help you navigate the choppy seas of record-keeping, getting help from pros when you need it and bracing for those state audits that can pop up when you least expect them. It's all about keeping your nonprofit financially fit and compliant as it grows.
    Join us as we break down what it really means to apply for tax exemption (spoiler alert: it's not a walk in the park) and answer a listener's burning question about an unexpected cash windfall (hello, big bucks!). Remember, while the IRS isn't out to get you for being unexpectedly awesome at raising funds, they expect you to play by the rules.
    Buckle up, bring your questions, and let's make this nonprofit journey a little less bumpy and a lot more fun. And as for Clover? She's doing just fine, taking baths in dish pans and living her best duck life.
    In this episode, you will hear: A fun journey through the IRS maze, with duck tales and expert advice on nonprofit tax forms
    Learn the real scoop on the 1023 and 1024 forms
    Why the “EZ” in 1023-EZ might be misleading
    Get clued in on what to do when your nonprofit's cash flow goes from small change to big bucks
    The switch from 990N to the full 990 form
    Why meticulous records and a pro accountant are your nonprofit's new best friends
    Tips on staying financially healthy and compliant – even when you hit the jackpot with a huge grant
    Jess’s mud-splattered morning with her duck Clover proves that nonprofit work can be as unpredictable as a backyard barnyard
    A shoutout to the proactive nonprofit that remembered its financial limits
    Resources from this Episode Sign up for the Birken Law Email list: https://birkenlaw.com/signup/
    Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/birkenlaw
    Follow and Review: We’d love for you to follow us if you haven’t yet. Click that purple '+' in the top right corner of your Apple Podcasts app. We’d love it even more if you could drop a review or 5-star rating over on Apple Podcasts. Simply select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” then a quick line with your favorite part of the episode. It only takes a second and it helps spread the word about the podcast.
    Episode Credits If you like this podcast and are thinking of creating your own, consider talking to my producer, Emerald City Productions. They helped me grow and produce the podcast you are listening to right now. Find out more at https://emeraldcitypro.com Let them know we sent you.

    • 21 min
    107: All Aboard the Struggle Bus!

    107: All Aboard the Struggle Bus!

    Jess is coming at you with another episode that's gonna knock your grant-seeking socks off.
    In this episode of Charity Therapy, Jess is hanging out with the amazing Allison Welch, who's like a treasure hunter for grants, guiding us through the twists and turns of nonprofit funding. We're peeling back the curtain on that mysterious world of grant dollars, and it's not just about waving that 501(c)(3) magic wand and watching the money fall from the sky.
    We're getting down to the nitty-gritty of what you really need to snag those grants – a mission statement that sticks, a rock-solid program that's just begging for support, and the financial storytelling that proves you're the real deal. And for a bit of real-world spice, we tackle a listener's pickle with reimbursement grants. Yep, they're as tricky as they sound, but fear not! We're sharing how they navigated those choppy waters and came out with their pockets full.
    Now, don't go thinking this is your typical snooze-fest chat about funds and figures. Oh no, we're bringing the fun with our take on the funder-fundraiser dance, advocating for a buddy-buddy approach that could open doors to a goldmine of support. Plus, we're diving into the AI debate – can robots really help write grant proposals, or do they lack that human sparkle?
    Tune in and get armed with the insider knowledge that could make all the difference for your nonprofit's future. Grab a snack, hit play, and let's conquer the grant game together!
    In this episode, you will hear: Discover why 501(c)(3) status is just the start of your nonprofit's funding adventure
    Learn the must-haves for snagging grants: a sharp mission, a solid program, and financial docs that share your money story
    The lowdown on managing reimbursement grants
    Change your tune on fundraising: think partnership—for a dance with donors that could mean big bucks
    Chatting with funders and asking for advice to open doors to more moolah
    AI in grant writing and why human touch wins for connecting with funders' hearts and wallets
    Grants ain't fast food—they're a slow cook to success
    Resources from this Episode Allison Welch Consulting: www.allisonwelchconsulting.com
    Sign up for the Birken Law Email list: birkenlaw.com/signup
    Facebook page: www.facebook.com/birkenlaw
    Follow and Review: We’d love for you to follow us if you haven’t yet. Click that purple '+' in the top right corner of your Apple Podcasts app. We’d love it even more if you could drop a review or 5-star rating over on Apple Podcasts. Simply select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” then a quick line with your favorite part of the episode. It only takes a second and it helps spread the word about the podcast.
    Episode Credits If you like this podcast and are thinking of creating your own, consider talking to my producer, Emerald City Productions. They helped me grow and produce the podcast you are listening to right now. Find out more at https://emeraldcitypro.com Let them know we sent you.

    • 25 min
    106: Down With the Golf Tournament

    106: Down With the Golf Tournament

    You're about to dive into a podcast episode that's gonna change the game for your nonprofit's events. 
    On this episode of Charity Therapy, Alicia Baraga joins Jess, and she's the superstar behind Ripple Event Marketing. We're unpacking all the tips and tricks to create fundraising events that are as unique as your mission – and it's not just about throwing another boring gala.
    Jess and Alicia kick things off by chatting about the wildest events they’ve seen, from a beanbag tournament on a baseball field to a dueling piano showdown in an airplane hangar (yep, you heard that right!). We'll help you figure out who your crowd is and how to plan something they'll actually want to show up for, all without breaking the bank. Alicia dishes out the real talk on why it's super important to set clear goals so you can high-five yourself when your event is a smash hit.
    We know money can be tight, especially when you're just starting out. That's why we talk about where you can be smart with your budget, like maybe picking up some know-how from a course like Event Brand Boot Camp instead of hiring a full-blown event planner right off the bat. By the end, you'll have a bunch of resources and enough confidence to plan an event that might just be the talk of the town.
    Tune in, take notes, and get ready to throw an event that will have everyone buzzing with excitement!
    In this episode, you will hear: Alicia Baraga spills the beans on rocking nonprofit events with limited cash and space
    Pinpoint where you really need help and consider taking a class like Event Brand Boot Camp
    Unique venues can turn a blah event into the talk of the town
    Sponsorship is about making friends with local businesses who dig what you do
    Find sponsors early in the planning stage
    Talk to your boss about funding your event
    Resources from this Episode Alicia’s Brand Bootcamp: https://rippleevent.teachable.com/p/event-brand-bootcamp/
    Sign up for the Birken Law Email list: https://birkenlaw.com/signup/
    Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/birkenlaw
    Follow and Review: We’d love for you to follow us if you haven’t yet. Click that purple '+' in the top right corner of your Apple Podcasts app. We’d love it even more if you could drop a review or 5-star rating over on Apple Podcasts. Simply select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” then a quick line with your favorite part of the episode. It only takes a second and it helps spread the word about the podcast.
    Episode Credits If you like this podcast and are thinking of creating your own, consider talking to my producer, Emerald City Productions. They helped me grow and produce the podcast you are listening to right now. Find out more at https://emeraldcitypro.com Let them know we sent you.

    • 22 min
    105: A Rose By Any Other Name…

    105: A Rose By Any Other Name…

    Have you ever thought about what your nonprofit looks like to the rest of the world?
    Well, buckle up because we're diving headfirst into the wild world of branding with Justin Bieganek. We're not just talking logos and colors; we're getting into the nitty-gritty of what makes your nonprofit tick and how to connect with people's hearts—not just their wallets.
    Picture this: You run a cat rescue, right? You've been all about giving older and disabled kitties a cozy place to land for years. But now you're doing so much more, from helping with vet bills to teaching pets fancy tricks. And your board's like, “Should we change our name?” You're freaking out because, let's be honest, that sounds like a ton of work. Justin's here to help us figure out if a name change is the cat's meow or if it will just cause a fur-ocious headache.
    We're keeping it real and talking about the scary stuff, too, like what if your supporters don't dig the new name? Justin's got some wizard-level advice for navigating those choppy waters. We're all about making sure your nonprofit is dressed to impress and ready to attract new folks who are just as passionate about your cause as you are. And hey, if you're feeling a bit like a scaredy-cat about all this change, that's okay! Change is tough, but we've got your back.
    Come join us for some laughs, a few “aha!” moments, and maybe even a lightbulb or two going off as we tackle the big, bold world of nonprofit branding.
    In this episode, you will hear: The heart of nonprofit branding—it's more than just a logo!
    A cat rescue's branding pickle: Should their name change after expanding their mission?
    Why it's crucial for names to mirror your identity
    The courage to evolve and the strategy to keep your mission, vision, and values intact
    Rebranding as a means to energize your team, draw new talent, and strengthen community ties
    How envisioning success can turn those scary feels into rebranding thrills
    Justin’s thoughts on tackling stakeholder resistance
    Connecting and turning your brand into a community's heartbeat
    Resources from this Episode Learn more about Justin & Mercury Creative Group: https://mercurycreativegroup.com/
    Sign up for the Birken Law Email list: https://birkenlaw.com/signup/
    Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/birkenlaw
    Follow and Review: We’d love for you to follow us if you haven’t yet. Click that purple '+' in the top right corner of your Apple Podcasts app. We’d love it even more if you could drop a review or 5-star rating over on Apple Podcasts. Simply select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” then a quick line with your favorite part of the episode. It only takes a second and it helps spread the word about the podcast.
    Episode Credits If you like this podcast and are thinking of creating your own, consider talking to my producer, Emerald City Productions. They helped me grow and produce the podcast you are listening to right now. Find out more at https://emeraldcitypro.com Let them know we sent you.

    • 20 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
12 Ratings

12 Ratings

Its_me_ellie_b ,

So happy I found this podcast!

This is an incredibly informative podcast! Super fun and entertaining to listen to!

DanKeller ,

Fun and smart. Expert advice done right! 💯

Full disclosure: I was in “nonprofit school” with Jess, but don’t hold that agains her! 😇

I am currently only tangentially involved with the nonprofit sector (school PTA, scouts, etc.) and I love it when this show drops! Short, sweet and fun, it is always a treat to listen, and I often even learn a few things in the process.

I really think the advice segments are top notch, especially considering some of the cringy situations people seem to be getting themselves into. Yikes! Jess and Meghan (and guests) will set you right *if* you listen!

Favorite animal: crow

ShmooZee ,

All the things you forget to ask!

Thanks Jess for a super insightful podcast. You cover all the little questions non-profits forget to ask!

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