Hosted by Joan Garry, the “Dear Abby” of the nonprofit world, Nonprofits Are Messy is a discussion of the most pressing issues faced by nonprofit leadership. Joan and her guests tackle topics like the overhead myth, the best way to run special events, how to make a big fundraising ask, board-staff relations, and so much more. At times hilarious, uplifting, and frustrating, the stories told in this podcast should feel very familiar to anybody working in a nonprofit today.
Topics include fundraising, leadership development, building a great board, Executive Director / Board relations, communications and messaging, staff management, nonprofit career advice, crisis management, digital marketing, social media, and so much more.
Listen to real stories of nonprofit leaders like you and how they handled the mess. Because the truth is, nonprofits ARE messy. There’s not enough money, too many cooks, and an abundance of passion. Leading nonprofits isn’t easy. This podcast will help.
Ep 121: Creating a 5-Star Board Retreat (with Dolph Goldenberg)
While I believe deeply in board retreats, I also believe they are often a big fat missed opportunity. How come? For starters, lack of clarity about the why. Lack of understanding about how outside support can help bring out the best in the group. No clear action items. And when there are action items, often the retreat ends with a list of things that should happen but no accountability mechanism for how to make them happen. Leaving you with the same retreat agenda next time around.
Struggling nonprofits rely on boards more than ever for expertise, growing reach, and influence so it’s really important to build strong boards.
Today’s guest, Dolph Goldenberg, helps do just that. He and I discuss our views on why boards matter, when to have a retreat, how retreats have gone virtual, and what it takes to make a retreat a home run.
Dolph Goldenberg has experience as a nonprofit CEO, interim CEO, he has years of fundraising experience and he has written a bunch of grants resulting in millions of dollars. His consulting practice focuses on board development, strategic planning and executive transitions.
About Dolph Goldenberg
Dolph is recognized as a leader within the nonprofit sector who has a track record of guiding organizations through leadership transitions, strategic planning and board development.
He started Successful Nonprofits in 2014 to provide consulting, podcasting and publishing services that strengthen the nonprofit sector. His clients have included large nonprofits like Sheltering Arms and HOPE Atlanta and also small but mighty nonprofits like the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund and Zebra Coalition.
Prior to starting his consulting practice, Goldenburg was a successful nonprofit CEO for 12 years with a demonstrated history of leading organizations to financial stability and growth. As a CEO, Goldenburg helped organizations transform deficits into healthy surpluses, increase fund balances, dramatically expand services, and increase revenue.
In addition to extensive CEO experience, Goldenburg also has more than a decade of fundraising experience, which includes soliciting six -figure gifts and writing millions of dollars in funded grant proposals.
Goldenburg holds a masters degree in public administration from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University and graduated summa cum laude with a bachelors degree in social work from Georgia State University.
In his free time, Dolph
- Hosts the Successful Nonprofits Podcast (because when you own the company, you get to be the host)
- Has trekked on six of the seven continents (if you count New Zealand as part of the Australian continent. He is planning a trek to Antarctica next year for his 50th birthday)
- Is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (and has taken second place in his division at the Pan American Championships three times - which means he’s lost the title match three times – to the same person!) and
- Reads about half a book a week (because his guilty pleasure is not finishing the vast majority of books he reads).
Turn Your Impatience to Your Heroic Pursuits
I don’t like it at all when things are not OK. Not in my family. Not in my country.
Oh, sure we all knew it would be messy. It’s 2020 after all. But some of us might have been hoping that after such a long year of uncertainty, at least knowing who the next president was on the morning after the election would provide some comfort.
As Mr. Rogers would say...
I like to be told
If it's going to hurt,
If it's going to be hard,
If it's not going to hurt.
I like to be told.
I like to be told.
Well, I realize the 8-year-old trapped inside me is very impatient and wants to know but the 63-year-old is reminding me that I have a role in how it all turns out and that there is only so much I can do right now.
And so, as we await the outcome, I would like to encourage you to turn your impatience toward your heroic pursuits. After all, there’s a reason you become a nonprofit superhero….
Ep 120: Raising the Next Generation of Nonprofit Leaders (with Charlotte Alter)
Boomers are aging out of nonprofit leadership in droves. Many started organizations post Vietnam and there is a huge impending leadership void in the sector that needs to be filled. Nonprofit boards tend to skew old and are distrusting of youth and "inexperience". And so the cycle continues.
So who will fill this void? How do we build a leadership pipeline?
In May of 2017 Charlotte Alter, national correspondent at Time, heard President Trump’s speech on how the US was withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement. She looked up each person who advised him to do so and began to feel that the decisions being made were examples of the old eating the young. This took her on a journey to write her book.
Today she takes us through the people, events and forces that she believes have shaped the political thinking of the rising generation of leaders in America.
We discuss how today’s leaders differ from yesterday’s and what we might do to nurture millennial leadership.
About Charlotte Alter
Charlotte Alter is a national correspondent at TIME covering the 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections, women in politics and youth social movements. Her first book The Ones We've Been Waiting For: How a New Generation of Leaders Will Transform America was released in February.
Ep 119: Your First 90 Days as an Executive Director (with Michael Watkins)
The first 90 days on the job.
You might think this podcast is for someone on their very first day as a new nonprofit executive director. But I want you to think broader than that.
What steps can be taken to ensure success and begin the process of crafting your legacy as a leader, even BEFORE you take on a new role?
In this episode, Michael Watkins, author of “The First 90 Days” (named one of the 100 Best Business Books of All Time!) shares key strategies to a successful transition. What are the typical pitfalls and what must a leader really get right in the first three months? Does anything change if you arrive during a crisis, like say... a global pandemic?
Learn the key principles a leader can use to help an organization succeed and thrive, and also what might thwart their success.
Michael Watkins is THE expert on this topic, and I could not be more excited to have him on the podcast.
About Michael Watkins
Michael Watkins is the co-founder of Genesis Advisers, a global leadership development consultancy based in Boston Massachusetts, specializing in transition acceleration for leaders, teams and organizations, where he coaches C-level executives of global organizations. He is also Professor of Leadership and Organizational Change at the IMD Business School and was recently ranked among the top fifty management thinkers globally by Thinkers50. He has spent the last two decades working with executives - both corporate and public - as they craft their legacies as leaders.
Watkins is author of the international bestseller The First 90 Days, Updated and Expanded: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter, which The Economist referred to as “The Onboarding Bible.” With over a million copies sold in English and translations in 24 languages, The First 90 Days is the classic reference for leaders in transition and a standard resource for leading change. Amazon named it one of its top 100 business books of all time.
Prior to joining IMD, Watkins was an adjunct professor at INSEAD, and an associate professor at the Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. While on the faculty of these institutions, he designed and taught world-class programs for high- potential leader development, corporate diplomacy, and strategic negotiation.
He is the author of eleven books and numerous articles on leadership and negotiation. In the field of leadership these include Master Your Next Move: The Essential Companion to The First 90 Days (HBR Press 2019), Shaping the Game: The New Leader's Guide to Effective Negotiating (HBS Press 2006) and Predictable Surprises: The Disasters You Should Have Seen Coming and How to Avoid Them (HBS Press 2004). Predictable Surprises was named one of the best business books of 2004 by Strategy + Business and won the 2006 annual Kulp-Wright Award from The American Risk and Insurance Association. He is also the author of numerous Harvard Business Review articles, including “How Insider CEOs Succeed” (2020), "Initiative Overload" (2018), "Onboarding Isn't Enough" (2017), "Leading the Team You Inherit" (2016), "It's All About Day One" (2013), "How Managers Become Leaders" (2012), "Picking the Right Transition Strategy" (2009), "The Leadership Team: Complementary Strengths or Conflicting Agendas" (2007), and "The Successor's Dilemma" (2000).
Originally from Canada, Michael Watkins received his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Waterloo, did graduate work in law and business at the University of Western Ontario, and completed his Ph.D. in Decision Sciences at Harvard University.
Ep. 118: The Growing Charitable Movement That's Raised a Billion Dollars (with Sara Lomelin)
When one person makes a donation to a nonprofit, they can make a difference for one organization. Now imagine that you gathered with a group of friends, relatives, colleagues pooling resources, sharing ideas and expertise to make a much larger collective impact in your community.
This is called a giving circle. And it turns out that giving circles are fueling the world of modern philanthropy in a big way. Huge.
How huge? Try 1.3 billion dollars over the past 20 years. Like I said, huge.
Philanthropy Together, a national initiative with a mission to diversify and democratize philanthropy, is led by my guest, Sara Lomelin. By strengthening and scaling the power of giving circles, she and her team are working to challenge the narrative that suggests you need to be a billionaire to be a philanthropist. Each spring and fall, Philanthropy Together hosts Launchpad, a virtual, interactive leadership training program that helps launch giving circles for a diverse group of community leaders from across the country.
Are giving circles the future of philanthropy? And how can you tap into this growing movement? Let’s find out.
About Sara Lomelin
Sara Lomelin is a connector of people and ideas, a relationship builder, and a firm believer that everyone can be a philanthropist. As the executive director of Philanthropy Together, the first organization dedicated to strengthening and scaling the collective giving movement nationally, she is working to diversify and democratize philanthropy by creating the infrastructure and information-sharing needed for the giving circle model to flourish in ALL communities. Prior to Philanthropy Together, Sara served as senior director of leadership philanthropy at Opportunity Fund, the largest nonprofit lender in the United States. Previously at the Latino Community Foundation, Sara served as vice president of Philanthropy for seven years and brought her high-energy approach to creating the Latino Giving Circle Network™, which she helped grow to become the largest network of Latinx philanthropists in the U.S. that support Latino-led organizations. She has been featured in Forbes, Amplifier and also participated in panels hosted by the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, Hispanics in Philanthropy and more. Sara graduated with honors from Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and received her Administration and Management Certificate from Harvard University, where she also earned the prestigious Katie Y. F. Yang Prize.
Ep 117: The Hunt for Great Board Members (with Robert Acton and Lalita Badinehal)
Have you ever said the words, “I can’t find board members”?
Yup. I know you have. I always respond as if someone has told me they lost their keys. “OK, so where did you see them last?”
The hunt for great board members is often a big pain point. It’s not just that folks don’t recognize the joy and privilege of service but that even those who do may not arrive ready to serve. What do candidates need to understand about the commitment to serve?
You’re about to meet two people who are evangelists for excellent governance and for communicating the opportunity and privilege that comes with board service.
Robert Acton is the Principal and Founder of Cause Strategy Partners, BoardLead, and BoardLearn. Lalita Badinehal is a Corporate Citizenship, Inclusion, Diversity, and Employee Experience Executive at Credit Suisse. Our conversation today revolves around the elements in building strong boards.
BoardLead is a matchmaker. When an organization submits an application, BoardLead looks to place talented professionals with carefully vetted nonprofits by looking for community impact, strong leadership, and a commitment to deliver around diversity, equity, and inclusion.
BoardLearn is an educational platform to prepare their candidates for effective board service and to drive impact. Their approach to training new board members comes from a place of abundance, not scarcity, and includes a mix of cheerleading and scaring.
Credit Suisse partnered with BoardLead to recruit, place, train and support high impact board service. Listen to how they work together and how they measure success.
About Rob Acton
Robert Acton, J.D., is Principal and Founder of Cause Strategy Partners, BoardLead and BoardLearn. Cause Strategy Partners (www.causestrategypartners.com) is a consulting social enterprise that provides strategic counsel and high-impact programming to Fortune 500 companies, global professional services firms, private foundations and nonprofit organizations with a specialized focus on building both board and executive leadership. Cause Strategy Partners’ signature program, BoardLead (www.boardlead.com), has placed, trained and supported 670 professionals for high-impact board service at 350 nonprofits in 19 cities across the country. BoardLearn (www.boardlearn.com) is BoardLead’s innovative good governance e-learning platform. With more than two decades of experience founding, leading and scaling social good organizations as both a nonprofit chief executive and board leader, Rob previously led Taproot Foundation in both New York City and Chicago, as well as Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA) in Chicago. In 2009 and under Acton’s leadership, CGLA received the prestigious Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence. Rob is Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of Nonprofit New York, a membership organization serving 1,500 nonprofits in the New York City region. During his eight-year tenure, Rob has chaired the Presidential Search Committee, Governance Committee, Strategic Planning Committee and Development Committee. Rob also serves on the Board of Directors of Broadway Inspirational Voices and on the Advisory Boards of CGLA and Parkes Philanthropy. Previously, Rob was a founding Board member of Illinois Legal Aid Online, served on the Advisory Board of the Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management, and served on the Board of Trustees of his alma mater, Spring Arbor University. In 2010, Rob was appointed as a State Commissioner by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and confirmed by the Illinois Senate to serve on a statewide commission investigating past police abuse in the City of Chicago. Rob is a member of the Bar of the State of New York. He attended Michigan public schools, Spring Arbor University & Brooklyn Law School. Rob’s Causes: second chances for ex-offenders, the performing arts,
Customer ReviewsSee All
Listened, listened again, and then again. Love them
I find I listen to these podcasts, then go back to them and listen again and again, always coming away either motivated or with tools to help me build and run my nonprofit. Very informative for leaders of organizations of all budgets. Highly recommend listening and joining her Nonprofit leadership Lab.
A must listen!
If you work at a nonprofit or even if you simply care about the work nonprofits do, this is a must listen. The time moves quickly as the ideas flow freely. Subscribe, already, would ya?
Entertaining, insightful and actionable! 🔥
Whether you’re well established as someone who can translate creative energy into the impact you want to have on the world, or just getting started as a catalyst for change - this is a must-listen podcast for you! Joan does an incredible job leading conversations that cover a huge breadth of topics related to the ins and outs of building a thriving nonprofit and life you can be proud of - with leaders who’ve actually walked the path. Highly recommend listening and subscribing!