On Scaling Impact we’ll interview leaders in strategy and impact at mission driven organizations that have dramatically increased the level of impact at their organizations.
Strategies for Building Sustainable Partnerships: A Discussion with DreamSpring
In this episode, Community Engagement Officers from DreamSpring, Shaundra, and Meghan, share insights on the importance and impact of community engagement in small business growth. They discuss strategies for effective outreach, trust-building, and partner stewardship. The hosts also highlight the benefits of partnerships and the significance of investing in relationships for long-lasting success. Additionally, they touch on measuring impact and taking care of oneself and their ecosystem while growing a business.
Join Shaundra Jacobs and Meghan Rauker on this episode as they share their remarkable career journeys. Shaundra's experience spans roles at AT&T, Lyft, and BakerRipley, leading to her current position as a Community Engagement Officer at DreamSpring, where she fosters relationships to support entrepreneurs. Meghan's expertise lies in strategic communications, program management, and business development, showcased through her roles at PeopleFund and as a Business Development Lead at TÁPI Story. Together, they offer invaluable insights into community engagement, nonprofit organizations, and business growth strategies. Here are a few of the topics we’ll discuss on this episode of Scaling Impact:
Community engagement is about long-term and sustainable outcomes, building relationships, and meeting the needs of priority populations such as minority entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs, and veterans.
Engaging effectively with communities involves asking why and offering services of value, being location-based, and using technology effectively. Consistency and genuineness are also essential.
Building sustainable partnerships involves asking directly, “What do you need?”
Regular touchpoints and checking in with partners can pay off down the line.
Partnerships can help solve similar challenges and complement each other's roles.
Community engagement is a vital part of small business growth.
The company is rapidly expanding and offers a monthly entrepreneurial resource newsletter called Springboard.
Spring Board Newsletters
Business Resource Blog
Connecting with Shaundra Jacobs and Meghan Rauker:
Connecting with Sean Boyce:
03:33 - “Money is not always the answer. It is more to educate and empower people to be able to start a small business, be entrepreneurs and sustain themselves and their family, create generational wealth. That is our goal with this engagement role.”
17:36 - “I just love to see it in a chart form and say, oh look at all these people I've connected with and let me see exactly where my, you know, how I've interacted and engaged with people. So that's how HubSpot does help us. That's our little way. And then we do have other things like Domo that'll show exactly the impact, and it pulls it into charting and shows you how many people you've impacted and all of that.”
08:28 - “That's the other trick I'd also add to organizations, if you can find other people who have titles like community engagement or community manager in their role, they're much more likely to respond to you. And it's also really great to have like a peer in that space if that's your job. And you're just kind of starting to navigate that space.”
24:12 - “So kindness goes a really long way in connecting with people even after they've left the organization. Especially if you get along, and you're passionate about the same things goes a super long way. Again, it's a long game, a super, super long game, it's a marathon for sure. You have to make sure you take care of yourself and the people in your ecosystem while you're doing it.”
24:36 - “You want to invest in these relationships and the more you invest in them, the more likely you're to get out of it as well too. As such, the community benefits as well. So I love the partnership angle for a whole bunch of reasons. Just great to be able to kind
Driving Lasting Economic and Social Change: DreamSpring's Mission
In this episode of Scaling Impact, Sean Boyce hosts Anne Haynes and Marisa Barrera from DreamSpring to discuss their mission of supporting entrepreneurs and driving economic and social change. They explore the meaning of impact and the importance of equitable access to capital. Additionally, they delve into the role of nonprofit boards in fundraising, building a partnership with CEOs, and maximizing positive change.
Marisa Barrera is the Chief Impact Officer at DreamSpring, bringing over 27 years of experience to her role. With a background in public and international affairs, Marisa is dedicated to driving economic equity and inclusion through her work. Anne Haines, the CEO and President of DreamSpring, is a recognized leader known for her commitment to ethics and excellence. Under her guidance, DreamSpring has become one of the top-performing nonprofit microfinance institutions in the United States, providing funding and support to small businesses across 27 states. Anne's vision and impact have earned her numerous awards and accolades, making her a respected figure in the industry. Here are a few of the topics we’ll discuss on this episode of Scaling Impact:
Equitable access to capital is essential in empowering entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds.
Regular communication, exposure to the organization's work, and in-person meetings keep the board engaged.
Dream Springing transitioned from a larger board of directors to a smaller one to enhance governance and leadership excellence.
The composition of the board is carefully developed to best support the organization's short term and long term strategic goals.
Technology expertise has been brought onto the board to support the development of Dream Springing's in-house software.
The board's role is to align its membership with the organization's strategic goals and ensure impactful outcomes.
The episode provides valuable advice and insights for other organizations looking to achieve similar success.
Connecting with Marisa Barrera:
Connecting with Anne Haines:
Connecting with Sean Boyce:
05:08 - “So as a nonprofit community development organization, we're very committed to putting capital into the hands of underserved entrepreneurs and historically underserved communities. For us to make the broadest space economic and social impact, we believe that combining passion and heart and technology to support the scaling of impact are all critical inputs into some of the desired outcomes.”
13:52 - “Nonprofit boards are also responsible for being advocates for the organization for ensuring sufficient financial resources for an organization, which means nonprofit board of directors mostly do need to get involved in fundraising. I think there are very few nonprofit boards where there isn't, you know, some kind of fundraising responsibility that is actually a core part of a nonprofit board role.”
25:57 - “And so we do find that it is important to cultivate through the board's nominating and governance process, really mindful identification of board members who bring the experience, the networks, the background that are needed for a nonprofit's mission fulfillment.”
06:32 - “And when we are working with small businesses, it's so important that every entrepreneur around the country, no matter what their background is, men, women, entrepreneurs of color, individuals with a disability, whoever that person is, if they're dreaming of starting a business and have the tenacity and grit to launch it, we wanna make sure that they're championed and have access to capital to start that business or to grow the business.”
16:19 Sean: “So how do you keep the board engaged in the work that's ongoing so that they can also maximize their impact and track progress?” .. Anne: “Certainly it begins before somebody becomes a board member with a series of really thoughtful conversation
Adapting to Pandemic: Self-Paced Options for Donor Engagement
In this episode, Amber Kani, Head of Stakeholder Engagement at Dream Springing, talks about their approach to using technology to overcome challenges in scaling impact for underrepresented communities. She emphasizes the importance of analyzing donor journeys and addressing pain points through technology while staying open to changes. Dream Springing also adapts to pandemic challenges by providing self-paced options for donor engagement.
Amber Kani is an experienced professional in the field of stakeholder engagement and philanthropy. She currently serves as the Head of Stakeholder Engagement at DreamSpring, where she has successfully implemented comprehensive business development and stewardship strategies to advance the organization's mission. Here are a few of the topics we’ll discuss on this episode of Scaling Impact:
Dream Springing is a nonprofit that provides small business owners and entrepreneurs underrepresented in traditional banking access to capital, education, and resources.
Technology is key to scaling impact by reducing friction points for clients and donors alike, enabling Dream Springing to capture data to improve outreach for clients and fundraise more effectively beyond traditional networks.
Map out the existing workflows to identify challenges and select appropriate technology
Unstick stakeholders by adding a touchpoint into the process and identifying needs to hire appropriate staff
Know your process and deploy your team intentionally.
Crafting innovative solutions using the resources available.
Technology enables stakeholder engagement to be more impactful.
Connecting with Amber Kani:
Connecting with Sean Boyce:
09:12 - “And by leveraging technology we're able to take our digital assets, client features, videos, things that tell our story better than I ever could face-to-face or in a letter and get them in front of people that go beyond the networks of anyone on your fundraising staff. You know, capacity is always a challenge for nonprofits, and leveraging technology can let your fundraisers and your partnership builders and your executive teams do what they do best. And it also enables your clients to have a voice in the process.”
11:24 - “I mean, the great thing about technology is you're constantly getting data on what is working and what isn't, and it enables you to pivot and change as you need. And it would take a long time to figure that out with face-to-face and meetings, certainly at the scale that we're trying to do it.”
11:45 - “Because in terms of cost-effectiveness, I've seen a lot unfortunately of nonprofit organizations that have developed amazing local programs but then they kind of collapse, or they stall under the weight of the growth that they want to try to achieve as they're trying to scale because they haven't taken into account just how expensive time-consuming, how much effort is going to be involved and what it's going to be like trying to manage that at scale.”
19:36 - “Because you're expecting the process that worked yesterday to work for the process of tomorrow's world. That's unlikely to be the case, even if it does, it's going to be significantly less effective. So you're going to need processes to improve those as well too. It isn't like they're going to have to adapt, they're going to have to evolve, and your tools should evolve with you as well too.”
13:27 - “Sean: You'd alluded too as well to the data that you've used to kind of better understand where to apply technology, software, any of these other tools that can help you with scaling more efficiently. What does that look like? What is DreamSprings' process for that? Like how do you know where to apply it next that would also be good for, you know, other nonprofit leaders to learn from in terms of what you've done successfully?
Amber: Yeah, I think the first thing is you need to put your head down be
Supporting Nonprofits to Scale: Insights from GreenLight Fund Boston’s Melissa Luna
In this episode, Senior Executive Director of GreenLight Fund, Melissa Luna, discusses the organization's mission to remove barriers to inclusive prosperity by launching and scaling proven programs that address community-identified needs, GreenLight Fund's approach of investing financial resources and providing long-term sustainability support to partner organizations, and the significance of community engagement and learning from past data and trends within the GreenLight Fund portfolio.
Melissa Luna is an experienced Managing Director with a demonstrated history of working in the philanthropy and nonprofit industry, who is skilled in Nonprofit Management, Program Design, Politics, Policy Analysis, Event Planning, and Evaluation. Here are a few of the topics we’ll discuss on this episode of Scaling Impact:
The programs that the organization launches and scales that meet community-identified needs.
The multi-year funds and on-ground support that Greenlight Fund invests and provides for portfolio organizations.
The KPIs are outlined to determine reasonable and high growth for organizations over four years.
How brand visibility, partnerships, and unlocking investments are important for growth and expansion.
Why successful scaling requires a step-by-step approach and managing risk with the unexpected that may come along.
How Greenlight Fund helps nonprofits to scale up in the Greater Boston region.
Connecting with Melissa Luna:
Connecting with Sean Boyce:
15:20 – “I'd love to talk a little bit more about that too because obviously the theme of this show is figuring out how to help people that are making amazing change, but maybe it's just hyper-local at the moment, but it's something that, you know, the needs that you described, the mental health challenges, the disproportionate level of access for people of color, those types of things, those are not hyperlocal problems, right? Like they may be varying levels of degree of severity, but those are ubiquitous. These problems exist everywhere. So obviously we want to see what we can't do about taking those to programs that have been successful in local communities and making them as accessible as possible so that people that are experiencing them everywhere can get access to the same level of help. That was really the inspiration behind the creation of this podcast interviewing professionals like you who have done this successfully over and over again”
17:38 – “So from the very beginning it is about setting it up for success. Part of what we do also with the organizations when we do select them is we outline KPIs. So key performance indicators over those four years to determine what is reasonable growth and what is high growth. Because we want for there obviously to be reasonable growth, but we also want to shoot for the stars and make sure that we're going for high growth.”
19:54 – “And so our job at Greenlight is to ensure that they're learning the right lessons in those first two years that they're pivoting, that they're applying what we're learning and then helping them to figure out, now that we know what works in our market, how do we grow that? What are the partnerships, what are the public funding sources and what ways can we continue to elevate the local leader so that we are bringing in these opportunities to continue to grow the program.”
20:58 – “Building their solution to be sustainable is probably one of the biggest challenges facing the future success for nonprofits and impact-related organizations that have even some track record of success, a fact that their programs work. I've read countless stories in their, they're such a rollercoaster because they're amazing to learn about problem that they wanted to solve, the improvement they wanted to make in their community”
25:38 – “And I think that when we talk about our community, it's really center
Venture Philanthropy - Unrestricted Funding for Nonprofits with The GreenLight Fund’s Casey Johnson
This episode, The GreenLight Fund’s Vice President Casey Johnson talks about the venture philanthropy space, why funding should be unrestricted, and the different types of personalities you need in an organization to scale successfully.
Casey Johnson has over 20 years of program management experience for various non-profit organizations, including five years focusing on implementing and refining literacy programs in the United States and globally in 10 developing countries.
Casey also has over 10 years of experience working in venture philanthropy doing strategic grantmaking, deep diligence on potential portfolio organizations, and local community landscape analysis work.
She is currently the Vice President of The GreenLight Fund which helps transform the lives of children, youth, and families in high-poverty urban areas. Here are a few of the topics we’ll discuss on this episode of Scaling Impact:
The unique approach of GreenLight Fund.
The venture philanthropy space.
How to get funding to scale and grow.
The benefits of unrestricted funding.
The due diligence involved in acquiring funding.
The different types of personalities you need in an organization to scale successfully.
Connect with Casey Johnson:
Connecting with the host:
Sean Boyce on LinkedIn
Sean Boyce by Email
6:49 - “We raise dollars in each of our communities and then invest those dollars back into our communities through investments in nonprofit 5013C organizations who are doing work to move the needle on economic mobility for residents families individuals experiencing poverty in our communities.”
10:31 - “We’re investing in something that’s not there but could come in there and be really successful and putting a lot of momentum behind that really amazing thing and then you think all that takes 12 months just to get to that point of making that decision but our real work it’s almost like the tip of the iceberg is what you see when you’re making this selection but our real work is what you don’t see at that iceberg, it’s 4 plus years of portfolio management and partnership.”
16:12 - “I know we’ve heard a lot about trust-based philanthropy that’s definitly a buzz words these days in our spaces and in the social sector but this is truly leaning into partnership and leaning into trust and saying we trust that you are going to use our dollars well we’re going to hold you accountable in these ways but we’re also going to support you in these ways which means we’re going to help unlock some doors for you, we’re going to introduce you to our network, we’re going to do all those things that make it difficult to come into a new space and set up shop right out of the gate on your own, and I think it becomes so critical to remove barriers and hurdles wherever you can and one of those is absolutely removing restricting dollars, guess what paying the light bill is just as important.”
20:42 - “I think it’s so important for an organization to have the gas pedal maybe one maybe a couple of people within the organization, the leadership theme, the board that are the gas pedal that are let’s go we’ve got this we don’t have everything figured out who cares we’ll figure it out as we go, are willing to take risk and just move at the speed of lighting or would like to if they can.”
26:40 - “Scaling is not easy and I know you’ve covered this ground with some of the other amazing leaders you’ve had on Sean for this phenomenal podcast but it’s hard and I don’t think we truly acknowledge that of how hard it can be and I think it can also be hard to think about when is going to be the right time for my organization to do this, and also be ok with if there’s never that right time because you just want to focus on the area where you’ve started this amazing thing.”
If you'd like to learn how to scale impact at your nonprofit o
Preparing Graduates for Workplace Success with Braven’s Aimee Eubanks Davis
This episode, Founder and CEO of Braven Aimee Eubanks Davis talks about the challenges underrepresented youth face in the labor market, what graduates need to be successful in the workplace, and the ways Braven measures its impact and plans to scale.
Aimée Eubanks Davis is the founder and CEO of Braven, a national nonprofit focused on ensuring that underrepresented college students are able to put their education to work and land strong first jobs upon graduation.
Since 2013, Aimée has led a talented team of regional executive directors as well as the heads of product, technology, development, external affairs, and staff to ensure the best possible experience for Fellows.
In partnership with university and employer partners, Braven is providing a systemic, sustainable, diverse talent strategy for our nation and has served more than 3,295 college students in Chicago, the Bay Area, Newark, New Jersey, New York City, and Atlanta. Here are a few of the topics we’ll discuss on this episode of Scaling Impact:
How to get underrepresented young people into the labor market.
How Braven helps underrepresented youth in higher education.
How organizations can focus on the impact they have.
How to measure the impact of an organization.
The key metrics Braven uses to indicate their impact.
What graduates need to be successful in the workplace.
The technology challenges organizations face as they scale.
Connect with Aimee Eubanks Davis:
Connecting with the host:
Sean Boyce on LinkedIn
Sean Boyce by Email
7:24 - “We’re really looking for that full quality employment which means it is worthy of the bachelor's degree that there are health and wealth benefits so they get a 401K they get access to strong benefits that there’s learning and development in their role and finally that there’s a pathway to promotion in their role as well so we really want to make sure students have that kind of an economic opportunity because if they don’t there’s a scarring effect on the backend.”
11:04 - “Just as long as you’re in higher ed you’re going to come out strong, that is not the case you actually have to get ready to come out strong, and if you don’t have parents and friends at your living room table at your dining room table or at your living room armchair giving you this advice and getting you ready then you’re actually not getting ready and people don’t know that.”
24:51 - “People believe at moments to volunteer or to make a commitment to a young people is so significant like I just can’t find the time and I get it people are busy I really do and yet one person can do a mock interview for 2 hours during the semester at one of our campuses and make a real connection with the student that actually could help the student see where they might go next or where that volunteer is like oh my gosh this young person is completely great my cousin runs this other company or is in the Government and works on this issue that their interested in and I can just make a quick LinkedIn connection and so the power of one is really real in our world”
If you'd like to learn how to scale impact at your nonprofit organization by more than double in less than half the time, I'd encourage you to sign up for my free 5 day email course at https://nxtstep.io/impact/.