Social Good Instigators Podcast

Looking for inspiration and encouragement geared towards leaders of social good organizations? Join your host Kirsten Bullock on the Social Good Instigators Podcast to hear about what's working. You'll be learning from other leaders who will provide helpful tips related to social entrepreneurship, growing successful organizations and more. Leaders will be sharing about ways they helped their organizations excel (as well as things that didn't work out so well). Formerly known as the Nonprofit Leaders Network Podcast.
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Nov 7, 2016

Today we’re talking with Charles Archer, Co-Founder and CEO of the THRIVE Network. We discuss topics relating to ways to develop as a leader including how to invest in yourself, how to lead through consensus, the differences between older and younger staff members, and when it is necessary to make staff changes.

The key points covered in this podcast discussion are:

  • Ways to Develop as a Leader
  • Leadership Through Consensus: Being Present, Messaging and Accountability
  • Don’t Wait to Make Necessary Staff Changes
  • Generational Conflict: Immediacy vs. Intentionality
  • It’s Your Responsibility to Invest in Your Learning

Visit to find the podcast, transcript, and to sign up to receive notifications as new episodes are released (every two weeks). Episodes are also available via Stitcher, iTunes, GooglePlay, and iHeartRadio.

Oct 24, 2016

In our podcast discussion this week, we are chatting with Mark Eddy, Executive Director of Leadership Southern Indiana. Topics discussed include knowing when it is time to expand, handling those who oppose change, funding an expansion, and personal growth as a leader to facilitate growth in your organization.

The key points covered in this podcast discussion are:

  • Knowing When It’s Time to Expand
  • Your Biggest Detractor Can Become a Great Advocate
  • Growing Funding Doesn’t Always Mean a New Approach to Raising Funds
  • Failure = Learning, And That’s a Good Thing
  • Letting Go Allows Others the Room to Grow

Visit to find the podcast, transcript, and to sign up to receive notifications as new episodes are released (every two weeks). Episodes are also available via Stitcher, iTunes, and GooglePlay.

Oct 10, 2016

In our podcast discussion this week, we are chatting with Nina Dudnik, founder and CEO of Seeding Labs. We discuss topics relating to taking a nonprofit from an idea run by a group of volunteers to a productive organization, Nina’s challenges of shifting from the scientist mode to the nonprofit leader mode, and the steps they took to professionalize and fund their growing idea.

The key points covered in this podcast discussion are:

  • Recognizing When It’s Time to Professionalize a Nonprofit
  • Recognizing the Right Next Step as a Non-Profit Evolves
  • Running a Non-Profit is Often Living in the Midst of Unknowns
  • Larger Grants Often Mean More Data Tracking
  • Listen to Your Gut Instinct and Don’t Over-Analyze

Visit to find the podcast, transcript, and to sign up to receive notifications as new episodes are released.

Sep 26, 2016

In this podcast, we are talking with Coach AK, President and Founder of Empower 2 Play. We discuss topics relating to how to keep going when you keep hitting walls, trusting in the process, the benefits of finding strategic corporate sponsors, and differentiating yourself from other nonprofits.

The key points covered in this podcast discussion are:

  • Difficult Tasks Seem Easy in Hindsight
  • A Big ‘Why’ Keeps You Going
  • Sometimes it’s in the ‘Bad’ Moments that the Magic Happens
  • With Corporations, Look for Strategic Partnerships
  • Know Your Strengths – and What Differentiates You

Visit to find the podcast, transcript, and to sign up to receive notifications as new episodes are released (every two weeks).  

Sep 12, 2016

Today we welcome Ken Goldstein to our Nonprofit Leaders Network podcast. Ken shares with us some of the interesting challenges he has faced when serving as an interim executive director including setting priorities, building relationships with key personnel, keeping your best staff, and dealing with stress.

The key points covered in this podcast discussion are:

  • Keeping the Staff You Want to Keep: Communication is the Key
  • Know Where It’s Safe to Vent
  • As an Interim, Identify What Can Wait
  • Nonprofit Management is a Team Sport
  • Words of Wisdom: Connect with Others

Visit to find the podcast, transcript, and to sign up to receive notifications as new episodes are released (every two weeks).

Aug 29, 2016

Today, we’re talking with Pamela Hawley, Founder and CEO of Universal Giving. Pamela shared with us how she finds, identifies and grooms potential board members, the criteria she uses, the active role of the board of advisors, and why nonprofits should not invite friends and family to the board.

The key points covered in this podcast discussion are:

  • Strategically Identify and Groom New Potential Board Members
  • Assessing Potential Board Members
  • Hold Board Members Accountable with Sensitivity and Outcomes Worksheets
  • Why You Shouldn’t Recruit Friends and Family as Board Members
  • Don’t Take Funding (or Anything Else) for Granted
  • When the Going Gets Tough, Keep Looking Up

Visit to find the podcast, transcript and full bio, and to sign up to receive notifications as new episodes are released (every two weeks).

Aug 15, 2016

In this podcast, we are conversing with Jim Wehner, President of Focused Community Strategies (FCS) in Atlanta, Georgia.

We discuss topics relating to how to increase leadership team strength through strength-based hiring, increasing efficiency and reducing confusion through nonprofit mergers, successfully replacing a long-term founder and leader, and the difficult decision of cancelling a long-term program.

The key points covered in this podcast discussion are:

  • Recognizing – and Leading from – Your Strengths
  • Hiring for Your Weaknesses
  • Reducing Confusion by Merging Related Nonprofits
  • Stepping in and Changing Direction as a New CEO
  • Making the Decision to Cancel a Long-Term Program

Visit to find the podcast, transcript, and to sign up to receive notifications as new episodes are released (every two weeks).

Aug 1, 2016

In this podcast, we are talking with Pamela Brewer, Executive Director of MyNDTALK, and a psychotherapist in private practice in Bethesda, Maryland and Washington, D.C. We discuss her experiences with starting a nonprofit from scratch, lessons learned, and keys to being successful in this endeavor.

Some of the key points covered in this podcast discussion are:

  • Sometimes You Need to Adjust Your Terminology to Reach More People
  • Balancing Different Priorities
  • What to Do If / When You Start to Lose Hope
  • When Setting Up a Nonprofit, Don’t Do It On Your Own
  • Listening - Key to Nonprofit Success

Visit to find the podcast, transcript, and to sign up to receive notifications as new episodes are released.

Jul 18, 2016

In our podcast this week, we are chatting with Hillary Schafer, Executive Director of the Jefferson Awards Foundation. Hillary shared her experiences and reactions to transitioning from the public sector to the nonprofit sector, how she has overcome some of the challenges of her position, and her insights into working with a board of directors.

The key points covered in this podcast discussion are:

  • Surprise of Entering the Nonprofit Sector: Much Harder, Higher Risk Level
  • Stay Focused on Impact: The Power of Story
  • Partnership Challenge: Seeing Other Nonprofits as Competitors • Board Management is Sales
  • Focus on Strengths to Empower Your Board
  • Challenge for Nonprofits: Determining the Right Pay for the Non-Profit Sector
  • Challenge for Nonprofit Leaders: Build – or Find – a Support Network

Visit to find the podcast, transcript, and to sign up to receive notifications as new episodes are released (every two weeks).

Jul 5, 2016

In this podcast with Amanda Missey, Executive Director of the Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative, our discussions include concerns for the future in nonprofit leadership, leadership value vs. pay issues, leadership training programs, the importance of and tips for succession planning, as well as the recent change in the overtime rules and its impact. The key points covered in this podcast discussion are:

• Impact of New Overtime Rule on Nonprofits: Programs will Likely be Impacted

• Community Leadership Programs: A Resource for Nonprofits

• Cross-Sector Partnerships: A Win-Win Proposition

• Succession Planning: Be Intentional

• Valuing the Contribution of the Nonprofit World Includes Improving Pay

Visit to find the podcast, transcript, and to sign up to receive notifications as new episodes are released (every two weeks). Episodes are also available via Stitcher, iTunes, and GooglePlay.

Jun 27, 2016

Whatever your vocation or aspiration, you can increase your impact on others and help the nonprofit organization you serve by Becoming a Person of Influence. Learn simple, insightful ways to interact more positively with others, and watch your personal and organizational success go off the charts.

In this recording, you’ll learn the principles of becoming a person of influence as laid out in John Maxwell’s best selling leadership book, Learning to Become a Person of Influence (with a focus on the nonprofit sector). When you register, you’ll receive access to the recording, transcript, powerpoint and a personal Influence Assessment.

Practical and Easy Principles to Apply to Everyday Life that will help you:

  • See your employees respond with new enthusiasm
  • Connect with your board on a deeper level (and be seen as a leader by them)
  • Reach more people
  • Raise more money
  • Build a team to help accomplish your vision in the world

To access the transcript, powerpoint presentation, and a personal Influence Assessment, visit:

Jun 20, 2016

Today we’re talking with Jeanne Allert, Founder and Executive Director of The Samaritan Women. Jeanne shared the trials and lessons learned from starting a nonprofit from scratch in an area that has low awareness and is often not a welcomed subject in many groups – victims of sex trafficking. Her calling lead her through many challenges including developing the right staff, developing a new program around a difficult issue, and learning how to deal with and engage others in an uncomfortable topic. The key points covered in this podcast discussion are:

• To Achieve Success You Have to be Comfortable in the Unknown

• Staying Upbeat Requires Intentional Community Building

• Uncomfortable Topics Require Persistence and Flexibility

• Don’t Panic When Starting Something New: Take Time to Find the Right People

• When the Going Gets Tough, Stay Focused

Visit to find the podcast, transcript, and to sign up to receive notifications as new episodes are released (every two weeks).

Jun 6, 2016

In this podcast, we are talking with David Rosen, Executive Director for the Sobriety Optimization League (SOL) Scholarship Foundation. We discussed topics relating to cultivating future donors, building a relationship with the donor family as a whole, using texting and social media, and communicating with millennials. The key points covered in this podcast discussion are:

• Cultivating & Preparing Future Donors – It’s a Family Affair

• A $50,000 donation via text?!

• Communicating with Millennials – Don’t Rule Out Social Media

• Major Gift Fundamentals: No Hardly Ever Means Never

• Asking for a Gift: It’s a Relationship

Visit www.SocialGoodInstigators.comto find the transcript and to sign up to receive notifications as new episodes are released (every two weeks).

May 23, 2016

Today we’re talking with Angel Aloma, Executive Director of Food For The Poor, who talks about their mid-level donor program, how it evolved, and some of its great successes.

The key points covered in this podcast discussion are:

• Starting with the End in Mind: Stewardship and Upgrading

• Donor-Centered Language in Fundraising Appeals (Emotional Connections = Higher Gifts)

• A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats: Adding Stewardship Levels Increases All Giving

• Breaking Down Silos to Achieve Fundraising Success

• For Ministries, A Strong Prayer Program Yields Big Dividends

Visit to find the podcast, transcript, and to sign up to receive notifications as new episodes are released (every two weeks).

May 9, 2016

In this podcast, we talk with Jessica Stavros, director of the Culbertson Mansion and advisor to the Friends of Culbertson Mansion. We discuss topics relating to the successful fundraising efforts they have had using volunteers, recently reaching the $1 million mark with their annual haunted house event. The key points covered in this podcast discussion are:

• The Million Dollar Haunted House (Persistence is the Key)

• Volunteer Involvement, Passion & Innovation - Essential in Event Fundraising

• Recruiting Younger Volunteers: Let Them Be Creative

• Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Volunteer Orientation

• Don’t be Afraid to Ask for a Big Commitment

• Maintaining Momentum by Managing Expectations (in it for the long haul)

• Closing Words - Collaboration Is One of the Most Important Things Any Nonprofit Can Do

Visit to find the transcript and to sign up to receive notifications as new episodes are released (every two weeks).

Apr 25, 2016

In this podcast, we are talking with Chris McFarland, Executive Vice President of PULSE. We discussed topics related to how to structure, hire and manage staff in an ever-growing and expanding organization.

Chris McFarland joined the PULSE team in November of 2010 as Executive Director. Previously, he served as a national Festival Director with the Luis Palau Association for 7 years, moving to several major U.S. cities to build teams from the ground up, overseeing all operations including budget formation, fundraising, and public relations.

PULSE is a prayer and evangelism movement on a mission to help the younger generation come to know Jesus by hosting outreach events, providing the evangelistic voice at other organizations’ events, training evangelists on American college campuses and overseas. PULSE was started on the North Dakota State University campus in 2004 by Nick Hall.

The key points covered in this podcast discussion are:

• Continually Adapting and Adjusting to Allow Growth to Happen

• Developing Division of Responsibilities and Depth in the Organizational Chart

• Finding – or Growing – Fundraising Capability

• Building Out the Executive Team to Support Growth

• The Importance of the Right Fit – and of Moving On

Visit to find the transcript and to sign up to receive notifications as new episodes are released (every two weeks). Episodes are also available via Stitcher, iTunes, and GooglePlay.

Apr 11, 2016

Jeff Griesemer is the founder of Child Rescue Network(CRN) where he serves as President and CEO. In 1994, Jeff saw first-hand the incredible damage inflicted on two innocent children who were abducted but finally rescued after 5 long years. Since then, he has been involved with issues regarding missing and victimized children. In addition to 17 years experience developing and implementing child safety programs, he has received training from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the US Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and Fox Valley Technical College regarding missing child case management and safety procedures. He also had training including Incident Command, Search and Rescue techniques, Missing Child & Disabled Adult Search procedures with the NJ State Police and Internet Crimes training with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Here are some of the highlights from the episode:

Getting the Word Out: Speaking and Public Relations
Marketing your brand is very important for any nonprofit. Ways of achieving this are speaking, getting out in the community and talking to different groups including groups like Rotary, professional groups and chambers of commerce. It also includes the media. If there's a local story you can provide appropriate content or context for, reach out to the media and let them know you are available for interview anytime. Over time you will establish a positive relationship with them. This means they will likely reach out to you when something comes up.

Traditional Fundraising is Still a Relevant Funding Tool for Nonprofits
Cause marketing was Jeff's main idea of raising money because of his background in radio. He consults businesses and nonprofits on how partnerships can bring much-needed programs to communities, while also enhancing corporate brands and building customer loyalty. With so much focus on this in the early days he admitted to missing out on some opportunities. So now they are trying to catch up on applying for more grants, working on building donor relations and using other fundraising tools that nonprofits utilize.

Identifying Potential Corporate Partners
Corporate partners should be ones that have a natural passion for your mission. An example is a bottled water company which donates to areas of the world where drinking water is scarce. Jeff explained that this and other corporations or businesses who do a similar act of giving are really living out their mission. Consumers expect companies to give back to the community. The result is being more friendly to customers, and growing a base of loyal customers. But make a note that customers also can spot it if it's more about the company than the cause.

In closing, Jeff shared:
"You just have to remember that you have that passion, keep that vision in front of you, front and center, keep moving forward. And, while it may not happen as quickly as you would like if you just keep pushing for it, it does happen. Things fall into place..."

Go to for more information on the podcast.

Mar 28, 2016

We have Dave Krepcho as our guest for this episode of the Nonprofit Leaders Network. Vision and Board Communication were just two of the topics covered during the course of the call.

Dave is the President and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank in Florida and is one of Orlando Business Journal’s 2015 class of CEO of the Year honorees. He has 22 years of experience in the food security sector. He started in non-profit management with a food bank in Miami, as president and CEO and then moved on to work at the national level for Feeding America as vice president of business development. Dave also serves on various boards at the local, state, and international levels.

Second Harvest Food Bank, based in Orlando, is Central Florida's largest nonprofit food distributor. They are the "bridge" to an incredible amount of surplus food to a large population in Florida that is food insecure and at-risk of being hungry. Last year, they provided enough food for forty million meals. Here are some of the key points from our discussion:

Engaging the Board in Developing a Strong Vision Dave believes in the old saying “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” That vision, though bigger than the board itself, should lay out a map of where they're going. So co-create that vision, and eventually your mission, with your board.

Using the Strategic Plan as a Way to Document Progress Strategic planning may sound a lot of work but if done right, you have the roadmap to where you are going. Document the progress towards that vision and when people see progress and positive results, they're more likely to stay involved.

Building on a Strong Foundation and Envisioning a Better Future Review the mission of your organization and what it was in the past and hit the refresh button. Does this mission still hold or does it need to be tweaked? What else can you do to benefit the community? Healthy questions such as those make your direction much clearer.

Staying Tuned in with Your Board Dave recalls being an executive director of a different organization in the past where he thought he got out too far ahead of the board of directors. And he has learned that lesson. He says it's all about communication, communication at a very high level. "The relationship between the executive director and the board… I liken it to a dance. Sometimes you have to lead and sometimes you have to follow. And you try not to step on each other's feet," Dave added.

Investing Time to Effectively Manage a Volunteer Board Invest time with the board, your officers, the subcommittees, and activities of the board and build good relationships with the group and individually. Attend committee meetings and be part of those conversations.

Recruiting and Vetting Potential Board Members It is good to establish a process for vetting prospects. Look for potential members who have a passion for and belief in you vision and mission. Diversity among members is also as important. Dave says that the more you can achieve a real nice mix and variety of people, the richer the conversation and the bigger the benefit for the organization is. You also want people who have some influence, people who are connectors and ideally someone who is close to the population you are serving. And for qualified people whose reasons for joining the board is still unclear to you, suggest they be involved in a subcommittee first. When you see how engaged they are, you may want to consider them for the governing board at some point in the future.

Find more information on the podcast at

Mar 14, 2016

Bob Lane is our guest for this episode of the Nonprofit Leaders Network Podcast and he is sharing about collaborations and partnerships.

Bob has served as the Executive Director of The New Albany (Indiana) Housing Authority (NAHA) since 2001. He has degrees in Business Administration and Education, as well as holding National Public Housing Management Certifications from NAHRO and Nan McKay and the Rutgers University Executive Training Certification from PHADA.

NAHA was established on March 30, 1937 and today has 1082 Public Housing Units and 408 Section 8 Units. Awards include the 2013 National NMA Excellence in Housing Award and 2014 NAHRO National Awards of Merit for innovative programming and partnerships. NAHA continues to be a HUD National “High Performer” in Public Housing and Section 8 Programs and is proud as assisting residents to become home owners.


Here are just a few highlights of the conversation:


The Many Benefits of Collaborating

Collaboration provides many services your organization cannot provide. While NAHA’s particular role is keeping a roof over someone’s head and their family, their collaborating agencies provide wrap-around services that help their residents succeed. For many residents, their wages are not very high and they need a lot of services. Collaborative partners provide help through workshops, paying utilities for residents and providing food and clothing. One of their collaborating agencies has a teacher on-site to help residents earn their GED. They recognize that education and skills are valuable ways to help people out of poverty.

Ask for Commitment from Potential Partners

For Bob commitment, or ‘skin in the game,’ can be things like money, resources (such as space), time, access to training, etc. They keep their partners well-informed of the rules and about what’s going on. Through the programs of their committed partners, they have been able to provide residents with training and skills to get better jobs to help them be in a position down the road to purchase their own home. Their partners work closely with residents to try and help them on their journey to self-sufficiency.

Avoid Partners Who Just Want to Smell Good

Bob shared that there are some potential partners who want to look good, smell good and yet do nothing. They try to sort these out very quickly by discerning how engaged they are in the partnership. If not, they get out of it as quickly as possible.

Success through Collaborations

Bob says if you’re trying to accomplish your goals, you can be 10 times more successful if you collaborate. We have certain expertise while other agencies have expertise in other areas and collaboration tries to bring that together to provide more efficient ways to serve.

Find more information on the podcast at

Feb 29, 2016

Matt McIntyre is our guest for this episode of the Nonprofit Leaders Network to discuss Nonprofits and the digital space that is social media.

Matt is co-founder and executive director of Brackets For Good, an Indianapolis, Indiana based 501(c)3 charitable organization focused on activating new donors and increasing awareness for other nonprofit organizations through competitive, online fundraising at no cost.


Brackets For Good is a online fundraising tournament where local nonprofits compete against one another to out fundraise each other, advance through a bracket style tournament, so they’re competing head-to-head round by round. They advance in this tournament, they’re gaining more dollars, more awareness, new donors, and the winning organization will have a chance to receive a $10,000 grand prize from a very generous corporate sponsor.

He is a Butler University graduate with a successful background in software marketing and previous experience in co-founding a nonprofit school for computer programing Eleven Fifty and marketing consulting company Sixty100.

Following are some of the key points from our discussion:

Social Media: A Leadership Opportunity

Almost always within nonprofits social media defaults to being the intern or volunteer task. Why should this be the case? Through digital platforms you are broadcasting a message to many people about your organization that you care so much about; but you are not really taking responsibility for and ownership of that strategy by simply delegating it. They don’t have as much experience of your organization, the good it’s doing and in telling its story, in telling your story. Find a way to spend time learning this new tool that is going to better the organization longer term. It is an amazing opportunity to tell your story to people who want to hear it. You’ve got to tell them the story and make sure they understand it. Own your organizations social media voice.

Crossing the Nonprofit Digital Divide: Just Take a Single Step

The digital world can seem a complicated and difficult space to operate in, which may in part explain why there is such a large number of nonprofits NOT engaged with it at all, or only in a very limited capacity. But really, you just need to start somewhere, anywhere, and doesn’t need to be a big action. I encourage organizations to see what tools they already have available to them, tools that are truly accessible. It could be as simple as making better use of your website or as simple as an email. Could you start a standard email newsletter to better engage with your board, or your volunteers, or your beneficiaries? What does it look like for you to start doing something today that can be a good stepping stone?

Don’t Be the Best Kept Secret Anymore: It’s Your Choice

We all know the old hat marketing terminology “Invest in Your Brand” right? In todays world nonprofits really should consider this in relation to digital development in the same was as they do flyers, traditional fundraisers and volunteer drives. When it comes to nonprofits operating in the digital space people gravitate to, discover, and learn more about something that they can relate to, access easily and that really appeals to them. So, when I say invest in your brand, I mean both raise your awareness and your outward communication, and social media is a great place to do that and reach a really wide audience with minimal effort and cost. So just don’t hesitate. Don’t be the best kept secret anymore.

Find more information on the podcast at

Feb 15, 2016

In this episode of of the Nonprofit Leaders podcast we are delighted to welcome Whitney Bishop who, for over 20 years, has been an engaging facilitator, informative trainer and inspirational communicator for higher education, business and non-profit organizations in Kentucky.

A change agent for both for-profit and non-profit enterprises, Whitney has a long history of serving people in various people development roles for organizations and companies. These have included the University of Louisville, Louisville Metro Government, Dress for Success Tampa, and Brown-Forman

She has crafted and conducted training seminars in a wide variety of related skill areas, such as communication, customer service, career development, change management, creative problem solving, decision making, personal accountability, strategic planning and having FUN at work. Whitney’s participant centered approach to training & facilitation puts her clients, students and participants at ease, enabling them to take full advantage of her extensive experience in the non-profit sector.

You can listen and enjoy the full discussion with Whitney in our podcast. And here are some of the highlights.

Create Permission to talk About Accountability became clear that one of the key elements to a successful relationship between myself and my board was getting clear about the expectations. Then, learning how to hold each-other accountable for those expectations in a way that was respectful, that was effective, and that moved the mission forward. Learning how to create permission and have those conversations, and set up our meetings in such a way that allowed us to deal with the expectations and discuss what ACTUALLY happened up front made the biggest difference, I think, in our ability to communicate more openly and more effectively.

Trust and Accountability Go Hand in Hand

When you have people who struggle with dealing with conflict or struggle with change, you can also see that they struggle with the accountability piece. So, sometimes it went well, sometimes it didn't go well. What we tried to do was create permission in a culture that allowed us to have difficult conversations, to call a time-out and say, "I'm sensing some tension, let's have a conversation about what's happening here." Accountability is very closely related to trust. Making sure that you are continuing to build a culture that fosters trust makes it a little bit easier to get that mutual accountability that's so effective.

Sometimes it’s about Slowing Down to Speed Up

I really believe in taking, and investing, the time that you need into creating that cultural piece. It's a slow down to speed up, if you will. Sometimes you do need to really prepare, and plan, and slow things down so that along the way you can move more quickly. Every time that we ended up having these conversations, the more and more we practiced holding each-other to the things that we said we would accomplish, the more we stopped and asked a clarifying question, the more we got to know each-other. We got to learn about the conversations that needed to happen beforehand, to help everyone arrive to the meeting prepared to have the better focused conversations that we really needed to have.

Find more information on the podcast at

Feb 1, 2016

Topher Wilkins is our guest to discuss Convening for Change in this episode of the Nonprofit Leaders Network podcast.

For over a decade, Topher has been convening and connecting people for the purposes of social change - first, with co-founding the Highland City Club, a membership community of 300 change-makers in Boulder, Colorado, then to managing Dunton Hot Springs, one of North America’s top all-inclusive resorts and retreat centers. He now leads the Opportunity Collaboration, a global network of 1400 nonprofit leaders, for-profit social entrepreneurs, grant-makers, impact investors, corporates and academics building sustainable solutions to poverty, and has created, a trade association for fellow impact conference organizers.

Ultimately the goal of Opportunity Collaboration is to bring nonprofit leaders together in a broad community network and facilitate a supportive environment in their vision to solve global poverty. We discuss how they are providing a way they can see where their professional emphases overlap, where they might be able to escalate and scale up their efforts, or even support others to do the same, in a non-traditional inclusive process.

Here you can read some of the key points from our discussion –

Building Authentic Relationships and Increasing Partnerships
The focus of the Opportunity Collaboration work is much more to do with the inner, personal work that we as nonprofit leaders are doing. What's our story? What's our path? What's our personal experience of poverty? How have we handled power and privilege as it relates to the work? What are the emotional triggers that we bring into the field? Etc.

The unconference model we use is unique in the sense that there are no fundraisers, no keynotes, no PowerPoints, pitches, presentations, etc. Every session is designed to be a dialogue for around 15 people. It's a chance to be very open, raw and real, and perhaps even vulnerable with each other. As a result, many partnerships and collaborations can develop which are progressed outside of the event, through ongoing connections to move their visions forward.

Setting the Tone for a Productive Unconference
With anyone who enrolls to attend an unconference we have several touch points as part of that enrollment process. It's our chance to understand what each of these delegates are working on, what it is they're hoping to get out of being at the Opportunity Collaboration, what is it that they're hoping to contribute to the other folks that are there.

We also have what we call a guide program, a group of delegates who have participated in the Opportunity Collaboration who help all the folks coming for the first time to really understand what they're getting into, why it's a different conference structure, and what that means in terms of the culture that underpins the Opportunity Collaboration. The guiding question of “what can I do for you” is really the core of the culture here.

Creating a Convening Experience
I think what differentiates us is the safe space we create for delegates every day to have these delicate conversations, to really make meaningful dialogue, have a learning arc and have a transformative experience as a result.

We work hard making sure that the facilitators are top-notch facilitators and trained really well, and that the dynamics of individuals in those groups - which we construct with great care - are tended to.

Learning from Mistakes: Overcoming Uncomfortable Discussion, Learning and Moving Forward
Sometimes things don’t work out as you hoped. About four years ago, we decided to try getting all four hundred people together in one room for part of the day, and organized a panel (yes, that flies in the face of the unconference model) made up of a facilitator, a non-profit leader and a prominent funder.

The idea was to explore the dynamics around power and privilege as it exists between funder and fundee in the nonprofit world. It did give an opportunity to air those concerns, but it became very confrontational, we did very little in that conversation to actually address those dynamics and move forward. So in a way we failed at the intent.

I'm thankful though that we tried, that people saw Opportunity Collaboration as a space where otherwise taboo subjects could be aired. We've since done a lot of things to improve the funder/fundee relationship, it’s now a much healthier conversation in the Opportunity Collaboration. Nonetheless, it was very cringe-worthy during those couple hours, but we learn and move forward!

Find more information on the podcast at

Jan 18, 2016

We have as our guest this episode of the Nonprofit Leaders Network Podcast, the Reverend Richard Johnson. Richard, who's better known as Richard "Stonefingers" Johnson to fans of his gospel/folk/blues style of music, is the President and CEO of Christian Formation Ministries (CFM for short) based in New Albany, Indiana, and a volunteer chaplain at Henryville Correctional Facility.

The focus of our discussion is the area of succession planning; the impact of a change in leadership on a nonprofit and how leaders themselves can transition out of that leadership role.

Having been involved in prison ministry for over twenty years, the principal focus of Christian Formation Ministries actives is in two key programs - supporting and mentoring those transitioning from prison to free society and a mentoring program for the children of inmates.

Here are some of the main topics from our wide-ranging discussion:

* Recognizing When It’s Time to Turn over the Reins
* Determining What to Look for in a Successor
* Creating a Transition Plan
Recognizing that a Long-Term Commitment will Result in Increased Outcomes

Find more information on the podcast at

Jan 4, 2016

Lori Manns is our guest in this episode of our Nonprofit Leaders Network Podcast. Lori is the founder and President of the nonprofit youth foundation ‘Live Healthy and Thrive’ and CEO of Quality Media Consultant Group.

Our main topics for discussion are on the subjects of marketing and nonprofit collaboration, and how these can help nonprofits go further, faster.

Live Healthy and Thrive Youth Foundation, is an organization focused on fostering and promoting children’s health in and around Atlanta, Georgia. They educate children on healthy lifestyle habits so they avoid obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Their goal is to help them get healthy for life.

Here are some of the key points from our varied discussion:

* The Importance of Visibility and Sharing About the Need
* Collaborating Can Help Nonprofits Move Further, Faster
* Focusing on Impact, Not on Programs
* Be Fun and Engaging and Kids Will Gravitate Towards It

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