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.
RSS Feed




All Episodes
Now displaying: Page 2
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

Find more information on the podcast at

Dec 14, 2015

In this episode of the Nonprofit Leaders Network Podcast series our guest is Dr Tuck Tinsley, President since 1989 of The American Printing House for the Blind (APHB) which is based in Louisville, Kentucky. The world's largest non-profit organization creating educational, workplace, independent living products and services for people who are visually impaired, it was founded back in 1858.

Funded by an annual budget allocation of $25 million a year from Congress they provide services to almost 62,000 register students, have 144 ex officio trustees covering those students in the fifty States and outlying areas, and an eleven strong Corporate Board. They also provide services to the Library of Congress and the IRS. In the interview we explore a number of the issues that managing such a very busy and complex nonprofit can present. Here are some of the highlights.

Being Open to Suggestions and Scaling Impact

As an historic and long established organization largely run by educators, but working in a fast paced and changing field, we were very fortunate in 1997 to have been introduced to Toyota to see if they could help us with the production side of the business. They ‘adopted’ us as an organization and and for six years we had their process engineers here. That helped us see that whilst for many years we had been doing good work we were not that efficient, or innovative. So we examined, listened, learned and applied that. Our product offering went from ten in 1996, to twenty-one new products in 1997 and we have averaged eight-five new products in the last five years, to better serve our customers.

Dividing Responsibilities to Manage Fast-Paced Change

Last year we did a study which showed that the biggest change in education is technology, so it was essential that we developed and keep up to date an efficient technology strategic plan across all our thirteen specialist project areas including early childhood, tactile graphics, braille, low vision etc.
We now have a team that works to develop android and iOS programs, and integrate other growing areas such as You Tube etc. into our offering. We have also added into that a seed technology endowment to see if we can get donors to match some of it, and use that to underwrite some of the products and the research. That will be very beneficial.

Don’t Create Everything Inside & The Importance of Listening

We also learnt from Toyota to really engage with and listen to our customers needs and ideas, just because we didn’t have the idea doesn’t mean to say we can develop and produce it. So we now go from a teacher saying “Hey it would be great if you could produce something that would do this” to identifying that need, developing a prototype to address that, pilot testing, field test and produce it. We schedule a review for five years to see if it’s still needed, or if it’s obsolete. These processes made a huge difference to how we operate.

It’s okay for nonprofits to use corporate methods and experience to help them be better nonprofits. The greatest feeling in the world is to hear the successes of those you've served through the things you're providing for them.

Find more information on the podcast at

Nov 30, 2015

In this episode of the Nonprofit Leaders Network Podcast series we welcome Ellen Rosenthal of Conner Prairie, close to Indianapolis, Indiana.

Conner Prairie has transformed from a very traditional outdoor history museum into a vibrant, busy family and educative destination, providing immersive learning about nature, technology, arts and crafts and the natural environment, all in a historical context. They are also the summer home of the Indianapolis Symphony. With visitations last year of just over 360,000 they are now one of the most visited outdoor history museums in the country.

Here are some of the highlights from our talk:


We believed at Conner Prairie that we were educating visitors by spewing information at them, but we were turning them off; they really didn’t want to take in reams of information when they were trying to have a fun day out. So we had to rethink what we were really trying to do, what was our mission and function in the community.

We used taped recordings of honest visitor experiences to show how they were confused and bored with our current offering, and how, when we changed that to encourage people to explore, be hands-on, and follow their interests, it resulted in much deeper engagement and satisfaction. It enabled us to move from what we thought we were doing into understanding what we really could accomplish, and that became the start point for our transformation.


As hard as we try as organizations to make assumptions about what our clients, customers or visitors think, until we really observe their behavior, stopping talking to ourselves, and honestly look at what is happening we will not get a true picture. We have to go beyond focus groups and traditional feedback forms, and find ways to look at how people are actually behaving, responding to our offerings. It is hard to do, but essential to bring about true transformational change.


At Conner Prairie we started this change in 2003. It probably took six or seven years for everyone to be really on board, including managing a significant governance dispute; when you start something like this you are in for the long-haul. Alongside the mission and offering change, there was a lot of other realignment and skills diversification happening at the same time. When you are working at capturing the hearts and minds of the employees and volunteers at a non-profit through periods of major change it can be a long and hard process. Their motive for being with you in the first place relates directly to their own identify and their belief in what you are doing. Being sensitive to that and making significant change to your organization takes time and sustained effort.

Visit for the transcript and additional show notes. for the transcript and additional show notes.

Nov 16, 2015

Our guest this episode of the Nonprofit Leaders Network Podcast series is Mark Clark, CEO of Generations for Peace, the leading global non-profit peace building organization, which he joined in 2011. Mark has been a corporate lawyer and served as a British Army Officer, and his diverse experience includes humanitarian and emergency relief work, sustainable development, youth leadership, post conflict transition and democratic governance.

Generations for Peace is dedicated to sustainable conflict transformation at the grassroots level, and empowers volunteer leaders of youth to promote active tolerance and responsible citizenship in communities experiencing different forms of conflict and violence across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe.

Here are some of the highlights from our wide ranging discussion –

Permanent Change Requires Long-Term Commitment

Peace building is a long-term process. It needs long-term commitment by us to the volunteers we are supporting and to their communities. Over the last eight years we have trained just under 8,900 volunteers with an average age of between 25 and 35. We want to be working in communities with them for many years, and to really see a deep transformation of the conflict dynamics in any particular case, and be able to seize emergent opportunities for progress as they arise, year-by-year.

The Adaptive Change Process

We focus is on where we can start to build relationships via our youth leaders, knowing that their influence may be small at the beginning. Starting with a focus of just moving from A to B, then B to C and so on, adapting to change as we go. We use the adaptive process of gaining trust, gaining acceptance, and gradually rolling out different forms of activities to allow our volunteers to really gain access to people throughout the chain of influence in their locations.

Finding Funding for Non-Definite Processes Requires Education

Our adaptive, step-by-step approach means that we have to make a big effort to educate our donors. We have to have evidence of the impact our actions are having. Are they sustainable, are they cost effective? With those big questions in mind, we devote a lot of energy into our monitoring and evaluation; of the people running programs, direct participants and also the wider community who are touched or impacted by those directly involved. That depth and breadth of review gives much richer, more compelling data and evidence.

Being Adaptable Means No Mistakes (Just Learning Experiences)

We have an organizational culture where making mistakes is okay. To learn from those mistakes we include in our program cycles space for learning and reflection. If you can build that into your routines and the way your teams work, then you have the opportunity to turn what may seem to be mistakes into, probably, the most valuable learning that will drive your innovation and implementation.

Find more information on the podcast at


Nov 2, 2015

Davy Irby the founder of Surge International is our guest in this episode of the Nonprofit Leaders Network Podcast series. Dave has travelled the world as a soccer coach, or football coach as it would be called in other parts of the world. He is a missionary using the powerful platform of soccer to share a message of love and hope in over fifty countries. Holder of a USA Soccer A Coaching license and a Masters degree in Teaching, Dave founded Surge International in 1991. Surge currently works in eight countries, including Burundi, where Dave is headed next.
To access a transcript and links to resources mentioned in today’s interview visit

We covered a wide range of subjects in our discussion. Here are some of the highlights.

Often, vision is a process. The vision for me was God given. I was coaching soccer and I began praying for what God would want me to do, and one of my players said. “Why don’t you bring the soccer team down to Mexicali with our outreach group to play some games …a game in the men’s prison and the boy’s prison in the village?” So we did, and that first step of faith of a five-day trip led on the following year to a twenty-three-day jaunt to five or six countries. I felt called into youth soccer full time without knowing hardly He was doing it. I think the vision shapes over time and it changes and morphs as you stay with it.

We measure the impact that our work is having both through informal feedback that we receive by staying, for example, in the trenches looking into peoples eyes and seeing the how privileged we have been to bless them, and through some formal processes we have in place. We get written reports from, say, Burundi of things which are happening when we are not there and other forms of feedback. Mostly though we kind of have a feel after years of doing this what’s working and what’s not, and that combined with the feedback helps us decide whether to continue with a project or not.

I am what I’d call a random visionary. I am all over the place, and there are no set hours. When you run nonprofits I think you really need to manage your time. You need to ensure that you make time for your family, as well as everyone else you tend to want to help. Set aside time, make formal appointments in your diary, carve them out time; sit down face to face as a family communicating with no other distractions, which in this day and age is hard. These are things that I think have really helped.

Find more information on the podcast at

Oct 19, 2015

Our guest this episode of the Nonprofit Leaders Network Podcast series is Pamela Darnall, CEO with Family and Children’s Place, which she joined in 1994, becoming its CEO in January 2014. Pam helped lead the merger of 2 organizations in 2008 to create Family and Children’s Place and has held leadership positions with these organizations for more than 20 years. Family and Children’s Place works with children and their family members who have been exposed to, or are vulnerable to child abuse or family violence, serving between 5,000-6,000 people every year.

Here are some of the highlights from our discussion –

Reach Better Decisions by Providing Knowledge to Board Members

We can sometimes become a little challenged with our own board because we expect them to have the level of knowledge of our field that we have. We can forget that these are very busy people who have their own professions and skills but not, necessarily the same in-depth experience in our area. We take the route that it is our job to fully inform the board, not to assume knowledge, to help them understand the issues we are presenting and provide clear supporting information so that the board members can make very informed decisions.

Ways to Stay in Touch with Board Members

There are some very simple ways that can be done, for example, I try to have coffee or lunch with each board member individually at least once a year, as we have just over 30 board members that’s a lot, but it is important and makes a real difference.

I also try to keep in contact with them at board meetings, not just around the meeting table.

We have also started to work on getting the board members connected with each other so that they feel like a team, sharing why and how they are personally connected to the mission.

Board Members Calling Donors (Just to Say Thank You)

A really exciting thing happened when, at a recent board meeting, we gave each board member the name and phone number of two donors, and took 10 minutes out of the meeting for them to call those donors and say Thank You. Everyone did it and afterwards felt that it was a really great way for them to be better connected with those who support us. We are going to try and do that at each meeting, it really got them engaged and talking about what we do.

For the full transcript and show notes visit

Oct 5, 2015

Our guest today is Broc Rosser, Executive Director of the Florida Nonprofit Alliance to discuss advocacy, lobbying and collaboration.

Broc has held a wide variety of roles in nonprofit and government sectors in Florida. He is passionate about creating an informative, effective organization to support, promote and strengthen the extensive nonprofit sector there. With an exceptional record in public policy, advocacy, government relations and strategy he is excited to use those skills to help this young organization provide a united voice for nonprofits in Florida on legislative policy and advocacy.

Here are some discussion highlights:

Working together creates a stronger voice – When the state of Florida was passing a major bill relating to Solicitation and Contribution, it was clear this would have great impact on the nonprofit community through increased transparency and accountability. The Alliance, because of our partnerships, was able to be a go-to resource for the state charity regulators to make the bill be the best it could be for all parties and help the nonprofit industry gain trust and respect.

Nonprofits are an essential part of our community – The state of Florida has over 76,000 nonprofits with about 70 billion in revenue, that’s huge, and accounted for at least 5.5% of the state workforce. It’s essential that legislators understand the importance of this contribution to the economy. Government contracts extensively with nonprofits to deliver services and meet needs that they cannot, and cannot live without the nonprofit world serving clients across our communities.

Nonprofits CAN lobby – Lobbying has become a dirty word in some people’s minds but even a nonprofit 501c3 is allowed to lobby. Lobbying is effectively asking someone to take a certain position on a bill, as opposed to advocacy which is about raising awareness and educating on the impact of a bill. It can get a little in the weeds there, when it comes to lobbying there are some great state non-profit associations like mine to help with very specific examples a nonprofit might have with lobbying and understanding the various limitations.

Building Partnerships – Rather than just looking for partnerships focused on funding, also look for ones to help further your mission, perhaps a well-respected product or program could become a model for different working relationships and collaborations beyond the traditional ways. Partnering with a group that works with your target market that could use your services. Think of a new creative way to do that.

Find more information on the podcast at

Sep 21, 2015

In this episode Margot H. Knight, Executive Director of Djerassi Resident Artists Program, shares about collaboration, sabbaticals, and learning as you go.
Margot considers herself to be the luckiest woman in the arts world. After 35 years and six jobs in the arts and humanities, she now lives and works on a mountain south of San Francisco surrounded by artists and redwoods and earth and sky at one of the foremost artist residency programs in the world. Since 2011 she has served as the Executive Director of Djerassi Resident Artists Program.

Here are some highlights:

Focus on What You Have in Common - Let’s not look at what divides us, let’s look at the things that we share and what we are trying to do with our missions and work to expand those ways in which we can work together.

Collaboration: You Don’t Need Permission - If you do not feel like you are powerful enough that people will say yes to your invitation, do a smaller invitation at first and then expand the circle and expand the circle and expand the circle and take that all information as good approach.

Collaboration: Take Time to Build Consensus - I like to have a conversation that does not rush to a decision too quickly. I like to hear from anybody: what is the problem, what do you see as happening with you and your organization? So what, what does that mean? What impact that is having on your organization, good, bad, indifferent? How do you feel about it? Now what can we do? The biggest mistake we make is rushing to the decision part too quickly. Everybody has got to be able to talk. If you go through this process you are getting pushed up the hill backwards rather than trying to drag everyone along with you.

Whispers, If Not Attended To, Can Become Big Problems - Every problem you have is a whisper you ignored.

Find more information on the podcast at

Sep 7, 2015

This is the Nonprofit Leaders Network Podcast Episode 6. Today we’re talking with Andy Perkins, Executive Director of BestWA. BESTWA works in Liberia, West Africa providing food, medical care and education for children. Here are a few highlights:

WHAT IS YOUR WHY? My why was I would look after these kids, I'd go over there and I would look at these kids and I would think about the old George Bernard Shaw quote, some people look at these children and they would ask why? Why are they this way? And I would look at these children and see their future and say why not?

IDENTIFYING YOUR WHY PROVIDES FOCUS. I think really understanding why keeps me from just seeing the black hole of needs. You can drive yourself crazy trying to start a program to meet this need, a program to meet that need. We had things we were doing for adults and we backed off all of that because our focus is basically birth to early 20's and our focus is providing opportunity for these children because you can't do everything. It would be nice but you can't. It can really take up a lot of energy and funds doing work that's not focused on your goals and on your why.

MOTORBIKES CAN SAVE LIVES. Then we recognized that, on foot, you might be able to carry one and walk with two. But if he had six or seven kids needing the clinic, you'd take the worst ones and leave the rest of them. Well we get motor bikes for all of the feeding site supervisors and all of a sudden they could take all the kids to the clinic. They can make multiple trips, no big deal. Those little motorbikes are saving lives. We’ve gone 20 months without losing any children. That's really exceptional in a country where the mortality rate from one month to five years is 23.8%, almost one in four.

Find more information on the podcast at

« Previous 1 2 3 Next »