Author Archives: Rob Harter

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It’s All About Impact

Here is a blog post that I wrote on the importance of demonstrating your impact as a nonprofit organization, and it was published by Fundraising Leadership on June 24, 2020.

I’ll never forget the day, my staff member, whose role is Latino Outreach, came into my office to let me know that a family who had lost everything in a fire had called our center in order to ask if we could provide them with a house full of furniture. They had lost everything in the fire, had no insurance and little means to replace their furniture. This is not an unusual request, in that our humanitarian center regularly helps people with all kinds of needs, whether that be food, clothes, furniture or mental health counseling.

What was unusual that day, was the fact that on the exact same day, we received a call from one of our regular donors. She wanted to donate a house full of furniture to our center. She knew that by giving us this furniture, we would normally turn around and sell these items through our thrift stores, which in turn directly supported our many outreach programs like our food pantry. Her furniture was very nice and would sell for a good price at our stores.

Before hanging up the phone, she asked if by chance we had a family who was in need of furniture. While she was fine giving it to us to sell through our stores, she would prefer it be given to a family who really needed it if there was someone who presented a need for it.

We couldn’t believe it. The timing was incredibly serendipitous. When these two calls came in on the same day, we knew that this family who had lost everything in a fire, needed to receive this exact furniture from our donor. We also knew that our donor would be thrilled to learn that her donation would go directly to help a family in need.

The day our team brought over the donated furniture to the family who lost everything through a fire, was the kind of day that nonprofits live for.

It is all about impact.

One of the most important questions that donors have is this; “What measurable impact will my gift have?” One of the best ways to demonstrate your impact is through a powerful story that illustrates your mission in action.

Demonstrating your impact as often as possible is absolutely critical for nonprofit organizations. One of the reasons this is the case, is illustrated by a recent article in philanthropy.com, that stated no less than thirty five percent of Americans don’t have confidence in charities. This is especially true of millennials.

Many researchers who study the trends of millennials have pointed out the fact that they want to make a meaningful difference on today’s biggest global challenges and they are open to trying new strategies to make this happen, but they want to know, see and experience the impact that their money is having. They are not content simply to give  towards an organization and trust that their money is going to the programs they intended. They want to see and hear what kind of impact their giving is having.

So how can nonprofit organizations do this effectively? It starts by creating accountability through transparency. The more transparent an
organization is about their programs and services, the more accountability they create. The result of more accountability is more support from donors.

Nonprofits can demonstrate transparency by using technology to communicate the impact of their programs, even when the program doesn’t have the full intended impact. This could be in the form of a video, a picture, a blog or even a live feed of an event or experience the nonprofit is providing.

Trust is built when you provide transparency.

One of the most powerful examples of true transparency is sharing a “failure” of one of your programs. I’m reminded of a story from Charity Water, a large international nonprofit that provides clean water to the developing world. They had an event where they were unveiling a brand new well they had built and they were going to have this grand celebration streamed live online, as they turned on the water for the first time. The camera was set, the crowd had gathered and the moment came to turn on the water. It was a complete dud. The water did not emerge, gushing out as planned. In fact, the well didn’t work at all. And it was all captured live, on video for everyone to see.

Instead of cutting the live feed, they allowed this failure to be seen by all of their donors who were watching. They chose transparency over perfection. The trust they gained from their donors towards their organization after that event, sky-rocketed as a result.

Transparency builds trust.
Donors give in response to trust.

As a guest on my Nonprofit Leadership Podcast once said: “People give through a nonprofit not to a nonprofit.” People give through your organization in order to make an impact on the world. They give to your organization because they trust you. They continue to give to your organization, when you are able to show them the impact of their donation.

Next steps:

-How can you demonstrate your impact more effectively?

-What communication channels do you need to improve upon, in order to tell the story of your nonprofit better?

-What meaningful, hands-on volunteer opportunities could you invite your donors to engage with, especially your millennial supporters, that gives them a real-time experience to see how they are helping to make the world better?

It is all about impact.

View the published blog post on Fundraising Leadership’s site here.

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Nonprofit Leadership Podcasts

How important the role of play is in a child’s overall development may surprise you.

Jill Violet – courtesy of James Irvine Foundation

How many of you remember recess as being your highlight of the day back in elementary school?

Would you be surprised to learn that in the last decade, nearly half of all school districts nationwide have either completely eliminated or reduced specific time for recess. Even though more rigorous academic standards and measurements typically dominate the headlines when it comes to our children’s educational future, the importance of playtime continues to be a critical, yet often neglected, aspect of our developmental and educational growth. Research has shown that students who play develop healthier lifestyles, are more attentive in class, and achieve greater academic, social, and emotional success. 

For over 20 years, the nonprofit organization Playworks has been the leading national nonprofit leveraging the power of play to transform children’s social and emotional health. My guest today is Jill Vialet, Founder and CEO of Playworks, the leading national nonprofit leveraging the power of play in America’s schools today.

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Nonprofit Leadership Podcasts

How to become the leader you would follow

Scott Miller

Leadership is talked about all the time, in books, podcasts, blogs and conferences. How do you become a leader that others would want to follow? How do you become a leader that you would want to follow?

My guest today has written a book that addresses that exact question. My guest today is Scott Miller, he is the EVP of Thought Leadership for global organizational improvement firm FranklinCovey and just released a new book, Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow.

In the book, Scott shares relatable, accessible, relevant experience and guidance with a refreshing transparency of his own ups and downs in leadership positions. Along with his experiences, the book guides readers in an introspective review of their own personal leadership style to ultimately help them become the kind of leader they would follow. 

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Nonprofit Leadership Podcasts

Nonprofit author and coach Joan Garry’s thoughts on leadership

Joan Garry

With 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S. vying for the attention and generosity of the public, there are a whole lot of changemakers crying out for a ‘whisperer’ to guide them behind the scenes. Joan Garry knows this all too well. 

Before becoming an advisor to many of our nation’s leading nonprofits, Joan was Executive Director of GLAAD. She’s also advised leaders and worked on organizational strategy at UNICEF, the Ford Foundation, Union for Reform Judaism, The Legal Aid Society, and Union Theological Seminary, among others. 

She has an impressive following comprising of 100,000 board members, charitable workers and volunteers in over 150 countries through her agency, blog, book and podcast, “Nonprofits Are Messy”.

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Nonprofit Leadership Podcasts

How can Wall Street make money for social good?

Ethan Powell

What if your Wall Street investments could actually be used for social good?
One nonprofit is actually doing just that. My guest today is Ethan Powell, CEO of Impact Shares – the first 501(c)(3) nonprofit exchange-traded fund (ETF) platform.

Backed by the Rockefeller Foundation, Impact Shares helps organizations translate their social values into an investable product that is traded on the Exchange. Their non-profit partners define a set of evolving criteria for companies that are committed to being a part of their ETF to ensure ongoing alignment of corporate behaviors with social values. A portion of these profits go directly back to these non-profit partners. Currently, Impact Shares has two non-profit partners focused on gender and racial diversity, as well as one focused on sustainability.

Enjoy today’s show.

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