Episode 5: Transforming Nonprofits: Strategic Adaptation and Growth with Leigh Anne McKelvey & David Cramer
Join us for an insightful conversation with Leigh Anne McKelvey and David Cramer from CASA Youth Advocates, a non-profit organization. They discuss their transformative journey, including culture shifts, revenue diversification, and board dynamics. Discover their approach to preserving dignity while sharing sensitive stories and the Youth Voices Council’s empowering role. Gain valuable lessons on adaptation and cultivating relationships with partners and stakeholders.
Categories: Nonprofit Expert Podcast
Episode 5: Transforming Nonprofits: Strategic Adaptation and Growth with Leigh Anne McKelvey & David Cramer TranscriptPrint Transcript
DonorPerfect – Other – 00:03
Welcome to Nonprofit Expert presented by DonorPerfect.
Robbe Healey – Host – 00:14
Welcome and thank you for joining us for Nonprofit Expert sponsored by DonorPerfect.
I’m Read More
DonorPerfect – Other – 00:03
Welcome to Nonprofit Expert presented by DonorPerfect.
Robbe Healey – Host – 00:14
Welcome and thank you for joining us for Nonprofit Expert sponsored by DonorPerfect.
I’m Robbe Healey and in this series we’re taking a deep dive into case culture and courage.
And today we’re talking with Leigh Anne McKelvey and David Cramer. Executive Director, and David is the Board Chair of CASA Youth Advocates, Delaware and Chester Counties. And as we talk today, on the surface the story might really seem like it’s about changing the culture of the way a board and staff work together, but it’s really much more than that. When you begin to hear how they’ve been on this transformational journey, you’ll realize they took a look at their case for support. They figured out the things they were offering to donors might not be best positioned for success. They looked at the way the board and the staff were working together and did really look at the culture, but they also had the courage to call out the fact that change was needed in order for them to be successful. So before we get started with the questions, I want to give David and Leigh Anne an opportunity to say a little bit about themselves, their background, the work they do, and help let people get to know you a little bit better.
Why don’t you start Sure?
Leigh Anne McKelvey – Guest – 01:39
I’m Leigh Anne McKelvey, as you said. I’m the executive director of CAUSE Youth Advocates here, serving Delaware and Chester Counties in Pennsylvania. I’ve been the executive director for about five and a half years, but I’ve been working in the CAUSE network for almost 20. So we’re in the child advocacy business. We recruit, train and support volunteers who are advocates for kids who have experienced abuse and neglect or in foster care, and that is the true passion of my career and my life and what has kept me at CAUSE for so long.
Robbe Healey – Host – 02:10
And they’re lucky to have you, I think.
David Cramer – Guest – 02:12
Thanks, Robbe, for sure, and I’m David Cramer and I came to the board by way of my wife, who’s been a CAUSE advocate for 15 years now, and shortly after she started in 2008 with the financial crisis, I got involved from a fundraising point of view and sort of just hung around the hoop since then and then, I think around 2015, was asked to come on the board and didn’t realize at the time that I was part of the succession plan and the result was when Leigh Anne moved up to executive director in 2018 is when I moved up to board chair, and it’s just been a fabulous trip since then because the two of us have kind of grown up together in these roles and just have a lot of fun doing and I have a. My background is business, so you know, I’ve done finance, I’ve done lending, I’ve done retail and just have a bunch of different perspectives and have it do stuff.
Robbe Healey – Host – 03:09
Thanks very much.
I think, as you think about the partnership and the way you’ve collaborated together, the timing was obviously really good for CASA and that may be part of why it worked as well as it did, but I doubt that that’s the only factor that made it work well and, as as we were preparing for this, obviously there’s some questions that we thought we might talk about and, as you answer, I might jump in with some questions of my own, because I’m thinking, if I have the mother’s listening might as well.
But I guess, first of all, when we think about what gets organizations stuck and perhaps they know there’s more potential but they’re not sure how to really bring that out what sparked the fact that you really wanted to do this, this transformational change, because I can imagine two of you in your brand new roles you would have a lot of other things to juggle. Besides taking on a transformation of how you approach philanthropy and looking at revenue from a different perspective. There were lots of other things you could have been doing. So how did you jointly agree that this was a way that CASA needed to move and you wanted to be the transformational catalysts?
David Cramer – Guest – 04:24
I think it starts with you.
Leigh Anne McKelvey – Guest – 04:27
Well, I think it’s clear we had an opportunity like we saw an opportunity. So when I became the executive director in 2018, we did a pretty thorough analysis of our budget and our revenue streams and historically we’re a 30-year-old organization. Historically, we had been nearly 100% philanthropy based, but a couple of years before that, we had became eligible for a line of federal funding administered by the state that, in addition to a couple of small county government contracts, had nearly doubled our revenue, and so we had grown pretty substantially in those couple of years. And yet when we really did a thorough analysis of where we were at in terms of our revenue stream in 2018, the rest of we hadn’t diversified at all.
The rest of our revenue stream hadn’t grown along with the organization and really, on the philanthropy side, we were almost completely foundation dependent for grants and special events dependent and our individual donor line was shamefully small shamefully small and so that wasn’t hard for us to see I don’t think and to see a tremendous opportunity and also a need for the organization to lean into that space in order to make sure that we were diversifying our revenue, that we had enough general operating dollars to rely upon, because, as you know, government contracts are anything but general operating, are very restricted, as were a lot of our foundation grants, special events. Revenue, of course, is general operating, but you have to put on an event which is very intensive for the staff and the organization, and so we identified pretty early that we really needed to become an organization that courted and partnered with individual donors if we wanted to grow and meet the needs that we were seeing, we were seeing of kids in our community.
David Cramer – Guest – 06:24
I mean it was almost. I mean we got this tremendous influx of government funding but it doesn’t cover overhead, it doesn’t cover any of the other things that we need to do, any kind of development, staff development, volunteer recruitment, and it was almost like every new grant we got was fabulous but each new grant put us a little further in the hole for that general operating revenue. So, looking out, if we were now going to be on that new track, we had to have a sustainable funding source that would keep up with the growth that we saw going forward, and that was really the combination. That said to be, we’ve got to change what we’re doing.
Robbe Healey – Host – 07:00
So I think it can be really obvious to people like you. How did you interpret that to the board so that they saw it in the same way you did? Because you’ve talked about, I think, at least three really important things. One is you did an analysis, and I think a lot of nonprofits don’t take the time to do that kind of deep dive into what are the metrics behind the numbers, because you can look at the numbers and they look great, but if you’re not really looking at the constituency you’ve already talked about events Well, those are very transactional. Some people think they’re fun, others of us think they’re absolutely an essential part of your overall plan, but they’re a point of entry. So how do you see that, beyond being a party, you talked about developing your individual giving pipeline? Public funding is intermittent, not necessarily constantly reliable. How did you get everybody else to think about the risks and the opportunities the same way you were seeing?
David Cramer – Guest – 07:58
them. Well, I think we had sort of a clean slate with the transition that occurred and it was a number of different things in my mind. First of all, I tend to be sort of a glass half full kind of guy and the rest of the gang is probably more the glass. I’m glass half empty. I’m sorry, they’re the glass half full. That’s a little surprised yeah.
And so I just looked at oh, we got a million dollars worth of grants. That means we’re $150,000 in the hole. That was my way of looking at it, because we’re going to need that revenue. The other thing and I think this was by virtue of having had the view into the organization from the volunteer perspective, because of all my voice work is, as we were starting to grow, there was a big concern that as Leigh Anne moved further away from the day-to-day volunteer operations, there was a concern how are we going to keep the volunteer engagement all the way through the organization?
Because the beauty of the smaller organization is everybody knew what everybody was doing and we saw that that was going to move away. So that meant we’re going to have to have some money for some of those kinds of expenses. We’re going to have to have somebody whose job is to interact and find volunteers and keep them engaged. No grant was going to cover that. So we’ve got the deficit. What I call a deficit we get the new grant doesn’t cover everything. Then we have to do all these other things that are a result of growth. We’ve got to go out and find a sustainable way of funding that and, in terms of explaining to the board. I don’t think it was a big leap. It was looking at the numbers and saying this is how we’ve got to do it.
Robbe Healey – Host – 09:41
So did they react by saying, fine, take care of it, or were they all in?
David Cramer – Guest – 09:45
They were all mostly all in. I think we were also at a transition point in the board. We don’t have term limits. We went through right at the same time that Leigh Anne and I started up we were fortunate to get a new board member who was an attorney that came from the nonprofit background. So we went through a rewrite of our bylaws and we had a lot of discussion at the time do we have term limits, what do we do with that?
And finally came to the conclusion that term limits are kind of a wusses way of getting rid of underperforming board members and we’d rather get people who are going to be good and if they don’t work they’ll wash out, kind of. And so we had a fairly significant change over. We had great older guard board members who were ready to move on. They had done their thing and had some attachment to the old executive director. So in the middle of all this also happened to change a good part of the board. Over Five years in there’s only two of us to predate Leigh Anne taking over as executive director. So we’ve kind of gotten, we’ve been fortunate to get a new board in the process, so it wasn’t a matter of really trying to move anyone along, kind of.
Robbe Healey – Host – 11:03
I think you bring up an interesting point, because I think oftentimes when you change the expectations, you need to let people stand down with dignity because they served well. The rules of engagement when they signed up were different. That doesn’t make them bad people, it makes them different, and that can, I think, often be a struggle where people think we’re failing them if they stand down. I think then you have to look at what’s the primary purpose. Is it to serve the children or is it to preserve the legacy board members? And I think it’s the former, not the latter.
But that’s part of that discernment that boards go through. I think.
David Cramer – Guest – 11:44
We also sort of had a natural selection that occurred. If you think about it, it’s one of the things we undertook to get to. The sustainable fundraising was we partnered with a consulting group who we learned how to do point of entry meetings. We said we got some. We were fortunate to get some capacity building funding so we could actually hire a development person. And one of the requirements as a result of getting into this program was every board member was going to have to run their own point of entry meeting. And it became very clear Some of the old guard said look, I brought my people to the events. I know who all of them are, they all know Casa. This isn’t for me. So that was kind of a natural way also of just sort of moving on.
Leigh Anne McKelvey – Guest – 12:31
Yeah, and we had to be OK with that with letting people self-select out or to coach out through conversation.
But it was a big cultural shift because prior to that, board members weren’t that involved in fundraising, because most of it was grants and government contracts and so, other than inviting people to our special events, that was the limit of their involvement in fundraising. And now we were saying you have to learn Casa’s story, you have to be a storyteller, you have to be an ambassador, you have to bring people to the table, and so for some, that wasn’t what they wanted to do and it wasn’t a good fit, and we had to accept that, even though it was a little scary At times.
I think in the process we probably were at our smallest size of a board in quite some time at one point before we started building back up and we needed to accept that. We also launched an advisory council at about the same time so that there was an avenue for board members who wanted to self-select out to still maintain that relationship with the organization. If they still had connections or resources to offer to the organization, they could live there and maintain that connection. But not everybody was a fit for the board and the new cultural shift that we were trying to make.
Robbe Healey – Host – 13:46
Well, and this is the courage piece, isn’t it? You have to figure out the plan, know the plan is right, tweak it when it needs to be, but still stay on the right path.
And you’ve talked about a couple of things. You’ve talked about constituencies. You’ve talked about tactics. You talked about, obviously, grant seeking is one, fundraising tactics so is events, public funding, revenue stream. I think what it boils down to is a board really looking at risk exposure and risk management and if we stay on the same path, are we exposing ourselves to risk? We don’t need to if we diversify. And as you look at that, then you’re talking about relationships. You have different roles as board and executive staff leadership. Can you talk for a while about how that works in CASA right now, perhaps where it started, where it’s evolved to, because you’ve been on this journey for a while, so I’m imagining that it may have evolved over time. But what kinds of things are each of you working on now, individually or collaboratively, or both?
Leigh Anne McKelvey – Guest – 14:56
with the board specifically.
Robbe Healey – Host – 14:58
In any of this, thinking about how you interpret the case. You’re talking about storytelling. You talked about that. What are the stories that we’re telling? What are different people doing? How was that evolving right now? So not necessarily just with the board, but I think people would be very interested in David’s perspective on that as well. How do you interact as a team and how do you have your individual roles?
David Cramer – Guest – 15:28
First of all, we interact, I think, flawlessly. I mean, we just have a tremendous amount of respect and we like each other and we understand how each of us work. From the very beginning we were very clear that Leigh Anne runs the organization. That’s not the board’s job, so we do not stick our hand into the machine. That’s up to Leigh Anne to run.
Robbe Healey – Host – 15:54
Was that something you had to work on, or was that already part of CASA’s project?
David Cramer – Guest – 15:58
I think it was always there. But as we brought new people on we wanted to be very clear I think, raised the professionalism of the organization. There are a bunch of professionals that run it. That’s how they should be treated, particularly as it was new people moving into new roles, to make sure they went into those roles with the consonants of what their job descriptions were. The board’s job is really to advise and set some strategy. The relationship that Leigh Anne and I developed along the way is we each had our own strengths and weaknesses that we brought to the collaboration. The first year Leigh Anne was ED. We had to change banks. Leigh Anne never changed bank before, she was a social worker, but I knew how to do that. But there’s lots of things in running the organization I had no clue about that Leigh Anne had to educate me on.
Robbe Healey – Host – 16:56
So I hear you talking about trust and respect. I think that can be the basis for success or failure. If you don’t have that level of trust where you can take a problem to Leigh Anne, Leigh Anne can take a problem to you. You’re not playing gotcha, you’re playing. Let’s figure out how to solve this.
Leigh Anne McKelvey – Guest – 17:16
I consider myself very very fortunate that I had David as my sole board chair for my journey so far as an executive director. There are lots and lots of poor stories out there about executives and boards interacting with each other, and I’m so fortunate that Leque has been my biggest cheerleader and the biggest cheerleader and shepherd of the board during this entire transition. I don’t think it would have been possible without that.
Robbe Healey – Host – 17:43
You mentioned earlier this, looking at point of entry events, and I know you’ve worked very purposefully on cultivating a qualified pipeline. Can you talk about that and how that dynamic within your work is really helping to move this culture change forward?
David Cramer – Guest – 18:03
When you take.
Leigh Anne McKelvey – Guest – 18:04
Sure. So I think when we started with the transition and really purposefully trying to partner with individual donors, we started out with a lot of low hanging fruit. Right, we’re a volunteer based organization and a lot of our volunteers were already donors. We just weren’t asking them to partner with us in any kind of sustainable way. So we started there.
But it was pretty easy to identify Like we’re going to hit the wall. We need to continually be bringing in new potential partners, new stakeholders for the organization, and we have. I think, especially after working with a consultant during the beginning of this transition. We have great stories. We knew we have great stories of an organization. We have all of these, this impactful work that our advocates are doing with kids. We just needed to figure out how to make them succinct, how to tell them in a meaningful way and how to get people to listen.
So we knew we needed to just kind of kind of expand the circle, use the people who were already passionate about our mission to invite their friends and neighbors and coworkers and keep expanding and bringing more people in, with the knowledge that not everybody is going to be hooked. This isn’t going to be everybody’s. You know passion and mission, but you know, the hope was that we continue to find new people who are interested and we start building those relationships so that we’re looking ever farther into the future, of CASA’s future, instead of like where’s the next dollars? Where the next dollars coming from? We’re looking at, you know, who are the people that we’re cultivating now, who will be ripe for a major gift three years, four years, five years from now?
Robbe Healey – Host – 19:42
Are there any tactical, very granular activities that board or staff are doing that you’re either tracking what people are doing or training people to do that. Have given them either less discomfort or more comfort with doing those things.
David Cramer – Guest – 20:06
In order to move that forward, so we’ve established a committee which is made up of volunteers and a few board members. That’s kind of become a development committee, for lack of a better word, and out of that we’ve worked on developing cultivation lists and cultivation partners, the idea being, eventually, that every board member, at some level or another, should be involved in the cultivation process. It may be simply being that board member is calling a donor and saying thank you, because we’ve also come to recognize that not every board member is going to be good at asking for money. We’ve made it pretty clear that every board member needs to be an ambassador, but they’re not all going to be the ones comfortable with actually making the big ask, but we’ve impressed on them that everybody needs to say thank you.
The staff has done a really great job of, whenever we have a point of entry event, of making the follow-up phone calls, keeping the engagement going. They’ve worked really hard on trying to create second and third dates of some kind of events that we can invite people to, whether it’s a training or a reception, or we just had 5K Leigh Anne runs twice a year a two-day or four-hour spread over two days, history of racism in the child welfare system. It’s something to invite people to. If they don’t want to come, at least we’ve invited them and let them know we’re interested in having them learn more about us. So it’s sort of an all-of-the-above kind of approach, but it’s rooted in the fact that we were able to invest in some development. People in the organization that helped keep it all moving.
Robbe Healey – Host – 21:52
So the capacity-building grant that let you hire a development officer was worth having.
Leigh Anne McKelvey – Guest – 21:58
Absolutely. It launched us to where we are now and where we’re continuing to go.
Robbe Healey – Host – 22:05
Investing in that department is often something that boards struggle with. Why are we paying all these people to work on donors instead of the important work we really should be doing? Have you had to deal with that at all? That kind of assumption that if it’s administrative overhead it’s bad?
David Cramer – Guest – 22:28
I honestly I don’t think so. We’ve had a little bit of conversation at one point of are we supposed to worry about the 80 20 rule, that 80% is supposed to be program, 20% overhead, and we’re also fortunate that we have a nonprofit accountant on the board. A couple of other accounts and they were able to pretty much disabuse us. That now it’s more important is how you’re getting admission done, don’t worry about the percentages. And again, from my sort of glass half full or half empty.
Robbe Healey – Host – 23:00
Because he wants to be happy.
David Cramer – Guest – 23:04
That’s my life goal is to become a half full guy, but if we don’t invest in that, we’re going to have this gap that keeps it’s going to keep growing. So it’s to me it’s and I think to the board it’s pretty much a no brainer that’s we’ve got to invest in that in order to close the gap.
Robbe Healey – Host – 23:24
Sometimes an organization can be on a great path with a great team and then, although you might want to keep David for the rest of your career, I doubt that you will. What’s your tactical plan, your strategy, your, whatever you’re working on so that, when David is the board chair emeritus, this culture change stays with you May?
Leigh Anne McKelvey – Guest – 23:51
David Cramer – Guest – 23:51
Robbe Healey – Host – 23:53
Well, hopefully David does stay forever and at least until you retire.
Leigh Anne McKelvey – Guest – 23:59
Yes, spence is immortal life, that Casa is our board chair, but I think we’ve talked quite a bit about sustainability at our governance committee and growing leadership in general. I think that’s kind of how I look at it is that things that you would do for a succession plan are really the things we should be doing to grow leadership qualities among the board, no matter who’s next in line, so to speak, or if an opening is coming up anytime soon. So I don’t know that we’re quite where we want to be or need to be in that process, but really working on that engagement piece, working on you know wherever each board member has founded their space or their niche in terms of like, where they’re dedicating their time and their committee membership, trying to make sure people have an understanding of the full organization and are willing to kind of step up, have their voice be heard. David is a great leader because he always is shepherding and guiding the ship, but also calling on others to join.
David Cramer – Guest – 25:07
Yeah, I mean we make a conscious effort now, for example at board meetings, to not have me be the messenger always on the same topic. So we try to spread the pain around a little bit. So, rather than sort of the wah-wah-wah effect of where people are tired of listening, somebody else carries the water on that project and maybe people listen a little bit more, act a little bit more. I think in terms of our own succession on the board it may be naive, but I think that person will just sort of rise to the top. We’ll find the person that wants to do it, that has the time to do it and you know where the fit is. There we have some really capable people, but they all have very active lives. But I could see where one of them eventually says yeah, I’m willing to take on more of a role and move on up.
Every year, Leigh Anne and I do a. We schedule a two-on-one with every board member where we sit down and just talk about the year what was good, what was bad, what would you like to do that you’re not doing? What do you think other people should be doing that they’re not doing? And that’s always the place, too, to ask, as I said, what would you like to do? You’re interested in my job, so we’re kind of open about that and so far there’s no takers and I’m having too much fun anyway.
Robbe Healey – Host – 26:33
And people are taking the meetings.
David Cramer – Guest – 26:35
Robbe Healey – Host – 26:36
Which I think is an interesting practice, because oftentimes that’s the governance committee doing a little check-in, not the leadership doing a sit-down to really talk about is this working for you? What can we do to make this better?
David Cramer – Guest – 26:49
I mean we schedule a half hour with everybody. They’ve been Zoom meetings and they usually last about an hour.
Robbe Healey – Host – 26:55
That’s an interesting thing to have a Zoom meeting go longer than people think they must be really interested in that. You talked about storytelling earlier and I’m curious in that with your board recruitment, my experience is that in a lot of organizations that serve traumatic, serve people who’ve experienced trauma, such as you do, there’s a real reluctance to storytelling because of the privacy concerns. Obviously you wouldn’t tell a story that you shouldn’t and you would ask permission. But how have you worked through that? And obviously you’re a professional social worker, you know this better than the rest of us. But the dignity of the storytelling has to be paramount and I’m curious how that played out in your process.
Leigh Anne McKelvey – Guest – 27:47
Yeah, I mean it’s something we have to navigate because there is strict confidentiality around the stories that our kids bring and the trauma that they have been through, and so we never want to jeopardize that.
But at the same time, I think there’s a real need to have the kids that we serve be seen and be humanized and be understood by the community in a way that they’re not necessarily, and so a lot of our stories that we tell obviously have a lot of components of trauma to them, of abuse and neglect, but a lot of them are really about these, like genuine human moments and connections that our advocates make with kids.
That show in real their kids and they deserve to have the same things that all kids have, whether it’s someone who packs their lunch or a birthday cake on their birthday, those kind of things. And so it’s something we navigate and we try to make sure that we’re always protecting the confidentiality of the kids and families that we serve but also telling their stories in a way that connects with people on a real human level. We also just started a Youth Voices Council where we have a bunch of our former youth that we’ve served who are coming together, who are learning to tell their own stories and so they get to choose what they share, what they don’t share, what’s too private, what’s something that they’re willing to put out there, and so they get to talk about kind of what their journey was like, what their relationship with CASA was like, what needs were met or unmet during their journeys through the system, and that’s been really powerful to empower them to tell the stories themselves.
Robbe Healey – Host – 29:36
I love that you said they get to tell their stories. You’re not deciding, they can’t, right, and I think that’s a powerful statement about how you advocate.
David Cramer – Guest – 29:48
And we also, at every board meeting we have a staff member come in and tell a story of a case that they’ve been working on, and they change the names. It’s funny in a way. Staff is so ingrained with keeping confidentiality that we have to encourage them a little, a little Little bit, to put more emotion into it, tell a little bit more of the gritty details to to get that emotional look. But I think that’s another way that we’ve been getting the board more comfortable with the idea of how to take a story and move it on, and the goal is to for each one to find a story that Is not in their head but it’s in their gut, so they can turn around and go out and tell that story and feel comfortable.
Robbe Healey – Host – 30:34
Well, and we know that’s what donors are motivated by. What are the miracles that you’re creating every day for kids who never should go through what they’ve gone through?
David Cramer – Guest – 30:43
we just had a. We’ve had two events in the last few weeks where some of the the former youth that are now in the youth advisory council may public appearances, and, and both. In both Appearances, the Single most important thing they talked about is, they said, within a minute of meeting their casa, they could tell whether or not that person was genuine, and the need to be genuine all the way through and in hearing something and telling a story. If it’s genuine, they’ll listen to it. If it’s not and these are people who’s spidey senses, really you know they can in an instant decide whether this is important, and I think that holds true, then, and how we tell a story.
Leigh Anne McKelvey – Guest – 31:28
I’m sure you’re right, which I think we had to overcome the challenge a little bit with board members like we. There was a time in our history where there was a request to just give me the notes, give me the bullet points of what I go out and say to people when I talk about casa, and so it’s kind of a balance between, like here’s the key things that you need to communicate, but also like, find the story that resonates. We have you, because if you’re telling my story, it’s that you don’t have a connection to.
It’s not the, the person on the other end is gonna feel that that’s not. It’s not there at, the genuine, heartfelt responses. Not there, and so helping board members to find their own words, to talk about what we do and the stories that are meaningful to them.
Robbe Healey – Host – 32:12
And I’m sure they’re different for every member. I’m sure they’re different, so they should be in hindsight. Are there things you learned that you would caution Everybody listening to this, never do this, and the opposite side things you learned that you would say no matter what, always include this.
David Cramer – Guest – 32:34
I just think communication is so important just from a pure board perspective. The communication is so important both among the board and between Leigh Anne and the board. One of the things I’ve really come to realize is For her it’s really lonely at the top, you know, and there’s some hard decisions that Often times about the personnel type things. But you know, Leigh Anne’s got to make these decisions on her own and I think at that point our greatest value is just to be there for her and and to make it less lonely at the top, because it’s she’s a human being and these are really hard issues that we deal with and we’ve got to support each other.
Leigh Anne McKelvey – Guest – 33:21
Robbe Healey – Host – 33:27
If you were advising another organization about how to take this journey and they hit a brick wall, something they just couldn’t find a crack, any advice you’d give them about how to keep on that track.
Leigh Anne McKelvey – Guest – 33:44
Well, I think, first of all, like, expect those obstacles, because it certainly wasn’t like a linear path for us of upward growth. It was bumpy and there were twists and turns and we had to recalibrate. And we’re still doing that, I think, even at this stage in our Work. I mean, they think that there are a lot of obstacles and in the path. I think, first of all, being on Alert for red flags like it, you know, looking for like where are things getting a little bit of off track, and trying to recalibrate before we’re completely off the rails, and being willing to adjust and just tackle things head-on and have that commute I think comes back to that communication piece too. Just being willing to put it out there, like, look, everybody, we’re really struggling in this area, like we all, what ideas do we have? We need to be all in and just being willing to address it head-on. Yeah, I mean.
David Cramer – Guest – 34:38
I feel like there hasn’t been a brick wall, that we haven’t figured out a way to get around, and I think part of that is we’ve seen it far enough ahead of us that you know there’s some. We’ve just had to stop and say what do we do? And we do a lot of talking and throw different ideas and say, okay, well, we can’t go straight, let’s at least try this and see what happens. And so we kind of zigzag zigzag our way around it a little bit. But I think it’s as Lee answered, I think it’s the communication is just Okay. What do we do, you know, as opposed to I don’t know. You know we can’t do anything, it’s we.
We bounce a lot of ideas and I think part of that again is the mutual trust that we all have with each other that we can just do that and Kind of sip all stuff and see, see what happens. I Think we also one of the changes we made when we rewrote the bylaws is we created a couple of board physicians for volunteers and I think, by having that volunteer-centric view to all the way through the organization because you know, we provided 15,000 hours of volunteer work last year You’ve got to make sure that it’s all working for that. Otherwise we’re not going to do anything and we’ll fail in our mission.
Robbe Healey – Host – 36:04
Having the right people at the table. Yeah you started this conversation with communication and you’re winding it up with communication.
So that seems to be a theme. And I also heard you say If you hit a brick wall, it doesn’t mean we have to stop, doesn’t mean we weren’t good enough, it doesn’t mean we failed, it just means We’ve got to recalibrate, to use your word. So and I think those are important lessons, because I think too often If you hit a speed bump you weren’t anticipating, you make the assumption that we aren’t good enough, we don’t have enough bandwidth. We aren’t, our brand isn’t as strong, so we just have to give up because we can’t play in this arena. And that’s not at all what you’re saying. You’re saying be willing to change, be willing to adapt and know that the path you were on has potential, even if the tactics you thought you were using need to have an adjustment.
Well, you certainly have looked at how you storytell the case. The culture that you have Now wasn’t the one that you had three years ago, so you’ve really been working on that and you’d have the courage to call it out and Adjust it on the fly if you needed to. So I really appreciate your time today, the conversation you’ve had, your candor, your willingness to share the journey, and I know the folks who are joining us for case culture and courage have probably taken away quite a list of things they want to try to think about. So thank you again for joining us for Nonprofit Expert presented by DonorPerfect.
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