Interview with Heather Yandow, the founder of Nonprofit.ist, an online resource that helps pair nonprofits with the right consultants; a co-founder of Beehive Collective, a Raleigh-based giving circle; and the creator of Third Space Studio’s Individual Fundraising Benchmark Report.
Host, George Weiner discusses how nonprofits should approach RFPs and finding the right contractor or agency for the type of project they need.
Heather Yandow is a collaborative co-conspirator and creative thinker with over 20 years of experience in the nonprofit world.
Inspired by issues that touch her heart and organizations invested in relationships, Heather gets joy out of helping groups move forward from chaos to clarity. Phrases like “adaptive leadership” and “change management” are sure to get her mind churning.
Before Heather joined Third Space in 2010, she was the Director of Development and Communications with the NC Conservation Network, a statewide network of over 100 organizations focused on protecting North Carolina’s environment and public health.
With a personal motto of “just do it,” Heather identifies problems and dreams up actionable solutions. This talent has led to many projects: Heather is the founder of Nonprofit.ist, an online resource that helps pair nonprofits with the right consultants; a co-founder of Beehive Collective, a Raleigh-based giving circle; and the creator of Third Space Studio’s Individual Fundraising Benchmark Report. Rough Transcript
[00:00:00] George: We have got a very fun guest. Heather . Heather is the founder of nonprofit IST that’s nonprofit.ist to be clear. And Heather is also a consultant at third space studio. Heather, thanks for joining us. How is.
[00:00:18] Heather: Great. I’m glad to be joining you today.
[00:00:21] George: Well, you know, I came across non-profits, but I’ve also been watching your work for a while and I laughed because it was similar to a tool that Holwell has tried to build and kind of does on the side. But maybe we can just start with what is a nonprofit just.
[00:00:39] Heather: Good question. So I think of a non-profit is like a florist or a dentist. So a nonprofit is, does a person who has experience with nonprofits. So nonprofit is, is also a website, a directory of nonprofit experts. So coaches, consultants, lawyers, accountants, anybody who can help nonprofits with the challenges they’re, they’re dealing with.
[00:01:04] So we’ve got almost 300 folks from across the country as part of our directory and leaders, nonprofit leaders from all over the country can come and find the help that they need there.
[00:01:15] George: And how is a non-profit is just uniquely different than somebody who is working for a for-profit industry. Like, you know, I work on email. Why is the nonprofit is just so important in this equation?
[00:01:32] Heather: I think it’s really important because nonprofits have. To some degree, unique set of challenges. We’re often resource constrained. We’re dealing with different kinds of social issues or behavior change or advocacy that maybe those in the business world might not be. And the nonprofit leadership structure often is really different than what you might have in a for-profit.
[00:01:56] So, if you’re working in a nonprofit, you might have to be dealing with a board of directors, but it has a whole lot of influence and power over the decisions that are being made potentially. And that often doesn’t exist in the same way in the for-profit world.
[00:02:11] George: And so this site, nonprofit that IST helps people find these professionals, like, how is it, Matt? It sounds like a marketplace.
[00:02:23] Heather: It is a marketplace.
[00:02:24] I, I designed it to be somewhat the Angie’s list of nonprofit consultants. We do not have all of the features and Angie’s list yet, but it is a place where you can come and. Sorta people you can search by any particular category. You can search by geography. You can look for keywords.
[00:02:45] So if you’re looking for a strategic planning consultant in Florida who has experienced with. You can put all of that in there and the system will spit out. Here’s a few folks who might fit the less specific you are, the more people you’ll get. But we have, I think, a dozen different specialties now.
[00:03:03] And about 40 states, we’ve got represented.
[00:03:06] George: Interesting. What’s the most popular fist somebody is looking for.
[00:03:11] Heather: The most popular is that people are looking for, tends to be fundraising. Unsurprisingly fundraising continues to be the thing that people really need help with and not whether it’s figuring out how to ask major donors for.
[00:03:27] funding, setting up bequests, thinking about grant writing, all of those specialties.
[00:03:33] We see a lot of interest in.
[00:03:34] George: So tools, sites marketplaces, like Fiverr have existed for quite some time or Upwork or, you know, fill in the.
[00:03:43] Heather: Yeah.
[00:03:44] George: Why did you decide to create one focused on non-profits?
[00:03:49] Heather: I think what we saw in the, in the world in the marketplace was that there wasn’t kind of trusted. just for people who have experience with non-profits. So certainly you could go on Fiverr, you go on Craigslist and find yourself a graphic designer. But if you need someone who really understands strategic planning, or if you want a lawyer who can help with incorporation, Those folks are a little bit harder to find.
[00:04:17] And there was a very fragmented landscape of these directories. So some state nonprofit associations have kind of business directories, some very specific kind of specialties have their own directories, but there was nothing that was really national and that included all of the different kinds of help that non-profits?
[00:04:39] George: It sounds like a daunting task to try to corral so many independent contractors or small companies. How long have you been building this? How have you been going about adding to the database?
[00:04:53] Heather: So I think it was more daunting than I envisioned. If I had known at the start, how daunting it was, I might not have started. But I began in January of 2019. We got our first expert to be part of the directory. We had a hundred folks by may of that year and opened up to the public. So it’s really started getting nonprofit leaders to come and take a look.
[00:05:16] And we’ve been growing really by word of mouth. So there was a big question when we started, how are we going to credential the people in the directory? How are you going to know that you’re getting somebody good? And that for nonprofit consultants is actually a really hard question. There is no one a certificate that we can get.
[00:05:38] There’s no, no particular degree. If you’re great in one specific area like fundraising, you might have a certification or coaching. But we went round and round about how we were going to credential people and eventually decided that trust is transitive. And so if I trust you as a consultant that you’re going to do good work and you trust somebody else who I don’t know, then that trust is transitive.
[00:06:05] So I am going to trust that they are also a good consultant. So we have grown by invitation only. So our members can invite. Their colleagues to become part of the network.
[00:06:18] George: Interesting. So it’s, if a goes B and B equals C. And see, you could get a drink sometime and hopefully be able to speak the same language. So how does, you know you know, we have a wide audience listening. How would a consultant saying, oh, I want to be on this list. How, how would they go about that then?
[00:06:39] Heather: Good question. So we do Have folks who are not directly connected. There’s a way to apply on the website and you just have to answer a couple of questions. One of the other things that I know about consulting is that. One consultant. Isn’t great for everybody. So we’re not looking to say here’s a set of absolutely perfect.
[00:07:01] A plus consultants who are going to work for every person. We’re looking to say, here’s a set of folks who have some good experience with non-profits who have some trust with their colleagues. And if you’re going to hire them, we want you to be a good consumer. We want you to think about how you’re actually doing.
[00:07:20] Choose who to work with and make sure that the right fit for you.
[00:07:23] George: Have you ever had to boot somebody for, for, misbehaving?
[00:07:27] Heather: We haven’t ever really had to beat anybody for misbehaving?
[00:07:30] I’ll tell you that story later.
[00:07:32] George: I love, I love the postscript on that and you know, it’s, it’s a. It’s an important note though, you know, you, you mentioned sort of Angie’s list and a part of that is ratings and trust, but at the, at the heart of it, you know, every organization can’t be great at doing all of the things. And some percentage of projects just don’t go as planned because that’s the nature of consulting.
[00:07:56] They have been hired to solve a hard problem, and sometimes it doesn’t get solved in the way that everyone hoped. So how do you go about that? I guess as a promise to nonprofits, I assume nonprofits can come on there and post what they need, or look for a professional. Like, what is that type of vetting promise look like.
[00:08:18] Heather: So. Promise that this is a trusted network. We allow people to, for nonprofit consultants, they can post their LinkedIn profile. They can post their email, they can put up testimonials about how great they are. And when nonprofit leaders, when a board member executive director development director comes to look, we really encourage them to think about how they’re going to hire well.
[00:08:45] But nonprofits as a website, doesn’t get involved in that transaction. We really wanted to make it as frictionless as possible and also free. So for all of our nonprofit leaders who are coming to the site, it’s totally free to get in And get access to all of these consultants.
[00:09:02] George: And here’s a tough one for you. What about ratings? I immediately think of, as you’ve mentioned, Angie’s list or like a Yelp, I’m saying like, how many stars can I leave people potentially.
[00:09:15] Heather: I’ve been really hesitant to get into the ratings game. And that is. In part, because I’m not sure in this case they’d be super helpful. I suspect that we would be getting a lot of five-star reviews. And that just in this context, I think people are too nice. I’m not sure that we would actually get the kind of constructive feedback that would be helpful.
[00:09:39] And maybe that’s just what I’m telling myself, because I have heartburn about putting that up and having to deal with consultants who might want to take down negative reviews or kind of mediate any of those. Because certainly there are times when I’ve been a consultant for 12 years. There are times when the work hasn’t gone as expected, and it’s my fault.
[00:09:59] There are other times when the work hasn’t gone as expected and it’s actually the client’s fault. And so. There’s this a lot of a gray area there that I’m hesitant to get into, but is, is definitely on our radar.
[00:10:13] George: I don’t know the right answer. I have been in the same game for over a decade, and I’m aware that what happens on Yelp ultimately is the, the polars, right? You end up with extremely happy or extremely frustrated, and that can paint a weird picture and then put no marketplace owner in a weird place. But clearly from a nonprofit perspective, you’d be curious as to sort of number served or something there.
[00:10:42] It’s it’s hard though. I started this conversation mentioning whole Wales got a similar product, which a, with a much, much, much smaller band. We only look at sort of digital. RFPs website builds for, you know, we originally did this because we don’t build websites at whole whale. And there’s a lot of things we don’t do that whole well, where we want a need, a trusted network.
[00:11:08] You mentioned that sort of transitive property of trust. And so it’s like a handful we have less than 20 companies that serve a range of budgets for these types of technical projects and includes like ad-words management. And website dev the problem was, you know, the well, many fold, but just sort of scaling beyond that trust.
[00:11:32] And like, we just, I didn’t have the guts to just open up the door wider, but also we didn’t have enough projects I’d say to come in. So the two-sided marketplace is super hard. We have. A handful of these RFPs coming in. I’m curious on your side, what does that nonprofit flow look like? What does the, you know, average size you mentioned it’s a fundraising fundraising, unsurprised type of consulting people are looking for, but maybe you can paint what that looks like.
[00:12:03] Heather: So we have been actively reaching out about the directory, marketing, the directory, really putting a lot of our budget behind recruiting. Nonprofit leaders to come to the directory. As I said, it’s free to join and you’ve got to join if you really want to dig into somebody’s profile. And we’ve got just over 3000 members now over the past three years.
[00:12:29] So we’re doing we’re finding that a lot of people are interested in this. The two big ways that folks are finding us one is we invest a lot in Google ads. We have found that that has been a really good way for us to find new. And then also word of mouth. So every time somebody asks me or asks any of the consultants in our directory, do you know somebody who, which we get those questions a lot?
[00:12:56] Our answer is non-profits. So that kind of constant referring back has been really helpful. Because we are not always in the middle of the RFPs the best data that we have about what folks are looking for and what they’re getting is from doing some surveys every year. And so we know that folks are finding good people through nonprofits.
[00:13:19] They’re getting their projects done. They’re recommending it to their friends. They have a pretty high level of satisfaction.
[00:13:25] George: And for our tool, we jokingly called it snorkel. Our front door is an RFP generator. Like we don’t let you come into the party unless you have an RFP. Now those three letters, the request for proposals. I know, spark a bit of ire in the consulting space. Maybe you can map out your approach and experience with the RFP.
[00:13:51] Do they don’t they dilemma?
[00:13:52] Heather: Yes. So I am anti RFP just to stake my claim. I think that’s Absolutely organizations need to get clear about what they’re looking for before they approach a consultant, but that is different than having an RFP. An RFP can help you get clarity on some of the questions. How much money do you think.
[00:14:17] When do you want this to be done? What are the big questions are looking to answer? I, have also seen RFPs that are 12 pages long and answer none of that. Right? So they are not necessarily the same thing. I actually asked some consultants on LinkedIn. I put out a post about RFP. And got a lot of great feedback.
[00:14:39] Most folks in a similar situation to me that RFPs are just not what works. And I think they don’t work for a couple of reasons. One is often they’re really prescriptive and that prescription is either solving the wrong problem or. Putting together a scope of work that just really isn’t going to address the need.
[00:15:02] And part of the reason why you want to work with a consultant often is to help diagnose the challenge, help plan out the solution. So if you’re already doing that in your RFP, if you’ve already seen. We’re going to have one, two hour board training and one, one hour work session with the executive committee and that’s it.
[00:15:21] That’s the solution to our problem. Then you’re really not using consulting to its full capacity. You’re not really using us in a way that’s going to be helpful. They also often require a lot of free work. So I am half of a two person consulting firm. We use our time to do the work. And so if you are asking us to put together of five page RFP or five page proposal with lots of responses, we may not ever apply for.
[00:15:53] And that’s certainly going to be true for other folks who are not part of larger organizations. So you’re kind of skewing your RFPs towards people who have the capacity to sit down and write lots of proposals. And finally they’re really impersonal, I think when the best fits come, when you actually have that.
[00:16:15] That personality, when you’re able to talk to somebody and you clicked and you both understand the problem, you understand how you’re going to work together. Those work styles really mesh and the RFP proposal process really doesn’t do that. Well. I just had the best experience and I didn’t even get the work, but it was still the best experience I had somebody send me a request for conversations. It was a two page document that included lots of the pieces of an RFP. And at the bottom, it says, if this seems like something you’re interested in click here to schedule a 25 minute phone conversation. So I did my partner and I got on the phone. We talked for 25 minutes, fantastic conversation. And at the end of it, he said, okay I’m going to be talking to our executive director.
[00:17:03] And if you move on the next step is a conversation with the two. So that was 25 minutes of our time. 25 minutes of his time. It wasn’t the right fit for whatever reason, but that was fine. I would do those calls all day long, rather than write out those large proposals.
[00:17:19] George: I, I wish I could say that. Like that’s not perfect because the request for conversation, we see, we get those, like a request for information is also kind of goes by, and it’s just so much more efficient. And I will say like, you know, we, we live in an RFP world for project sizes and pieces that. I just have to be part of the DNA of the process.
[00:17:43] You know, one of our approaches is putting out a template that hopefully elicits something usable and it kind of brings somebody through that process, but we don’t respond to cold RFPs where we don’t get a conversation first. And I think that’s an important note. The other piece I’ll say about the RFP is it does help focus.
[00:18:03] Sometimes I’d find the project as opposed to. You know, here’s a problem. We have no clue what we need. And that’s the difference of going to a dentist versus a general practitioner? Do you dentist here, like, let’s be clear what the problem is. And so in, in that type of focus, we sort of, we default to the unfortunate RFP.
[00:18:27] But I want to pull back to the size of organization that you somehow end up with. As soon as you kind of like pull together the RFP, you have to assume the type of machinery that can respond to RFP put together those pages. Right? We have a win rate of about anywhere hovering from like 46 to 52%, which means half of our work goes into yield dumpster of, of our.
[00:18:53] How do you think about the budget expectations when it comes to these conversations?
[00:19:01] Heather: The budget expectations from in response to what the non-profit is looking.
[00:19:07] George: Yeah. That awkward conversation about how much does it cost? Well, how much do you have.
[00:19:13] Heather: Yes. So I take my cues from say yes to the dress. And so have you ever seen this though? It is a. is a I don’t know what channel is a TLC probably, but it’s about women shopping for wedding dresses. And so they walk into a store and there’s wedding dresses from, you know, a thousand dollars to a hundred thousand dollars.
[00:19:33] And the bridal consultants, not sales women consultants say. Is there a price point we should pay attention to? This is our price point. We need to respect is there, is there a budget here? And so I lean on that kind of language. So is there a budget I need to keep in mind? Is there a budget you have set aside for this?
[00:19:53] I won’t really respond to an RFP. I won’t respond to an RFP if it doesn’t have a budget in it. Particularly for the kind of work I do. If someone wants a strategic planning process, it really depends on what kind of investment they’re looking to make as to what the scope of our work can be. And so oftentimes I will kind of walk folks through that.
[00:20:18] So here’s a few different pieces of work we could do if we do all of them. It’s a $40,000 project. If we just did this one little piece, it’s a $10,000 project, but I need to understand where you are. And so certainly there’s budget implications for that. The thing I think we don’t often think enough about, especially in the kinds of organizational development projects is what’s the bandwidth that the board and the staff have for this.
[00:20:47] So if you’re doing a strategic plan or board development, or even in depth fundraising, What else does, does the staff and board have on their mind this year? Are you also going through a diversity equity inclusion project? Are you also celebrating your 40th anniversary? Are you also launching a capital campaign?
[00:21:06] Do you actually have.
[00:21:07] the bandwidth to do this project this year? Or does that help to determine the size of the project as well?
[00:21:15] George: So it’s a monetary and a time type of budget.
[00:21:20] Heather: Yes. It’s. What resources do you have available for this in the coming year or two years?
[00:21:26] George: It’s super important in tough too, because you know, we’ve seen a lot of folks. Well, I don’t want to put a bunch of down this, but I’m going to give you a five page RFP. I just sort of, I’m like, I won’t pass that forward because you know, we’ve got companies on our snorkel list that we’ll do a project for $5,000 in $500,000.
[00:21:49] So for you to not give a budget, you’re like, okay. I’ll, I mean, I’ll tell you what happens on the other side. They’re like, yeah, we’re not going to bother with us. Or what they do is they look at your nine 90 and then they analyze what’s going on with the size of the organization and they back into it.
[00:22:05] But this could be a small project for you. You just sort of wasting your own time and others’ time by not having that budget range. However, I do see the. Converse there where maybe you’re talking about a larger, you know, fundraising effort or a larger project where there could be a range and you want competitive bids, because again, a nonprofit is obliged by its statute to have three competitive bids.
[00:22:36] And if you say I’m going to spend, you know, $60,000 on this project, then you know, like how much competition he gets. So what is your advice? For, for that nuanced game,
[00:22:48] Heather: not all nonprofits need to get the competitive bids but many do threshold on that? Do you know?
[00:22:55] I think it might have to do with the funding source. So it might be like government money. You have to get more beds. A lot of the nonprofits I work with don’t have to get those bids if they’re smaller and they don’t have government funding.
[00:23:07] I think though that when we’re talking about. Reacting based on price, choosing based on price, you are not going to get the best consultant for you. So if your only way of judging is price and you’re not looking at that fit, you’re not looking at experience. You’re not looking at work to be done.
[00:23:29] Then I think you’re really you’re, you’re doing yourself a disservice and your organization and disservice. So I. React. Well, when someone says, well, we’ve got kind of 50 to $60,000, that’s our budget range. And here’s all the things we want to do. What I see often happens is nonprofit leaders, eyes are bigger than their plates.
[00:23:50] Their desires are bigger than their. So I might describe all the things we could do. And then I find out they’ve only got a very small budget, but they’re still trying to cram all of the different pieces in and figuring out how to get the most bang for their buck, which I do think makes sense. But if someone.
[00:24:09] Does it have a budget, huge red flag for me, they’re not taking this seriously. They’re not ready to make a significant investment of time and money if they won’t share their budget. I think I try to walk them through. Here’s why it matters to me what your budget is. Not because I’m going to max it out, but because I want to right-size the work.
[00:24:29] And if they still won’t give me a budget, then I think that’s a, that’s a big question for myself and my colleague, my partner to figure out, do we really want to move forward with this?
[00:24:38] George: Yeah, I think the selection criteria is kind of interesting because if you just choose based on price, the adage of you get what you pay for is like an immutable law of grants. That comes forward. And at that point, you know, you should just go onto Fiverr and have somebody just, you know, go do it for $5.
[00:24:57] You realize there’s a point at which that’s a ridiculous thing. And you’re playing a weird game by going about that. Coming back to that question, though, you know, you have, non-profits waiting into 300, 3000 X, you know, options out there. How. Just the site or do you advise on choosing that? Right? We’ll say fundraising consultant.
[00:25:21] Heather: So our advice is to first be clear about what you need. So what’s the challenge you’re trying to address how many. Do you have to put into it both in terms of money and in terms of time, when do you want it done? Honestly, the wind can be really challenging. So if you have a board retreat next weekend, your pool of consultants is very small, right?
[00:25:46] If you, if we have some time and some bandwidth, you have a much bigger pool of consultants. The other thing I encourage folks to think about is what are those kind of untangible, intangible, unteachable things that you are really looking for in a consultant. So it might be, you’re really looking for a particular kind of experience.
[00:26:09] It might be, you are looking for a particular kind of personality. So you might like someone who is super direct. You might like somebody who is really focused on project and task management. You might know that because of the composition of your board and staff, you really want to be sure that the team includes a person of color in the leadership.
[00:26:34] Right? There are a whole lot of characteristics that if you reflect back both on yourself, The organization, the team that’s leading this work, you might identify, there’s some specific things that we’re really looking for. And I think those can be really important.
[00:26:48] George: Yeah. So there’s some intangibles that like your style approach, other other factors. And then, you know, you have the conversations, it seems like the large part of this platform as you go on here are folks that fit your filter. Now go have some conversations while also sending some of that information upfront as a maybe request for conversation.
[00:27:10] Heather: Yeah. I mean, it’s, maybe it’s an Angie’s list. I should call it mass.com. Although I don’t actually know much about matching anymore. It’s to get you to the date, right? Like there’s information here. There’s background about consultant’s experience, but it’s really to get you to that conversation.
[00:27:28] to see if there’s a match to see if you fit in terms of experience.
[00:27:33] If you see, if you like the questions that consultant is asking you, if they have good questions, answers to the questions you’re asking them, it’s really about that interaction.
[00:27:43] George: What’s the, you mentioned time, what’s the recommended amount of time to sort of buffer in, like, I have a project that needs, I know it needs to start at the end of the year. And here’s the funny thing that you and I see every fundraising cycle is I need this to start ASAP, which is just the hilarious four letters that we all see.
[00:28:04] What is the recommended amount of time. Let’s just play with this game of like, you know, that you’re going to need a project in case. When should you start looking for that consultant?
[00:28:15] Heather: It’s going to depend on how booked out the consultant is, but I will say at least three months in advance you want to have, have the person in mind be signing the contract three months in advance. That way, if you’re having an in-person board retreat or you’re launching a fundraising campaign, you’ve got time to do the pre-work.
[00:28:36] So that might mean that you need to start searching. Four months, five months, depending on what kind of process you want to do to actually select the person. But three months out is for me and for the consultants that I know gives a good bit of flexibility. What do you think
[00:28:53] George: I think the shorter your time to start, the more you’re going to end up having to pay for a larger firm that has that type of excess couple.
[00:29:01] And that’s just, you know what we have seen over time, for example, we’re not taking on clients until July right now, and that data is rapidly moving away. And you know, the, the game is that the smaller, the shop, the less they can afford the availability, meaning that, can I just take on another project right now?
[00:29:21] No, because I book up my months so that I didn’t. I have an idol, you know, an idle hour, which is tough because you know, you miss out on projects and pieces that, that happen, but you can’t operate like what we would say, high, a low utilization tool, like a fire department where it is fine because we want them to available and be available when the fire happens.
[00:29:47] You just, I think end up with just massive agencies. That you can just cost more and maybe get less personalized. You know, we’re a company of 26 people, but when I started, it was a company of me. So I’ve kind of seen this like grow over time and this game of keeping a plate full while keeping the opportunity to work with great organizations coming in and.
[00:30:12] It always frustrates me when a great organization comes in and like, Hey, we known about this project for six months, but we’re calling you right now. And you’re like, why didn’t you message us? We were going to get to It
[00:30:26] Heather: My favorite is I put you in a grant requests that we were going to do this work with you next year. Okay, fantastic. And why are you telling me on December 15th? Like we needed to
[00:30:39] George: No, but you’re in the grant. I wrote you in. Okay.
[00:30:42] Yeah. It’s it’s you know, about that size and I guess I would, you know, the average size of project, it seems like if these are consultants operating at like less than five people who are under five people, it sounds like that’s kind of where the nonprofit is hovers.
[00:31:00] Heather: Yeah, nonprofit consultants. A lot of fix our solar preneurs. We have a lot of small shops. My best guess is that our. The average project, our projects are somewhere between kind of 5,000 and 20,000 with of course, some variability on that on either side. A lot of the folks that we work with a lot of the non-profits are coming and looking for some startup help.
[00:31:26] They’re looking for running their first fundraising campaign, doing their first strategic plans. Sometimes those tend to be on the lower budget size, but we certainly have folks or we’re looking to do, you know, a statewide communications campaign and need some help.
[00:31:39] George: Yeah, I think that’s such a valuable service because I know of so many, like solar printers and small shops out there that do great work, but you know, it’s tough to find them sort them out. And you know, these are folks that may come and go out with. The career right there doing it between large organ, like large organization work.
[00:32:00] Heather: Hm.
[00:32:01] George: they’ll show up for a while. I’m like, wow, this is great. But you know, it’s tough to find that window sometimes. And it seems like a super valuable network for, for folks looking for those servers. All right. Before we go into a rapid fire, I’m just curious, any other final advice for nonprofits that, you know, you want to talk about?
[00:32:20] You know, we touched on the choosing the intangibles time and budget, the request for conversation preferred over request for proposal, any other like, you know, insider tips for people looking to find a consultant on nonprofit.
[00:32:36] Heather: Last thought is that it’s probably going to take you. More money, more time, more energy than you think it will. Which is probably true for every. Consulting gig ever. And every house renovation and everything else you do, but as you’re really putting together your budget, as you’re thinking about the time span for the work, just know that unless you have a lot of experience with consultants, you probably are underestimating.
[00:33:04] And so just go in with a little bit of a flexible mentality about all of those variables.
[00:33:09] George: Yeah. It’s like the Murphy’s law of home renovation as much time as you have allocated for this, it’s going to take more time even after accounting for Murphy’s law.
[00:33:18] Heather: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah.
[00:33:22] George: Alright, rapid fire. Please try to keep your responses shortish. And here we go. What is one tech tool or website that you or your organization has started using in the last year?
[00:33:32] Heather: I am in love with Zapier, which connects all kinds of programs. You can connect your Gmail to your zoom, to your MailChimp. And it kind of, it does zaps back and forth between things. And I love it.
[00:33:49] George: What tech issues are you dealing with right now?
[00:33:51] Heather: I just launched a big survey on survey monkey and the bots found it. And so we finally figured out how to put a question that was, we want to make sure you’re human. Tell us about your favorite meal and why, and that is the, the bots figured out how. The answer the multiple choice question about which one of these is not an animal we thought that was going to work.
[00:34:14] It did not. They all knew it was a basketball, but this one seems to work so bots in my survey.
[00:34:20] George: What is coming in the next year that has you the most excited.
[00:34:23] Heather: are about to, for nonprofits launch our, what we’re calling our ethos, which is our kind of statement of principles for the consultant community. We’re just about done with designing it and we’re going to launch it in the next couple of weeks. So I’m really excited.
[00:34:39] to get that out there and, and hear what people have to say.
[00:34:42] George: Can you talk about a mistake you made earlier in your career that shapes the way you do things.
[00:34:47] Heather: Yes. So when I was. It’s probably 15 years ago, I was working with, in my volunteer gig. I run a giving circle at that time in Raleigh called the beehive collective. And we were given this wonderful opportunity to host some events at a club in downtown Raleigh over the weekend. And so we were able to host an event on Friday night.
[00:35:09] We had this like. Crazy talent show on Saturday, we had a clothes swap. We used to do that a lot. And then on Sunday night we had this thing called the barrister’s ball, just a dance party. Well, nobody showed up to the third event and what I really figured out is how over-saturating her overtaxing, this community that we had, people wanted to show up for it.
[00:35:37] It was just too much. They could not do a Friday night, a Saturday day, a Saturday night. And so they made choices. And so as I think about engaging any kind of community, I really think about kind of what’s the, what’s the cost of this? What’s the trade off of this? How do I really figure out what the carry capacity is of my community or of this organization or whatever, and how do I design for that?
[00:36:01] George: If I were to toss you in a hot tub time machine, back to the beginning of your work, what advice would you. The advice of take more risks try out more new things. Every time I have taken a risk, I have been rewarded for it. And I have really learned a lot and had a great time made progress on my goals, but have often found myself hesitant, especially early in my career to do that.
[00:36:26] what is something you think you should stop doing?
[00:36:28] Heather: Saying yes. Saying yes to all kinds of things work and otherwise
[00:36:34] George: I already gave you a magic wand to wave across the industry.
[00:36:37] Heather: it would stop executive directors from having. Unrealistic expectations about their boards and boards from having unrealistic expectations of their executive director.
[00:36:50] George: How did you get your start in the social impact side?
[00:36:53] Heather: When I was in college, I joined a environmental group, the student environmental action coalition. And from there just kept going and going and going.
[00:37:04] George: What advice did your parents give you that you either followed or didn’t.
[00:37:09] Heather: I don’t know. Sorry, I didn’t.
[00:37:13] George: All right. Final one. How do people find you? How do people have.
[00:37:16] Heather: So you can find [email protected] nonprofit assist. You can reach me at Heather at nonprofit that IST and I would love it if you’re a nonprofit leader and you want to join. Nonprofit assist and poke around and find some folks who can help you and also follow us on LinkedIn. We got a really active LinkedIn page, and then if you’re a consultant and you want to find out more about joining the network, please be in touch.
[00:37:43] I would love to talk to you about it.
[00:37:45] George: Well, thank you for your work and for creating such an amazing tool and resource for the nonprofit community. Good luck. And thanks for sharing your knowledge.
[00:37:54] Heather: Thank you so much for having me. This was place.