Nonprofit Radio for April 10, 2023: The High Growth Nonprofit


Matt ScottThe High Growth Nonprofit

Matt Scott returns to talk us through his new book, “The High Growth Nonprofit.” He urges you to shed the 5% growth mindset and plan for exponential growth with your rapid growth plan. Matt is CEO of CauseMic.



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[00:01:19.31] spk_0:
Hello and welcome to Tony-Martignetti non profit radio big nonprofit ideas for the other 95%. I’m your Aptly named host of your favorite abdominal podcast. And oh, I’m glad you’re with me. I’d get slapped with a diagnosis of gero morph. Um Is um if you made me lose my mind because you missed this week’s show The high growth non profit Matt Scott returns to talk us through his new book, the high growth non profit he urges you to shed the 5% growth mindset and planned for exponential growth with your rapid growth plan. Matt is CEO of Cosmic On Tony’s take 2:23 NTC shows coming. We’re sponsored by Donor box with intuitive fundraising software from donor box. Your donors give four times faster helping you help others. Donor box dot org. Here is the high growth non profit It’s my pleasure

[00:01:54.73] spk_1:
to welcome back, Matt Scott to non profit radio He is CEO and co founder of Cosmic A Portland Oregon based consultancy, helping nonprofits leverage best in class for profit methods to grow their organizations before cosmic. He was a fundraising leader on the inside of numerous young and fast nonprofits One of which he helped take from $275,000 to $51 million dollars in seven years. We’ll be talking about that one. He’s the author of the book, The

[00:01:56.66] spk_0:
High Growth non profit Proven steps

[00:02:14.23] spk_1:
to quickly double your revenue and drive impact. The company is at cosmic dot com and Matt’s book is at cosmic dot com slash book. Matt Scott. Welcome back to the nonprofit radio

[00:02:17.02] spk_2:
Thank you for having me saw this on the calendar and was feeling pretty stoked about

[00:02:21.16] spk_1:
it. Thank you. Oh, you just look five minutes ago like you haven’t been anticipating it for the past month.

[00:02:26.62] spk_2:
I absolutely looked last night and was okay.

[00:02:30.26] spk_1:
Alright. I’ll accept 12 hours of excitement is, is terrific. Thank you. Congratulations. Congratulations on the book, the high growth, non profit

[00:02:42.82] spk_2:
Thank you. Yeah, I think uh if any of your, if any of your listeners have ever have ever written a book, they will probably relate. It took me twice as long as I thought it would to

[00:02:54.74] spk_1:
write. Yes, I’ve heard that numerous times. Right. All right. But it’s done. Congratulations.

[00:03:00.58] spk_2:
Thank you.

[00:03:04.07] spk_1:
Let’s talk with, with a 30,000 ft view. You, you reference different uh degrees of views in the book and one of them is 30,000 ft. What, what’s a high growth? Non profit

[00:03:42.37] spk_2:
I think a high growth, non profit is an organization that is looking to go beyond incremental growth. Um, an organization that’s looking to double their revenue and impact Over the next 2-3 years. Um and it’s an organization. Yeah, that’s that’s willing to take bold calculated risk and also follow some some process and systems to get there. Um Yeah, it’s an organization ready to invest in growth.

[00:04:06.79] spk_1:
Okay. That’s audacious doubling in 2-3 years, growth revenue and impact. Alright, so one of the early chapters makes it clear that if we’re gonna achieve high growth, we need to outgrow Our 5% mindset. Yeah, help us through.

[00:04:17.67] spk_2:
Yeah, this is, this is my favorite exercise or tip or uh out you know, just learning from the book um because it’s worked time and time again. Big small, it scales at every size organization. It’s quite simple. It’s most organizations especially fundraisers are guilty of this. They set these really low revenue targets and then they like to wildly exceed them. Um At least that’s what I do know that was a frontline fundraiser um but

[00:04:39.75] spk_1:
really classic uh under under over, perform under

[00:05:52.32] spk_2:
undersell over. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So outgoing the 5% growth mindset is this idea that most organizations look to grow, say 5 10 15% you know, and the reality is you don’t actually have to do anything differently in order to grow that incremental growth. You just have to do what you’re currently doing and do it a little bit better. And so what we encourage folks to do is to kind of gather around a whiteboard with their team and say, answer this question, what if we had no choice but to double our revenue with half the resources over the next three years, what would we do? And it’s awesome because in a resource constrained environment, you’re forced to uh get creative innovation comes to life and you’re forced to ruthlessly prioritize. And that’s usually how you can begin to set a path towards exponential growth. Um And we’ve, we’ve seen this, we’ve seen this work at lots of clients and I think it’s something that uh that is an easy thing for a leader to do.

[00:06:01.45] spk_1:
And in addition to having an audacious growth goal mindset, you need to have a plan for achieving audacious goals, which is what to me, this is what the book is all about. It’s not enough to just be audacious in goal setting. We need to have a method of getting there that’s going to be different than what we’ve been doing.

[00:06:20.66] spk_2:
Yeah, exactly. I, I could, I could say I would like to be £50 lighter by my birthday. But if I don’t actually have any plan to, you know, to replace, uh to, to drink green tea and eat more vegetables, I probably am not going to get there.

[00:06:42.53] spk_1:
I love the idea of exponential exponential growth. Let’s talk about the North Star and why don’t you talk about the North Star? What’s our North Star?

[00:07:04.73] spk_2:
Yeah, I think what’s, what comes to mind for me is, is unlike a mission statement, a North Star is sort of this, this guiding light for your organization. It’s more about the why. Um And you know, the analogy kind of comes to mind like as you’re a kid and you’re exploring and you know, or any explorer really. And the thought is that this North Star can kind of take you in a certain direction, It can always guide you and point you there. And it’s something that when I was at Team Rubicon nonprofit that, that, that re purposes the skills of military veterans to, to assist folks who have been affected by disaster. Um

[00:07:26.80] spk_1:
That’s the organization that you grew referred to in your bio.

[00:07:31.76] spk_2:
Yeah, exactly. I was a part of, uh, I was a part of our rapid growth there and in fundraising and, uh, there was a lot of people involved in that but, but the organization was ran by, um, this guy named Jake Wood, a former marine. Uh, if there’s any marines listening, I apologize. There’s no such thing as a former marine, a marine, I should say.

[00:07:53.23] spk_1:
Yeah. Exactly. Yeah.

[00:08:39.45] spk_2:
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I hope I still make his Christmas card list, um, for making that error. But, yeah, Jake pounded the North Star in our head to be the best disaster relief organization in the world. And we were really encouraged to take these bold calculated risk and it was, it was that guiding star to say, hey, when we’re, when we’re at a decision point, when we’re trying to figure out what to do, look to that North star and say, is this going to get us closer there? Is it gonna guide us towards that direction? And I think it’s important for an organization or a leader to set the organization’s North Star and to communicate that frequently. So, you know, that cosmic, we were laser focused on helping uh fully fund every nonprofit organization. Um That’s a pretty big bold audacious thing. It’s like being the best disaster response or in the world. And throughout the journey to get there, you’re gonna, you know, you’re gonna have all these decision points and it helps you, I think filter through them.

[00:09:07.47] spk_1:
I like that. The book is filled with examples of basically you, you’re walking your walk, you use a lot of examples from, from cosmic,

[00:10:22.84] spk_2:
yeah, from cosmic, from clients like um honestly, the book is filled with, with just as many lessons that were learned from trying something and it not working. But one of our cultural principles is success is not final and another one is the future belongs to the curious. And I think the combination of those two things are what, what allows an organization to try, try new approaches. But then when something works well to examine it, to look at it, understand why it worked or why it didn’t work and what’s still missing about it and to refine it. And so I try to share examples from our experience um because I’m so goal oriented and sometimes I share with, with Bobby, someone was like my thought partner, my operational partner here at Cosmic, just, just the other day I shared with her was like, gosh, you know, uh I was like, I wish we were growing faster. And she said, Matt, we more than doubled, you know, last year ourselves. And we helped 22 clients double at the same time. Like, let’s take a breath and like, look at what, what worked and what didn’t and what we accomplished. And I think that, that, that, that’s what I tried to include in the book was the stories from those lessons learned. And I hope, I hope it comes through.

[00:10:30.12] spk_1:
It does, it does true to your uh walking your talk. I said you, I said you walk your walk, you walk your talk. True to walking your talk. Uh your North Star. One of them is to fully fund every nonprofit, you know, you do know there’s about a million and a half of them, right?

[00:10:52.72] spk_2:
Yeah, there’s, there’s far too many probably to realistically reach. And I gotta be honest, like we’ve refined that over the years to be those that align with our values. Like I actually, I hope that there’s certain organizations that don’t have access to my book and don’t actually put to use these practices

[00:11:27.25] spk_1:
but you’re scaling back scaling down a little bit. Alright. That’s that’s perfectly reasonable with the universe of a million and a half or more but true to your North Star, you are giving this book away books just go to cosmic dot com slash book and give a name and an address and you’ll ship the book for free.

[00:11:33.51] spk_2:

[00:11:35.22] spk_1:
I’m not gonna ask why you’re doing that because it’s your it’s your North Star. That’s why.

[00:12:11.19] spk_2:
Yeah, exactly. I think um yeah, we give away free strategy calls to and I’m gonna be honest, like a lot of the calls are folks that aren’t necessarily in the right mindset or in the right place to benefit from the approach that we take. But we still want to help them. So we’ve developed a free curriculum. Like we’ve, you know, I just wanted to capture some of the lessons that I’ve learned and so many, I’ve gotten so much free advice over the years, um that I’m so grateful for that. We wanted to put some of those thoughts down on paper and, and share those with books and um yeah, just help people, help people grow and scale and it’s the easiest way to, to distribute our knowledge out there.

[00:12:59.59] spk_1:
You have a chapter on and all your chapters are short this quick. This is a, it’s a quick read but valuable and I mean, it has to be valuable. You get it for free. So it has just infanticidal value and then you have, if it’s just infanticidal value, then you have a positive R O I because cosmic is paying for the shipping. So culture. So one of your, one of the many chapters, culture, culture is the glue. How do we I think folks probably understand why that’s important but how do we create the culture that we want?

[00:16:51.67] spk_2:
Yeah. So um I kind of already shared with you two of our cultural principles that cosmic, right? And I can still remember and recite all seven cultural principles at Team Rubicon. But I’ve also worked at two other places in my career where I actually cannot recite even one of the cultural principles because they were a poster on a wall, right? So when I think about cultural principles, they need to be what guides your team in the absence of your presence. So, just a few years ago when it was myself and Bobby and one full time person here at cosmic uh Franny who still works with us. Um I remember gathering her and saying, sharing with her. There’s gonna be a time when we’re not in the room, you’re gonna be alone in the room and we’re going to make a decision about how we need to move forward. People are going to question that decision and we won’t be there to answer it. And I need you to look to these cultural principles, to guide you and to provide them with context as to why this decision is made. Um so that we can all be aligned and so that we can all move forward together. So I think when you know, to address your question, I think of two parts, one is like, what is the importance, the critical part is that you have, that your team has something that they can fall back on to filter through their actions, their ideas, to understand your decisions, all those things in the absence of your presence, it’s really important how to get there. Um It’s as basic as sitting down and writing down, like, think about yourself. Think about your top performing people on your team, the best people you’ve ever worked with. If you’re just building your team from scratch, what are the characteristics of those folks? What is it that they have in common? Where is their overlap and start to write those things down? Don’t go with these lofty like integrity and things like that’s kind of baseline. I hope that wherever it is that you’re working, right? But go with like what is uniquely you and then you can actually refine them and that’s how we come up with fun stuff like at Team Rubicon. Uh One of my favorite cultural principles was uh your mother is a donor. So when we think about how we’re going to reinvest the money that is given to Team Rubicon to serve folks affected by disaster, think about it as if your mother gave us that money. And that was a really cool right way to frame that up. And so at cosmic, we’ve, we’ve got fun ones to write like sleeves up at Team Rubicon was gets it done. So the you can start to put a fun spin on it and then how you move it into action. Um I found is you repeat it all the time and you call it out all the time. Um Are you familiar with strength Finder, tony It’s, it’s a, it’s a gallop kind of generated thing where you fill out this survey of millions of people filled it out and it kind of identifies what are your top five strengths of all these different strengths, right? And a lot of folks use strength finder, but they’d go to a half day session and then they never talk about it again. And the same is true about cultural principles. They take a day a week, a month to define these cultural principles. They’re passive, they’re on a poster and they’re not ever talked about. And so you have to like when you see sleeves up, when you see success is not final, whatever yours are, you have to call attention to call it out and say, hey Franny, that was amazing. You know, that was a success is not final moment for you. This is thank you. You know, this is what works about it. I think that’s what I would say about cultural principles is define them but, but revisit them often. Um that’s how you’re gonna be able to fully leverage them.

[00:16:58.18] spk_1:
What guides your team in the absence of your presence? I love that.

[00:18:00.50] spk_0:
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[00:18:01.24] spk_1:
about yours. Success is not final. What does that mean to cosmic?

[00:19:25.63] spk_2:
Yeah, to cosmic. It means um we actually do, I learned again, I learned this kind of thing at Team Rubicon. We did this thing called an after action report which is sort of came out of the military culture where we would evaluate, hey, we just responded to hurricane Harvey. What worked? What didn’t, what was missing? What was confusing, right? Um And so what we do here at cosmic and is we actually evaluate like, like literally we did a retrospective on writing this book. Um You know, I think it was a success. I can’t wait to come out with a second volume, but I’m like, okay, what are all the things that need to be, that need fixing? You know, that could be better about how we approach this? Um And there was a ton of them and then how taking the lessons that we learned about the, the editing process, like the outlining process, um the boiling it down to two, like you said, I mean, it was written in a way for to be, to be, you know, kind of digested on a domestic flight. But we, we try to put like the key lessons up front. Well, that actually came out of another project that we worked on where the audience of, of our curriculum said, you know, the just like the lesson learned upfront was really helpful. So it’s taking that success from one thing and applying it to what worked well this time. And also looking back and saying, what didn’t work, what did not go well about that fundraising campaign that we just ran? What, what didn’t go well about that digital transformation that we just did and how do we address that for the next go around so that we can improve upon how we deliver, you know, services to clients and impact to the world.

[00:19:59.77] spk_1:
As you said, each chapter has to takeaways upfront right under the title of the chapter, there’s two shaded boxes that are going to tell you what that chapter is all about.

[00:20:09.22] spk_2:
Yeah, you can skip the chapter if you, if you’re really short on time or not intrigued by what it says or no,

[00:20:53.24] spk_1:
you should, I think you make this point if one doesn’t appeal to you that you should read it all the more to find out what it is that you’re missing about the takeaway that, uh, that you’re not getting, you know, what, what it is you don’t understand about the takeaway that, that makes it, uh, interesting to you. So, read a couple of pages and, and come away enlightened. Yeah. Um, you talk something about, well, actually let’s get a little deeper in your, in your own life that this team Rubicon sounds like it was, I don’t know, transformational for you, you know, so grounding you, you took away a lot from your time at Team Rubicon.

[00:21:15.16] spk_2:
I sure did. Uh the, the opportunity, you know, for, for your more established leaders who are listening to this uh 22 year old Matt was given way too much responsibility.

[00:21:17.65] spk_1:
Military that, that comes, that comes right from your founder. Jake. Military does that 18 year olds are given incredible responsibility right out of right out of high school.

[00:24:28.53] spk_2:
Exactly. If you give people clear direction, commander’s intent, um, as Jake would call it, uh, and, and, and, and, and a sense of connection with one another, a sense of codependency with one another. Um Then, you know, even if you fail, if you’re failing forward, you’re gonna do. Okay. Right. So, uh for me at Team Rubicon, all of the places that I’ve worked, I’ve, you know, have taught me a lot. Um but I learned about, I think the 30,000 ft at team Rubicon, the power of having a really strong uh direction that we’re headed at the horizon level and then how to operationalize it is really critical. So, um I was given the opportunity to, to buy, given the opportunity, I mean, there was a problem and, and someone let me, let me just tackle it right? Um To, to lead 2.5 digital transformations in my seven years, but I had never done that before. Um And so learning a lot from that are developing a mass market fundraising program, building out a fundraising team, um you know, partnering with marketing, all of these different things that uh that were so, so important to who I am today and how I lead today and how I help others lead is because of the lessons that I learned. And I’m gonna be honest, a lot of stuff did not work um at all. And so I’ll share an example that maybe will resonate with folks like one of the things we do and I talk about it in the book is that the strategic planning process is completely broken. At most organizations, right. It takes 3 to 6 months. It cost over $200,000 in staff time and consulting. And usually it, it ends up with this 50 page strategic planning document that nobody reads and is completely in actionable. And a team Rubicon, what we would do is we would actually develop strategic plans every six months. We were putting new ones out there and we would look back and laugh at where we thought we would be. Sometimes we, we thought we were like going to the moon and actually we ended up at Mars or sometimes we overshot, sometimes we fell way short. But the plan was like a good place to deviate from. It was, it was, it was something to guide us, but it was not a desk, a destination, the planning process, you know, um what’s it? Uh I’m gonna mess up which general this was. But one of these famous generals talks about how plan is useless, but the act of planning is really, is really what is really useful because it brings people together and gives people a common understanding. And so a team Rubicon like we would fail all the time at our strategic plans. But, but we were always had a bias for action over a bias for documentation. We always had a bias for getting things done. And um yeah, I’m very grateful for the time that I had there because I don’t think I would be able to support so many organizations today if it weren’t for the opportunity to fail early, um, and succeed early, you know,

[00:24:43.08] spk_1:
G S D getting it done, right. You talk like you were in the military, like operationalized commander’s intent, you know, you, you sound like you were a para marine yourself.

[00:25:01.56] spk_2:
Oh, gosh, I have three, I have three brothers who served in the military. Uh, but I did not have any military jargon or discipline whatsoever before going to team Rubicon. So it’s 100% byproduct of my as my time as a gray shirt and it has nothing to do with uh with uh my level of service stops at the nonprofit sector at Fortune.

[00:25:22.42] spk_1:
Alright. And great shirts of course. Were the team Rubicon volunteers? Right. Exactly. Where the great shirts. Yeah. Alright. So let’s explore a little more of the strategic plan. You, you spend a couple of chapters on it, having an adaptable strategic plan and why don’t, why don’t you bring in another organization? The talk about the uh SFP the Salon to Family Project.

[00:25:47.39] spk_2:

[00:25:48.32] spk_1:
adaptable strategic plan.

[00:29:48.15] spk_2:
Yeah. So what I what I favor is is action over over documentation, right? But documentation is important. So capturing your strategy on a single page, it’s like what are we trying to achieve? What are the key, how are we going to do that? What are the key strategies on how we’re gonna do that? Right. So Salon to Family project. When they first started working with us, they actually pair marginalized Children or women rather so just women who were largely ignored in the community with orphan Children. And they create what they call these forever fan families where they are not just a temporary placement for orphans, but rather a wraparound care service. A long term commitment of family goes well beyond, you know, a kid graduating from high school, say right, you can still call your parents well into life and then you care for one another. Um And so when they were thinking about how to grow and they really needed to grow, we started to identify, okay, well, if we were going to double revenue, how would we go about doing that? What are the key areas we’re going to focus on? So we capture that in a strategic plan and then you essentially look at okay. One of them was going to be, we’re going to really lean into peer to peer fundraising because that was there was an opportunity there for them. And another area was cause marketing and really thinking about how to leverage corporate marketing dollars instead of corporate philanthropic dollars. Most nonprofits go after donations, but those are very limited versus marketing dollars are kind of infinitely scalable. So those were just two of the strategies that made sense. Then we developed all these tactical things. Like if we’re going to focus on fundraisers, we need to have little things like we need a good peer to peer fundraising platform. But more importantly, like, let’s think about donor segmentation or, or supporter segmentation donors, volunteers, fundraisers, advocates within the fundraisers. Like, are these people network mobilizes? Can they get a lot of people to attend the event and donate on their behalf? Um Sharing a ton of context. But my point is that there were all these little ideas like we need to coach people who are passionate about Salaam to but who are not professional fundraisers on how to ask people for money. So a fundraising coaching series made it in there so big ideas, little ideas, they all get added in and we scored those based on impact. How much impact would they have on our ability to double revenue against that key strategy, how with cost, you know, time and money, like a fundraising platform cost money, it takes time and money to draft an email series and build out an engagement flow, right? And so by doing this more action oriented strategic planning process, what we did was we started to develop, uh we were clear on direction and we were clear on how we were gonna get there and we really thought about what should be done first. And um and as a result, the organization was able to, you know, leverage all kinds of cool stuff, a Travelocity grant to film to build brand awareness. Like we built a really big peer to peer program, but also kind of what I was sharing about team Rubicon and cosmic is like our identity shift over time. And what to uh to Marissa the executive director’s credit. She saw an opportunity and actually the connection between family, the forever family in the faith based community in, in the US, the donor base. And that there was a strong connection there that they were, they weren’t really maximizing or taking advantage of because they weren’t directly connecting the two. So that’s that a plan is a good place to deviate from that I was talking about is as you move through the process of growing, you need to success is not final stop and evaluate what’s working, what’s not what’s missing. And she found that opportunity and leaned into it with these frameworks and they’ve been very successful. They’ve, they’ve grown up, they’ve doubled more than more than once. Um So, yeah, just a little bit more about, about Salam to and how they leverage that growth strategy.

[00:30:03.61] spk_1:
Explain about the one page strategic plan, the O P S P, talk about this in the book too.

[00:30:53.97] spk_2:
Yeah, this is, this is like my favorite uh my favorite thing um because it aligns everybody and it’s the simplicity. It’s hard to get down into a single page, right? But, but essentially at the very top, it’s what are we trying to achieve? Okay, let’s say we’re trying to double our revenue. How are we gonna do that? I talked about that already. What are the key strategies? Um okay, then who should we be targeting? Uh like who should be going after? Let’s say one of your key strategies is to, to take an audience led approach, right? So one of our clients is Surfrider. Well, who they’re going after is mass market, major donors, uh you know, certain corporate partners, etcetera. And then what motivates them? Well, they have four programmatic pillars. So that’s really like, what are we talking about? What do they do? They,

[00:31:02.76] spk_1:
what do they do?

[00:32:35.42] spk_2:
Surf rider is a group of a collection of chapters. There’s over 80 across the the country. And what they do is they work collaboratively to put forth legislation to protect beach access, to protect clean water, to reduce plastic pollution and to reverse the impacts of climate change. And why people support surfrider are different. Somebody who’s interested in plastic pollution might not be interested in beach access. Um So what we, what we want to capture on that page is who are we going after? What, what’s the core message? What are the, what are the major drumbeats? What are the times when everybody? So World Water Day super important for them. Um Some of them are planned and some of them are unplanned. So the rainfall that we just experienced in California really damaged coastal communities, but that was an unplanned drumbeat. So the ability to look at this one page strategic plan and say, should we respond to this disaster? Does it align with our, our strategy towards doubling revenue? Um It gives people a filter who are execute Urz and who are operational ist and leaders to look at and, and glance at and say, yeah, we need to lean into this opportunity and it means that we’re gonna have to stop doing these other things um temporarily or otherwise to get there. So, uh yeah, that’s a little bit about what’s captured in the one page strategic plan. It’s sort of the, what are we trying to do and how are we going to do it? And who are we targeting? And where should we focus our efforts?

[00:33:45.99] spk_0:
It’s time for Tony’s take two A week before the 2023 non profit technology conference. And already we’ve got a dozen interviews booked. Who I’ll be talking to conference presenters about. Oh, like data driven storytelling with Julia Campbell, inclusive culture on your board. Oh, using your voice to lead quiet, quitting. Perhaps personalized fundraising at scale. You might see these and lots of other shows are coming up in the months ahead. If you are at the nonprofit technology conference swing by booth for 24, I’ll be there talking to all these future smart guests along with heller consulting our 23 NTC sponsor. Thank you again. Team Heller for sponsoring. That is Tony’s take two. We’ve got Boo Koo, but loads more time for the high growth non profit with Matt Scott.

[00:33:55.02] spk_1:
You talk about intentional discoveries,

[00:33:58.21] spk_0:
these sort of internal

[00:33:59.86] spk_1:
interviews that are, that are valuable, explain what that’s all about.

[00:35:50.48] spk_2:
Yeah, for this, I’ll use an example when we were working with Mercy Corps, uh non profit large established organization. Uh They provide humanitarian services across the world in over 100 countries and some of the most difficult places and their fundraising and marketing team is about 65 people. So big department within that, they got lots of senior leaders and we were helping their, their fourth C D M O and four years get the team aligned. So she was relatively new in the seat. And so what we encourage is to do stakeholder interviews with each person. In, in her case, she had within the department, there was about 12 directors just in the department, senior leaders for her. Um and it was about interviewing each of them and figuring out, hey, what’s working, what’s not, what’s confusing, what’s missing, you see that kind of common theme and gathering all this input from your team on the regular revisiting it with them once a year is really effective because it allows you as a leader to do the stakeholder interviews, even though you already work there, you already know who those people are and what they face. Well, chances are by just slowing down, taking a pause and actually having a conversation with your team. You know, if you’re, if you’re truly doubling. If, if you, when you, when you grow revenue by 25%, of your systems will break, that’s been our experience. So by pausing and slowing down and doing interviews with the various stakeholders on your team and understanding what’s working, what’s not, what’s missing, what’s confusing. You can begin to prioritize where your clarity needs to, where you need to provide more clarity where things need to be re prioritized, where, where you need to address problems that are popping up, that are new problems that you weren’t expecting because you just moved to a different phase of growth.

[00:36:12.43] spk_1:
That that’s a whole nother good topic because if you’re experiencing this rapid growth or you’re, you’re in the midst, yeah, you’re in the midst of it. Prioritization is key.

[00:38:06.72] spk_2:
Mhm Yeah. And that’s actually you talked about what is something else I want to talk about in the book. It’s uh something we found really useful is um is Larry Griner is a, is a researcher who years ago, uh you know, wrote an article in HBR about the evolutions and revolutions of organizational growth, growth. And how as you move through the stages of growth, the inevitable crisis, crisis is that come up as you move, the pain that you’re going to experience the solutions that you put in place to address that phase of growth is inevitably going to lead to crisis in the next phase of growth. And so we used to pass out the original article and it was very much written from a for profit lens. But yeah, sorry Harvard Business Review. Yeah. And uh we just received so much positive feedback from, from clients that were taking through our rapid growth program, which is this transformational process um that were like we need to rewrite this for nonprofit specific audience because there’s some uniqueness to that, like it’s particularly resource constrained, you know. So we did that. And it’s one of the chapters in the book, I talk about like the various phases of growth and the five different ones and how as you move through them, you’re gonna inevitably come up with new challenges. But that’s how I think those, those two questions for the two topics we just talked about come together. It’s like by doing those interviews, re checking in with your team frequently as you move through the phases, you’re going to be able to um see more clearly from their lens from their vantage point when things are breaking. And when the solutions that you put in place, when you are moving from an entrepreneurial environment to one where you have decisive leadership is inevitably going to lead towards like a sense of I need autonomy. I’m being told what to do too much, you know. So you have to check in with your team regularly as you move through the phases of growth.

[00:38:18.85] spk_1:
That’s like you had a lot of autonomy at Rubicon.

[00:39:32.20] spk_2:
We, we did until I didn’t. And so it’s funny because Jake is a friend of mine still. And one day we were talking about, you know, we were both sharing with each other. How long do you think you’re gonna stay? Um And uh for me, it was, became so clear, I was like my identity, I am a builder and a doer. I am not a maintainer. And so as soon as my job becomes more and more narrow and it becomes more when to maintain state status as opposed to like what we’ve just gone through for the last seven years. That’s gonna be the moment when I when it’s time for me to uh yeah, to move into the gray shirt as a volunteer as opposed to a staff member role. Um And so yeah, I think that’s that, that was my own experience in my own journey and in evaluating when it was time for, for me to, to kind of move on. But I was given a lot of autonomy and then it started to get rained in, you know, um because it had to, we started have department budgets and processes and, and I was like, yeah, this is necessary and this is not for me. Yeah,

[00:39:43.60] spk_1:
let’s talk a little about hiring, you say higher when it hurts but, but you need to have a couple of things in place before you before you do something that sounds reckless. So what, what, what’s, what’s higher when it hurts.

[00:40:26.97] spk_2:
Yeah, this is some advice that I was given by, uh, now the chief operating officer at a major Humane society, but came from a consulting background when he and I were talking about me building this consulting practice and I thought about it was like, gosh, that is so on point. Even when I’m at a nonprofit, right, you always feel like you want to put more bodies in place, right? Like if we only had more people, we could achieve more. Um And we were talking about it from a, a cash flow perspective. Don’t go hog crazy on hiring too many folks because you don’t wanna have to lay people off if, if you, you know, if it’s a temporary need, you need to evaluate when, when you need to hire. So I’ll share this because I think it’s so valuable for, for folks who’ve made it this far into the, into the podcast episode,

[00:40:41.42] spk_1:
but nonprofit radio listeners are not dropping off. Okay. Good,

[00:40:46.11] spk_2:
good with

[00:40:47.23] spk_1:
us till the end. I’m sure of it. Especially talking about, about high growth.

[00:44:29.39] spk_2:
Okay. So yeah, help us be the best, best selling book in the free book category by making it this far. Um So World Bicycle Relief, I, I share this story. This is one of our clients and uh and they there you really unique because they’re not just a nonprofit, but they’re also a social impact business. So they ask for financial donations, but they also sell a Buffalo bicycle to communities in countries across across the world. And they do this to help provide education and access to health care and jobs. Um And let’s just take in, in certain parts of Africa, like the terrain and the infrastructure in Kenya is really different than that of Colombia, but they operate in both places. And so their marketing team is stretched really thin because they’re not just serving the donor audience, but they’re also trying to serve the various social impact audiences in different countries and produce materials that will help those social businesses and entrepreneurs that they’ve set up in country to sell these bicycles to service these bicycles. And so they’re stretched really thin, right? And naturally you just want to go to, I need a higher. But what we did first with them is we gather their marketing team and we said we want to show you how to think like an internal agency, how to think like a marketing firm internally within your organization. So this tip is something that I think nobody, most nonprofits don’t even think about, don’t say nobody but I haven’t come across any yet. So one of the things we do at at cosmic and this is common practice in any agency or consultancy is you think about your time as billable and non billable and billable time is essentially time that we spend building to clients but as an internal agency, it’s things like writing coffee, uh building out workflows, um merging contact records, whatever all these different things. Non billable time is not bad time. It’s things like professional development, it’s things like paid time off, it’s admin time going to staff meetings, getting a line, things like that. And so what we told we we shared is like you need to actually evaluate where all of the time is being spent as an internal stakeholder and determine your billable time divided by your total time gives you what’s called a utilization ratio. And so at cosmic, you know, our team of 16 Served 28 clients last year. And we have, we have currently over 65 work streams going on that are across all these different clients. And how in the world does that few of people do that much work? And the reality is we are very meticulous about understanding how much time it takes to do. Uh If we get asked to create an annual report or build a landing page or build a workflow, we need to understand how much time it takes for the project manager, the content strategist, copyright of the designer, right? And so we taught this to world Bicycle Relief’s marketing team to actually keep track of your time and to set targets for billable versus non billable. And what they found was where they were spending time and where they weren’t spending time. And then when they got request from the major gift officer for a one off, uh, you know, uh, one pager, they were able to evaluate how much time that was going to take and the impact that it was going to have and they could then prioritize their work through their backlog in a way that they had never thought to do before. So that’s an example of like going back to higher when it hurts. Chances are it hurts right? You’re stretched, then there’s more to do than time to do it before hiring, stop and take stock of where you’re actually spending time and what can go and what needs to stay. And only when it really is like your team is running hot and consistently running hot. And if you look ahead and you’re saying, gosh, we’re having to turn down high impact work because we don’t have the capacity to do it. That’s when you should hire. But you don’t really know that unless you’re actually keeping track of your time,

[00:45:02.59] spk_1:
did you think of something that you want to talk about? That? We haven’t yet.

[00:45:07.27] spk_2:
Yeah, something else I would like to share. Uh

[00:45:10.25] spk_1:
Alright, success. The only author I can, the only author I can remember who doesn’t know what he doesn’t have more to share their overwhelmed because there’s so much value in the book you don’t know what to choose from.

[00:45:49.76] spk_2:
Oh, that’s, that’s kind I, yes. Well, I, I will share, I’m very grateful to, to be on, on your show again. And the work that you’re doing to support the community, I think we’re aligned there. You know, you’re giving away this podcast constantly for free. And I know how much work it is to produce content. So I uh I appreciate you having us on and I really hope that people find this book to be useful. And I guess I would share, please provide feedback because success is not final. And if there’s elements in the book that you’re like, that didn’t land or we wanted more of this, um That’s the only way we know, right? Like what episodes you should, you should make a nonprofit radio or, or what chapters should make it into the next book.

[00:46:30.92] spk_1:
Alright. Alright. Challenge. The listener’s, you’re getting it for free, so give feedback. I’m not ready. I’m not ready to end yet though. There’s a couple of things that we still want to talk about. We um you talk about a rapid growth plan and there are three parts of it. We’ve talked about the first two, we talked about the one page strategic plan. Uh You talked about your, the project backlog, right? Which becomes these, these ideas to execute the one page strategic plan. That’s your does your projects and impact versus as you, as you described, just reminding folks impact versus resources that need to be allocated to that.

[00:48:09.36] spk_2:
Yep. And then the third, the third part the third part is, well, a plan is great and prioritization is great, but we have to measure how effective this thing is, right? So we develop a simple KPI tracker, key performance indicator tracker to measure the success of the plan. And so I’ll just use an example what might show up on a KPI tracker. So let’s say, let’s say you’re your donor base is aging and your file strength, your retention rate is good, but folks are getting older and so you need to acquire more new donors, right? Um Okay, how are you going to do that? Let’s say you turn towards maths market fundraising audience to get there. Uh There’s two things you need to do. One, you need to think about your plan giving approach and two you need to think about because that’s where the strength of your file is and to you got to acquire new supporters. So what KPI S matter? Well, we find with online giving that it comes down to website traffic conversion rate and average gift amount. If you can get more people to your website and more of those people give and they give more money, then you’re gonna raise a lot more money online right? Then when you think about, okay, well, what’s that retention rate look like? How many of our supporters are moving from one time to monthly? Um What’s that upgrade look like? And retention rate looks like? Um So those are all these KPI. So for when you go back to the one Patriot eg plan, you think about, well, what were our house, maybe one of your houses? We’re gonna build a robust legacy giving program. Which, which tony I know, you know more about than I do. So I don’t, what do you think are the KPI S that people should measure when they’re thinking about building out Planned Giving program?

[00:49:10.00] spk_1:
Oh, well, first of all, you’re not going to acquire new donors through planned giving, but some of the, some of the key metrics, uh how many conversations you’ve opened about, about the topic, how many solicitations you’ve actually gotten to um might be just how many meetings you’ve had around this topic, which is different than the conversation. You know, you may not have quite opened the conversation but you had a meeting to, to suss out the possibility. So, you know, those are so there’s three like number of meetings, number of conversations opened, number of solicitations made, of course, number of commitments. Yeah, donors are willing to make. So there’s, there’s four early

[00:50:50.10] spk_2:
ones. Yeah, exactly. And so the, the KPI has to match up to whatever your strategy is and it basically needs to, it needs to be I think of KPI S as both leading, there’s leading indicators and then there’s trailing indicators. So the leading indicators you described are like how many conversations, you know, we’re open. Uh meetings have, would be a very early leading indicator. And then how many, you know, conversation now you’re starting to get a little bit further, the trailing indicators. Um You know, you start to evaluate at different phases. Like are we gonna hit our goal? Is this strategy working or is it not working? Does it need to be adjusted? So the idea is that together those three things and by the way, throughout the book, I hope it becomes clear, but I’ll just share my own personal experiences when in doubt, make it as simple as possible. Create KPI S. They’re easily trackable that you don’t have to spend a lot of time going into a lot of different systems. Get this data. You want to be thinking about how do I make this as easy as possible? I don’t need to spend any time describing what it means when we say website traffic or conversion rate or average gift amount. We don’t have to describe what it means, like number of laps donors or whatever. Um And you just want to have your system set up so that your KPI dashboard you can regularly look at and not have to spend a lot of time building out. People think like, oh, data driven and you know, people, people want want a Ferrari when what they need is a Kia, you know, and they don’t even have a pit crew to like help them racist formula one car around the track, like find the Kia. Find the Kia that’s, that’s, I guess my metaphor advice on that,

[00:51:12.56] spk_1:
that’s the rapid growth plan and, and the one I do want to close on know your strength, that I know your strength chapter. Do you know your strength?

[00:53:47.17] spk_2:
Yeah, I think that this, this rings true both on an individual and an organizational level, right? Um And where is it that, that you are uniquely positioned to drive impact like nobody else can. Um I mean, you know, how, how it is, I think about like organizations that come to us and they think they’re the only ones solving the water crisis. You’re like, actually there’s a lot of people doing exactly what you’re doing. Um And I think it’s, I think it’s just really important to have a clear idea of, you know, what problem are we uniquely positioned to solve in a way that is unique to our culture? So I’ll use, I’ll go back to team Rubicon as an example to drive this home because we talked a lot about it. Um When you think about disaster response, there is response, the immediate response. Uh Well, there, there’s, there’s like preparedness, you know, readiness is the community ready for disaster. Then there’s the actual like response to the disaster and then there’s a long term recovery, right? And Team Rubicon, when we first got started, our strength was really in the response because we were able to pull from the military culture to very quickly respond. We didn’t have a lot of bureaucracy. We didn’t have a lot of red tape. Um, but it was really challenging to get into the recovery business in the early days by business. I just mean, the business of serving folks affected by disaster, not making money on recovery, but like, you know, that’s a different, that was a different organizations strength. That’s a different skill set to be able to build out rebuild communities affected by disaster re roof homes. And all that team Rubicon really didn’t get involved in that for a really long time in their trajectory. And it wasn’t until they had clearly uh they had leaned into their strengths on the response side and they had really figured out what worked and then they thought, okay, how, what worked in there that could work with, with how we would go about the recovery and how does that compare to someone like the Red Cross and how they approach the rebuild effort? Um So knowing your strengths and knowing your sector is super important. It’s like, what do you, what’s that North Star? What are you trying to achieve? What’s your cultural principles? What, what makes you uniquely good at what you do and lean into that relentlessly and stay focused on that and don’t try to become the latest thing in every category. Um I guess is what I would say at a, at a high level. Um Is there something that stood out to you in that chapter. Tony that I didn’t talk about their,

[00:54:16.97] spk_1:
no just identifying and leveraging what you’re strong at instead of trying to go broader. You know, some people and some organizations may try to improve weaknesses rather than double down on their strengths.

[00:55:24.82] spk_2:
Yeah, people do this all the time, right? Like that’s a good point. I’ll share one more thing and I know like more and more and more. I am really comfortable with the visionary role. Like I love starting things. I don’t particularly enjoy finishing them nor does my team like it when I tried to finish things because I’m not very good at that. It’s really hard for me. It’s a hard muscle to kind of push through. But I have like found Bobby, my operational partner. She’s the magic at 10,000 ft. She connects the executioners with the 30,000 ft vision and makes project plans and makes sense of things and loves finishing projects, not starting them. So knowing your individual strength as a leader to and figuring out like, am I more comfortable in futuristic vision planning? Um or am I more comfortable in operational izing things and figuring out what you need as an operational partner? Because really nobody has it all like you just don’t and you might be able to flex when you absolutely have to. But your best flex is going to be their worst, just standard operating procedure because that’s their strength right. So I found that we’ve been able to grow a lot faster in clients to like we, we work with a lot of clients that are C E O s that don’t have operational partners or sometimes they get in the way. And it’s like knowing when you should stop and when you’re, when the operational ist should pick up is really an important thing to distinguish

[00:55:57.57] spk_1:
Matt Scott. The book is the high growth non profit Proven steps to quickly double your revenue and drive impact. It’s at cosmic which is cause C A U

[00:56:00.65] spk_0:
S E M I C cosmic

[00:56:09.47] spk_1:
dot com slash book and it is free to you, including the shipping, shipping, shipping is covered. Matt. Thank you very much. Thank congratulations again on the book. Thank you for sharing your thinking.

[00:56:17.16] spk_2:
Yeah. Thank you, Tony. I really appreciate

[00:56:19.24] spk_1:
you. My pleasure.

[00:57:09.85] spk_0:
Next week, I’ll bring the 1st 23 NTC interview and they’re all gonna be excellent. I’ll just pick one. That’s extra excellent. Yeah, extra excellent. Exactly. Next week’s show is gonna be extra excellent. Just like I said, if you missed any part of this week’s show, I beseech you find it at tony-martignetti dot com. We are sponsored by donor box with intuitive fundraising software from donor box. Your donors give four times faster helping you help others. Donor box dot org. Our creative producer is Claire Meyerhoff shows. Social media is by Susan Chavez. Mark Silverman is our web guy And this music is by Scott Stein. Thank you for that information, Scotty B with me next week for nonprofit radio big nonprofit ideas for the other 95%. Go out and be great.

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