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Hello and welcome
to tony-martignetti non profit radio big non profit ideas for the other 95%. I’m your aptly named host. Oh, I’m glad you’re with me. I’d come down with hydrogen itis if you made me sweat with the idea that you missed today’s show. Five questions Heather Yan does article is five questions to answer before you call a consultant, and she’ll help you avoid making a costly mistake. She’s founder of non profit IST and working Virtually. We talked through the issues encountered when managing remote staff. Technological, generational, emotional measurement, recruiting and retaining. Our panel is Heather Martin from Interfaith Family and Alice Hendricks with Jackson River that originally aired November 2nd 2018. Tony Take to Our Innovators Siri’s were sponsored by wegner-C.P.As, guiding you beyond the numbers wegner-C.P.As dot com by Cougar Mountain Software Denali Fund. Is there complete accounting solution made for nonprofits tony-dot-M.A.-slash-Pursuant Mountain for a free 60 day trial and by turned to communications, PR and content for non profits, Your story is their mission. Turn hyphen two dot ceo. It’s a pleasure to welcome have a Ando to the show. She is founder of non profit ist an online resource that helps payer nonprofits with the right consultants. She’s also a lead consultant at Third Space Studio, where she helps with Strategic Planning Board and leadership development and going from Good to great. Previously she was director of development and communications with the North Carolina Conservation Network. Her consultancy is at third space studio dot com, and non profit ist is at non profit dot i s t Welcome to the show. Had the Endo thanks
so much for having me. I’m glad to be here.
Thank you. It’s a pleasure. Thank you. You’re welcome. You’re welcome. So you work. You are a consultant. Um, I can I guess, that people have made mistakes in,
I don’t know, maybe made mistakes by hiring. You know, that’s not that’s not what I want to say. Scratch that. Scratch the the the opening clause of that sentence. But
people can make mistakes in their consultant hiring. If they’re not thinking ahead.
That’s absolutely right. Make really costly mistakes. And they can waste a lot of time, their time and consultant time by not really having your questions answered before they go into it.
Okay. Have you been in a situation where you didn’t you felt that the organization had not thought through enough what they really wanted, and it it wasn’t the right time to hire you.
Absolutely. What? What I see are a couple of different problems that are reflected in these questions Wound that I see all the time and others might see. This, too, is, but people come without a clear understanding of how much they have to budget for some kind of engagement with a consultant. So we’re talking about a project, and that project could be anywhere from five hours of my time to 25 hours of my time to 100 hours of my time, depending on how deep we want to go. And having a sense of budget is really helpful with the front end.
That’s that’s something that I ask. I do plan to giving consultant and and before I do a proposal, I have Teoh. I have to have a budget range, at least not going to be a number, but I have to have an idea. So I know that the things we just spent the past hour talking about can be achieved with the budget that the organization has in mind?
Absolutely, absolutely. And if people are getting multiple proposals for this kind of work, which often happens and I encourage, it’s really helpful to be able to compare apples to apples. So you’re not just comparing on costs because that’s often not the most important variable. You’re really comparing on approach on personality fit on culture fit on all of these other variables that are going to give you a much better outcome.
Yeah, okay, very wise. All right, So you’ve been on both sides, give you you’ve been in a non profit, and as a consultant, you’ve been you’ve hired non. You’ve hired consultants when you were I
have higher consultant. And certainly, over the past nine years of serving as a consultant, I have had many of these conversations about getting to the proposal or the contract phase.
Well, I admire you putting this these thoughts down because I’ve been a consultant even longer, and I never you know, I do
these things implicitly, but to say to organizations, these are the things you should have in place, or the These are the questions you should be asking internally before you get to
the start. talking to the first consultant. I think that’s I think that’s valuable and helpful. So thank you for coming on. I’m glad you’re here to explain.
So the first thing you want, you don’t You don’t want some vague plan like board development or strategic plan you want you need. You want something more than that?
Yeah, the first question that I want you to answer is what the challenge you want to tackle. What’s the question you want answered? What’s the sticky thing that your organization has been having trouble with over the past few years? So there’s two ways that I see. Organizations often go when they talk to consultants that are not helpful. One is what you just mentioned, which is? They come with a very big desire for a strategic plan. And when you ask why, the answer might be well, because our old one ended last year, we need to do it again, which is somewhat helpful but really doesn’t tell you what’s driving this desire to have these conversations. And I think that a lot of time, these ideas that fundraising plans, marketing plans for development plans, they’re things that non profit leaders know they can ask or they know that they’re good things have. But they don’t give you much of a sense of what’s actually driving the the need for this or what kind of behind it. One of the questions keeping you up at night about this topic. One of the things you really want to tackle to this effort. So one of being too babe, The other thing I see a lot when organizations talked to me is that they are really, really specific. So they have not only figured out what the that they want a strategic plan. But they have figured out every single activity that’s gonna happen over the next six months to make that happen. So they have designed a whole process without the aid of somebody like me who does this a lot and can really bring some of that outside expertise so sometimes are also getting a little too specific and often times they’re not really addressing the right challenge. So getting clear about that challenge can help a co design something that would really address it.
Yeah, okay, so two ends of the spectrum, either too vague or too specific in terms of precise tasks they want
done. And they’re just hiring you to execute what they’ve developed. Yeah, I’ve never been in
that situation. I’ve had the too vague, but ah, not that not to to speak
well, I work in planned giving. So it’s such a black box. Unfortunately, it should not be a I’m constantly railing against that. It should not be a black box. It need not be a
black box, but so I think people are not sure what activities to do in planned giving. But if it’s
I think it shows up a lot in requests for proposals, which I’m actually writing an article now about how they’re the worst, and people should think about what else to do. But often in a request for proposals, it will be very, very detailed about the all of activities they want the consultant to undertake.
Well, I I guess, yeah, depending how precise it is that you made man just having employees do it, you
you developed it internally. You may as well just have the person who helped develop it to carry it out. If you’re such experts in what the plan should be, why don’t you go ahead and do it.
And you’re really not getting the staying for your buck of hiring an outside expert.
we really do understand the process of round a lot of these conversations and how to structure them. How to really engage people, how to help you make change and make that change.
We’re gonna take our first break. Other. Um, we come out of this in about 30 seconds, or so I I want to dive into ah board development a little bit. Like what? What? What kind of specifics would you want to see their and then we’ll carry on with the rest of the questions. All right, so it’s time for this
break wegner-C.P.As so that your 9 90 gets filed on time so that your audit gets finished on time so that you get the advice oven experienced partner, eat each tomb, been a guest on the show, and the full firm that has a nationwide non profit practice with thousands of nine nineties and audits under their belt wegner-C.P.As dot com. Now let’s go back to five questions. Okay, Heather, um, so instead of we want board development what? What would you like to see that. At what level would you like to see the The plan fleshed out.
So what I would really love is for an executive director, Uh, maybe aboard. Care to call and say, you know, we’ve done some thinking about our board. Maybe we’ve even done a little bit of an assessment of our board and we figured out we have these couple of challenges. We’re really struggling with accountability around, following through on tax or we’ve done some training on fundraising, but the board still isn’t really engaged. And then we can have a conversation from there about Well, what have you tried? What do you think behind it? What might we try together to help the board shift in these particular ways? So the important pieces are that you’ve done some reflection about what the challenge might be and what’s really behind that.
interesting you bring out board development because that actually links into question number two, which is, does everybody agree that this is a challenge and that there’s some need for outside help? So if we’re talking about a board, the executive director might have a particular opinion. Does the board chair share that opinion and if they don’t both see the same challenges or even see a challenge with the board. Then again, you’re not setting up the consultancy for you’re not setting up this engagement for success.
So does everybody agree about the challenge? Whether this even, like, what’s the source of the trouble? Is that Is that what you mean?
Absolutely. So if you really if you as an executive director feel like the board really has trouble with accountability or they don’t understand their roles and responsibilities, does the board chair who is really the leader of the board have that same assessment? Would they agree? If I show up to do a training on roles and responsibilities, how is that going to be received by the board? Is everyone on the same page, or at least the leaders on the same page about what? That challenges?
Okay, I see. Yeah, yeah. Um, so that so if it’s let’s let’s continue with the example that board development, um, you you want to know? Do you want to know that the full board has, uh, I don’t have formally approved it, but at least discussed the idea that you know we need some help here is you want to go to that? You want to know about the full board or really, just like the Executive committee or what?
I think it depends on board culture. I would say more people buying it is always
So if there is a conversation among the full board about devoting two hours at our next meeting to this topic to bring in an outside expert to talk about this, that was the ideal that really sets me and any other convulsant up for success.
And so I guess likewise. If there’s some kind of staff, um, I don’t know, uh, staff work that’s going to be done. Um, you’d want to know that the staff is, uh, has bought into the idea. It’s not just coming from the vice president or the CEO.
Absolutely. If you want to develop a fundraising clan, is your development team brought into bought into the need to do this? Have they talked about what the challenges are? How whatever this fundraising plan is might help them move past those challenges. So it’s really the kind of idea of who are the key stakeholders and are they in agreement with the desire to have an outside expert come in? Are they in agreement about the challenge at hand?
Okay, okay. Yes, the key stakeholders. Right. All right, all right. So, yeah, if you’re driving home the point that there’s gotta be gotta be conversations internally before we start talking to somebody externally, we got to know what our trouble is. And beyond that,
And the key people need to be invested in the process to solving the problem. Okay? Absolutely. Right now, I want todo let you know that I let you. I let you suddenly go from question 1 to 2 without my without my buy in. It’s okay. I’m, uh Let’s just just, uh, tread lightly as we go forward. Okay? Um, all
right. So the next one is a timing. When when do you want the project?
Absolutely. So this is really important, because often time, the timing really impact when a consultant is able to help or not. So if you want a board retreat next Saturday, I may not be able to help, or even next month, someone may be booked up if you already have really important date for that project on a calendar and a consultant isn’t isn’t available. You may have to move on to another person, or you may have to shift the timeline, if that’s really the right person.
there’s one question about a specific dates on the calendar. The other question is just what’s really driving the timeline for the organization? Do you need this to be done by a certain date? Because there’s a grant deadline? There’s turnover on your board. There’s something else externally driving it. So at the front end, really thinking through Where does this fit in? In terms of our schedules can be really helpful in figuring out in that first phone call is this person is this consultant a good fit and and what might need to be shifted to make them a good
you know as well. There has to be some receptivity for the consultant to push back and say, You know, that’s not a That’s not a realistic timeline for the scope of the work that we’re talking about, you know, putting aside it’s, you know, a board retreat on a weekend or at a board meeting, but you no longer term engagement like for instance, planned giving. There’s not much we can do in planned giving in six months. I don’t I don’t consent Teoh. I don’t agree. Toe. Six month engagement’s got to be at least a year. So it’s got You have to be willing to hear that what we’ve just talked about can’t be done in the timeline that you defined.
I’m so glad you brought that up. I
90% of the folks I talked Teoh, uh, have a over ambitious timeline
And when we really start to dig into, uh, what are all the past but need to be accomplished, who were all the people that need be engaged? What are all the schedule that need to be managed? Often times we’re having that same conversation, and and I believe, as you probably do that particularly for these bigger processes where you’re really in terms of plan giving, building something new, doing a lot of research, having these important conversations, it just takes more time. And that’s important because it also means that it’s more likely to stick if you were having more conversations over more time. So when I do strategic planning I really like for that. Have a six or nine months time horizon that gives people enough time to really think through all the implications of that he changes were making gives the board and the staff opportunities to engage with each other in different ways. So, yes, pushing back on the timeline is really important to
the strategic planning, I would think, uh, I mean, that’s, uh so I’ve never I don’t I don’t do that kind of consulting at all, but, um, yeah, I mean, there’s their interviews and have to take place and coordinate with people’s schedules. You know which board members just started a new business. So she’s gonna be in Costa Rica for eight weeks, you know? Uh, yeah, that’s that’s a particularly strategic planning. And I would think that’s a particularly long time frame. And then and you have to Ah, you have to be willing toe recognize that it may not be finished, even in the time that we have to find.
All right. All right. Um, so before we rush through Teoh points number four and five, uh, put now I’m putting on the spot about a bit tell Tell us a story. Um, something that, uh, you know,
maybe maybe when the initial conversation took place, they hadn’t thought through it enough, and you advised them that they do some internal thinking and then you did command and you were genius, and they paid you
double what? The contract amount, You know, anything like that where you know, the internal work was was made a big difference. You could tell.
Yeah, I wish I had that. For where they paid me double. I
don’t. You know, you haven’t been consulting long enough. I have a dozen of those. Oh, man, I have a dozen of those, but I’ve been consulting since 2003. 17 years. 17 years. You’ll get there, you’ll get there about it.
I What I have is more of the lesson learned in failure of the cautionary tale, particularly early on in my consulting career, Um, kind of blindly believing one person’s viewpoint of the state of an organization and not truth checking that
other key stakeholders.
And I was a new executive director, called for some work with their board. Um, the board was having some big problems with getting work done. Committees weren’t really functioning very well. They weren’t doing their fundraising. Very as I look back things that a lot of organizations are dealing with, I often hear some of some similar complaints. And so we talked about doing 1/2 day board retreat where we developed some action plans on how to get things back on track, and I discovered upon getting into the border treat. But the board did not see these as problems on, and that if I had done some more conversation or even some assessment survey work with the board, I would have discovered that they had a very different viewpoint of what the challenges were. And they were in some, some level of conflict with the executive director about whose work was this, how they wanted to be encouraged and Stewart as volunteers of the organization. And so it was a real lesson for me of that. That question Number two has the board chair in the executive director. Have they talked about that? There they in agreement. Does everyone see this challenge from the same viewpoint
that sounds like, uh, may have become Ah, hopefully not tense, but at least awkward. While you were in front of the board.
It was definitely awkward. It was definitely awkward. We recovered and they did some good work. Um, but
good. Waas. I learned definitely that I needed to have a more comprehensive understanding of organizations before I do that kind of work.
Yes, not one person’s perception. All right. Was the executive director in the room while this was unfolding?
had some good conversations afterwards. It wasn’t It wasn’t terrible, but it really did draw more of a bright line of this is what you thought was going on. And this is what the board thinks is going on
and their difference. And we
need to talk about why and how we can deal with those.
Okay, good that it was early on in your career. Not This was just not last week, was it?
But I was not last week.
Okay, So you’re going uphill. That’s good. That’s good, right? Uh, right. OK, Your next one is around money.
Yes. So we already talked about this a little bit that it is so important on the front end to have an understanding of what your budget is for any work not only for other reasons we already discussed, but also because it really signals to a consultant and signal to your organization that you’re serious about addressing the challenge. Uh, so if you have money built into the budget for if you go back to the board and have them approved a revised budget with a little bit more funding for some kind of special project throughout the year, it also signals to everyone that this is a serious issue and we’re going to devote resources to it. Plus super useful for us consultants to know what we’re dealing with And if it’s even possible, As you said,
Yeah, yeah, And and, uh, you know your point earlier. I want toe reemphasize. If you’re getting getting proposals that run the spectrum of costs, then you’re not really making fair comparisons?
Absolutely, Absolutely. You I definitely have seen organizations to particularly for these, uh, catch all terms like strategic plan will get a $5000 proposal and a $50,000 proposal, and they’re just not comparable.
And then you end up wondering Well, okay, way sounds. Let’s say we could spend the 50,000 but what would the over the 5000 person have done if we told them that our budget was 50,000 cause we like what they’re doing for five, but it’s not nearly as comprehensive. Obviously, G, what would they have done for 15? And then you got to go back to them and, you know Oh, our way. We can’t spend 25. And so neither one is quite right. You know, that’s a big botch. That’s that’s a big time. Waste time suck. All right, all right. Be up front.
And there is a responsibility on consultants to I think Teoh toe Ask if if money hasn’t come up, you gotta ask What? What are we looking at? What kind of budget do you have?
Absolutely having that money conversation. And I tend to do it even earlier in the conversation now because what I find is that we can daydream about all of the wonderful things we could do together. And then when they say and we have $10,000 I have to sometimes really some of those things back in or I have to have. They have to make hard choices about all of the potential beautiful options I put out on the table. So I’m even now early in the conversation, asking trick so that we can really right size. Or I can present options in a way that helps people understand what’s possible.
Okay, Okay. Uh, let’s go to your last question. What do you got? You insurance? It’s
the last question, but I think it might be the most important one. And that’s how much organizational time and energy do you have to address this challenge. So what’s the bandwidth for this piece of work? Um, a lot of times you may see this. Two organizations think Well, I have a problem. So we’re just gonna throw money at it. We’re gonna hire consultants and they’re gonna hear our woes and go off and fix it and come back and present us with perfect plan to solve all of our problems. Um, that’s not realistic. Uh, I don’t believe that’s how consultants who want to really make lasting change in organisations often operates. So we always need organizational help. We need board time. We need staff time. We need If we’re in the case of fundraising, we need some reports from your database. We might need to look at, um, sit down with you and really go over your last strategic plan and think about what worked and didn’t and why? But we’re definitely gonna need the executive director’s Dan with and then the other key stakeholders.
go ahead. Now you’re finished, you finish. I’ll remember mine.
Those getting clear about do you have the bandwidth? And if you are trying to do a huge capital campaign and move the office and you’ve got transition of a key staff person or you’re hiring a whole set of people because we’re ramping up for the election if there are other organizational priorities going on sometimes I’ll say If I it seems like this isn’t the right time to tackle up a big project that you really don’t have the band with, you got some other competing priorities?
Uh huh. That often gets in the way of the final step. Engagement? Uh, because other things are coming up. There’s a database conversion. There’s a gala, um, et cetera. It’s valuable to to talk about. I think, at the at the granular level, how much time this is going to take a least. At least in my work. Um, you know, I need a staff person, and I’ll need maybe 4 to 5 hours a month of their time or something. You know something along those lines so that they know what they can plan around, You know, everything you just said. Just getting a little more granular with it.
Yeah, I will. Often as we’re talking through, really think about what’s the board time and attention we might need?
halftime in attention we might need, um and really thinking about how does that fit in with what you already have going on over the course of the year? Can we find an hour of this board meeting and three hours is aboard retreat to do this work? Or is it is your plate already full for this year? That might be OK.
Okay, um, final thought Heather before, before we wrap up, Just got about a minute left.
So the final about is all of these points to being really intentional about the conversations you have internally before you pick up the phone and call a consultant really thinking through what’s our challenge? How much how many resources we have to devote to this. With our time as we convert to this, that’s gonna be you’re gonna get much better proposal from consultants. And in the end, a better engagement and a better product.
Have a endo. We’re gonna leave it there. Thank you very much.
Thanks for having
my pleasure, Heather. She’s founder of non profit dot I s t non profit ist and her consulting is at third
space studio dot com. We need to take a break. Cougar Mountain software, Their accounting product Denali is built for non profits from the ground up so that you get an application that supports the way you work that has the features you need and the exemplary support that understands how you work. They have a free 60 day trial on the listener landing page at tony-dot-M.A.-slash-Pursuant non Tin. Now it’s time for tony Steak too. Our innovators Siri’s It just finished last week and I curated the eight Innovators into one post. We started way back in January with Edgar Villanueva that was de colonising wealth and Stephen Myers with personalized philanthropy. And it was back then in those dark days of January that I had to assure you that live innovators were coming and they did come. Um, we started off with Heather Macleod. Grant, that was social change is system change, and the innovators have been live ever since. Her Peter Shankman, Sherry, Kwame Taylor, Peter Heller, Jamie Bursts and Crisfield. They make up our innovators. Siri’s, um, you’ll find them curated, catalogued and captured with a video at tony-martignetti dot com. And that is tony. Take two. Now, here is the pre recorded working Virtually
welcome to tony-martignetti non profit radio coverage of 18. 90. See the non profit Technology Conference 2018. We’re coming to you from the convention center in New Orleans. Second interview of the second day of our coverage. All our NTC interviews are sponsored by Network for Good, easy to use donor management and fundraising software for non profits. My guests right now are Heather Martin, CEO of Inter Paid family, and Alice Hendricks, CEO of Jackson River. Whether Alice welcome.
Thank you. Welcome
to non profit radio. What have you
needed to be here?
How’s the conference going for you, ladies? Great. Have you done? Yeah. OK, great. Excellent. Good superlative. Have you done your session yet?
We did. We were on yesterday
morning. Okay, so it’s all relaxing now.
Now it’s partying
drinks last night. Okay? All right. Your workshop topic is working. Virtual attracting and managing the best talent. I’m sure we have stats on how many org’s nonprofits have virtual employees, or at least what the trends are. It’s obviously growing growing wouldn’t be here.
And not only in the nonprofit world in the for profit world as well. Um, especially in tech.
absolutely. It’s becoming it because of the technology that can a enable easily to work from home your chat technologies, videoconferencing. It’s become a thing and everyone is doing it now in exploring whether it works for their organizations a lot.
Let me dive into the word everyone not to not to quibble with you at all. But I was thinking generationally, Are there 50 and 60 some things that are comfortable working, being virtual not well, maybe we’ll get to whether they’re comfortable having virtual employees. They will get to that. My voice was cracked like I’m 14. Get to that. But how about being virtual employees themselves? Are they comfortable? I’m over 50. So I include myself in that. Are we comfortable doing that or,
you know, I think it actually depends on the organization, and it’s really dependent on the organization making the employee comfortable. And so I’m not sure I don’t know if you have any stats, but I don’t know. From an age perspective, there’s a very good question about an older generation being comfortable having virtual employees under them and managing them. However, as being the virtual employees, I think it’s all about how the organisation sets it up.
Okay, so that there’s promise then for those 15. Absolutely. Let’s talk about it, since since we’re skirting around it, how about comfort or discomfort with having employees being virtual when you’re over 50?
So I again, I I think that there might be an age discrepancy in the comfort. I also think it’s just personality, and I’m finding that when I talked to a lot of people who are looking to work virtual and they’re asking me, what can I do to go to my manager, my supervisor and quote unquote sell them on me, working virtually My answer to them is find out what the resistance is there is. Part of the resistance is we’ve always done it this way. I need to see my employees to know that they’re working. And how do you get around that some of the key things that we talked about in our session are setting very clear goals and making sure that those goals are being met.
Let’s go to our talk about the gold goal setting.
Yeah, I mean, I think that there’s not that much difference in terms of goal setting in terms of accountability for delivery, Bols, that you’re supposed to be doing so used that the real issue is communication, making sure you have a structure where there’s frequent communication and proof that you’re doing the delivery herbal. So you’re measured not on a punch clock style of. I get to work at nine and I leave at five, and therefore I must have worked during that eight hour period. You’re measured based on what is the work you were set out to do, And did you actually do that work in the time period? I said I would do it. So if you’re a project manager or working on a program area, you work with your you work with your supervisor on here, the things that I’m going to get done at a particular time, and if that’s not done, that’s, Ah that that could be a concern. That’s a problem with that view problem in a non workplace, too, but rather than time, it’s mostly based on work product.
Okay, okay, so that should apply, Even if you don’t have any virtual, I
think one of the things we’ve found is that working virtually is this or managing virtually is the same is managing in an office. But you just have to be much more intentional about what you’re doing. Much more intentional about your communication, understanding that you’re not gonna have that water cooler conversation, that someone’s not going over here something and understand where you are in a project and be ready to communicate with those people who are not physically in the office with the management and the psychology of the management is very similar.
Very valuable to know on dhe make explicit. Um, how about attracting people, Teoh a virtual or attracting the right talent so that we’re comfortable that they’re gonna work in this work environment? What you thought
Well, there’s two thoughts on that that I have one is What What is that? Your talent pool is the entire country or world should you see fit? And there are wonderfully talented people in places that aren’t in the city or town in which your organization is located, and it gives you this ability to recruit from a wide place. And you can also hire incredibly talented people from who have a wonderful lifestyle in a less cost of In my organization, we have people who live in a lower cost of living state than Washington, D. C. Where we’re based, and that allows me to provide a living wage and for my employees in that, um, but the other thing is just you. When you’re recruiting, you have to be very mindful of the interview process. And I think one of the things we talked about in our session was helping people figure out who these folks, how well they’ll respond to working virtually. How
do you do that?
Yeah, so some of the things that we recommend some of things that we recommend is number one. We use technology as a tool to enhance communication in a virtual environment, so sometimes you’re using video conferencing just for a regular meeting and you’re talking through Instant Messenger, and there’s other ways you’re using technology. So in the interview process, I always recommend that people use the technology that you’re going to require those employees to be using during their job if they can’t do an interview on Skype or zoom or appear in, and it’s very uncomfortable. It’s not to say that that might not be a good employee for you, but you have to be aware that there might need to be some training or development on that tool for them. And no going into that is important when you’re hiring that person.
And if you see generally a discomfort with technology, that’s a pretty big red flag
or a red flag that you might need to overcome or that person is not right for the position. And then the other question is some positions just don’t lend themselves to working virtually, and you have to be aware of that when you’re hiring also well. One of the the easiest ones that we look at is if your office manager and you’re managing the physical office days, it’s really difficult to be virtual when you need to notice that there’s a crack in the sailing where the vendor needs toe, you know, deliver something and be their
way. Don’t have a tool for measuring the coffee level.
Zack. Remotely There’s an app for that. You can probably
time for our last break turn to communications. They’re former journalists so that you get help building relationships with journalists so that your call gets answered when there’s news you need to be on top of so that you stay relevant in your community. They are at turn hyphen two dot ceo. We’ve got but loads more time for working virtually with Heather Martin and Alice Hendrix or
any others that stand out to you.
I think it depends on the industry and what the job you’re doing. If you’re someone who does intake or you have to be there to welcome people into the office, you need someone physically there. There may be hybrids where sometimes people could work in the office, and sometimes people could work from home. And I think thinking this through before you move to a virtual environment or virtual job for that specific role is key. You can’t just say OK, tomorrow we’re just gonna go
virtual Alice. How do you How do you create this environment That’s gonna be hospitable toe virtual. I
mean, it’s all about culture. You have to create a culture where everyone is communicating well with each other, where people know what the expectation is on response times of communication.
He’s gotta start at the top.
It has to start
a willingness to accommodate virtual employees. Okay, so it starts there. And then how does that out of the CEO trickling down?
You adhere to it. So rather than walking from my office into someone else’s office and telling them what I think they should know that maybe two other people who aren’t physically there also need to know. I will do that on a slack channel, for example. So I’ll use an instant messenger chat program, and I’ll put them all on the channel and talk to them all together at once.
You go through with a bar, or
even if that’s the situation, because it requires amount of discipline because you don’t want to leave people out. The interstitial conversation that happens at the water cooler can also be done virtually, and that’s pretty important, too.
Okay, Excellent. Excellent. All right, we’re gonna get the tools you mentioned. Slack Aslak Channel. Is that that a tool? Okay, okay. Chat. It’s a simple chance.
Chance chance software. Yeah,
you’re over my head, but I’m trainable. I could be a virtual employee trust
way. Remind us in technology challenges there, but way remedial. You got the radio?
Yeah, I’m very good at that. I mean, I got knobs and everything from buttons and old. I don’t know what they do. Um, okay, What else? Anything else about creating the environment making inhospitable.
I think some of the things that some of the other things are making sure that your remote employees have the tools, whether it’s the technology or even a monitor to go along with that laptop that you’ve given them because some some people go into a new job, they’re given a laptop, they say work from home. And it’s not as easy as just. Is your home office conducive? And being able to help them think through what are the things that they need to set up in a virtual environment to make them successful and effective at what they’re doing? We talk about a little bit about security and knowing what the security measures are. You can’t go into a coffee shop and work from your computer. Number one. Are you on the Y? Fire? You on the public? WiFi? Are you on a virtual private network? Are you using your hot spot? You’ve to go the bathroom and your computer sitting in Starbucks. Do you leave it there and ask the person next to tow? Watch your computer while you go to I mean, we set policies around these things, especially in organizations that have a lot of regulations on data and accessibility for their information. These are things you have to think about when you’re creating a virtual environment.
OK? It could be hip. Maybe. What’s the credit card? P C M
p c I
c. I Okay, what do you do when you’re at Starbucks alone? You’re on. You’re on a VPN virtual private network. But you have to go the bathroom. You gotta close up your
laptop. You use the diaper changing table in and you pull it down in the restroom and put your laptop on that. Take care of your business, OK? This is very
all right, though. I love the nitty gritty. Listen,
I mean, we’re all about real life here. Way need
to detail. You need clear policies around
policies that people sign. And everyone is very well aware of what the security policies are.
Protection, use of technology. You said the company’s versus your pride. Your personal technology. Home versus away from home. Okay, All right. Help me out here. Getting else what else belongs. Just ask you what else belongs in our policy?
Well, so there were talking about there’s communication policies. How? I mean, one of the things that we found when we first started having more virtual employees. We started as an in office. Everyone was in the office. And as we grew into different communities, we had employees in different cities and states than our headquarters were located in. And things like when I send an email, I just need you to acknowledge that the email was sent. If you’re in the office and I send you an email and you haven’t responded, I could walk into your office and say, Hey, you get my email. Even if you’re not ready to respond to it, I know you’ve gotten it. And by five oclock that day, I’ll get an answer when someone’s virtual and you send an email, you have no idea if it got lost. Did it go into there Spam and you have to get some kind of communication
with water. Quick. Got it.
So we said a communication policy that says If I asked you something or requested something, you send an email back saying I got it and I’ll get back to you by Wednesday period. The end. It’s all set. And so that that you need to be very much more aware of those types of things and other community way have communication policies that go along with that.
Okay, Alice, you wanna add Teoh or policy statement? I
mean, the security, I think, is the most important. You know, the email security, the hacking potentials. You know what happens also, when someone is let go the lockout procedures, they have access to all of your systems. And they’re, you know, in North Dakota, somewhere at a coffee shop, you have to shut down all of their access to things. So all of that needs to be planned at the I t level in the company. What are you going to do? And how are you handling staff with remote devices?
Can we do this if we don’t have a dedicated T staff person?
We don’t have a dedicated Yes, it is.
So the family says the answer is yes. Okay, because our were small and midsize non profits in this audience of listeners. So
you onboard someone with technology? When they leave, you do the same thing. Onley with a virtual person. You don’t physically have them there. And so you have to do the same thing you would do if someone was in the office. But make sure you couldn’t do it while they’re not physically there. How did they get your computer back to you? Do they FedEx it to you? Are you going to go pick it up somewhere if they’re not there? And so just those types of things need to be thought
through. Okay. Excellent. I love the policy statement details, because this is the stuff you have to think through. And then Alice, to your point, it has to be activated. Implemented on from the top. You can’t just have a policy and ignore it. You know, if it’s the CEO. It’s a sea level person whose, whose distant they to have to say, I got your email and I’ll get back to you by Wednesday.
Everybody has to play by the same rules. There shouldn’t be exceptions or any accommodations for anything else. Yeah,
okay, Um, how about let’s talk about some of the needs that your remote staff has been talking about, like managing the office? What special needs to the people who we only see a couple of times a year have?
That’s a great question. I think they
it took that long.
They need community. They need a partner. They need a buddy. They need to know that they’re not all alone. I’m so frequent meetings daily. Stand up calls, Um, and Heather’s organization. They stand up. Call it Well, it’s It’s a phrase for on a daily time when you just spend 15 minutes sort of role going around. The company’s saying, Who’s doing what? That day or a day or a team? If you’re working on a project together, you know everyone’s together on either a video chat or a conference call, or it could even be during on a slack channel or a Skype Group or a Google hangouts or any type of technology that people can come together for a period of time. The more frequent that happens, the more connected they feel. And there is an issue of feeling lonely. It’s not that you’re just going off on your back room and typing all day long on your own. You need to be part of a community and part of a team. And the technology helps enable that and a Heather’s organization. There’s you do. What is it, a buddy?
So anyone who is new, who comes on board, there’s a couple things we do. One is no matter what level you’re at. You come to Boston for a couple days toe on board. You actually see physical people. That’s probably essential. It’s really it was one of like he learnings. When I started working virtually is to know that there’s a physical person in a physical space, or just seeing meeting someone face to face gives you much more of a connection to them immediately. The other thing we do is when we hire people, we kind of give them. We give them Ah ah, a partner. So we hire a new associate director in L. A. And we put them with the associate director in Atlanta. This is not a mentor. This is not a supervisor. This is someone you can ask the dumb questions too. Like, how do I get my expenses paid? Or I’m sure they told me this during orientation, but I don’t know what to do about X, y and Z. And just having that person that you know you can go to is critical. Especially when you’re by yourself in an office or in your home. And you’re trying to go up the learning curve of starting a new job.
Okay. All right. What else? Uh, anything else to be empathetic to our remote employees
again? This is a typical management. I would say this you should be doing this any time is just everyone’s intent is good. Assume that is good. And there’s a good intent all all the time.
That could be that That that’s gonna have implications for chatting
female. No, you can’t. You’ll never hear the well, Not never, but most of the communications. You’re not gonna hear the inflection in the person
you don’t see the Sometimes you don’t see the physical. You don’t see the physical, you don’t get the inflection. And so, before you jump into anything someone sent. And I get this all the time and sends me an email and says I need blank Well, that could be taken in so many different ways. Are you demanding something from me? Did ice not get you something? There’s so much in just those three words. And so my first thing is to okay, they have good intentions. Let me follow up. You need blank by when? What is this foot? Get more information. They’re not. Now. They could be like You haven’t done something. I need it now. And recovery screaming. It could be screaming at you, but the default is not do that. And what we do actually is we have everyone created communications charter that says how they like to be interacted with. And so I understand if you are one of these people who sends very short emails, I also have the flip side where someone sends me seven paragraph e mails to describe one thing. And so if I understand how you interact, I could read that email with that understanding not to immediately assume that you’re yelling at me in the email.
Valuable. Um, anything else? Anything else to be supportive again, Empathetic to the remote employees we covered it, recovered it. But I
to make sure we’re
the only other thing I can think of is definitely getting together at least once a year with the whole team culture building.
It’s tough. It’s tough in a non profit environment where you’ve got a very tight budget. But we have prioritised an all in person meeting in Boston. So we’ve got staff in California, in Chicago, in Atlanta and Philadelphia. We make sure that we try in our budgeting process to bring everyone to Boston for two days during the summer, not only for good brainstorming and and thinking and strategy conversations, but also so they can connect with each other and have that community and build that in person conversation and feel comfortable with each
other. And you feel like once a year is sufficient.
You know, if I had the budget to do it more, I worked a
little longer, but
all of that, yes, and so you have to take it for one of the the tools that we talk about is the airplane. I mean, yes, it’s expensive, but it’s a really helpful tool to really get past some of the boundaries that are put up when you don’t actually physically meet in person.
Alice, do you have virtual employees? Also Jackson River
30 30 Working 30. Promoting entire organization is virtual
Oh my God! OK, where’s the Is there a physical office?
There is a physical office with three people in Washington, D. C. But so we all behave as if we’re virtual. And there are many days that I don’t go into the office. So in its you know, it saves a lot of money and transportation costs. It stays dry cleaning bills for everyone. It saves child care expenses that you know it’s a very great way to have a lifestyle, because you you have that flexibility. There’s also downsides to it. There are days that I wake up in the morning at 6 a.m. and check email, and all of a sudden it’s too, and I haven’t eaten breakfast yet, and then I’m until six at night. So you know it’s a It’s the same type of work life integration needs toe happen in a virtual environment as well as a physical office space. You know, you need to know how to take a break.
You mentioned saving childcare expenses. So? So the the remote employees. It needs to be understood that the remote employees may not be immediately accessible, right for a quick for last minute way. Gotta talk right now,
So I think it’s about
have something going on that is gonna hold him up for 10 or 15
way. Try and make sure that people have adequate coverage to do their job during the day, the hours that they need to work. So we have a lot of employees that are at 30 hours a week because they want to spend more time with their families. Um, older Children can be met at the bus stop and take care of themselves for a few hours in the afternoon. But the expectations of performance air still there, You know, we’re pretty high stress. High standards of that. You know, we don’t want you to be distracted from your work. How do you
manage? The West Coast versus East Coast is the West Coast. People have to do the West Coast. People have to start at 6 a.m. Local time.
I think a lot of people do different policies on that. Our policy is that you work for the day that work the business day in the time zone in which you live. So it’s sometimes hard if we’re dealing with Europe and the West Coast at the same time, because the time zones don’t overlap as well.
Everybody’s in Europe.
We don’t have employees in your village of clients in Europe, so it’s Ah, it’s a situation where we have to manage that. But there are organizations that have West Coast people working East Coast hours way don’t have
a as explicit policy that you work those hours. But we asked people how early on the West Coast, how early would you be willing to have a meeting so we will not set meetings with some people? Some people are early morning people, and they would rather work from 7 to 3 rather than 9 to 5, and so we’ll work with your schedule individually. And so I said, there are some meetings I will have on the West Coast is seven in the morning, but that’s due to that person willing to do that.
We have a few minutes left. Still, let’s talk about some of the tech tools I was gonna ask you about. Slack. What dot com How do we find it or what they do for us?
Black dot com It’s how you find it. You know, it’s it’s equivalent to Skype. Or there’s Google chat any type of chat software where everyone can log into. And then there’s you can make groups in them, so the term for a group in Slack is called a channel. And in our organization, we have a channel for one of the channels is named lunch. And if you’re gonna be away for 20 minutes or going to lunch, we just take we just like everyone who’s in the company on that channel and say, Hey, stepping away for a bit, I’ll be back in half an hour. So we are all know it’s almost a ZX, though you would see me walk out the door, you know. And instead of walking out the door, I’m just telling that channel what’s happening. There’s channels reach project. Also, Slack is a good ones.
Black has already a verb. It’s like someone
just like someone. It’s a verbal. You Skype, someone you trust someone. Do you remember a well instant messenger that that was a one matter, that you could use that?
Well, I was. But, um OK, so slack for, Ah, for chatting. A quick, quick chat about document sharing is simple. Google docks or something better.
It’s a simple Google. Microsoft has a great
product. Microsoft’s one Dr SharePoint Microsoft Suite has has a document sharing software. Ah, cloud based saving system. Um, Skype is now escape for businesses and integrated with it. And so we’re using that in the office. And then there’s There’s a ton of independent ones out there, and it’s whether it’s video conferencing or it’s document sharing or its chatting. There’s a ton out there, and I think it could be overwhelming. And for us, it was evaluating what was best for our organization and what our upper management was able to use. We talked about this before, is modeling the behavior you want from your staff, and so getting upper management on board was key. So one of our project management software, we use a sauna, and we’ve tried three or four of them, and our CEO liked asana. And so if she was going to use a sauna, we’re all going to use this on. And so I think that’s really important. It’s got to be easy to use and work for your organization.
Calendar Ring Simple is
callin during Yeah,
you have any other tools besides Google Calendar
were using outlooks Calendar.
Microsoft. Yeah, all right,
What other ah categories we need toe
video chat video is really important.
Describe a couple
I couldn’t do one on video with Skype, you can do video with Google hangouts, but any time you can actually have an opportunity to see someone’s face and most of the calls we try to do as videos and we find that that works really, really well,
river again, the sense of community.
And if you can’t get together, that’s almost the next best thing. And video has come a long way. The technology is more seamless than ever before, and so at least you’re seeing the person. You might not get all of the nuance of the physical that that’s in the room, but you can see a emotion, or you can see a reaction to something which is super or their cat walking the cat. We could get a lot of pets walking in front of the camera while people are on video. This
can be a lot of fun to talk about cats, but, you know, you have 30 virtual employees. Alice. Um, you have fun doing it. I mean,
it’s awesome. It’s completely awesome is I love it. And, you know, the best thing is that that people have really formed strong relationships with each other. They when you ask them what they like most about working here, is they say each other. They say, the people I’m here because I have connected relationships with other people on the team. And to be able to create a culture where people feel connected to each other in a remote environment is is like That’s the thing I’m most proud of. Anything we’ve ever done. It doesn’t have to do their software product or what we’ve done to impact non profits is the fact that we’ve had a culture of people that have had a wonderful time working and doing productive, impactful things.
Jackson River always had a largest proportion of employees virtual from the beginning
from the beginning
in the culture of the start, about about family
well, we started as a 2.5 person organization in the same way. We got to probably about 8 to 10 people in the office, and then our growth took us into different cities and communities. And that’s when we became virtual because of the growth. And so we’re probably half in the office in Boston, and then half of our staff is outside and there’s one or two people in a city by themselves.
We’ll leave it there.
Excellent, Thank you.
All right. They are Heather Martin, CEO of Interfaith Family, and Alice Hendricks, CEO of Jackson River. This interview, sponsored by Network for Good, Easy to use donor management and fundraising software for non profits. And this is tony-martignetti non profit radio coverage of 18 NTC ladies. Thank you so much.
Thank you, thank you. Pleasure.
Next week there’s a good chance it’ll be privacy. Best practices on. If that’s not next week, it’ll be coming very, very soon, and something else will be excellent next week. If you missed any part of today’s show, I beseech you, find it on tony-martignetti dot com were sponsored by wegner-C.P.As. Guiding you beyond the numbers wegner-C.P.As dot com But Cougar Mountain Software Denali Fund is there Complete accounting solution made for nonprofits. Tony done m a slash Cougar Mountain for a free 60 day trial and by turn, to communications, PR and content for non profits. Your story is their mission. Turn hyphen. Two dot ceo Ah, creative
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