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Nonprofit Radio for April 22, 2024: A Step Back On Artificial Intelligence & Get Your Team To The Next Level


Beth Kanter & Philip DengA Step Back On Artificial Intelligence

Beth Kanter and Philip Deng urge you to consider the ethical challenges your nonprofit should grapple with before fully adopting generative AI in your work. They’ve got advice for an ethical use policy and guidelines for training. Beth is an author, master trainer and facilitator. Philip is CEO of Grantable. Our conversation was recorded at 24NTC.





Kim TruongGet Your Team To The Next Level

“We do our best work when we’re at our best,” says Kim Truong, as she explains how to evaluate your team’s roles and responsibilities, meetings, reporting, and communications. She also reveals what belongs in your Team Ways of Working Guide. Kim is an independent consultant. This is also part of our 24NTC coverage.

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Welcome to Tony Martignetti nonprofit radio. Big nonprofit ideas for the other 95%. I’m your aptly named host and the pod father of your favorite abdominal podcast. Oh, I’m glad you’re with us. I’d bear the pain of aico mycosis if you touched me with the idea that you missed this week’s show. Here’s our associate producer, Kate back from sick leave with what’s going on this week, Kate, how are you feeling? Hey, Tony, I am feeling so much better. I’m at like 90% better. But yeah, thanks for checking in. We missed you terribly for the past two weeks this weekend. A step back on artificial intelligence be cantor and Philip Dang. Urge you to consider the ethical challenges your nonprofit should grapple with before fully adopting generative A I in your work, they’ve got advice for an ethical use policy and guidelines for training. Beth is an author, master trainer and facilitator. Philip is CEO of Grant. Our conversation was recorded at 24 NTC and get your team to the next level. We do our best work when we’re at our best says Kim Tong, as she explains how to evaluate your team’s roles and responsibilities, meetings, reporting, and communications. She also reveals what belongs in your team ways of working. Guide, Kim is an independent consultant. This is also part of our 24 NTC coverage on Tony’s take. Two loving donor meetings were sponsored by virtuous, virtuous. Gives you the nonprofit CRM fundraising, volunteer and marketing tools. You need to create more responsive donor experiences and grow, giving virtuous.org. Here is a step back on artificial intelligence. You know, it is kind of nice having a second voice. Uh We’ll see, we’ll see about the future. Welcome back to Tony Martignetti nonprofit radio coverage of the 2024 nonprofit technology conference. We’re all together here in Portland, Oregon at the Oregon Convention Center and nonprofit radio’s coverage of the conference is sponsored by Heller consulting technology strategy and implementation for nonprofits. This conversation is with Beth Cantor and Philip Deng. Beth is an author trainer and facilitator. Philip is CEO at Grant Beth Phillip. Welcome. Thanks, Tony. Nice to have you, Beth. Welcome back. Great to be here. I lost count. How many times I’ve been on your show? Yeah, many, many Nt CS and Philip. You’ll be welcome to come back. Thank you very much. It’s great to be here. Thank you, my pleasure. Your session topic which you uh unburdened yourself of uh yesterday, right. Taking care of you did. Your session is embedded, ethical and responsible use, generative A I and nonprofit work. Um Philip, why don’t you get us started as a, as our first time guest. Um Why did you see the need to be concerned about ethics and, and responsibility around generative A? I? Well, I think, um Beth and I have been talking about the topic for a few months now, maybe over a year. Um And I think that generative A I, I, I’ll start kind of in reverse is a transformative technology that is shaping the world every single minute now. And all of these nonprofits, their missions, their clients, this, this all is being done in a generative A I world now. And I think nonprofits in particular have a, a sort of native inclination to consider things from a perspective of responsibility and ethics. And so I think there’s this really important work to be done uh led by folks like Beth now for quite some time. But to help them figure out how to take these really powerful technologies, these really important tools and then apply them in ways that are aligned with their missions and most importantly with their values. I’m glad we’re having this conversation because it’s important to take a step back and, and evaluate, you know, our, I guess our values, uh you know what our, our core, what we stand for, what we, you know, the walk that we, that we wanna walk um and not be talking about uh the use cases and, you know, use it as a draft and then then it’ll be iterative and you’ll have a conversation with your, with your, uh, with chat, chat GP T, et cetera. Uh, uh, so that’s why I wanted to take a step back because Beth, you and I had that conversation in a, in a panel with, um, uh, last, it was last June, I believe with, uh, AUA Bruce and George Weiner and, um, Alison Alison, the four of you, the four of you. Yes. So we, and uh so, I mean, there’s value in that we, we do need to know what, what are the best use cases and how best to interact with this Philip, as you said, absolutely transformative tool. But let’s, let’s take a step back. Beth, why don’t you help us off as well? Um Sure. And I think as we talked and we’ve been talking um and the reason I wrote the book about it with Alison published two years ago now because we saw this coming is that most, for most that we leave with our human centered values and that we do no harm because there’s a lot of potential to do harm. Um Given um that this technology is working on ingesting a large amount of data from the internet and it’s ingested all its biases and in the ways that we can interact, we can inadvertently, you know, harm people through divulging private information or maybe using it to block people out people of color, out of service. And a whole host of other things. Right. Um, and I could give you that whole list, but that’s like a college ethics course. But the important thing is that, um, nonprofits need to be aware of it and have a way to navigate through it. And luckily intens released of uh ethical framework tag fundraising dot A I and organizations I think are um overwhelmed, their concern. They should be, um, but they need to be prepared and to move thoughtfully. And so the session that Philip and I did was more, you know, how do we operationalize our values in the context of this technology? As uh Philip mentioned before, it’s something that we’re used to doing in this sector leading with our values. But now we need to apply it to the use of this tech to this transformative moment. That is, is, is only going to become, I don’t know more. It’s, it’s, it’s only going to accelerate I I think. Um All right. So Beth, let’s stay with you. You know, what, what should we be? What should we be thinking about talking about? Not just thinking, what should we be talking about consciously? Um at, at, at the CEO level, I don’t know, maybe at the board level help us help us understand what the, what the issues are that we should be grappling with. Um There’s a few things and I’ve been having a lot of those conversations. Um first is educating, understanding what the technology is and actually getting hands on it in a safe way, low risk cases. So you understand, like the limitations of it without just being concerned, it’s a double edged sword here or I don’t know the right metaphor, but it’s there are tremendous benefits, but we want to be careful, right? We don’t want to be so scared of it that we don’t use it. We need to, we do need to use it but carefully. So we need to think about this in terms of, you know, humans always in charge, humans always in the loop, humans making decisions. And I think the most important skill that leaders need to understand is when, where does that human intelligence come in? And where do we let the machine do some of the work? Right? It’s called Cobo. We talked about that before higher up what what’s going to happen is more nonprofits adopt. Um It’s going to free up time, it’s not going to disrupt jobs necessarily, it’s changing and automating job skills which redistributes time and leaders need to reinvest that time into more mission driven, important tasks which are really about relationship building, right? With our donors um within, with um the people we’re serving and, and within that as staff begins to use this and, and they have acceptable use policies and we’re taught how to use it well and carefully. Um and time shifts, they’re going to need to be reskill right there gonna be reskilling and there’s going to be an emphasis on soft skills, they’ll become way more important, like creativity, empathy, communication, interpersonal communication, those things are going to become all the more important. Um There’s been some and um uh linkedin data recently, I don’t know if you’ve seen their, their economic graph but they actually crunch some numbers related to nonprofit jobs and the use and adoption of A I. And they’re saying that um 12% of nonprofit job skills will change and 39% will be redistributed. So leaders need to be thinking about this in terms of their talent retention plans, talent retention plans, Philip, what can you add, please? What, what should we be grappling with? Well, so I think one of the things that I’ve sort of appreciated about working together with Beth is that, you know, there’s been, there’s such a body of work there to consider and then sometimes what I find myself doing partly just, you know, to, to make sure that I’m, I’m not getting overwhelmed with all of the information is to step back and try to come up with maybe sort of memorable or, or um uh tactics to, to see the forest again uh when you’ve lost them for the trees. So where Alison and Beth coined the term the dividend of time. So basically what you get back from using one of these smart tools, I think one of the uh a rough formula that I’m kind of playing around with is that the idea here is to use generative A I to create a dividend of time. And one of the things that I think we have to practice is to use as much of that time as we can as we can manage to build trust. So, uh Beth was just talking about how a lot of soft skills and, and relational work is going to become really important. I think, you know, thinking back to before so much of our work happened within the, the digital world. We were out there doing the work and running into one another and a lot of that relational work was done just as a matter of fact, that’s no longer the case when we’re sending a lot of emails or having A I, right? A lot of our communications from now from now on. Um So I think what we have to do is be intentional about saying, hey, some of this time that we’ve gotten back, we actually have to allocate it thoughtfully back to going out into the world and forming these relationships because the thing that uh the A I lacks most of all relative to, to people is the context of our work. There’s an incredible amount of data in these models. They are really amazing at certain tasks. They don’t really have any idea of what, what the world is that our work exists in. So that context I think is absolutely crucial. And it’s actually the understanding of our work paired with as Beth and Alison say Cobo, that’s where the magic really happens is when you pair your human intelligence, your understanding of the situation, the nuance of your work and then know how to leverage a really powerful technology like generative A I to do that work more efficiently. And of course, in a, in a human centered and, and values align kind of way you mentioned building trust, say more about that. Do you mean trust of the tools? No, I mean trust between us as humans. Yeah, I definitely mean between us as humans and between organizations as stakeholders within a community or within a movement. Um I think if you use A I in a way just to say, give yourself some time and maybe just throw that time back into more productivity. Um Beth and I talked a lot about um a a few cases where folks kind of rushed A I chat bots out into the world into front line situations, really sensitive ones where people in crisis were reaching out at one point and getting a human being. And then all of a sudden they were talking to an A I model and the A I was giving out really, really problematic advice. Um And that is an instance where the tech was used to save time or money, uh you know, in terms of human resources and it harmed the, the very people that the organization was trying to serve. So in that case, it wasn’t used to, to build trust, the, the time was saved, but it wasn’t reinvested in strengthening the relationship between the organization, the community, the stakeholders, the donors. So when I talk about trust, I mean, good old school person to person, uh stakeholder trust. Uh Beth, can you share one of those uh one of those anecdotes, of course, um I think the one that a lot of people know about because it was got quite a lot of media attention is the National Association of Eating Disorders Nita. And uh they put what was happening because of the pandemic, there was an increase in eating um disorder because if you’re by yourself, you’re more pro you know, you’re more prone to that, right? Um So, and they, for many years had a hotline, you know, actually humans answering the phone and um, and what happened was they were completely overwhelmed. They went to senior management said we need more help. Um um the staff responded, we’re going to organize a union if you don’t get us more help. Um And what happened is they put a, they rushed a chatbot out to answer questions of people reaching out for help and pink slipped a lot of staff. Ok. So first of all, they, they, they saw it as a cheap replacement for staff, which we, which is doing harm and we don’t not human centered and then it wasn’t thoroughly tested, there weren’t enough guard rails on it and it was dispensing harmful information. So they’re, they were in the middle of a media crisis, um, reputational damage. And I saw a, um, article even a couple of months later, they had a bill into one of the state legislators, um, to get more funding for, uh, to support people with eating disorders. And it was turned down because of the, the lack of trust based on what happened. So their community was harmed on a couple of different levels from, from the, from the firing of some employees from the poor advice from a, from a chat bot and the legislative funding was, was refused and the reputation as well. Ok, disaster. Um So what do we take away from that? Uh ok. So, uh well, don’t do those things, but are, are there larger lessons Philip that we can, you can see from that? Yeah. Um Another thing that I was thinking of when you were speaking with Beth earlier was one of the ways that I advise leaders that are contemplating bringing A I into their to their toolkit is to come at it from a sense of playfulness, a stance of playfulness. You know, a lot of people do pretty dangerous things for fun. You know, if you’re mountain biking or rock climbing or skydiving, we, we do a lot of stuff that, you know, is, is fast paced and there are real risks involved. But because we’re in this mindset where we, our senses are heightened, um We’re very aware of danger and failure, but also motivated um in a, in a way that is honestly kind of enjoyable. Um I think it’s a really great place to start just, just as a mental framing for taking on this task of learning about generative A I, some of these technologies are really fun to play with. I mean, if you, if you interacted with the language models or the image generators, if you do it in a safe way, in kind of a sandboxed way, like Beth was saying where you aren’t starting off with anything sensitive or mission critical, you’re doing it in a way to honestly play around and explore the limitations of the tool doing so with sort of a playful mindset, almost the child’s mind, as some people say, I think it’s a really great way to make yourself attuned to uh the, the risks, the rewards uh in sort of a game like format, but also to reframe failure. If you don’t get it at first, if you, if you don’t get the right results in a game, what you do is you try again, it’s the next round, it’s the next shot. Um And kids just get back up and try again. And I think that’s a really, really good way to become uh very aware of generative A I to know what it is to, to feel it and become fluent. So I often tell people think about that or, or watch a kid playing, uh, think back to memories of, of learning a sport or an instrument or, or some, some kind of art that, that you have. I don’t think it’s terribly different from that. So, uh it feels different and we oftentimes speak about this really powerful tech in terms that are overwhelming or sort of uh difficult to relate to. But at the end of the day, I think the the people that I see excelling a lot of them, I think a disproportionate number are having fun. And I think the reason that they then get so good is because there’s a nice feedback loop there. Um So that’s what I tend to tell people. It’s time for a break. Virtuous is a software company committed to helping nonprofits grow generosity. Virtuous believes that generosity has the power to create profound change in the world. And in the heart of the giver, it’s their mission to move the needle on global generosity by helping nonprofits better connect with and inspire their givers responsive fundraising puts the donor at the center of fundraising and grows giving through personalized donor journeys that respond to the needs of each individual. Virtuous is the only responsive nonprofit CRM designed to help you build deeper relationships with every donor at scale. Virtuous. Gives you the nonprofit CRM, fundraising, volunteer marketing and automation tools. You need to create responsive experiences that build trust and grow impact virtuous.org. Now back to a step back on artificial intelligence with Beth Cantor and Philip Deng. I love the, I love the idea of having fun with it, treating it like a sport safely. Yeah. Yeah. Um You all have advice around um an ethical use policy and, and guidelines for training practical tips and examples and processes who who wants to start with some, some of the practical tips, strategies, tactics for for ethical use policy. Um Sure. So let’s just break down quickly what’s in an ethical use policy, right? So there’s four sections, there’s our values and that should be the easy part, right? Um Most of nonprofits I know have a value or vision statement and it’s kind of relating that to the use of the tech. Uh the next step are norms, how are we going to use it? Um What and where are we not going to use it? Right? And those are things like thinking about the use cases and not just the use cases and the tools, but about there is a conti of risk with different types of uh use cases at the lower into the spectrum. We have individual use to do a task like a writing task or create an image or analyze some data, right? So it’s under what are the potential risks? And I think one big one is if we’re interacting with public um uh uh generative A I writing tools and models, chat, GP T Copilot. Um You know, what’s our point of view about putting data into those? Right? Are we gonna put, we gotta be careful, we’re not going to put any personally identifiable information into the prompt that then goes into a public model. Um like someone’s email address or God forbid their social security number. Um There’s another principle about like what is confidential information, right? Like do you want to be uploading someone’s performance evaluation as an example of our, our organizational tone written in this tone and here’s their performance about you just bring up a very good sort of tactical thing that, that your prompts are part of its learning universally. It’s not only is this, it’s not a private conversation, you and chat GP T well, with public models, right? The free public models that where we start. But if you have an enterprise model and you’re using your own data, then that’s safer. OK. That’s a different story. So it’s understanding that difference and also um you know, you can redact, right? Think of it. Um This comes from Rachel Kimber, great person to follow on linkedin. Um Like maybe you do have some information, you redact the organization’s name and you redact the person’s name so that there’s no association of it, but you could get an a summary. So that’s lower risk individual task, move to the middle, we have it for internal purposes like internal communication, hr operations financing. There are medium sized risks there. One example, um, let’s say someone in hr uses a generative A I tool to write the employee handbook, right? And they fall asleep at the wheel, they proof the first paragraph or two and say this is fine and they, it’s there, you know, a couple of years down the road, there’s a sexual harassment issue and they go to the employee handbook and oh, this doesn’t protect anybody. So you, you really need to audit the output from it. You can’t trust it. It makes, makes stuff up, mix facts up. It’s hard to believe and that’s the medium risk. You’re still in the middle of the spec it does that with at the low risk too, we get to the high risk and we do what we described before. We’re having it on the front line interacting with our stakeholders. And I think that’s where we need to have at the board level. We need to have a data privacy governance, you know, discussion, we need to have, we need to operationalize that. And if we’re testing something that is running on AAA large front tier model like open A is Chat G BT or whatever, we need to have the appropriate guardrails in place, right, to prevent it from going off the grid and you know, preventing and providing information that’s potentially harmful or excluding people from our services. Philip, anything you want to add? Is there more about the ethical use guidelines? I think in general there are a number of really great frameworks coming out. Uh N 10 has one that just came out yesterday. Um I’m part of a group fundraising dot A I, that’s the website. Um That’s also coming up with ethical and responsible use frameworks for this sector in particular. I think what I would just say is the important part is to have the continuing conversation. And when you have a reputable framework, that framework is a tool to guide that conversation to make sure that you’re being systematic and thorough. Um I think what it’s going to come down to though is a posture of the organization that you understand that this is a tool that can help but that the seriousness of the work, which was there long before A I demands that you approach it with care. And so everybody in the organization needs to be looking for the risks, the benefits kind of just being aware and then when something seems beneficial, get together and have that conversation using the framework to say, OK, this is what we want out of it. But let’s go through this framework, let’s assess it step by step and see if there are risks that we can spot as a team and then to make the approach course correction. So the frameworks are a tool for the continuing conversation, which is going to have to continue. Because every time one of these new step up models gets released, there’s an incredible new amount of landscape that we have to analyze because these models are gaining capability so quickly. So it really is changing what it means. I mean, the terminology itself is almost a placeholder and we, we really have to go out there and have our eyes open and understand what is generative A I in 2024 it’s gonna mean something different in 2025. I think I’m so glad we’re having this conversation to step back. And I realize as you were speaking, Philip, I, I’m sorry, I fucked up. Uh You were, you were, you were only in two out of four. You said there were four. I, I moved on, we were only on number two of your 44. I at least I realize but, and then I said, you know, and then I deferred to Philip and no, sorry, I apologize for that. We’re only on number two of your four elements of the, the, the policy for use. You were very gracious and not saying Tony, you’re fucking up. So you told me not to swear anymore. No, I, no, I, no, you said you said fuck shark. And I said you could say that and I almost said shit, but I didn’t say it. I said chat G BT makes up shit. I said sh stuff in New York City once you were talking about. So now we can say fuck sharks and that I admitting that I fucked up. And so let continue with the four elements that belong. People listening are probably thinking like, why did the guy move on after she’s only on number two? Why did he move to Philip? When Beth is only halfway finished values? We talked about values, right? We talked about nor nor do and don’t and that’s where we talk about use cases and that’s where we were and then we were on the spectrum. We’re on the cases. We completed the spectrum. We’re at the most risky, the forward facing the outward face. That’s the most risk requires the most testing, the most guidelines around the boundaries around the use, right? And that’s what’s called guard rails, right? Rules like don’t fall asleep at the reel at the wheel, read the output and check the first two paragraphs of the, don’t fall asleep at the wheel and don’t disclose personally identifiable information or whatever comes up through your organization’s conversation. And then the other piece kind of relates to what Phil was talking about earlier is the playbook, right? Um How do you share information within staff about prompts or what you’re learning? So that’s an important piece. And there was something actually, wait, say a little more about that, wait, say that one more time because I’m only hearing this the first time. Say that last sentence again. OK. So I call it the playbook section, right? So there’s a lot, you know, sharing, not knowledge and skills on staff so that there’s a shared playbook and it could be a Google Doc, right? Where people share. I tried this prompt. It produced a really great fundraising appeal. Uh I had to work with it but here it is, if, if somebody else wants to try it. So that kind of ongoing learning is really important. Um There was something else while Phil was talking but I forgot it with the fuck sharks thing. I derailed you. Alright. Well, we had fun. It’s, it was, it was worth it, it was worth it. And it may very welcome back to you. Um What’s the board’s role? Uh Beth, you mentioned the board but you just kind of been passing what’s the board’s role here and that the CEO should be bringing the board in for, for conversations about, about what two things. All right, I think, you know, while we in this sector understand responsible and ethical use, we don’t necessarily have that expertise on all boards of nonprofits. Hospitals do cause possible uh hospitals have to navigate ethical situations, right? So they might have ethicists on their board. So it’s also important to think about maybe we want to recruit some board members with that type of expertise with a grounding in ethics. And we probably also want to bring some members in who have an understanding of the technology and we also want to be having um some governance level policy discussions leading to our policy around that. Um, as well. It’s not just something that happens on the staff level and for senior leaders, it’s not something that gets punted down the hall to the IT department, it should, you know, leaders need to be thinking about it as well. Yeah. Yeah, it’s, it’s, uh, it’s, it’s systemic, right? It doesn’t, it doesn’t belong in the IT department. Um The idea of uh recruiting ethicists or I guess if not that bringing a consultant to help, to guide the discussion by, facilitate the discussion, raise the issues that we’re all talking about here. Um Because board members are not, you know, they may be all in or they, they may not even be paying attention, you know, depending on their work status, they may not be paying attention to artificial intelligence. So the issue, the issues need to be raised. I don’t know, I’m finding at least with the, the boards that I’ve been brought in to speak with and maybe Phil, you’ve also seen this um that it’s either they’re really concerned about it and never put their hands on it and have all these perceptions or misperceptions about it and that might be holding them back or they want to move full in this is transformative. We need to change with the world or we’re going to be left behind what else? Uh We have a couple of minutes left. What else did you talk about in your session that we haven’t covered in as much detail? I don’t know, maybe other cases or we talked about the dance floor and the balcony. Ok. Go ahead. Ok. So um this comes from the, the leadership lab at Harvard, um that leaders have to have the balcony view, which is seeing ahead, the big picture. But you also need to get on the dance floor and get in, you know, get into those steps. So for uh from a leadership perspective, you need to think about the ethics responsible use, move slowly know the use cases, all the things we’ve been saying. But you also need to put your hands on it as well and really understand do it playfully make the time for experimentation. And I think that’s a mind sh shift in our sector, you know, to make you happy, the time to actually experiment and learn. And that’s the kind of shift that our cultures are going to go through. If we free up time that we’re going to be, we’re going to make space for innovative thinking and make time for experimentation because hopefully we will release some of the busy in our busy cultures and make space for that. And that is the typically the promise of new technologies that there’s gonna be uh extra time, there’s gonna be greater productivity. But, but, well, well, your point was let’s not, let’s not apply it directly to productivity. Let’s, let’s apply it in relationship methods, uh, relationship building things that humans do uniquely that I, I, I don’t know, maybe I’m being risky here but I’m presuming that robots will never be able to do bots. Uh, artificial intelligence will never be able to have the depth of relationships that we have human to human. And is that you think that’s a risky statement? Any, anybody, you think you think we’ll get there. So not that I, not that I aspire to it. But I mean, I like to think that there’s, there’s some things that separate us from artificial intelligence. Are there, are there reliably like 10 years from now? Well, that’s the thing, that’s why I don’t like to read all the being risky. Yeah, I don’t know, 10 years from now for the time being, we are uniquely positioned. Uh We can say that right in, in 2024 and probably 2025 I think we’re uniquely positioned to have relationships. So that’s where the, the time ought to go in. The things that we’re uniquely qualified to do. Versus more office productivity is the point that both of you made. I would maybe uh come at it from another angle as well that we have never maybe appreciated how important human choice is. And I think one of the things that differentiates this technology from the software that we’ve been using for decades now is that increasingly it’s making decisions. I mean, that really is one of the, the Hallmark, uh you know, distinguishing features of these intelligence systems, more and more they are making choices for us. If they write something for us, they’re literally choosing every single word and then, you know, we added it, but a lot of decisions, tiny, tiny little decisions are being made by these smart systems. And I think what we have to really come to appreciate and not take for granted anymore is that the human choice, the, the decision making, power and responsibility that we have in the world, in our teams, in our organization, in our communities. That’s really what I think we need to, to focus back on and say, how do we choose to use this technology in the right way because once we do, the technology is going to start making choices for us. So human choice, uh I think is maybe one of the things that, that I’ll be meditating on a lot for the next uh the foreseeable future here. I’d like to leave it right there. That’s a great step back. Thank you. Thank you, Cheers. That’s Philip Deng Ceo of Grant. And with Philip is Beth cantor, author, trainer and facilitator, Philip. Beth. Thank you. Thank you so much. Appreciate, I appreciate. Did you just say fuck shark? I might have, I hope you don’t hear from the shark folks. Thank you for sitting through this uh this raucous uh provocative session uh where we are sponsored by Heller consulting, technology strategy and implementation for nonprofits. Really? Thank you very much. It’s time for Tony’s take you. Thank you, Kate. I’ve been enjoying uh a week and a half and I have another several days of meetings with um uh my client uh visiting nurse service of New York uh in New York City. And just, you know, as I think about all these meetings or as I’m, as I’m having them, I’m just reminded how much this is the real joy of, uh, for me, planned giving. But I think for any type of individual fundraising, it’s, it’s just the getting to know people. It’s being curious about people. Of course, we’re talking about the, the, the work that VNS health does, but I, I always make sure we go deeper than that and it’s me getting to know the person, all these meetings are, um, with folks in their seventies, eighties and nineties. Uh, most of them nearly all are, are women and it’s just getting to hear their stories, you know, what, what they did in their careers, what their husbands did because most of them are widows, their, what their Children are doing where they used to live, what was school, like, what was growing up like, uh, you know, these, these are the, the, this kind of, you know, deepening of, of understanding of people that is, um, is, is really a joy in individual fundraising. So, uh, I hope that you have relationships at, at that level. Uh, it doesn’t have to be about planned giving. That’s, you know, that’s the work I do. So, those are the conversations I’m having. I just find it really, uh, sort of uplifting, having all these meetings over breakfasts, coffees, lunches, uh, a couple of dinners, but a lot of folks, those ages, uh, this time of year don’t want to go out at night. So it’s uh not too many dinners, but I hope you’re enjoying relationships like that because they are the real heart of individual fundraising, getting to know people and working with people on the, on that level. And that is Tonys take two Kate. I think we really take for granted the face to face connection that we make with people, you know, by storytelling or just getting the wisdom from anyone really. Not just the older generations. Yeah, I think you’re right and we, you know, we obviously lost it during the pandemic. Uh I see more people getting back to face to face in person, events, meetings. Uh And I, and I hope folks are, are open to that and not just open to it, but, you know, looking for it, seeking it out because, uh I think, you know, that just, it’s human connection and virtual connection can only go so far. It’s, it’s just, it’s not the same thing, not even, not even close for sure. No, I completely agree with you. But anyway, we’ve got buu but loads more time here is get your team to the next level. Welcome back to Tony Martignetti nonprofit radio coverage of the 2024 nonprofit technology conference. We’re coming to you from the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon. We sponsored at 24 NTC by Heller consulting, technology strategy and implementation for nonprofits with me. For this conversation is Kim Chang. She is independent strategic communications campaigns and an operations consultant. Welcome to nonprofit radio. Kim. Hi, nice to meet you, Tony. You got a big portfolio there. It is a mouthful strategic communications campaigns, not stopping there. That’s only two out of three and operations consultant. It’s true. I’ve played around the title many times. It’s like, how do I explain to people what I actually do? Is there a company name that you can compact all that into or have you? No, presently just Kim TRONG consulting. Yeah, letting the name speak for itself. But it’s simple, but it says it all your session topic. Have you done your session? I did do my session yesterday. All right. Congratulations. That’s over. So we can recap a little bit. It is work smarter, not harder, easy tips, easy. That’s, that’s an important qualification, easy tips. She promises to get your team to the next level. All right. Um What was the genesis for the session? What brought this topic to you? Oh, this is funny. Honestly. I kind of ended up at NTC on a whim. I quit my job last July 2023. I met up with an old boss and she mentioned to me, I was telling her about some of the things that I’ve been doing around project management, strategic operations, just helping um you know, folks at my old company get to the next level, managing their team ironing out some of the issues. And she said you need to do this with nonprofits, you need to go to NTC and you need to present on this. And I don’t know if I have much expertise to share, but sure, I applied to be a speaker and here I am, it’s my first NTC and it really does already feel like I’m coming home to the topics and the people I care about. So that’s really the genesis of this. It’s very touching your first NTC. You feel so comfortable. Yes, I do. It’s a great community. It really is. It’s a welcoming, supportive community. You know, folks living their values. I mean, we certainly see that in, in, in 10, living their values of equity centered. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Smart use of technology, but also um the conscious use. Absolutely for good. Right. Maybe not necessarily for growth. Indeed. Yeah. All right. So um should we just start talking about some of the easy tips? Let’s dive in? Ok. OK. What do you, where do you like to start Um Well, I always like to say that, you know, the basis of a really well functioning team is um how you staff the work and whether or not you are using your individual staffers and teams capabilities, their strengths to the best of your team’s abilities. So, one of the practical ways in which you could operationalize this and that I recommend it to folks is simply to put together a roles and responsibilities, matrix, right? And when you put together roles and responsibilities, matrix, you’re identifying, not just the role, I think a lot of times people start with just the role that folks are supposed to take on a team. And then they don’t actually quantify the responsibilities that are in the act, the weekly, daily activities that are associated with those roles. So making sure that those two are aligned. So that’s the first thing I flagged. The second thing is once you notice that those two things are aligned, you don’t want to match them up with your staffs. Um you know, existing personality traits, work personality traits as well as the hard skills that are required in that role to be successful. And once you do that audit, you have a clearer picture of the gaps that remain. And whether or not you need to train folks, you need to hire people in and how folks can work with each other. So you’re seeing the gaps between the skills that are needed and the skills that exist? Is that yes, am I oversimplifying? No, that’s great. And then also how those skills or the activities you take on because you have those skills complement each in a team, right? Because you don’t want folks stepping on toes, right? Let’s say you’ve got two people who write social copy, right? Or two people have been asked to write social copy. Maybe you want to split the two and have someone write a press release and someone write social copy instead. So folks aren’t stepping on toes, but all of this can be illuminated in a roles and responsibilities matrix and help you make better decisions about how to manage your team. What else we got? Well, that’s just the first one. And then the second thing is I love the word matrix. I use it a lot and I probably need to stop. But the second thing is just making sure that you use the time that you have with your team effectively. So that’s coming up with a recurring meeting cadence that you codify in a, in a meeting matrix. That’s the second one. Um And then making sure that each of those meetings comes with an agenda that everyone like a standing agenda that doesn’t change every week, but covers the general main topics that everyone needs to be read in on or be aware of or action on. And then once you have these agenda templates available and folks see them every week and it’s just a standing agenda template. You’re actually creating accountability and ownership over some of the pieces that, you know, someone who’s maybe more entry level in a team might be uncomfortable sharing, right? So it’s when you create a standing agenda, it creates predictability, it creates regularity, it makes people feel confident. It uh also reduces a lot of the anxiety that folks have when they’re like, oh, I don’t know when we’re going to meet or I don’t know when we’re going to talk about that, right? Just put it right into the standing agenda. Um And it also helps to reduce a lot of these slack and email noise sometimes, right? Sometimes we’re trying to do a lot of work, especially if you’re managing a team, you’ve got lots of things that you need them to do, but you’re pulling them into these meetings all day, right? Let’s simplify a lot of that and maybe meet just twice a week. And folks know that during those times you get a chance to ask your lead all the questions that you need to ask. So it’s just creating this predictability and the way that you use your meeting time and how often you meet goes a very long way in keeping your team running well and keeping your team feeling at ease and empowered in doing their job. What are some of the things that belong on that standing agenda? Well, it depends i on when you meet and what the purpose is of each meeting. But I’d say, for example, if it’s the start of the week meeting, and you just want to make sure that everyone’s on the same page at the beginning of the week, then I would say a couple of things. The first is you want to make sure that any updates you hear from leadership or at the C suite level that are relevant to your team are shared in that team meeting. So anything that people need to know so that they can do their work for the rest of the week should be shared. So any important updates, action items, sorry, not action items, but tasks, right? If there’s something that you need to get done that week, you want to start there, you want to have a conversation in that meeting and you also want to share how you say, ok, I want you to write the first draft of this communications plan, right? Um You want to actually use that meeting to explain. OK, well, this is what I want out of it. These are the goals, these are the audiences, these are the tactics. And then the last thing is actually discussing and recapping those action items at the end of that meeting. So people walk out and they know this is my remit for the week, right? So that’s one type of meeting I would say is really valuable and that’s how I’d run that meeting every week. Um, another meeting that’s really valuable is a risks. Meeting. People don’t like the term risks. I think to them it signals looming problems. But I think what’s really great about having a risks meeting and the fact that it is a looming problem is that it’s looming, it’s not actually a problem yet. It’s not actually an issue yet. And when folks get into the habit of regularly identifying and logging risks super early, a lot of the times they’ll resolve it within two or three weeks before those risks actually become issues that derail your team dynamic, your team progress your delivery against a certain timeline or deliverable. All right. So deal with it while it’s a risk before it becomes a crisis. Well, have you seen examples of that where folks have teams have successfully dealt with risk, like you’re saying, maybe over a couple of weeks or maybe even a few months and, and then they, and then they, they just feel better. I mean, there, there may be other, there certainly are other risks. There’s always something out there but it, they put their minds at ease over something that was kind of had been looming, but they never had dealt with. Have you seen of that? I mean, I see that, you know, every day in our work once you start identifying and codifying a lot of those risks, but I think a really good example probably is, um, during the 2020 census when I was working at my old organization, a company called Fenton’s, the US, one of the US oldest social impact communications firm had an amazing experience there. One of our clients was the California Community Foundation and they were working on 100 organization. Get out the census campaign in Los Angeles County. It is one of the hardest, it is the hardest to count region in the United States. Just super diverse. Um Lots of languages, um lots of barriers to actually getting an accurate count. And a lot of those, when you’re trying to reach a lot of those communities, you’ve got to go right into the community, you’ve got to reach, talk to, talk to them, you’ve got to knock on doors, right. Um What do you do when the world goes virtual and shuts down? Right? When, during the 2020 COVID crisis? Right. So, it was amazing because we started to see one of my vice presidents. Now, he’s a senior vice president at Fenton. He could see the writing on the wall. Right. And you can see we’re going to have to pivot to virtual strategies soon. Right? Because it’s opening doors, no one’s going to grocery stores, no one’s going to grocery stores. No. Exactly. Exactly. No one’s out in the community. And so what we ended up doing was we had to completely pivot and we pivoted early, which allowed us to actually take resources like the funding that we might have allocated to door to door canvassing or allocated to, you know, ads at bus shelters or ads in grocery stores. Right. We pivoted a lot of that into virtual tactics where you can actually just reach folks right on their phones or as they’re scrolling through at home where they were in front of the TV. So we completely pivoted. Oh, we also did a lot of peer to peer texting. So you couldn’t speak to a here in person about getting out of the count, but you could text them about it, right. So we were able to identify that the crisis was coming and it was going to come early. And as a result, we were able to reallocate funding and resources and our activities accordingly. And I think if we had waited a little bit too late, we would have wasted a lot of money and resources. When you were talking about the meeting matrix, you talked, you mentioned the uh the meeting cadence, you know, something is that um I mean, it’s, it’s, I’m I’m sure you can’t say, you know, how often should a team meet that depends on the size of the team, the responsibilities of the team, the experience of the team, the, the comfort of the team, you know, but uh what about, what about um engaging virtual team members in meetings where some folks are not virtual, you know, some are, it’s a hybrid meeting, somebody some half a dozen are in the office and three or four are, are virtual. You have strategies for engaging those, those virtual folks so that they don’t feel left out. I mean, they, they’re one dimension on a screen in the meeting room. And meanwhile the other, the dozen people or so are chatting pleasantly among themselves and essentially ignoring the one dimensions. See, it’s interesting because I’ve had a couple of conversations about hybrid situations and at 10 and at NTC right now, and I think the there isn’t really a consensus on it, but there’s an, um, there’s a reality in which to be completely honest that the conversation, to be honest with nonprofit radio listeners. Ok, perfect. There is a reality in which the conversations that you are having virtually, if other people are in the room, um, you know, in person, the conversations you’re going to be having with them are just simply not going to be as rich. That’s just what I’ve noticed so far. And, you know, in talking to a lot of folks at NTC, you know, folks are saying, you know, I think that sometimes it just makes better sense all the conferences that they’ve been to over the years, especially after COVID, they’ve been most successful when they are all virtual or all. Um, we’re all in person, the hybrid ones are challenging to facilitate. Um So I guess I don’t have a great answer for that. But, um, it is, I think just caveat that with the reality, right? The conversations you have are probably just not going to be as rich and consciousness raising. You know, you bring in those folks whenever you can. It’s just, and I’ve been on the virtual side, um, it feel, it feels a little excluded. You know, it’s nothing intentional. It’s just that there, it’s not the same experience, you know, it’s just, you know, you’re not there, you’re not there, you’re there virtually, but that’s not there when people are, people are in the room, not when it’s all virtual. I mean, that’s a different dynamic. And how do you get your hand up and, you know, you get your voice heard, make sure everybody speaks and that’s a different dynamic. Uh Yeah, I’m talking about the hybrid meeting. It doesn’t feel so good on the virtual end. OK. Well, at least you’re, you’re honest. I mean, there isn’t really a great answer. It’s just not the same. So that’s, you have to be intentional to bring the team together, you know, whatever, semiannually quarterly. So that, so that the virtual folks do feel included just maybe not in the interim meetings, but they don’t feel excluded 100% of the time. Yeah, I think I would feel irresponsible saying, you know, you can make the experience amazing because, you know, there are just nuggets of conversations you have by the water cooler or when you go to Happy hour after something that just enriches the conversation you simply can’t have when you’re virtual again. But that’s why you need to be intentional about bringing the team together in person. I guess, to me, if I was a CEO at least annually, but even that doesn’t sound like I feel like enough, but semi annual, I mean, obviously there are budget constraints around that too, but it’s a challenge. I mean, everybody’s struggling with it. I think still, I think, I mean, things are emerging, you know, we have emerged and models have emerged. I’m just not sure that they’re uh they’re as successful as they could be. In some cases. I think some of some of the choice we’ve made, you were kind of getting at it. Um But I think you wanted to ask you or you kind of assume, you know, there probably isn’t like a strict, hard and fast rule for how often, you know, team should be meeting. And I would agree, I think it really comes down to the needs of the organization. But what I will say is paramount is creating that predictability, creating that regularity, you might not meet as an all staff, um except for once a year, but maybe you have a quarterly virtual three hour meeting strategy meeting every quarter, right? And that’s something that people look forward to, they’re aware it’s happening. That’s when you’re going to get to strategize, that’s when you get to the bigger picture Exactly. And it’s on the calendar. People are aware. Yeah. So I’d say creating confidence in how you use your meeting time is really more valuable than, you know, all the bells and whistles of an in person meeting or all the bells and whistles of a virtual meeting. Just get the basics right first. You know, more tips. Oh, my goodness. What, let’s see. I talked through the ways of the roles and responsibilities, Matrix, I talked through the meetings, the risks. You know, I think a really great tool that folks can use is any kind of infrastructure tool, documentation that your team feels like is the master hub. And when I say master hub, it just means it’s this one key resource that you redirect folks to over and over and over again. It’s probably got to be a little bit more robust than your slack channel. Um For certain teams, you know, Google Docs with your running notes, with your roles and responsibilities, your project plans could be sufficient, especially if you’re in a smaller team. Um And then if you’re on a bigger team, a cross functional team, um you might want to invest in a dedicated project management tool like a Sauna or Trello or click up. But I wouldn’t necessarily jump to a tool to solve some team management problems right away. I think just really, especially if folks are, for example, if folks in your team have low project management tool literacy right. It just makes more sense to get them comfortable. The most basic Google sheets or basic trackers in Google Docs to start, right? So you really got to evaluate your needs. But the key tenant here that I emphasize is just redirecting folks to this one place, keeping it updated every week, right? So that everyone knows this is where you go to get your information shared. I mean, that becomes part of a shared culture, even exactly expectations, you know, everything that that document covers, everybody knows that they can rely on that. It’s a, it’s a common resource culture. Yeah, but uh important to talk about. Alright. Alright. Um You had something in your session description about codifying best practice, best practices in a simple team ways of working guide that sounds related to what we just talked about is that is that essentially is that it? Yeah. So the team ways of working guide and when I did my presentation, I essentially split up the tools that I was recommending in two different categories. There are foundational operational tactics, tools, resources that you want to use that simply maintain the function of your team week by week. So that’s the foundational operations and there are project specific tools that you want to use, right? And so for the project specific tools, that’s when we get into work plans, that’s when we get into um you know, who is the manager, the owner? It’s called the Moca matrix manager, owner, consultant, helper approver on a specific project on a specific deliverable, but you need the basic foundation. Yeah, I know, I it’s actually from the Management Center, I can’t take credit for that, but you need the basic foundation in place before you you can activate for these different big projects, right? And so the ways of working guide is such an example and that to me is the baseline, you codify, this is who’s on my team. This is what they are responsible, this is how we work together, this is how often we meet. So all the resources that I mentioned are in that way, working guide. All the resources that I mentioned that are foundational operational resources, not necessarily project specific resources are in that way as a working guide because it sets both the expectation, but it also sets a culture as well for how you’re going to work together and that’s not project specific that is about managing your team. Yeah. Hi, Kim. So why don’t you leave us with some final motivation and uplifting thoughts about, you know, these, these easy tools for getting your team to the next level? Yeah, I would, you know, I think I started my presentation saying this um the 2023 report from the Center for effective philanthropy, I think they say 63 or 68% of nonprofit leaders, you know, they’re really concerned with burnout. Um And I think that has only been exacerbated by the economic downturn. COV ID 19 folks really need the services that folks in our nonprofit sector are providing. Um And I think when we do mission driven work, um we feel this need to just spend all the time that we can and work the long hours that we need to because our work is so mission critical, it’s so important. And I think the biggest thing I’ll say is social impact does not have to come at the expense of our well being. We do our best work when we are our best. And when you are a manager, a team lead, a department leader, you have the, you have the opportunity, but honestly, also the responsibility to set that team culture around well being around operational excellence, right? And so that’s what I would really encourage every nonprofit middle manager, department leader to walk away doing. You got four or five tips, four or five tools you can use to really set your team up for success and um you know, improve their well being. That’s it, Kim, independent, strategic communications campaigns and operations consultant. I make sure that folks understand that it’s the three, the three, the three legs of your tripod, the three legs of your stool, the uh the three sails of the three masts on your uh on your schooner of your schooner, the three TYS on your fork. I don’t know. Everybody knows you got a big portfolio. Alright. Thank you very much for sharing. Thanks so much for having me, Tony and thank you for being with our coverage of the 2024 nonprofit technology conference hosted by N 10 where we are sponsored by Heller consulting technology strategy and implementation for nonprofits. Thanks for being with us next week. Matching gifts. 101201 and 301. If you missed any part of this week’s show, I beseech you find it at Tony martignetti.com. We’re sponsored by Virtuous. Virtuous, gives you the nonprofit CRM fundraising, volunteer and marketing tools. You need to create more responsive donor experiences and grow, giving. Virtuous.org. Our creative producer is Claire Meyerhoff. I’m your associate producer, Kate Martignetti. This show, social media is by Susan Chavez, Mark Silverman is our web guy and this music is by Scott Stein. Thank you for that affirmation. Scotty be with us next week for nonprofit radio. Big nonprofit ideas for the other 95% go out and be great.