Transcript Episode 118 – How Data Can Improve Your Bottom Line with Kaitlin Windle on The Prosperous Nonprofit
Stephanie Skryzowski: [00:00:00] Hey there. If you’re looking for the 100 degrees of entrepreneurship podcast, you’re in the right place. After a hundred amazing episodes, we’re changing things up to serve you the most inspiring content in a fresh new way. Thanks for being here and keep listening.
Welcome to the prosperous nonprofit. The podcast for leaders who are building financially sustainable and impactful nonprofits and changing the world. I’m Stephanie Kowski, a Chief financial Officer and founder and c e o of 100 Degrees Consulting. My personal mission is to empower leaders to better understand their numbers, to grow their impact and their income.
On this show, we talk to people who are leading the nonprofit sector in new, innovative, disruptive, and entrepreneurial ways, creating organizations that fuel their lives, their hearts, and their communities. Let’s dive in.[00:01:00]
Hey everybody. Welcome back to the show today. I am Stephanie, as you know, and I have somebody really exciting on the podcast today. I think she’s exciting because she is as obsessed with numbers and data and spreadsheets as I am. So in my conversation with Caitlin Wendell today, she’s the founder and c e O of abt, which is a data and analytics software that provides.
Automated fundraising and financial performance reports to philanthropic organizations. We talked all about the impact that data, like good, accurate, timely data and visualizing that data can have. So she talked about one organization where. She was able to provide them with really timely data to help guide their decision making. And they went from having a significant deficit to the largest surplus that they had ever had.
She talked about another organization whose fundraising reached newer heights than it ever had before because they had this [00:02:00] data at their fingertips and could use it to make decisions. So as you can imagine, she is like, A girl after my own heart. We had a great time chatting about all things finance and data and KPIs. and even if you’re not a numbers person, I think you’re gonna really like this episode. because just like I try to, she really makes numbers, you know, kind of easy to understand and it talks about them in a way that is friendly to everybody.
So Caitlin has, Worked with nonprofits for over the past 10 years, both in development and finance capacities. So I think that really gives her kind of an interesting take on things. because I feel like a lot of times finance is doing their thing, development’s doing their thing in the best of circumstances.
These two departments are working really well together and in the worst of circumstances, they’re not talking to each other at all. And that can be really challenging. So Caitlin has really experienced kind of working on both sides and that’s what she’s super passionate about, is helping finance and fundraising really work together.
Cuz at the end [00:03:00] of the day, we’re all working towards the same thing. So let me finish. That was kind of part of her bio. Prior to her work with nonprofits, Caitlin worked in private equity and investment banking for Pantheon in JP Morgan in New York City, and she’s a graduate of Indiana University, Kelly School of Business and the Jacob School of Music, where she majored in accounting, finance, international studies and ballet with a minor in.
Economics and so she also mentioned that she is a former professional ballerina, which we did not talk about at all. She mentioned that quickly in passing, but I think that just makes her a super interesting and well-rounded person. So I think you’re really going to enjoy this episode, and she gives us some really good.
Takeaways of some first actions that you can take if you want to have better data at your fingertips in your organization. So without further ado, let’s talk to Caitlin.
Hey everybody. Welcome back to the show. I am excited to have with me today on the show. Caitlin Wendell. [00:04:00] Caitlin,
Kaitlin Windle: welcome. Thank you so much for having me here. So I would
Stephanie Skryzowski: love to hear a little bit about what your company does and then also the path that led you to what you’re doing today.
Kaitlin Windle: Sure. So I started a company called Apt, A P T E, and what we do is we automate primarily fundraising and financial performance reports, uh, for nonprofits and independent schools.
And we automate those and push those to the leadership teams to be used for internal meetings And decision making purposes. And also for the board, um, really trying to push forward the nonprofit field to use data to have deci, you know, better decision making, be able to use data to drive strategy and really understand at the, you know, tip of your fingers or white glove service of, of how your organization’s [00:05:00] performing.
So, how did I get here? Yes, that’s, that’s, that’s the million dollar question. Um, so I started my career in finance after school. I went to JP Morgan, New York City, worked on Wall Street in investment banking, um, you know, mergers and acquisitions, IPOs, a hundred hour work weeks, and then moved into private equity.
Did that for six years. And I always knew I wanted to start something, but I wasn’t quite sure what my unique skillset was. Um, loved being in Excel. Loved data. Really found my niche even in private equity in, in the data side of really monitoring portfolio companies and, um, assimilating that data into visuals and.
I thought I would ski bum for six months, take a break, and then go to business school, and I found myself in Aspen, Colorado [00:06:00] and wanted to ski Bum, but instead I fell into the role of D Development director for the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, which is a world renowned contemporary ballet company. And this was kind of going full circle back to my roots because prior to working in investment banking, I was a professional ballerina.
So I kind of felt like I was coming home, but also applying my skillset of what I had learned towards fundraising, uh, for a ballet company. So it really was amazing to feel like I’m, I’m home again, and, and with my people, you know, in more of an artistic sense. But really on day one, I opened up their C R m Razor’s Edge from Black bod and I was like, wow, you know, looks like it was built on, you know, the nineties and you know, really just, it’s a static way to capture information, which everyone needs the C R M, but I was like, how are we really performing?
And so I pulled out, Every, all the [00:07:00] data, dumped it into Excel and applied my investment banking skillset of, okay, let’s actually analyze this and look at trends and where the history was. And really it was just for myself to get a handle on what things were, you know, how things were going with the organization.
Really I did these, you know, manual Excel line graphs of plotting different campaigns, different donor types over time. And, you know, printed them a legal size paper and the executive director was like, this is the best thing I’ve ever seen. Oh my goodness. You know, it’s because everything else was really sticky notes, you know, this person, a sticky note of this person gave 10,000 yesterday.
And you know, I was like, this, this can’t be how we do this. Um, and really we started doing that. I would do, I mean, it was a pretty time consuming process to do it manually. So I’d do it quarterly. We would print up these line graphs. Taped them to the wall and really within, within one year, by [00:08:00] tracking, really having a visual of tracking where we were.
We actually had our best fundraising year ever. Um, and then I went to another nonprofit, more on the finance side. They had just experienced their biggest operating deficit. I kind of applied the same things. My investment banking skillset started looking at their history, their expenses, diving in. Doing some very preliminary forecasting and within six months they went from the worst operating deficit they had to their best operating surplus.
And so really seeing how just some simple data driven analytics can. Delight the leadership teams. Wow, the board move the needle towards strategy. Not what are we doing, but why and how are we doing it? And that’s really where it’s like I can affect change. And so we, um, you know, we started APT and now we have some tech to [00:09:00] automate it.
It’s not a manual process, but really we do the white glove delivery for nonprofits and independent schools so that they, they have this at their fingertips.
Stephanie Skryzowski: That’s amazing. I love that you saw, um, the need firsthand and it’s amazing that you had the skillset to be able to like solve that problem sort of on the spot, doing it all manually, and then working on solving that problem more at scale for organizations.
Do you find that this is still a challenge for all types of nonprofits, or are you focusing more on smaller nonprofits that maybe don’t have like, It’s the highest level of systems or in-house staff to help with some of this, like data visualization and decision making or is it, are you still seeing this kind of across the board in the sector?
Kaitlin Windle: I’m seeing this across the board in the sector. Um, sometimes I’m really surprised when I get on the phone with the a hundred million dollar plus operating budget nonprofits and they still say, You know, we have a data team, we don’t really know on a [00:10:00] day-to-day basis of where annual fund is. And that’s at, you know, the university level.
I’ve heard that. And um, you know, we don’t have a great way of tracking different things. Um, you know, and we just had a customer reach out to us and say, we just lost our data person. And they were doing him manual. KPIs and they’re not gonna replace that person because, you know, I think human capital is the most important thing at nonprofits, but it doesn’t always make sense to have a data person, you know, the best data people.
The reality is they probably aren’t going to be at a nonprofit because you go to a nonprofit because you’re excited about the mission, not necessarily because you wanna be doing the data. Um, and for a fraction of the cost, you know, we. Are replacing that person. And so I’m really excited about that. It’s not that we’re trying to displace jobs, it’s, we’re trying to fill the gap in a more operationally efficient way for nonprofits.[00:11:00] So the dollars can be, be spent on the fundraising team, on the core, people that really can drive the organization forward. Um, and not necessarily on someone who’s, who’s doing the data. Um, you know, cuz when they leave they have no one that can do it and that doesn’t help anyone either. Mm-hmm.
Stephanie Skryzowski: That’s so interesting.
Can you help connect the dots for us? So an organization you mentioned like the two examples of the organizations where you worked, um, taking that data. Compiling it, visualizing it, being able to analyze it, which resulted in no more deficit surplus, best fundraising year. Like what are the dots in between?
So how did those organizations actually use that data and to to take action? What are the actions that they took based on the data that they saw? Like what happened in between? Because that’s, I mean, Oh my gosh. I’m sure you talk about this when you’re telling your software and your services, but I’m like, okay, that’s what I wanna know.
Like what? What happened in between? [00:12:00]
Kaitlin Windle: Right. So I am very passionate about just making nonprofits more sustainable, transparent, and ultimately impactful. And I think when you have this layer of transparency of this is what’s going on in the organization, and you present it accordingly to the board, you then have better.
Conversations of, oh no, we can’t do this right now because we’re already over on expenses. Let’s table that for next year, um, and revisit that and put it into the budget for next year. Rather than making these ad hoc decisions midyear or this campaign blew things out of the water, we don’t have to wait till next year to do this initiative.
We actually can do it now because we’ve surpassed expectations. So it’s the decision making using real time data versus, you know, Half the time you go to boards and it’s like, oh, this [00:13:00] is how we’re, this is our latest financials, but doesn’t include X, Y, and Z. Or you know, we just have the gala. So, you know, and then the board’s like, oh, we have no idea what’s going on.
Stephanie Skryzowski: true. Yes,
Kaitlin Windle: so true. I’ve heard that time and time again and, and it’s just having. It’s avoiding the surprises. Um, that I think really helps people say, are we on track to our goals or not? And if you have a very clear picture, you can then act accordingly. Right? So it’s like, Okay, maybe we need to pull back on expenses.
Maybe we can’t hire this person just, just yet, or maybe we can’t start this initiative just yet. Or maybe we can, and this initiative is, is is what’s going to help move the needle forward, but it’s allowing the board and the leadership teams to actually have those conversations rather than being confused as to where they stand and operating kind of in a black hole vacuum.
Of, okay, this, this solves, this is [00:14:00] mission driven, so we’re gonna, we’re gonna make this strategic decision now when really maybe it should be in three months and six months and should be planned for slated in your projections, et cetera. So it’s kind of this feel like it’s this waterfall effect of really moving the, the conversation again from what to why and how.
Why are we. Under or overperforming. And then how are we going to address it or how are we going to change our initiatives to react accordingly?
Stephanie Skryzowski: Uh, yeah, I mean, I, I feel like I’ve been to so many board meetings that it’s like we’re having a board meeting in March, but we’re reviewing December financials.
Well, that’s great, but also not because like, that was three months ago. Who cares where we were at in December? Like what’s important is where we are right now. And so I love that idea of having more real time data because I think what I’m hearing you say is like, it allows the organization to be more proactive versus [00:15:00] reactive.
If we’re looking at. Old data, um, because it takes us so long to like compile it or, you know, pull it out of the donor database or whatever. We’re much more reactive versus proactive. And I love that you pointed out the transparency allows the board and leadership to have better conversations. And I talk about transparency a lot too, and that when you are transparent about your numbers, With of course, the right audience.
That audience is then so much more like bought into what you’re doing, so much more engaged, which like. Yeah, we want the board more engaged. Yes. We want the leadership team and our staff more engaged. So I love that you sort of made that connection as well. I think that’s super important. I’d love to talk about building budgets because I know that you have sort of a fresh way of thinking about building budgets based on strategy, and I know that like.
To most nonprofit leaders building their budget, it is just a [00:16:00] box that they have to check. We need a budget. It has to be approved by the board. We’ll put it into QuickBooks and like it’s something that we have to do. I. And so I would love to hear how you’re kind of taking a fresh look at the budget process with a more strategic lens.
Kaitlin Windle: Sure. How much time do we have? No,
um, the budget is really the most important to me. Obviously coming from finance, but I wasn’t fundraising. It’s one of the most important things you can do each year because it can set the stage. It’s a time to recalibrate, It’s the time to look at how did we do. This past year against expectations, what was right, what was wrong.
If you do it properly, you can come within dollars, you know, of a budget. Um, but it takes time and it’s a bottoms up approach. I see a lot of budgets where a lot of line items are last [00:17:00] year’s expense, and it’s divided by 12. Or last year’s revenue divided by 12. I think to me the most important thing about a budget is to keep it simple.
And when you have something divided by 12, you often get these random, not round numbers. You have, you know, some expense has like it’s. $14,722 and 88 cents. Well, it’s kind of just, just make it 15,000, you know? Um, I really love clean, simple, round numbers and budgets because it helps people remember certain numbers.
Our revenue goal is, 2 million, not 1.89. You know, a number, you can’t remember our expenses are. This kind of circling back to your last question on, you know, what, what were things that really specific steps we took to have turnarounds? It kind of goes [00:18:00] into the budgeting process of looking at your curves.
And you don’t need to do this for every single account, but you know, it’s the preto principle. 20% makes up 80% so. Look at your biggest 20% line items and really look at their curves. Look at what happened in March of last year, what happened in August? How did things flow? And if you see a spike in a specific quarter, um, you know, with one organization, it’s like all of your cash flows are coming in the last four months of your fiscal year.
And if you don’t have better visibility starting out, And everything’s coming in in the last four months, how are you gonna know how you’re gonna end the year? I mean, there’s, there’s just no way. And then by the second to last week of the year, you’re scrambling in to get all these donations and you’ve had no visibility.
And so that was again, part of the budgeting process and seeing those curves and saying, [00:19:00] we really need to figure out a way to move cash flows forward in the year. A, this is gonna help with our sustainability. And B is gonna give us visibility so that the last three months of the year, you’re focusing on how are we performing?
And if we’re under budget, then we can take the necessary steps. Look for that major gift, look for a grant where, Where we need to supplement the budget. Maybe we need to watch our expenses for three months. Um, but it was moving the cashflow timing forward. It’s like, okay, our gala event is the last four months of the year.
And then also for all of our board dues renewals were, I was like, let’s move the board dues forward to the first part of the year. And that really just helped change the entire cashflow problem of the organization. But that was through looking at. The curves and really projecting so that you have a handle on where your cash is at [00:20:00] any given time.
And so those are some of the things I, I could go into more about how to effectively use endowment draws if you have an endowment. I personally believe if you cannot budget for endowment, it’s a great. Way to have a buffer in your operating budget. And I also really believe in budgeting for operating surpluses and, and building in, um, kind of your base case scenario of things can go wrong.
So let’s, let’s put some buffer into, into different accounts and then knowing your growth, if you’re okay, we raised 1.5 million last year. We wanna raise 2 million next year. That’s an arbitrary growth number. So what, how are you going to, what is the strategy? Is it $500,000 gifts? Is it a different campaign?
you know, how are you actually going to do that? It’s like, oh, well, it just seemed like a nice growth number. Well, you need to actually have the strategy behind it. And that’s where [00:21:00] finance and fundraising really need to have that symbiotic relationship of being on the same page of what is the strategy and what are the plans, and then again, reporting on it, um, to the board and being, having everyone on the same page of, of the growth strategy.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Yes. Oh my gosh, you’re speaking my language. I feel like everybody listening has probably heard me like beat all of these things to death. So it’s hearing it from a new person. See, I am not like obsessed with this for no reason. This is really important stuff. So I love, like I. I love hearing that from somebody else.
This idea of like, okay, let’s not set arbitrary numbers in our budget. We need a plan for it. And I talk about, you know, often having your expense budget align with your strategic plan as well. So like, if your strategic plan you’re planning on doing, you know, X, Y, Z programs, well let’s make sure we actually have the budget for those.
Uh, like the adequate budget in our, in our budget so that we can actually do what we said we’re gonna do. [00:22:00] Um, so I loved, and I completely agree with everything that you’re talking about, um, when it comes to budgeting and really looking at previous years data to be able to help you plan effectively for the following year.
One thing that I don’t actually do with our clients, But, uh, that I think is really interesting is like having round numbers for your budget as almost like it, I feel like it kind of helps with, with your mindset and really helping you be able to focus a little bit easier on the budget. Because you’re right, if you’re like, Okay, I’m gonna raise a hundred thousand dollars from individuals and we just take a hundred thousand dollars divided by 12.
So, okay, we need to raise $8,333 and 33 cents every month. And you’re like, wait. Well that’s stupid. Let’s just say we wanna raise $9,000 a month from, you know, from individuals or whatever, or even on the expense side. Okay? We have, you know, a $10,000 budget for. Office supplies. All right, well that’s $833.
Like, that’s stupid. Just you have a thousand [00:23:00] dollars a month. That’s it. So I, I like that. And that’s not something that I, that I do, I feel like we, you know, when I build budgets, I’m like, okay, we’ve got, you know, our, our annual budget, and then when we divide it, we do divide it by 12. You know, the annual budget has like a, you know, there’s a strategy behind it or like, You know, we know that we need X, Y, Z and it makes up this number, but then we just divide by 12.
But then you get weird numbers. So I, I like that. I think I will, I’ll try that. And so does your, um, does your software, does apt, does that help with some of this stuff? Because for you and I, when this is like our life and we live and breathe the numbers and we love data and we love analysis and we love spreadsheets, it’s like, oh yeah, we could just like talk happily about this all day long.
But there’s probably a lot of people listening that are like, Okay. This feels very overwhelming. Like, where do I begin? Does Apt like help with some of this stuff? Or, or where would you say would be a good place for a nonprofit leader to
Kaitlin Windle: begin? Sure. [00:24:00] Um, my whole, my whole mission and passion is to serve.
Nonprofit leaders in a way to actually empower them. And where we solve it is we’re taking that opportunity, cost of time, of someone manually creating board reports. I, you know, I. I’ve never heard of a someone that loved doing their board reports, um, where it was this fun and exciting process. It’s this manual, cumbersome process.
A lot of time goes into it. Um, we’re trying to take that burden off of, uh, Individuals so that they can focus on what they’re good at. Um, you know, fundraising shouldn’t be running reports from behind a computer. It should be engaging with donors. Um, and so we’re really trying to take that burden and so we help with the analytics and that’s what we do.
Um, when someone comes to us for budgeting. You know, [00:25:00] we can refer them to consultants that we think are really good at it. We’re starting to push content on, you know, best practices for certain things. Um, and, you know, A side effect of being a white glove, you know, delivery service of, of dashboard reports is we do advise on, you know, on different things.
Like, Hey, we think this could be better, or this is falling behind, or, you know, your data’s really clean. Or, um, we, we have some work to do here, so. We do help with that. We do take that burden off of nonprofits because I, again, I, I personally believe in freeing up people’s time to move the organization forward and fulfill their mission.
Um, and so we wanna take that burden on of actually doing the reports and the analytics.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah, I think that’s huge because I, I do think you’re right that that is a huge pain point, and it’s like a lot of times also the board reports or whatever reports the organization puts together for whatever purpose, it’s [00:26:00] like that was inherited from the person before you or the person before them.
And it just gets into like, this is how we’ve always done it and. They end up being like, not that useful, a pain to put together. And I, I feel like, you know, half the time the, the recipient is not really even looking at them anyway, so I love that you kind of have this fresh like, Okay, let’s pull the right data together in the right way.
Yeah, I think that’s awesome.
Do you feel a bit clueless when it comes to your nonprofit’s financial health numbers aren’t your strong suit and you feel in the dark as to whether or dot your organization has the financial foundation to be around for the long haul. Financial health and sustainability is about more than just how much cash you have in the bank.
It can be confusing to know which numbers mean what, so I’ve created the financial health checkup for you. This simple spreadsheet will walk you through five important financial metrics that will give you a crystal clear picture [00:27:00] of how your organization stacks up. And the best part is no math required.
Head over to 100 degrees consulting.com/health to get your financial health checkup.
I feel like the, the work that you’re doing. Is a little bit innovative and fresh in the nonprofit sector where, okay, like, yes, we all have data. We all like have our financials, but the way that you’re kind of pulling it together in your approach is different than I think what we see at a lot of organizations.
Are you pulling a lot of what you did in, you know, on Wall Street and in your finance career? Is that kind of pulling into what you’re doing today?
Kaitlin Windle: A hundred percent I feel like I’ve become the investment banker for, for nonprofits. Um, you know, but it’s really, again, it’s to empower leadership teams to have, know their numbers and feel comfortable with their numbers.
Not be up till 2:00 AM [00:28:00] scrambling before a board meeting. They should be able to, Be, you know, in more of a zen type state before a board meeting where they’re really focused on what the, what the conversation should be versus everything they need, all the materials they need to compile. I’m very much a fan of keeping it simple.
Um, let’s keep it simple, let’s standardize it and let’s automate it. So we’ve removed that friction and. Really, it’s to empower leaders to feel comfortable with their numbers because, oh, you know, that’s maybe not, like you said, some people are listening to this and they feel overwhelmed. Where do they even start?
It’s. Well, we start by knowing your numbers and if that’s made easier for you. I’ve, you know, a lot of people are saying, I actually feel really comfortable now communicating with the board and presenting to the board because I have this support. And so, yeah, I think, I think we are kind of bringing the investment banking side and really [00:29:00] empower, again, empowering nonprofits from a business perspective.
Um, which sometimes gets a little bit left behind when we’re so busy focusing on fulfilling our mission. Yeah.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah. And I find that, um, a lot of nonprofit leaders are very overwhelmed because they’re wearing all the hats, and so as a result, they’re not able to show up as their best self, as the highest version of them to.
Their work to board meetings, to interactions. So like you said, instead of staying up till two o’clock in the morning, like pulling together these reports, they’re coming in with, you know, with a much stronger, um, presence because they’re not like, you know, doing something that is outside of their comfort zone or skillset or whatever because they’ve got the tools to kind of help them do that.
And I just feel like that is, Everyone that I’m talking to on this show is coming, you know, is working in the nonprofit sector in different ways, but the common thread that I’m seeing is that nonprofit leaders [00:30:00] are overwhelmed and burnt out. Yes. And so as a result, they cannot show up as the highest version of themselves, and that is really.
Not like that’s certainly doing a detriment to them, but also to the mission and to the cause, and that’s where the impact really is. And I feel like we’re all in this work to have an impact, but if you can’t show up as a best version of yourself, then you’re not having the impact that you could. And so I love that your work is helping people show up as better leaders.
I think that’s, yeah, I think that’s awesome.
Kaitlin Windle: I couldn’t have said it better. Better,
Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah, exactly. And you know, I know that your work is all about building a sustainable organization, and that’s what I talk about all the time as well. And I feel like the key to a sustainable organization is one that has a really strong financial foundation. So do you wanna talk a little bit more about.
What it looks like to [00:31:00] have a sustainable organization.
Kaitlin Windle: Yes, I would love to. I think, you know, we really want to have kind of a new dialogue around what a sustainable organization looks like. And to me it’s not just, uh, meeting your budget numbers, but maybe exceeding them. How can we use different things to, to achieve our goals and.
To me, human capital is one of the most, value is the most valuable part of a nonprofit organization. And I think sometimes we forget about that. Nonprofit organizations don’t exist without the people supporting them on their mission, either from the fundraising, the finance, and obviously the most important, the program engagement side, and I think metrics kind of.
GuideStar is a charity navigator. You know, uh, having those ratings, it’s, I think sometimes a little bit [00:32:00] misleading on the ratings on how much you’re spending on personnel expenses. I think people get really worried about those things, but you need to be paying the best people that are living, breathing your mission, and you need to be making sure that they’re motivated and.
That’s done through paying them, celebrating wins. Um, I often see, like you said, leaders, the leadership team’s often really burnt out. If you’re burnt out, you’re wearing too many hats. You don’t have time to celebrate your team and celebrate the wins. And so for me it’s how do we change the conversation of what sustainable is?
It’s. You don’t want team turnover. You want people really engaged and motivated. And so like you said, your strategic plan, your budget needs to align with the team, the team morale. How are you? [00:33:00] Having those wins, are you celebrating them? Are you pushing and elevating people forward? And then, so I think sometimes things get lost.
They’re like, we’re so focused on expenses and no personnel can’t grow by more than 3% a year or, um, How do we change that conversation? How do we think about employee performance in a different way? Um, nonprofits are slightly different from a business in terms of employee performance. You don’t necessarily have a sales team that can get commission, but you need to really elevate your team.
And really, the most cohesive teams are the ones that are performance driven, motivated by the mission and the leader. You know, we’re not on a rudderless ship of where we don’t know where we are from a budget perspective. We know where we’re going. We know what the team needs to be. And so I think, um, we really need to start changing the conversation of how valuable the team [00:34:00] members are and, and what that team makeup should look like and how they’re being fostered during the year because, It’s a grind.
I mean, nonprofits can be a grind. You start, oftentimes you start over. I mean, from a fundraising perspective, you start from zero every year it feels like. And you know, you have to climb the mountain every year, and then sometimes you get there, sometimes you don’t, And, and, and when you get there, it’s often not celebrated.
And so, um, really trying to change that dialogue and also change the metrics of, of, you know, what. How much you’re spending. I mean, human capital is what makes a nonprofit organization. Mm-hmm.
Stephanie Skryzowski: That’s so interesting, especially your point about like, you know, the Charity Navigator ratings, they don’t take people into account because that’s not something that organizations are consistently measuring, but you’re right that people are at the center of.
An organization [00:35:00] like who cares how, you know, how much cash you have in the bank? If you have three month reserve or a nine month reserve if your people are miserable and like, Quitting because they can’t take care of themselves or because they’re not being paid a living wage or whatever. That’s really interesting that that’s not really taken into account at all.
Um, do you see any organizations really doing this well and like really taking care of, you’re shaking your head. I was gonna say like really taking care of their people in a meaningful way, and if so, what are they doing? But maybe, maybe you don’t have any examples.
Kaitlin Windle: I see bits and pieces of it, which, you know, gives me hope.
Employee turnover is time consuming and expensive. Mm-hmm. And it’s going to distract you from your mission. And if you have that, just constant distraction of employee turnover, I. How are you going to be sustainable? I don’t, I just, one plus one does, you know, [00:36:00] it just doesn’t add up. Um, and I, I hear this from board members a lot and so it’s something that I’ve really started to think about on how.
The team and the personnel behind it and keep retaining them how important it is to create a sustainable organization. I think that dialogue is not something I hear often, I do know some organizations where, you know, people have been loyal, um, have been there for many, many years. I don’t see a lot of turnover.
And I think that’s, that should be our next conversation, is I need to sit down with them and say, how are you doing this? So, you know, how are you keeping your team for so long? Um, and, and why? And I think, and I see it in the numbers, um, I can think of one organization. I haven’t seen any turnover that we’ve been working with for a while, and they’re consistently exceeding expectations from a financial and fundraising [00:37:00] perspective.
And so the proof is in the pudding right there. What is the magic sauce to do that? I think it’s really having a strong leader that’s focused on the team and the mission, and not wearing too many hats is. Again, keeping it simple, focusing on what matters and not focusing on what doesn’t matter. Mm-hmm.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah, that’s huge. I would love to see some more stats and some more data on like how employee turnover or lack thereof is correlated with financial success and what that link is, like you said, what’s that special sauce that’s like making this happen? Yeah. That’s so interesting, and like I said, everyone that I’ve talked to, For this show and just otherwise, conversations recently are like, it’s all about the people and we’re not taking care of our people in a way that is meaningful to them.
And I was thinking, you know, I know as entrepreneurs and kind of in the, you know, business owners space, it’s very normal [00:38:00] to invest tens of thousands of dollars into a business coach, into a mastermind. Into like ongoing professional development and it’s like pulling teeth to get a nonprofit leader to invest a thousand dollars into a course or something.
Like, it’s just, there’s not that same value there. And I just, I wonder why, and I wonder how we can change that.
Kaitlin Windle: I think, you know, performance reviews are important and. And the most important thing is to have a five year strategic plan and have employee morale and retention as part of your strategic plan.
That should be a very important part of the strategic plan. And each person needs to feel like they’re a stakeholder in that strategic plan. And I think that, I see that really can motivate people. Um, they get excited, you know, when they’re achieving their goals and it’s. Shows up on the strategic plan at X, Y, and [00:39:00] Z achieve these five benchmarks.
And so I think it, it, it is really important and it’s something that gets lost and maybe it’s, we start with promoting that every strategic plan should have an employee morale performance review and retention piece to it.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Hmm. I love that. And I think attaching some numbers to that, like can we have some actual KPIs related to our team?
Because I feel like. Financial data, obviously very important. Yes, expenses and revenue. And I feel like maybe not most, most organizations that we work with have those financial goals and those KPIs, and then we’ve also got programmatic KPIs because a lot of times we need that programmatic data in order to apply for funding and grants and things and to be able to show our impact.
So we’ve got our programmatic KPIs, but we don’t have. The same level of KPIs and, and metrics and the way that we’re measuring our employees [00:40:00] happiness and success and if they’re thriving or not. Um, do you see, like, what are some, so I think retention is one that you’ve mentioned. Are there other like employee related KPIs that you think are, are good for nonprofits to be looking at?
Kaitlin Windle: I think it’s, um, salary growth is definitely one. Um, how are you rewarding your, your top performers and how are you assessing your top performers? And so I think, you know, what’s the K p I for happiness, but, um, you know, I think it’s having a two-way feedback. You know, getting feedback from employees, maybe sending out anonymous surveys, um, where people feel like they’re in a comfortable space to give feedback, um, and really.
Staying out in front of the ball on making sure you are, you’re not going to run into surprises with some of your key personnel. [00:41:00] And I think deep down, every leader gut feel knows when they’re missing the mark. Um, but whether or not they’re going to do something about it, you know, that’s the harder thing to do.
And, you know, thinking about. What are those KPIs? And they may differ for different organizations based off the mission, but for fundraising, maybe it’s, you wanna make sure that person’s out there having meetings. Maybe is how many meetings did you have this month? Um, or how many phone calls and how, like where’s the human interaction?
You know, that really is what’s driving that person in that position anyways, I don’t know a single fundraiser who joined not to go out and have meetings with donors and engage in the community. And how do you measure that for that specific employee? Mm-hmm.
Stephanie Skryzowski: I feel like a lot of times, you know, this type of conversation and thought around taking care of our staff isn’t afterthought and not because we don’t care about our team.
Like you said, like [00:42:00] leaders, we care. Leaders care. Um, they often have this sort of gut feeling or pulse on how things are going, but not like that data. Not that data, and I just did, I just record another episode with my friend Krista, who’s a grant writer, and she’s been in the sector for a long time and she was like, if nonprofits are not.
Taking care of their employees. If they’re not paying their employees a living wage, if they don’t have the money to invest in like the foundation of the organization, like cut your programs, cut your programs, build the foundation, so then you can get the existing programs fully funded. You can make sure your team is paid, you can make sure everyone’s taking care of, like that’s the foundation that’s going to lead to a sustainable organization that’s making an impact like, Decades from now, but if you are just doing so much that you can’t take care of these foundational things like cut your programs, I was like, whoa, that is some tough love.
But it’s so true, um, that if we’re not focusing on these foundational elements, like the impact that we [00:43:00] wanna have from the program side of things, it’s gonna be short-lived cuz we’re not gonna be around and we’re not gonna have that really high quality talent that’s so passionate about what we do. So, Awesome.
Okay. So if, if nonprofits are like, yes, I’m all about the data. Where do I start? What do I do? Where, where do they start? What do they do? That’s like some actionable, actionable, uh, steps for our listeners.
Kaitlin Windle: Yeah, so, you know, you can reach out to, to us where I’m always happy to take the phone call, um, you know, kind of advise on where, where you stand with your data, what, what the next steps might be.
Maybe it might not necessarily be our services, but, you know, happy to advise on, oh, you have X, Y, and Z issues, Maybe it’s a simple fix. or Maybe, maybe the finances are a mess and they need to call you, but you know, Feel anyone can feel free to reach out. But also if you have someone in-house that can do this for you, say, okay, let’s, you [00:44:00] know, take a pause, take a step back, look at things from a financial perspective or from a fundraising perspective.
Let’s get a handle on, on some of our trends. You know, we can do that in house or, or people can happily reach out to me. Awesome.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Thank you so much. Well, the last question that I like to ask all of our guests is, what does a prosperous nonprofit look like to you?
Kaitlin Windle: One that is fulfilling its mission. In a way that, um, is sustainable for the long term.
And that means, um, they know where they’re going. They have the guideposts and the support in place to do that. Um, from, uh, Just kind of wrapping it in all the pieces that we just talked about into our conversation, the, the team and the support to elevate the, the mission of the organization. And so [00:45:00] if they’re fulfilling their mission, um, whatever that mission may be.
From education to arts and culture. Um, and they’re out there, you know, it doesn’t have to be a big nonprofit, but they’re operating in a sustainable way. Their expenses aren’t bloated and they’re able to reinvest any operating surplus at the end of the day, back into their programs and into the people in the mission of the organization.
To me, that is, that is a prosperous nonprofit.
Stephanie Skryzowski: I love that. That’s beautiful. Thank you. Well, Caitlin, thank you so much for joining me today. Thank you for sharing all of your wisdom and just appreciate you so much. So if our listeners want to, um, wanna find you or wanna learn more about apt, where
Kaitlin Windle: should they go?
I. You can find me, uh, just at my email, Caitlin, k a i tl i n app.io, or you can go to our email@example.com, um, book. You can book a meeting right from [00:46:00] our website and we’re happy to do kind of a free consultation, uh, for any of your listeners on next steps for data.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Amazing. Oh my gosh. Everybody needs to go take advantage of this.
Go check out ABT and reach out to Caitlin to learn more about how this can help your organization bring more data and more clarity, and really help you be a better leader. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Caitlin. It was great to chat. Thank
Kaitlin Windle: you so much, Stephanie.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Before you go, I just wanna thank you for being here. To access our show notes and bonus content, visit 100 degrees podcast.com. That’s 100 degrees podcast.com, and I’ll see you next time.