Transcript Episode 132 – Strengthening Donor Relationships and Overcoming Challenges with Dr. Mark Scott on The Prosperous Nonprofit
Stephanie Skryzowski: [00:00:00] Welcome to the prosperous nonprofit, the podcast for leaders who are building financially sustainable and impactful nonprofits and changing the world. I’m Stephanie Skrzewski, a chief financial officer and founder and CEO 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.
Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the prosperous nonprofit. I’m Stephanie and I have a really interesting guest on the podcast today because he does not work for a nonprofit, but he works for a foundation. So we’re [00:01:00] kind of on the other side of the aisle today and it’s a really good conversation. I think you’re going to take so much away from this.
I’m talking to Dr. Mark Scott of the O’Shy foundation here in Buffalo, New York. He leads OSHI’s a philanthropic support practice that’s designed to strengthen and support the nonprofit ecosystem here in Western New York. So he enhances the capacity and work of grantee organizations and community partners by leading the foundation’s initiatives and leadership development, network building and convening.
And specifically working with leaders of color and the BIPOC community here in Western New York. And so what I think is really unique about Dr. Mark Scott and the work that he does is he’s entirely focused on building the infrastructure and capacity of nonprofit organizations. And he’s so passionate about.
His work and about providing unrestricted dollars and about providing support for financial management and [00:02:00] making sure that nonprofit leaders have the unrestricted dollars and the power that they need in order to do their work effectively. And so I have pages of notes from this episode because there’s just, he dropped so many gems.
I think you’re going to love it. And he gives some really good tips at the end. So I hope you’ll stick with us all about how nonprofit leaders can really build a solid relationship with their funders in order to ask for what they need. Right. And so that you can ask for that infrastructure, that overhead support that you need to run your organization effectively.
So he is a champion of all nonprofit leaders. He’s a. Especially passionate about nonprofits here in Western New York. And I think you’re going to love this episode. So without further ado, let’s go talk to Dr. Mark Scott.
Hey everybody, [00:03:00] welcome back to the Prosperous Nonprofit Podcast. And I’m really excited to be here today with Dr. Mark Scott from the O’Shea Foundation. Mark welcome.
Dr. Mark Scott: Good to be with you. Thank you for having me this morning.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah, so I’m really excited to talk to you today. We have done some collaboration over the last couple months, which we may may chat about as well.
And I think that the work that you’re doing with OSHAI is really sort of innovative in the nonprofit sector. So we’re definitely going to get into that. But first, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background and what you do
Dr. Mark Scott: now? Well, uh, hopefully I won’t put your listeners to sleep here, uh, talking about me, but yeah, so I’m a native of Niagara Falls, New York, and I say that proudly because we’ve certainly seen better days in Niagara Falls, but I’m a glass half full person, so I believe better days are ahead.
I’ve done a lot of kind of cool things in my career. First job out of college was at Walt Disney World. I worked at Epcot center as a manager there in, uh, in their [00:04:00] parks. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s pretty, pretty little, uh, interesting tidbit in my background. Uh, but then spent many years, uh, after that working in, uh, contracted services in the healthcare space, fast forward to.
Uh, early or late 90s, uh, spent some time at Canisius College working in their opportunity programs office, and it was amazing work, but we were always under threat of extinction because we were aligned in the state’s budget, uh, so I’m sure your listeners will appreciate that. I know you do. Stephanie and then again, return back to the contractor services space and just find myself always in the car, always on a plane, always on a train, covering multiple states, amazing work, amazing teams, amazing healthcare organizations, but I really wanted to quiet life down a little bit.
And so I searched for what I thought was a the perfect place for me and I found SUNY Geneseo, the State University of New York at [00:05:00] Geneseo. And so they had a posting for an executive director for campus auxiliary services. And the way I describe auxiliary services, at least in New York State, it’s all the things that students and parents don’t want to pay for.
Uh, service wise, they’re organized under separate 501c3 corporations at each state, uh, university campus. And so I ran that corporation and its affiliated entities, uh, for a little over 11 years. Uh, pretty big corporation, nearly 400 employees. Uh, collective, there was a collective bargaining agreement in place.
So there was a union as part of our group, uh, salaried labor, student labor, etc. A lot of moving parts. Amazing campus, amazing people, uh, and oh, by the way, I forgot to throw in along the way, I found time to get an MBA and a PhD, uh, I took kind of a leave of my senses, uh, somewhere, you know, sort of 20 year span.
And then as I was nearing sort of the completion of my PhD [00:06:00] studies, a great opportunity was presented out in Las Vegas as a CEO for the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas, not a Culinary Academy in a traditional sense. It’s an employee benefits organization that was created out of the collective bargaining agreement process between Culinary Union 225 and Bartenders Union 165 and the largest Uh, casino resort operators, uh, uh, in, in Las Vegas.
And so that organization was created to provide upscaling and rescaling, uh, for members covered under the collective bargaining agreement process. And we did that for free. Uh, and no, thank you to COVID found myself in a place where, uh, I wanted to come back home and I had some opportunities to do so.
And I’m at O’Shea as a result of making that, that change to go from Las Vegas. Back to Western New York. And so the work that I do with OSHAI is kind of twofold. One, I [00:07:00] run what we like to refer to as our consulting practice for nonprofits. We help them navigate through issues that range from challenges in the relationship between a board chair and an executive director.
All the way to, uh, oh, by the way, my finance and administration enterprise is a mess, and our financial house is on fire. Can you help us navigate through that? So I deal with the consulting practice on one side, and on the other piece is leadership development work, uh, primarily with the Bipo community here in, uh, in Western New York.
So, uh, I’ve been here, uh, since 2022. Uh, it’s, it’s amazing work. An amazing organization. Oshiza Foundation is the largest perpetual funding nonprofit in Western New York. Ralph Wilson’s a little bit larger, but they’re in Spendown, which is the way their foundation was created. But we are the largest perpetual foundation in the greater Western New York area.[00:08:00]
Stephanie Skryzowski: Awesome. Yeah. What an amazing journey. And I feel like that just gives you such a great perspective to support the nonprofit community here in Western New York. And I’ve had the pleasure of working with you at O’Shy and putting on this finance workshop. For nonprofits in Western New York over the last four months.
And one thing that really stuck out to me is your, like the way that you have really just been a champion for providing infrastructure support to nonprofits. Like I, we were talking last week and you know, our first call, when we first met each other, we’re like, Oh, we’re going to be friends. Like this is, we’re going to be friends.
We’re going to work together because we both know how important it is for nonprofit organizations to have that. Really strong, you know, financial infrastructure, operational infrastructure. And so I find that really interesting because I don’t have a lot of conversations with foundations that are putting as much like effort and [00:09:00] investment into that as you are at O’Shy.
And like I said, you’re such a champion for that. So how, how did that come about? Has that always been something that O’Shy has done or is that something that you’ve brought to the role? Because I just think it’s really unique.
Dr. Mark Scott: Thank Yeah, well, you know, this, uh, philanthropic support work didn’t begin with me, my predecessor, Karen Lee Spalding, who, uh, really is just an outstanding and just an amazing part of the non profit community here in the greater western New York area.
So she was the inaugural vice president for philanthropic support here. You know, this role came about as a result of the wisdom of one of our former And now retired executive vice presidents paul hogan. He said listen, you know, we can write all checks all day And i’m sure organizations will continue to accept them with open arms, but they need so much more than that so much more Especially if they’re going to go out and have the sort of impact in the community That they aspire to have, especially with a fresh resources that OSHI [00:10:00] would, you know, would offer to some organizations.
And so we said, we need more organizations need support with identifying consultants, uh, with infrastructure, other infrastructure supports, as you point out. And it’s not that they aren’t smart people or resourceful people, but they’re busy out there fighting fires. And so this position was, was created.
And so, so I just really built on that and where that comes from to answer your question specifically comes from almost 15 years of being a CEO, right? So first at SUNY Geneseo and then at the culinary Academy of Las Vegas and understanding that. I couldn’t go out and do the great programming work that my community of service expected if I didn’t have a sound IT infrastructure, if I didn’t have a sound marketing communications function, if I didn’t have a sound finance and administration unit, if I didn’t have a sound facilities department.
And so I see those as all sort of our foundational pillars. Right. Um, that allow us to go out with confidence and do the [00:11:00] kind of work that our community needs us to do. So it really comes from that place. And it’s just logical for me to start there. And, um, you know, for all those who listen, uh, you know, I’m all too willing to, you know, to support their efforts to build strength in those areas.
Stephanie Skryzowski: I think that’s huge. And, you know, I’m sure OSHI is not the only foundation that is doing this, but I have found that it’s really unique. And I work with a lot of different nonprofit organizations who get funding from a lot of different foundations. And I just don’t see a lot of this capacity building resources provided at no cost or low cost.
to, you know, to their grantees and to the others in their community. So like, how do we, uh, this is a big question. How do we change the sector? Right. How can other foundations really take a lead on building capacity of their grantees, of their communities, the way that you’re doing at OSHI?
Dr. Mark Scott: Yeah, it is unique.
So I, I don’t want to brush over that [00:12:00] in terms of the reality. Now, what I will say is organizations do support capacity building, but maybe not to, um, You know, to this level of immersion, right, that we do. I mean, we come at it from a very multifaceted way, right? So at OSHI, you know, very often I’ll roll up my sleeves and work hand in hand with organizations.
Say, if you need board development support, I’ll go to your board meetings and organize with your board chair, governance chair on what the training plan will be. And I’ll go and I’ll execute that. I may do that in partnership with someone like, you know, like yourself, or I’ll just turn it over to you, right?
So, we really come at this in a very thoughtful, immersive way. Other organizations, regionally, uh, foundations, they’ll support it, but what they may say is, okay, if you write a proposal in to us, uh, we’ll write you a check to support your strategic planning consultant, and then that’s it. Right. And so then there’s everything else in between that exists, but your observation is correct.[00:13:00]
But what I will say, something that’s unique, I think, to Western New York is that we do have this sort of collaborative effort in place here between the largest funders called the Nonprofit Support Group. We were formed in 2017 and we were created with this sort of founding principle of we can do more together than we can alone.
And so that’s comprised of the Ralph Wilson Foundation, O’Shea, the Western New York Foundation, the Health Foundation of Western New York and Central New York, the Tower Foundation. ESL out of Rochester. And so, you know, we were on our way in 2017 and we had a bump in the road in 2021, 2020, 2021. And so now we’re kind of getting back around the table to determine what our collective work agenda is going to be around this collective capacity building work that we all believe in.
And so I’m hopeful in the years to come that we’ll [00:14:00] be able to reintroduce. Uh, to Western New York, uh, this, uh, sort of suite of capacity building tools. Um, that look and feel like exactly what, what you and I’ve been working on this last half dozen months.
Stephanie Skryzowski: I like that it sort of started small and now you’re building this more collaborative network to spread even further across this region.
And so I think that’s an interesting model and for our listeners, if there are any funders out there, if there are foundations out there, just thinking about how to expand your impact. I think this is. A really great example. So you see a lot of different nonprofit organizations in your work, and you’ve got a pretty broad view of the sector.
Like what new needs or demands are out there that you’re seeing nonprofits faced with right now?
Dr. Mark Scott: There’s a few things. Where do I start? Well, you know, let me just talk about COVID, right, a little bit. [00:15:00] So many organizations were needed, uh, to, um, you know, help Fight COVID, right? And, uh, the world really leaned heavily on the nonprofit sector, right?
I mean, for profit needed to chip in and not, but really the nonprofit sector needed to put the world on its shoulders. And do everything from providing, uh, food assistance, transportation services, um, uh, educational support so that we can continue to delivering, uh, the learning experience through various, uh, new modalities.
Or modalities that we really hadn’t had to really lean on as much as we did during COVID. And so the non profit sector stepped up, right, as one might expect. But what we are finding is that because non profits stepped up and they had become so heavily dependent on government resources. During the [00:16:00] COVID pandemic period, uh, that they have kind of lost their way.
Right. And now that those resources are drying up, those organizations haven’t planned for, and they don’t have, uh, any design financially on how to support their organizations. And so it’s creating a significant impact on the solvency of organizations. Uh, and you’re finding organizations are starting to wilt.
And so that’s the first piece, is that organizations haven’t really thought about, you know, sort of their through cycle planning, right, or through cycle work that was required once the pandemic subsided. So that’s the first thing. The second thing is, People can’t find good help, right? And so I know that I’m preaching to the choir here.
I’m sure your listeners will appreciate that because that’s something that’s playing out, uh, in all business types, in all sectors, for profit and non profit. So folks can’t find good help. The last thing that I will say here, and there’s a whole, and I can go on for [00:17:00] days on this, is that non profits really need unrestricted, unrestricted support.
You know, so very often funders Um, they like to support programs. Um, you know, because everyone likes the good story, they want to attach themselves to the great initiative at, um, you know, whatever food, uh, insecurity fighting organization or whatever, uh, shelter, um, you know, maybe, maybe out there. And so supporting the programs really, I think, gives folks the warm and fuzzies.
But we have to learn to trust organizations. Uh, and provide them with the kind of unrestricted income that they need to reinvest in staff, reinvest in infrastructure, uh, sometime pilot new programs, but unrestricted income I think is needed at a certainly what I think is an unprecedented level.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah. Oh my gosh.
Okay. Well, I could not agree with each of those three things more. And I think, um, the first one where you’re talking about funding drying up [00:18:00] after COVID, I’ve definitely seen that from a financial perspective and there has been a lack of longer term planning and forecasting. So some of this one time money was just like, Not managed super well because we didn’t have a long term forecast or long term plan for it.
And now it’s gone and it’s, it’s gone. And so now it’s, I’ve seen organizations trying to sort of be more reactive and filling that gap versus being proactive and having had a plan and a forecast like three years ago, two years ago. So. Definitely seeing that. I want to talk to about the second thing you said, though, about nonprofit organizations not being able to find good help.
And this is a conversation that we have had. I’ve experienced personally, and I think part of it is the fact that nonprofits do not pay their people enough. So I’d love to hear you talk more about People doing nonprofit work and not being paid a living wage. So it’s like [00:19:00] helping to fight poverty, but being in poverty themselves because they’re not making a living wage.
So talk more about that issue in the sector.
Dr. Mark Scott: Yeah, certainly. I think, you know, by and large, people who enlist in the army that’s needed to fight, you know, so many social challenges. The people who normally enlist are people who historically have been closest to those sorts of challenges. Right. And so they see it and they feel a certain calling and just sort of passion and drive to do that work.
And you just kind of run into the burning house and you say, well, you know, it’ll come in time. You know, the money will be there. Right. But once you get into the work, it just kind of pulls you in further and further and further. Uh, yet the dollars don’t come in to support the organization. And by default, they don’t come in to support your staff.
And this is especially true if you’re an executive director or CEO of a [00:20:00] nonprofit, you’ll, you’ll very quickly say, pay my people first. Whatever resources are there, you pay my, you know, pay my people first. And so I think this is really, we’re at a place where funders. And when I say funders, I want to include the federal government, state government, uh, county governments, local municipalities.
I think it’s time for us to have a conversation around. What sort of restrictions do we need to lift around administrative, uh, dollars that we want to allocate for a particular grant, right? Those levels are incredibly low, right? What sort of conversations do we want to have around the realities of what we need to properly fund a grant?
So, in other words, if I’m asking for, uh, if I’m asking for a certain report out, shouldn’t we be funding, right, the report out or the reporting requirements for a grant? Right. If I’m asking you for some data, again, whether that’s a grant to support it by public money or private dollars through a, uh, through a [00:21:00] foundation, if I’m asking you to provide data, right, should I not, uh, be willing to also, uh, fund the sort of the enterprise or data supports that you need, whether they be people, software, whatever, right.
But, but again, all too often, those things aren’t supported. And so an organization’s resources continue to be stretched. Right. And so if I do have the luxury of an internal support around I. T. or data analyses and that then those people wind up being stretched and ultimately find themselves in a place of burnout.
Right. And so, uh, whereas once upon a time, maybe I had an 8 to 10 hour day. Now my day is a 12 hour day or 14 or 15 hour day. And an organization has no way of paying people. And so it’s total compensation, right? So it’s not just wage, uh, it’s, uh, employee benefits, uh, from a healthcare perspective, there’s other sort of wellness benefits that certainly should be included in there.
We’ve been talking recently about sabbaticals to help try to [00:22:00] mitigate. Uh, some of the effects of what folks are experiencing from a work wellness and burnout perspective, so it’s total compensation, but it should not be lost on your listeners that this is something that will never be appropriately addressed if we don’t also bring in public entities into the, uh, both the discovery and solution building process, because that’s where the wealth of resources are for the nonprofit community.
Stephanie Skryzowski: And also, I think one thing that you said last week during our session, we were having a really interesting conversation with about 20 nonprofit leaders here in Buffalo. We were live and in person and we’re having a conversation about overhead and this sort of Belief in the nonprofit sector that overhead is bad.
And we’re trying to keep overhead low. And I thought one thing that you said that was so interesting was, listen, we need you all as nonprofit leaders to tell us like, how much does it actually cost to run this program? And like, don’t put 5 percent [00:23:00] of someone’s salary into the grant. If it’s really going to take 50 percent of their time, like tell us how much it actually costs.
And I thought that was like. Kind of profound actually, because as you know, on the side of like preparing the budget for the proposal, we’re always trying to like make overhead as low as possible. But then what ends up happening is that, you know, we’re crunched and we don’t have the money available to actually do the.
Sort of unrestricted stuff that we need to do. So I just thought that was so powerful. Like tell us how much it actually costs. Like some of this is also on us as nonprofit leaders. Like we shouldn’t be trying to, you know, cram things into a 5 percent overhead budget. So how does that play out in real life?
Like when you get a proposal and you do see like a bigger salary amount, Are you measuring, you know, your proposals against a certain Like, oh, it has to be within this percent overhead. Are you looking at it more holistically? Like, okay, this is what it couldn’t [00:24:00] take to get the job done. And you know, or you know what I mean?
Talk more about that.
Dr. Mark Scott: Yeah. So our program officers look at it through a more holistic lens. But recently, we have been having those conversations around what sorts of new questions that we need to be asking. And so in my work, right, that is exactly what I do, is that I partner with our program officers whenever there is, say, a proposal that they want to, um, have a much clearer understanding around, uh, whether what’s written on paper.
Can actually be supported by, uh, the, the dollars that, you know, that an organization is asking us for. And often I’ll go in and that’s, and it won’t. Right. And so it’s not that I want us to write a bigger check. I want us to write the right check, right. For a foundation. And so often over the last couple of years, I have had to go into organizations and say, Hmm, I don’t know that you’re going to be able to find a controller for 60, 000 in this environment, [00:25:00] right.
For a budget of 10 million. Right. And oh, by the way, you know, your time to fill is probably going to be maybe six, eight months. Right, given the very competitive nature of the job market. And so what do you do in the meantime, maybe need some temporary sort of support. Maybe you go to Robert half. So you should include that also in your budget.
And so at the old shy foundation, we’ve we’ve been working as intentionally as we possibly can around making sure. That folks are successful because if they’re not, um, we’re going to see him again in another six months to a year. So let’s measure twice and cut once, as I like to say often, but the other pieces, the reality around all of this, Stephanie, is that many operators, nonprofit operators are, uh, they are approaching this from a scarcity mindset, right?
And so, but that’s the way they run their businesses and, oh, by the way, nonprofits are businesses and at some point we should talk about that. Right. [00:26:00] Um, but what, what they’re saying is that if I ask for too much now, I may not be able to ask for more later. Right. Or if I can’t ask for more later, it may be a few years down the line.
And so what you have inherent to that thinking is this sort of, uh, undercutting of your work. I had a nonprofit in Niagara Falls, New York. Tell me, and I, you know, what, what can we. What do funders need to know? And he said to me, and in verbatim, he said, they need to stop playing with the ask. So if I ask for a million dollars.
Don’t come back and give me a half million. He said, because what’s going to happen is I’m going to take the half million. Right. And I’m going to figure out how to do the million dollar program. All right. And that’s what nonprofits do. And it’s just, we perpetuate this vicious cycle of undercutting the work, right.
That nonprofits. Uh, really need to do so. Don’t play with the ask. That would be a message to funders. [00:27:00] Hmm.
Stephanie Skryzowski: That’s so interesting. Yeah. I haven’t heard that before, but when you said that example, I’m like, oh yeah, I’ve seen every single nonprofit I know who asked for a million, get 500, 000 and figure out, okay, we’re still going to do the million, but now we just have to do it on way less resources and basically burn out our entire system.
staff. So, oh my gosh, definitely have seen that before.
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One thing I have seen that’s really interesting, [00:28:00] and I don’t know if you’ve seen this elsewhere in the sector, I haven’t seen it a lot, but I have seen some funders compensating. Nonprofits for the proposal and the due diligence process before they’re even funded. And so like I saw this one funder pay, I don’t know, 10 or 20, 000 to a nonprofit for their time in putting together the proposal and going through the due diligence.
I think in this case, the organization did end up. Getting the grant as well, but even if they didn’t get the grant, at least they got some compensation for the like dozens of hours that it took to put together that proposal. And I’ve seen like so many onerous requirements from funders in terms of proposal, due diligence, and then on the other side reporting.
And have you seen that, have you seen that before, either at OSHI or elsewhere where there’s compensation for the actual proposal process?
Dr. Mark Scott: I haven’t seen it as much at OSHI, but I’m going to steal that one. Thank you. [00:29:00] And, and, uh, and so we’ll talk about if there’s a way to do that here at OSHI. But one thing we have been working to do is to make the process less onerous.
Right? And so, so let’s make it easier for you to submit a request. One in two, you know, we’ve enlisted new ways to go about the report out process, right? So, in other words, you have to, you don’t have the right of dissertation, right? We’ve been taking sort of video reports and so we, so, so from a 360 perspective, so from the time you submit to the time you report out, we’ve just been trying to make the process much less onerous, um, but, but I do like the idea because I don’t care how many burdens you, you relieve, uh, a person, uh, there’s still going to be some time that’s required to put together a proposal, but I do like that idea of, of compensating people for their time.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah. Yeah. That’s interesting. And I’m sure all of your grantees appreciate the efforts that you’ve taken. I’ve just, I’ve [00:30:00] seen so many like questionnaires and report templates from different funders. And I’m like, I’m pretty sure they just asked the question like six different ways. And this feels like a test that they’re trying to trick us.
Like it doesn’t have to be like this. So I’m sure your, your grantees appreciate it. And
Dr. Mark Scott: you know what I was just kind of thinking, right, uh, out loud here, this, kind of following this stream here, I also like potentially, Stephanie, the idea of compensating people who receive a declination letter as well, right?
So organizations that aren’t successful. So, you know, we certainly receive far more requests than we actually fund. So I like the idea of coming up with something whereby we are also remunerating people for their time, even if they aren’t successful. Mm hmm.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So you said before, nonprofits are businesses, and we had a bit of a conversation about that last week during our session as well.
And I could not agree with you more. [00:31:00] Um, and one thing that I think about as, you know, nonprofits, nonprofits, our businesses are using data and technology to. Enhance your, your mission and your analysis. And so I would love to hear a little bit more about that and what you’ve seen nonprofits doing in terms of using data, using technology and really operating as a business.
Dr. Mark Scott: Yeah, I would say that the tide is starting to turn right just based on, you know, all of the external sort of influences. And pressures on nonprofits, right? Particularly in Western New York, right? Because our funding community, let’s just be honest, isn’t as robust as, say, a New York City or a Boston or Chicago, there’s just not as many resources.
And so organizations, I think, are now starting to work smarter. I’m starting to think about how data [00:32:00] might help them to make more informed decisions, particularly organizations I find that are working in healthcare spaces, organizations that are working in workforce development spaces. And so we’re seeing more of that be, uh, data, right, in terms of how we make decisions being used in those spaces.
What I will say, and I’m hopeful we’ll start to see some uptick, particularly as it relates to combating labor shortages, and, uh, some folks may not agree, but I do think artificial intelligence can help. Um, particularly, uh, during those periods where either you don’t have funding for a position or it’s taken a while to fill a position, uh, I do think there are areas where our AI could be helpful.
So I’ve not seen any real good examples, um, where folks are starting to use AI, but I do think. It’s harmful as it can be for sure, right? And so we want to put the put the put the reins on right [00:33:00] in terms of how we use data and how we use some of this, some of these advanced technologies, AI, AR, VR, XR, gamified apps.
Uh, I think we should explore those things, uh, in whole, but we have to be, uh, careful about, uh, you know, the sort of impact on, on humankind and how dangerous they can be, but why I’m starting to see, uh, data be used more and more, particularly in the workforce development space and, uh, and in the healthcare space.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah, I’ve had a couple conversations with people who are using AI tools like chat GPT to help write grant proposals and, you know, help sort of build that out. And I, I don’t, it’ll never be a sub, in my opinion, it, it will never be a substitute for that more. Personal language, you can kind of tell when something is generated by that.
But I do think it’s a tool that, you know, could help nonprofits get a little bit further ahead [00:34:00] without necessarily hiring another, another position. So yeah, I definitely think that’s interesting.
Dr. Mark Scott: And it’s a final note for that, right? I mean, we’re just talking about a scarcity of resources. I do think if we employ, uh, technology, particular AI, it may leave more resources available or resources available to pay people a fair wage, give increases where you can, et cetera.
So, um, just a sort of repositioning of the resources or the chess pieces on the board, uh, if organizations can find a way to properly use, um, tools like AI.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah. Yeah. That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. I like that idea. I have just two more questions for you. The first is what tips do you have for nonprofits to build relationships with their funders?
And so I just, I’ve been able to witness the relationship that you have as a, you know, foundation employee with some of your [00:35:00] grantees, and it just feels like They can come to you with challenges and with questions, and I think that’s so powerful. And so what tips do you have for non profit leaders to help sort of build that kind of relationship with their funders?
Dr. Mark Scott: You know, I think, you know, the starting point is And I think it goes without sort of saying, right, is that both sides have to be, you know, have to prioritize building trust, right, so that we can have thoughtful conversations, right, over the course of whatever our relationship is going to be, and honest conversations, right, around this relationship that we’re going to build, we’re going to build, and I think we have to honor everyone’s time, right, and so the relationship that I think is best built over many conversations that happen over multiple modalities.[00:36:00]
Maybe it’s a quick cup of coffee. Maybe it’s a quick phone call. Maybe it’s a short text. Maybe it’s an email. And so I think over time now we’ve built sort of like micro credentials, right? We have all of these small little sort of relationship building pieces, right? That now over time come together to form this really honest relationship.
Right. It’s built on sort of acknowledging the realities of what I’m up against. And, and then finally, you can ask for something without asking for it. Right. And so I think over time, if you center the organization and the issues that you’re dealing with, over time and the funder will see that your organization is best suited to fight the battles around food insecurity or transportation, whatever it is.
Uh, and that, uh, and you’re the best leader, uh, of the organization that’s best suited to fight those challenges. Again, if you build that relationship over a period of time, and you don’t [00:37:00] always have to ask, the funder will see it. So, I would think, you know, those are a handful of tips that I would offer.
It’s that build the relationship around trust. Everyone center that first. And work to build the relationship over multiple types of interactions with the funder. Hey, can we get together for coffee? Just want to keep you updated. I don’t need anything Uh, I just want to give you an update on on what’s going on quick 30 minute coffee chat or can we get on the zoom?
um But smaller interactions amassed over a longer period of time, I think It’s kind of like the analogy I use is is that would you rather sell one record for 10 million copies? Or would you rather sell 10 records at a million copies each? Right. And so, uh, I would hope that folks would choose the latter.
And so to me, I see relationship building in the same way, right? Let’s not go for the home run. Uh, when we get up to batch, let’s just see if we can get on base, right? Let’s get a bunch of ones and [00:38:00] twos, and eventually, we’ll, you know, we’ll win the game.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah. Oh, I love that. I love that analogy. And I think of like all the little deposits into the bank of the relationship.
And I, I love the idea of just offering to provide an update, go have coffee without needing anything. Like I like how you said that I don’t need anything. I just want to share with you like how we’re doing, what’s going on. Um, and I think as a result of that, like I saw. Last week during our session, where you were able to just get up in front of this group of, you know, 20 different nonprofit leaders and say, Hey, let’s have a conversation.
What do you all need after this? What kind of infrastructure support, what kind of, um, consulting support do you need? And everybody was so open and so willing to share. And you can tell, and you were so receptive to everyone’s feedback. And so you could tell that that sort of conversation was the results of all of those like little deposits in that relationship [00:39:00] bank that y’all had for, for a long time.
So I think that’s really powerful. And thinking of that relationship as less transactional and more like. More of a relationship, I think, is a great, great tip. So my last question for you that I ask to all of our guests is what does a prosperous nonprofit look like to you? Hmm.
Dr. Mark Scott: Prosperous nonprofit, uh, well, I don’t know if there’s really such a thing as a prosperous nonprofit, but I think, I think a, I think an effective well run nonprofit, right?
What that looks like to me is one that has a strong foundation and we talked about what that foundation is, right? And two, one that has a very clear understanding of its business model. You got to be clear on that. You, you [00:40:00] have to be, Stephanie, I can’t, if I can say that 10 times in a row, so that folks have a crystallized understanding, you have to have a strong understanding of what your business model is.
Do not kid yourself, right? And so if you’re selling tomatoes, sell tomatoes. All right. And you can, and you can work on all other sorts of derivatives around selling tomatoes and tomato culture and all that, but don’t start selling mushrooms, right? If that’s not your deal, or if you don’t have a well thought out plan, one that’s going to be supported financially to the level that you can ensure success, but just have a clear understanding of your business model and how it’s funded.
Right. So that’s the second thing I would say. The third thing that I would say. Is a well run prosperous successful nonprofit knows how and when to make tough decisions. They don’t wait too long. All too often, Stephanie, [00:41:00] we find organizations will hold on to a program long after it’s funding support right has has been discontinued.
So whether it’s a program that was funded by us by the state or by a funder, there’s Right. And the dollars have dried up, but because the organization sees a need, they keep on keeping on, but they don’t have the dollars to support them and it winds up stretching and consuming the organization’s resources.
And so that would be the third thing I would say is an organization that knows when to make tough decisions. And then finally, I think an effective, successful, prosperous organization is one that’s trademarked by a really well done organization. Orchestrated governance structure. You have a good strong board that works in partnership with management to build a sound organizational operating [00:42:00] plan, strategic plan, sustainability plans, whatever plan, but you have a well run, highly functioning board that believes in noses in, fingers out.
Right. And in building partnership with management, uh, to build the most successful organization possible. So those would be the four things that really stand out, you know, to me. And, um, and those are things that we prioritize, uh, here at O’Shea when we’re doing capacity building
Stephanie Skryzowski: work. That’s such a good answer.
I love your mention of governance and board because I ask everybody this question and I Don’t know if I’ve ever gotten that answer before I mean, there’s no right answer, right? Like what makes a prosperous nonprofit? It’s different to everybody But I think you’re so right about governance and board because if you have a like dysfunctional board The organization is gonna be a mess.
So I think that’s huge. That’s huge. Mm hmm Mark, this has been so helpful. I have an entire page of notes that I’m [00:43:00] excited to like put on our website and attach to this episode because it’s been so useful. And I know that our listeners are going to really take a lot away from this. So I want to thank you again for joining me here.
I just appreciate your wisdom and your partnership so much. So thank you so much.
Dr. Mark Scott: So happy to be here today. It was my pleasure to do it. Uh, know that I’d love to come back anytime I’ll bring my nonprofit friends with me. So look forward to our continuing, uh, relationship.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Awesome. Thank you. Hey everybody.
Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode sponsored by Blackbaud. As always, you can get all of our show notes, all of the links we mentioned over at 100 degrees consulting. com. And I want to mention something extra special. Over there, you will find the link to our brand new whitepaper, the guide to hiring a modern CFO for your nonprofit.
So this is a whitepaper that I wrote in partnership [00:44:00] with BlackBaud and you will learn what it means to be a CFO who can help drive a nonprofit in today’s climate. What you should consider when hiring a modern CFO and red flags to look for when evaluating your next CFO. So head on over to 100degreesconsulting.
com, grab the show notes for this episode, and we will point you in the direction of this brand new white paper, your guide to hiring a modern CFO for your nonprofit. Thanks as always for listening, my friends, and we will see you next time.