Transcript Episode 154

Transcript Episode 154 – Knowing Your Numbers and Planning for the Future with Margaret Chapman Pomponio 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. Stephanie here, and I’m excited to share with you this interview today, as I always am. We are chatting today with Margaret Chapman Pomponio, and she is the executive [00:01:00] director of an organization called the West Virginia Free, and she’s been working with them for over 20 years, which is incredible and something I don’t feel like we see that much anymore.

But West Virginia Free has been a longtime client of 100 Degrees. I want to say like five years, four years, quite some time. And so it was just an honor to speak with her today. We talk all about pivoting our fundraising strategy. We talked about really changing in the landscape of funders. We talked a lot about how she sort of fits in outreach to individual donors, and we also talked about.

Working in a sector and doing work that does not have immediate gratification, she’s doing policy work, and that can take years. And so we just talked a little bit about that as well. So there’s a ton in here. I really think you are going to enjoy it, like I think you’re going to enjoy every single episode.

And of course, we also talked about, I can’t leave [00:02:00] this out, we also talked about the power of culture. Of knowing your numbers and what that has meant to her as an executive director. Let me read her bio and then we’ll get right to the interview. So before Margaret joined West Virginia free in 2002, she had a varied career from serving two terms in AmeriCorps to working with the Lummi Nation in Washington, waiting tables and teaching women in politics at Western Washington University.

When she returned to her native mountain state, she landed at West Virginia free. Oh, by the way, that’s West Virginia. And began to earnestly expand reproductive health rights and justice work in her home state. Under Margaret’s leadership, West Virginia Free has successfully expanded its staff and reach and has experienced significant victories for reproductive health rights and justice policy throughout the state and at every level of government in a very challenging political climate.

No stranger to fighting battles uphill, Margaret knows that advocacy for reproductive rights, racial, gender, and economic justice is best done in partnership. [00:03:00] She deeply values working in coalition and lifting up new leaders to build power for transformative social change. Now, listen, she had such a good insight at the end, you know, I always ask everybody, What does a prosperous nonprofit look like to you?

And what she said about community and what she has done to build community and coalition for herself and her organization and other leaders in West Virginia is awesome. So make sure you listen to that and to hear all about that. Okay, more. Because Margaret is dedicated to making West Virginia a welcoming place where everyone can live with dignity and have the resources they need to have fulfilling lives.

She serves on the board of West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry. She’s also a member of the West Virginia Lawyer Disciplinary Review Board and is active in St. John’s Episcopal Church of Charleston, a parish that’s committed to social justice outreach and ministry. She’s a mom to busy young twins and a stepmom to two fantastic young people.

She and her family enjoy travel adventures near and far. So, without further [00:04:00] ado, let’s go ahead and dive into my conversation with Margaret.

Hey, everyone. Welcome back to the Prosperous Nonprofit. I am really excited to have with me here today, Margaret Chapman Pomponio. Margaret, welcome. 

Margaret Chapman Pomponio: Hi. Thank you. It’s great to be with you. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: Yes. So your organization has been working with my company for several years now, so I’m really excited to just dive into more about you as a nonprofit leader, more about your organization.

And so why don’t we just start with you sharing with us your journey as a nonprofit leader. How did you get to where you are now? 

Margaret Chapman Pomponio: So I have been with West Virginia free as executive director for, um, 21 years now, which feels really crazy. So I have officially entered middle age with the organization. So, yeah, [00:05:00] I was freshly back to West Virginia and I had just graduated.

From a master’s program and political science and public policy. And I had taught a little bit at the college level and I ended up back in West Virginia, not really expecting that. And this organization working on reproductive rights and justice, West Virginia free needed a lobbyist. And I had never lobbied before, but of course, so I have been passionate about social justice issues and reproductive rights in particular, uh, you know, for as long as I’ve been an adult and a little bit before that as a teenager, even so I jumped right in.

And, um, that eventually turned into, you know, being hired to be the ED later that year. And so I was a one person show. I [00:06:00] wasn’t even quite staff at that point. I was a contractor. And I said, if you hire me, I’m going to raise money for this organization. So we have grown a lot over the years and we’ve had ebbs and flows.

So, you know, we work in a very challenging environment in West Virginia, um, on this issue. When I came back here in 2002, it was a very different. landscape. And, um, we now, you know, are in a state that has an abortion ban. And we started off with some of the most progressive laws on a number of issues, but that has really rapidly changed since 2014.

And so, um, we find that the work that we do is Just more vital than ever. So we’re doing a lot of birth control access work, helping people navigate what their options might be a lot of education, um, with the public, but also with [00:07:00] providers and, um, really trying to like build our. Community footprint and impact and, you know, relationship.

So there’s a lot, but that’s, that’s a little snapshot. That’s amazing. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: So, yeah, so you’ve been with West Virginia free since really the beginning of your nonprofit career. That’s incredible. Did you ever consider along the way of like. Making a switch of making a pivot in the work that you do, or has it always been like, you know, your driving force, like, this is what I am here to do, or have you, you know, had diversions where you’re like, okay, I got to do something new.

Margaret Chapman Pomponio: Well, so I, prior to West Virginia free, I mentioned that I was teaching a little bit as adjunct in higher ed, but I also had done two terms of AmeriCorps. Um, one term in Colorado and one in Bellingham, Washington, where I went to grad school. So I, my heart has always been with [00:08:00] social justice causes. I did think for a time that I wanted to stay in academia.

Be a professor, help engender the kind of passion that some of my most influential professors, um, you know, the effect that they had on me and really connecting that social change piece with higher ed and like building community outside of ivory tower and all that good stuff. But yeah, so I had a significant change when I decided to not pursue a PhD.

And just do the work and, um, so yeah, after I first lobbied for West Virginia free, I did grant writing for the state’s like biggest hospital at the time, Charleston area medical center. And I had a great boss and a great team that I worked with. But I didn’t find it as fulfilling as I needed, you know, I’m, [00:09:00] I’ve got to feel passionate about what I’m doing.

And so that’s where I just decided to make the move, um, to West Virginia free and yeah, I haven’t looked back. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah. That’s amazing. Especially going from like lobbyists to now you’re the executive director, you’re going to lead all the things in that journey. Was there a time when you felt super outside of your comfort zone?

And what did, what did that look like? Oh, 

Margaret Chapman Pomponio: yeah. I mean, Stephanie, speaking to like a financial person, I will say when I first was tasked with putting a budget together for the organization, I mean, when we started the, our budget, we had 40, 000. You know, it was very small and yet still I hadn’t done that as a young activist.

I mean, I would put together like proposals for funding and such, but literally I would call my mom for help when I was doing financial work for West Virginia free just [00:10:00] to like double check work, make sure I was, you know, doing this stuff. Right. And so, yeah, that, that has definitely been a piece that is, I mean, it’s still not my strong suit and that’s why we have people, this is.

Definitely didn’t pay me to say this, but this is why, um, 100 degrees, because, you know, it gives me like a lot of confidence and comfort that we’re all, uh, you know, the stable, um, path, and I do want to get into that a little bit, but I’m sure we will, but yeah, so, I mean, whatever, I guess, uh, as a leader, you know, we have to recognize what our, whatever Weaknesses are or how we can improve.

And my approach to that is like, yes, recognize it, say it and ask for help. I mean, I’ve always been that person. You’ve got to ask for help. And I mean, yes, there is some privilege that can come along with that. And you can, you know, if you’re [00:11:00] more well connected, getting help is easier, but if you don’t ask, then you’re stuck and there’s not as much capacity for growth and potential.

Honestly, lobbying is, um, I mean, it’s still tough, even as much like public speaking, whether it’s at a rally or at an event or, you know, on a podcast, you know, I still get like butterflies in my tummy, um, which I think is also like normal. And I try to tell people that because people will say, Oh, how do you do public speaking?

I’m so scary. I could never do that. Well, you just have to make yourself. And you have to get out of your comfort zone, right? Mm hmm. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: Mm hmm. Oh, yeah. All of that is so true. And, you know, the part about asking for help, first of all, I love that you were like, Mom, can you check my numbers here? Like, that’s amazing.

So, like, know where you have resources, even if it is Mom. Um, but I, I’m very much, like, uh, you know, [00:12:00] driven person, and I will just, like, muscle through anything. Like, alright, I can figure this out. I can do it. But, like, it is Such a like sweet relief when I finally do say, you know what, I’m not the best person to do this.

And then you find somebody that can do it like so much faster, so much easier and like 1 million times better than you. And it’s like, why didn’t I do this sooner? Why didn’t I ask for help sooner? So it’s like, yeah, I’m, I’m still learning that in, in many ways. 

Margaret Chapman Pomponio: It’s, it’s a constant work in progress.

Stephanie Skryzowski: Absolutely. Absolutely. So I would love for you to tell us a little bit more about West Virginia Free. You, you know, you talked a little bit about what you do, but tell us a little bit more about your mission, your programs, and maybe things that you’re doing a little differently than you see other organizations doing.

Margaret Chapman Pomponio: Yeah, we are a reproductive health rights and justice, education and advocacy nonprofit. We were founded in 1989. We have different work [00:13:00] areas. We do a lot of public education on reproductive health and economic justice issues. Um, we’re supporters of racial justice. Our mission is expansive in that in order to have reproductive autonomy.

True reproductive autonomy, you know, we have to work at leveling the playing field for all people so that, you know, a right without access to care really isn’t anything right. So we do a lot of education on a number of issues and trying to connect those dots. And we also do a lot of, um, trainings for healthcare providers and direct service providers.

Um, one of our training programs is Love Your Birth Control. And that’s actually a really innovative approach. We, we, um, as an organization, we’re one of the first in the country to really start marketing our trainings [00:14:00] for providers of birth control so that they are working with a patient. And letting the patient lead a discussion about birth control so that they arrive at the method that is best for them rather than the more traditional approach where, you know, a doctor or nurse may say, Oh, you don’t want to be pregnant.

Here’s the birth control pill we think you should have. When there’s so many different options out there, you’re much more likely to like the birth control if you’ve chosen it, which means. you know, effectiveness and less unintended pregnancy and everything that goes along with that. So that’s a great program we’re really excited about.

I hope people will check that out. It’s a beautiful, um, website. We have also one of the best. Actually the best directory in the state of, um, and I would guess maybe in the country of, you know, going to that website, you can find where you can access birth control by typing in your zip code. It’s an [00:15:00] interactive map that we’ve had, um, some excellent interns and staffers and volunteers and partner organizations working on that with us.

And then we also have a training program where we. Basically train again, healthcare providers, direct service providers, and the public on, um, how to make a referral or help get someone the care that they need if they have unintended pregnancies, so whether that’s. Choosing to parent, choosing to birth and give the baby up for adoption or terminating the pregnancy and really being able to give that information without bias because we all have our own personal biases.

On, you know, decisions around fertility, but to be compassionate and to care about someone to help them be in control of their own like reproductive destiny, we just need to provide information and [00:16:00] trust that they have, you know, the ability to make the decision that’s right for them. So that’s another one of our training programs.

And then we are doing actually, um, self managed abortion trainings now in states with bans. Um, you’ll find these more and more. Uh, we know that, um, and I don’t want to get too political here, but, um, we know that banning abortion would never stop abortion. And so we just want people to, um, be able to manage safely and they are doing that at home with pills.

And so we’re not giving medical or legal advice. We’re just simply saying, this is what is available to you, and this is how you can do this safely. And then we do a lot of policy advocacy. We’ve been able, um, to get, we’ve been at the forefront of getting a lot of really good, um, legislation passed, and helping at the administrative, like, state level and agencies, getting good policy [00:17:00] passed to, you know, improve the reproductive health of West Virginians, from, um, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, Which just passed federally, but West Virginia was one of the first states to pass a state law, um, like that birth control, um, legislation and so much more.

So we love the policy work, but it’s a challenging landscape to be doing that session starts tomorrow in West Virginia. So I’ll be spending a lot of time with capital. So that’s a bit of a snapshot of some of our key program areas. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah. Oh my gosh. Yeah. That’s a pretty broad scope of work. How many employees do you have?


Margaret Chapman Pomponio: four. And yeah, so I, I had mentioned at the outset that there’s been an ebb and flow and you know, what I’ve learned over the years is. Non profits have like a lifespan where sometimes you will expand and then, you know, contract. We are budget [00:18:00] contracted. We have seen, um, some divestment from national grant funding partners in West Virginia.

And it’s hard when you’re, you know, you’re in a state where, um, where we do have a ban, for example. And I would love to talk about the scarcity models at some point, but we don’t see as many philanthropic dollars coming into West Virginia as we used to. So we are doing more like individual donor cultivation and outreach.

And so that’s actually been really gratifying to have more support. No, we just, we know there’s a lot of untapped potential and it has made us kind of pushed us to that realization that. We really do need to build more support right here in our own state and it’s bearing fruit. Really, we’ve got, you know, we’ve got more individual donations now than we [00:19:00] ever have.

And this is something I think that’s interesting. Um, you know, sometimes when I’m explaining our staffing, I will include the, the people power that 100 degrees brings to the table too. And you’re not staff, obviously your contract, but. You contribute to the work in meaningful ways. And we have, you know, that was a real shift to go with 100 degrees.

and enable you all to take on some of the roles that staff would traditionally have done. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah, that’s, uh, I mean, I, I love that you said that because it does allow organizations to do so much more with When funds are limited because it is, you know, it’s only contract, but there’s still a lot of power in the work that contractors can do, whether it’s finance like us or whether it’s something else.

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I want to talk more about the pivot that you talked about from, you know, relying more on larger institutional funders and shifting to individuals. And now, like you said, you have the most individual donations donors than you’ve ever had before. Was that sort of like one day it was like. Oh, we’re not going to get renewals of all of this [00:21:00] funding or did it sort of, did that shift sort of gradually happen over time where things kind of dropped off and you’re like, okay, I’m seeing into the future.

We need to focus our revenue, our fundraising strategies elsewhere. 

Margaret Chapman Pomponio: Yeah. Um, I mean, there’s a little bit of both. We knew for a long time that we needed to really build the individual donor base. And so we, we had a program. I mean, basically we still do, but, um, called champions for change. And that’s where we would train board members on how to make a successful solicitation, no cold calls, but who is in our, you know, donor database that, um, we can meet with, build the relationship more.

And ask them to give more. Um, and it was a successful program, but only as much as you put the energy into and actually make it happen. And so the grant funding, you know, to some degree, like enabled us [00:22:00] to not focus as much on that kind of fundraising. And then seeing that there was this shift away from.

You know, reproductive rights, funders, investing in West Virginia from national foundations were like, okay, we know what we have to do. We know that we have all this untapped potential. And so we’ve just, you know, made it a priority. Mm hmm. Yeah. You know, I, I would always try to tell board members who were like, Oh, you know, wringing their hands about making the calls or whatever people actually love to hear from the board and from people in leadership at organizations, you know, they feel seen and nobody, I have never solicited someone who is offended.

By say, asking them to give more than they can afford, they’re like, you know, I mean, Oh, so she thinks that I make more [00:23:00] money than I do or whatever. Right. That’s not offensive. Right. No. So yeah, it just takes time. And I think it, we’re still working on getting it more like systematized within our everyday operations so that it doesn’t get like put to the side.

Mm hmm. Mm hmm. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah. Cause so much of that is like, it is really relationship building and it’s consistency. So it’s not something that you can just like binge do like, okay, we need your end donations. Let’s like go all in, in November and like hope that that’s going to really move the needle. And this is like.

Consistent all year round every week, every month type activities that you have to really build into your routine. So are there any like interesting or sort of unique ways that you’re doing that, that you’re working to, uh, to build that into your routine? 

Margaret Chapman Pomponio: Well, it’s still a work in progress. We actually, um, contracted with.

A fundraiser to help so that, I mean, even just [00:24:00] saying that, because I will tell you, here’s what I have struggled with sometimes when I am really busy. This is what I will, I will put that on the back burner. You know, I’m like, I’ve got to work on policy at the Capitol. I’ve got, you know, I’ve got all these other fires to put out or whatever.

I don’t, I don’t have time to. You know, do the donor outreach. Well, kind of an excuse, right? I mean, that has got to be one of the key. I mean, in order to do the work, you gotta have money. And so, I mean, now it’s just a matter of doing a little bit at a time, getting it on my calendar. And even if it means like, you know, so I’ll put on my calendar, reach such and such.

And I look back over the last couple of weeks and I still haven’t met that or, you know, called that person. I keep putting on my calendar until I get it done. I mean, it sounds really mundane, but that’s, that’s my approach. [00:25:00] Yeah, exactly. You like 

Stephanie Skryzowski: annoy yourself with a constant calendar reminders enough to actually do it.

It’s like, Oh, I just, I don’t want to see this stupid thing anymore. Let me just go do it. Right. And then 

Margaret Chapman Pomponio: it’s so gratifying to be able to like, just, you know, delete it or. Check it. Yes. Yes, 

Stephanie Skryzowski: exactly. Exactly. Oh, I love that. You mentioned a couple minutes ago, this sort of like scarcity mindset when we were talking about revenue in the sector.

And I would love to, you were like, let’s talk a little bit more about that in a minute. So I’d love to hear, I don’t know if you remember what you were going to say, your thoughts on that, but I’d love to hear a little bit more about that. 

Margaret Chapman Pomponio: Yeah. I mean, I think there’s so much work that needs to be done and Yeah.

Philanthropy and I think people in philanthropy know that, I mean, they’re talking about it. I mean, I I’ve been on some national, um, boards of foundations and, and in some of those rooms people do know, but it’s a lot to change. And, um, you know, some of the things I guess I’ll talk about some of the things [00:26:00] that I have seen changing in philanthropy that I think are good.

So there’s been a shift in. The process for applying for grants in in the social justice sphere, at least, um, so that’s what I’m talking about. And I’m really talking about repro and social justice. But, um, you know, so that it’s not so heavily laden with metrics. Um, and the reporting, um, with some of the foundations has gotten a Much less burdensome.

Some foundations are enabling grantees to just have a check in over the phone and, you know, talk about the progress. Um, so there’s a lot more flexibility and I think that’s because they realize how much time they’ve been putting, you know, how much, um, obligation they were putting on grantees. Which was actually taken away from people’s ability to get the work done that they want to fund.[00:27:00] 

And so that’s been a great, but a little bit slow moving sea change. So maybe it’s not a sea change, but anyway, it’s a good development. They’re moving in the right direction. It’s really exciting. But I think one of the frustrating things for me, like when I think about scarcity, that model, I also think about like.

What that means for geographic areas like West Virginia that are kind of written off the map, you know, central Appalachia has, has never been a place of great investment. And I think if you’re looking at, you know, really impoverished places and it’s hard to see that you’re going to get like instant progress, if you invest there.

There’s a propensity and the funding world to not do it. And so I was always interested in trying to like put forth the idea that [00:28:00] we should be funding some work in some places that. Is simply out of our values that we value people there and that, um, you know, you may not get a quick turnaround on passing X, Y, Z bills or, you know, starting up new programs and such.

And so, yeah, I think that’s lacking and I think there’s enough money out there to resource. This work in every single state, but unfortunately, I think, um, in philanthropy, they get in their silos, like, wouldn’t it be great if the funders of the world could come together and be like, Hey, let’s make sure that each place on the map and each issue area is funded.

Like, oh, we get together, oh, we didn’t want to forget about West Virginia or Iowa or whatever. So that would be like my dream if they, if they could [00:29:00] work together to make sure that, um, the resources are there. And I know that there are some efforts to do that, but it’s a patchwork. Yeah, 

Stephanie Skryzowski: that’s so interesting.

And I do see, because we work with, you know, we work with a number of different organizations that are in similar sectors, and so we see, you know, the same funders sort of funding this same group of organizations and just every single year funding the same organizations and. That’s great because that’s, you know, sustainability and longevity for those organizations.

But like you said, that’s that foundation really being in that silo. It’s like, we’re comfortable here. This is what we’ve always done. This is what we’re going to continue to do. And so, yeah, there’s, there’s benefits to it. But there’s also, like you’re saying, there’s under resourced areas that are just like forgotten because they’re not within some funders silos.

Yeah, that’s interesting. [00:30:00] It’s interesting too, because there are so many conversations around this throughout the sector, but it’s like, how long does it take to actually make meaningful change? Like how long until we’re not having these conversations anymore? And I would imagine a lot of your work, like around policy, is that also like quite slow moving?

Does it ever feel like, God, we’re having these conversations. Is anything ever going to happen? Or do things turn around pretty quickly? 

Margaret Chapman Pomponio: I mean, it depends. Usually if you want to get a bill passed, it’s going to be at, you know, at least two years. I mean, we’re working right now on a really simple bill with our partners at Planned Parenthood and the school health nurses just to get period products in schools for young people, you know, and I mean, here we are one of the poorest states in the country and.

You have kids going to school without basic hygiene so that they can feel confident and go to school. And [00:31:00] so that bill has been introduced for like the last three years. And I, this is the year I know this is the year we’re going to do it because the school health notions are going to help. Um, but yeah, it does take time.

And I mean, that’s the thing where, I mean, like. You see these states like West Virginia, we’ve banned abortion. We’re like going back in time. We’re not going to stay here. We, we are going to keep building power, connecting with people, connecting people with their own compassion and changing the landscape, you know, like.

But it will take time. And so that’s what we’re having those conversations that, you know, with our own people right now, so that we can feel hopeful and know that there is no such thing as instant gratification in this work. And if that’s what people are open for, you’re doing the wrong thing. It is going to take time.

It’s a long haul, you know, plan. And that’s how I’m [00:32:00] able to like, get up and, you know, do it every day. Cause it is tough, but when you look at it as a fight for the long haul, it feels a little less daunting. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah. I’m just like, wow, I admire you so much because there is something to be said for that instant gratification hit when it’s like you do something, you get the results, you’re like, okay, all right, here’s the motivation.

And that doesn’t happen. I would imagine very often for you for West Virginia free. I mean, maybe to some degree in some. Different areas, but I would imagine that like, especially over the past, you know, what, six years, I imagine it’s been like quite a slog. Um, actually not six years, like eight years anyway.

Amazing. Okay. So we only have a few minutes left and I have two more things that I want to talk about. So the first thing that I want to talk about is managing your finances. And so I love what you said in the beginning, like you’re like finance aren’t my strong suit. I [00:33:00] had my mom and now, you know, now we have a hundred degrees, which is awesome.

But I would imagine that over the last 20 years of leading this organization, you’ve become more confident in your numbers. And so I just want to hear more about like, how does knowing your numbers and kind of understanding what your financial statements mean, what the story is telling you, how does that empower you?

How does that help the impact of West Virginia free grow? 

Margaret Chapman Pomponio: Oh, it’s feeling confident in the numbers is everything really. And I mean, doing the multi year outlook, it gives me so much peace of mind. And also like just recently, so we had a conversation about how much should we have in reserves and, um, we had.

Prior, we had like three months operating was our reserves policy, which is frankly, I mean, it’s better than a lot [00:34:00] of organizations, but given the shift in philanthropy and the grant funding, um, changes for us. We started feeling like, maybe we should have a little more. Well, what does that look like? How much should we have?

You know, we still want to meet the mission. And so I spent some time just reaching out to other organizations and other EDs asking, what is your reserve policy? And so I did a little bit of research. It was really interesting to see some had none, some had a year, you know, so we’re a little bit all over the map, but we’ve landed at six months anyway, it’s that kind of sort of methodical approach to finance that I think gives the board.

Confidence gives the staff confidence, certainly helps me sleep easier, but also very importantly, the funders, you [00:35:00] know, you don’t want to invest in an organization that isn’t managing its finance as well. And so, you know, to be able to tell the financial story to our donors. I think gives a lot of peace of mind.

And I think also, I don’t know if this ties into the question, but it has been great with 100 degrees to have like gone pretty much totally digital, which I will say in 2020, I mean, I was still like clinging to paper. I really was. And, um, I mean, COVID. Did that was one of the silver linings, you know, like we’ve got a little bit less of a carbon footprint now, um, and 100 degrees really helped with that also.

And it makes, oh my gosh, it makes the audit so much easier. And just having everything at our fingertips right there in the computer, um, [00:36:00] is great. I mean, it was a little bit of a, a learning curve at first, but now, I mean, it seems crazy when I look back at like, you know, the old invoice cover sheets or whatever that we used to use.

Yes. It seems crazy. Um, so yeah, so that whole approach has also just been, it feels like less mental clutter and less. Physical clutter in the office and we’ve gotten rid of a lot of paper. Oh, that’s incredible. And it feels like our books are, are just together. And I love 

Stephanie Skryzowski: that sort of visual of the mental clutter.

Cause I feel like if you know that your numbers and your financials and everything is solid, like. There’s that little piece of your brain that’s holding onto that and worrying about, worrying about your finances, worrying about how much cash is in the bank account. Like that is a lot of energy that is being spent on that, that then you can divert to other things like raising money, like making major important policy [00:37:00] changes, like versus, Oh my gosh, can we make payroll next month?

And, you know, I feel like every organization at some point in their history goes through those periods where it’s like. Oh my goodness, are we going to make payroll next month that’s, you know, sort of walking on pins and needles, but yeah, just to feel really solid and confident about that can really free up so much, you know, both tangible and intangible.

So my very last question for you before we wrap up is what does a prosperous nonprofit look like to you? 

Margaret Chapman Pomponio: So I think a prosperous nonprofit takes care of staff. Um, that means, you know, pay equity, you know, good policies for time off and health benefits. And it also means encouraging the team to take advantage of the benefits and try to find work life balance.

And in this line of work, I mean, that is hard because you have people who [00:38:00] are passionate and they, you know, sometimes want to work around the clock. Not that I know anyone like that, but, you know, we, we can encourage each other to take advantage of those days off. And another key element I think is, you know, a good relationship with community, meaningful relationships in community.

And with supporters. Yeah, I think those are some of the key elements. I mean, something that I think that it would be great in the nonprofit sector, if we kind of embrace the pay equity piece a little more, and one way that we’re. Trying to do that here is, um, updating our pay scales. They’re a little bit out of date, but I think like just having those discussions, like transparent discussions about personnel policies and having discussions with other organizations so that we know what’s [00:39:00] going on with each other and can help each other out.

So I think that’s another key piece of a prosperous nonprofit is. Connection with other nonprofits and supporting each other in a community rather than, you know, again, like going back to the scarcity model, you know, working together with partner orgs, um, to help lift each other up, you know, I could go to another org and talk to their board about the benefits of implementing a sabbatical policy, for example, and I’ve done that.

And, you know, sharing policy and ideas with each other and community, I think is also, um, Um, 

Stephanie Skryzowski: yes, I love that. And I feel like there’s not enough of that, like community between nonprofit organizations and nonprofit leaders. It’s like, we just, it’s very easy to just do the work, head down in your organization, like you got enough to worry about in your own organization and really making that intentional time to.

Be in community with other nonprofit leaders and other [00:40:00] organizations. I know it’s quite challenging. And a lot of the leaders that I talk to don’t have that space, don’t have that community at all. And it’s, you know, especially as the executive director, it’s like, who do you have to talk to? Like a lot of things you don’t, you can’t really go to your board for they’re not like peer, you need a peer, um, peer group.


Margaret Chapman Pomponio: we have that actually. So we I hope started up with some other partner eds. We have, we call it the ed round table. It doesn’t have a sexy title, but we have, you know, a regular day every month. We just hop on a call and make the agenda when we get on, you know, and it could be like talking about employee benefits or, you know, and COVID we spent a lot of time talking about COVID protocols, but it’s just helping each other out and being sounding boards for each other.

And so I encourage anybody to do that. Um, just start up a group, have a call. Yeah, I 

Stephanie Skryzowski: love it. And it doesn’t have to be [00:41:00] fancy. Yeah, that’s, um, doesn’t have to have a fancy name. Right. I love it. Well, Margaret, thank you so much for chatting with me today. It was. It’s just great to connect with you and hear about all the work that you’re doing at West Virginia Free and just sharing your experiences as a leader.

So thank you so much. Um, we’ll absolutely link to West Virginia Free’s website and the show notes and, um, yeah, just thank you so much for being here. Oh, thank you 

Margaret Chapman Pomponio: so much. Love 100 degrees. Thanks. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: Before you go, I just want to thank you for being here. To access our show notes and bonus content, visit 100DegreesPodcast.

com. That’s 100DegreesPodcast. com and I’ll see you next time.