Transcript Episode 156

Transcript Episode 156 – Rapidly Growing Your Nonprofit with Ali Rabe 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 Podcast. This is Stephanie Skrzewski and I hope you’re having a great week and I hope you’re ready for this episode. So today I’m talking to Allie Robbie. She is executive director at Jesse [00:01:00] Tree, which is a nonprofit based in Boise, Idaho, dedicated to preventing eviction and homelessness in the Treasure Valley.

So, she and I have actually never connected before, but we met through a mutual friend and we just had an incredible conversation. We share a lot of similarities in terms of the early days of our career and I just really, really love talking to her. So, I think you’re going to get so much out of this episode.

You’re going to be first be amazed at her journey, literally all over the world, how she landed back in Boise, Idaho and the work that she’s doing now. She not only is executive director at Jessie Tree, this amazing nonprofit, but she’s also a state senator. And so we talked a lot about the work that they’re doing at Jessie Tree, some of the growth trajectory and basically how she took the organization from zero employees to 18 and 10X their revenue over the last five years and some of the challenges that have come along with that and how she’s navigated through that and continued to stay really [00:02:00] agile.

As an organization. And I asked her one question at the end that I’m like, Oh, I wish we had like another 30 minutes for this. But we talked about time management. I’m like, okay, you are literally holding a seat in public office and you are running this large, really, really impactful nonprofit organization.

Plus you have a baby at home. So give me some of your best time management tips. And y’all, you need to listen to the end and you need to listen to this part because she drops like four or five really, really actionable things that you can do. To manage your time well, keep your energy high, make sure you’re not burning out and be able to have the impact that you want to have, which is exactly what Allie is doing.

So let me give you a quick little rundown of her bio, and then we’ll get right into the episode. Allie is the executive director at Jessie Tree, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing eviction and homelessness in the Treasure Valley. Allie has spent most of her career supporting local governments and nonprofits and their efforts.

To prevent and end homelessness. Allie is a proud alumnus of the College of Ohio and holds a [00:03:00] JD from William and Mary Law School. She is the state senator for District 16. Okay, friends, I really think you are gonna love this conversation. So without further ado, let’s go talk to Allie.

Hey everyone. Welcome back to the prosperous nonprofit. I am really excited to be here today with Allie Robbie. Allie, welcome. 

Ali Rabe: Thanks for having me. I’m excited to talk to you. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah, me too. So I like to start all of our conversations, especially because you and I are new friends. I would love to just have you sort of walk us along the journey of your path and how you got to be the executive director at Jessie Tree.

We’re definitely going to get into that, but kind of take us back, walk us along your journey. Well, 

Ali Rabe: I’m originally from rural Idaho, so I was born and raised in Idaho. Now I still live here in Boise where I’m working in the non profit sector, but I made my way back to [00:04:00] Boise, um, through a lot of roundabouts, uh, through my career, but I did go to college here in Idaho, the College of Idaho and Just got really engaged in the community there through, uh, some nonprofit work, working with the, um, some government folks and, uh, really learned to have empathy for people in my community and just really, um, really learned to love my community and love community engagement and organization and all that.

I also worked in a prosecutor’s office, which made me very motivated to work on the other side of the aisle in trying to support some of those low income folks that were being prosecuted and working in public defense. Um, and also I ended up traveling through Southeast Asia during college, which through that experience saw what extreme poverty looks like.

And I’m on a more international scale and how other people live [00:05:00] and got really interested in that. So all that to say, I ended up going to law school at William and Mary in Virginia, where they had a really great international program as well as public service programs. So was able to actually go back to Southeast Asia through William and Mary, um, on the where I worked with indigenous communities in their efforts.

To protect their land in the face of these big Chinese companies that were coming in trying to take their, their land. From there, I ended up traveling, flying straight to Sierra Leone, doing that same work, and then went back to the States. The Boren Fellowship requires you to work for the federal government for a year, just to give back for your service there.

And I landed in Miami. From, from there working as an asylum and refugee officer during what has been a crazy time for our country in immigration law and policy. And I [00:06:00] traveled all over the country working in immigration detention centers and on the US Mexico border. I worked in Central America, uh, Istanbul, and got to work with refugees from all across the world.

Syria. From Iran, from, uh, South America, uh, Central America. I worked with a lot of, um, unaccompanied minors that were trying to cross the border. So anyway, from there, um, my job. Was fascinating and incredible and really just came back to that value of empathy and hearing all these stories of persecution for people across the world and wanting to help others and engage again with with my community.

But in 2017, you know, we had a big election and my job quickly changed from being a more humanitarian kind of refugee response. To more [00:07:00] enforcement, uh, side of things, and I wasn’t as interested in that. And so I ended up transitioning, um, back into the nonprofit sector, which I had, that’s where I was working in, um, abroad for nonprofits and landed a nonprofit working in homelessness in the Bay area.

So, um, in the belly of the beast where homelessness is incredibly, um, difficult, challenging for that city, they have, you know, tens of thousands of people that are housing insecure, living outside around the whole Bay area. And, uh, you know, I was administering tens of millions of dollars to basically maintain the problem of homelessness.

And. It was a, it was a challenging job for sure. Just, uh, emotionally walking to work every day, seeing all the people sleeping on the sidewalk and living on the streets, going up to my office, trying to basically, you know, maintain that [00:08:00] situation. And then, you know, by then I was approaching my 30s. I had been wanting to come back to Boise for a long time.

My family, friends are here. And, um, someone approached me about this current position I’m in at Jesse Tree, which is preventing homelessness. And, I got really excited about the idea of doing that for my, my hometown, especially having worked in the bay and, and seeing what homelessness does to people and to communities.

So I, yeah, so I ended up, um, just over five, about five years ago, came back to, to Boise to, um, become the executive director at Jesse Tree and since then I’ve been working to prevent eviction and homelessness for people here. So it’s been 10 years in public service as of this year for me, um, after leaving law school.

So it’s been a long journey. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: That’s amazing. Thank you so much for sharing that. I think it’s [00:09:00] just, you know, that your global experience working in all these different places and different sort of, uh, focus areas, and then coming back to your home community, it’s an interesting transition. I mean, you were literally jet setting for a really long time and then coming back to your home.

How was that? Did it feel like, I don’t know, how did that feel? Did it feel like limiting in any way? Cause you were so used to literally being all over the world or was it like, okay, I feel like I can really settle in here. I’m home. What was that like? 

Ali Rabe: Well, I feel like I got my jitters out for sure. In my twenties, just.

I really wanted to travel and see the world and experience new things and cultures. And I, I feel like I got that and something I saw and heard every time I was working with a nonprofit in Cambodia or Sierra Leone, you know, a lot of these nonprofits are driven by. Uh, international money, local people, and [00:10:00] when, um, people like myself come into these local nonprofits in rural Cambodia, or wherever it is, I would say the value that we have to add is maybe in some communities.

Technical assistance or capacity building, but I never felt like I could have a long term impact there. I felt like we’re just because you know their language and cultural limitations. I think it’s better for local people, and I think they feel the same way for them to drive the results of their organizations in their communities, and I heard that from them, um, constantly, and they just see, uh.

basically a revolving door of Americans and Europeans coming in and out to get that experience and get to travel or whatever it is. Um, and then they leave and they don’t care about that community. You know, it’s not their community. They go home or they go to a [00:11:00] travel to a different place to get a new experience.

And so I heard from them all the time. I remember actually, uh, an indigenous woman I was talking to in very rural Cambodia. Um, you know, I was just talking with her about her experience with land and, um. Not to say, you know, the work that I wasn’t doing had no impact, but she just looked me in the eye and she says, why are you here?

And she said, where’s your family? She’s like, go home to your family. I heard that constantly from people. And, um, you know, now that I am back home with my family and, and, um, in my community, I feel like I am so much more engaged in the community building and organization aspects of what I’m doing here. I can see and make much more of a long term impact, um, as opposed to just kind of short term intervention is stepping in and doing what I can and then leaving.

Um, so I’m yeah, I’m really committed [00:12:00] to staying here in Boise and, um, living out the rest of my life here. And I’m really glad I got that global experience because I think it makes me appreciate what I can do here so much more. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah, that’s really interesting. I have also done some similar work in Afghanistan and Haiti and Nepal and a bunch of other places, um, in my twenties.

And so I, I definitely feel that, but I mean, I think you’re right. There’s really something to be said for like roots and feeling grounded, not only like as a person with your family and, and in your community, but like the work that you can do really has that much, much deeper impact when you are so rooted in the community.

And like, you’ve kind of taken that one step further by being a state senator in Idaho. You didn’t mention that part. Can you tell us 

Ali Rabe: more about that? Oh yeah. I forgot to talk about the part where I got really angry and ran for office. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: Oh my [00:13:00] gosh. That’s incredible. Tell me more. I’m very fascinated by 

Ali Rabe: this.

Well, I, uh, you know, working in eviction prevention here, I see a lot of low income families who are struggling every day. it’s, And especially in the last several years, Boise used to be considered an affordable housing market. Now we’re, quite frankly, not and we live in a I live in a pretty deep red state that is trending to the far right as well.

So there is very much a feeling from our has been a feeling from our state government that they don’t have any role in this. But there’s nothing that they can do that they’re not a player or even, um, you’re responsible for our housing crisis. And so, yeah, in 2020, um, I ended up running for, uh, the state legislature and, and won.

And since then, I’ve been working on all kinds of housing issues at the state level. So [00:14:00] that’s really where my focus is, but trying to get. Some investments into our housing trust fund that can be used to build affordable housing and working on revising our landlord tenant code because there are so many issues with that hasn’t been updated for really for decades and there are a lot of issues I see in our work day to day where our code is so in favor of the landlord it’s it’s not fair and there’s just a lot of injustice there so trying to bring that more uh in balance and yeah I’m happy I get to Make an impact in all kinds of other ways as well.

But I think because I bring that housing expertise and also from my nonprofit had I just see the actual experiences of people living in our communities every day and I can bring that into the capital and it’s so much more powerful. Whereas before I was An outsider calling legislators or writing them or coming to committees as a, you know, we [00:15:00] do in the nonprofit sector trying to advocate where we can.

And now that I’m in there, I feel like I, again, just like you said, can really even further deepen my impact. So it’s been a fun experience. And I, oftentimes I try not to wear two hats at the same time, but I do feel like. That advocacy piece that we do every nonprofit executive director or, um, does is just, um, it comes a lot easier because I’m in this position with actual power now and I can actually do things.

Stephanie Skryzowski: I love that you’re like. Yeah, we’re just going to cut out the middleman and run for office like that is a bold move. And I am obsessed. I love that so 

Ali Rabe: much. We need more nonprofits people in our government. Let me say. More, more people who work in nonprofits need to run for office because we [00:16:00] see the experiences that, you know, real people are having and as opposed to somebody who’s working in a business, maybe in more of a bubble, people who are more, more, um, wealthy or privileged, we, we need to be in there advocating for the people that we serve as nonprofit professionals.

So. Yeah, absolutely. I recommend everyone listening to this podcast. Consider you 

Stephanie Skryzowski: make it sound so easy. Like I just decided to cut out the middleman and run for office. I love it. That’s amazing. Okay. I want to dig into this area that you are so passionate about and that is, you know, homelessness and the housing crisis.

So tell me more about Jesse tree and what you all do and just Yeah, just tell me all the things. Tell me about Jesse Tree. Yeah, 

Ali Rabe: so Jesse Tree is a grassroots organization. So we just serve the Boise urban area and some outlying rural areas [00:17:00] here in Idaho. And we serve low income tenants who temporarily can’t pay their rent and they’re being evicted.

So we provide them with information, support, and emergency financial assistance during their eviction. So we serve people when they’re in that legal eviction process already, their landlord has said, Hey, we’re going to take you to court or they’re actually in court. And most of our staff are social workers.

So, uh, we go and support them through that process and. Provide them with all the things that social workers do supportive services and financial literacy connections to resources and then we will cut them a check for the rent that they owe. So we actually prevent eviction for about 100 families every month.

We prevented eviction for over 1100 families last year, administering 2. 5 million in rental assistance. So we’re a big operation, and we’re, [00:18:00] um, even though there are a lot of evictions happening in Boise, there were, in our valley, there were over 2, 000 evictions just in court last year and thousands more pre court.

We’re resolving about 25 percent of all evictions at every phase in our valley. Um, so it’s pretty amazing. Um, and I feel really passionate about what we do, especially here because Homelessness isn’t so bad here in Boise that we can’t get ahead of it. We have, you know, just a few thousand people that kind of revolve in and out of our homeless services system, but it’s not like it is in other cities across the United States that are having this really serious homeless crisis.

And I think we can stay ahead of it by keeping people housed. It costs us 2, 000 to keep somebody in their housing. And we know that once somebody ends up homeless, it’s so much more expensive to solve. It costs our community at least 12, [00:19:00] 000 to get somebody out of homelessness. And then just to keep somebody homeless, like I was saying in the Bay Area, I experienced this where.

It costs, in Boise alone, it costs about 50, 000 per person per year to keep someone homeless, essentially. That’s the cost of shelter, first responders, um, just all the resources that homeless populations need. And so, if we can invest in people before they end up in that situation, If obviously it’s the right thing to do, it’s, um, the humane thing to do, but it’s also a cost effective thing to do.

And yeah, it’s gonna help our community avoid a lot of issues, very expensive and very challenging issues down the line. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: That’s incredible. My mind is like spinning. I’m like, okay, what’s the math? What would it take for you to expand and just like eradicate the issue entirely? Like, that doesn’t seem [00:20:00] that far off.

Ali Rabe: It doesn’t. I honestly think, um, you know, what I tell funders is if we can double the service level that we’re providing and serve about half of people who are being evicted, I think we could seriously stem or even stop the tide of people going into homelessness. Especially the one area we’re really lacking resources right now is serving people that are exiting jails or hospitals or other people that are needing security deposit assistance, kind of informally housed populations.

that aren’t considered actually homeless yet. Uh, if we could boost our resources there serving those really vulnerable populations, I do think we could have, yeah, even more of an impact. And actually, I know that we have had a huge impact just having grown our services over the last five years. We’ve seen the number of eviction cases that are getting resolved.

Really drastically increased. And, um, [00:21:00] we’ve also seen our homeless numbers remain manageable here. So they have slightly increased through the pandemic. We saw a 40 percent increase in the cost of rent, but I think relative to that cost increase, um, we haven’t seen homeless in this increase as much, I think in large part, cause we’ve been available as a resource, but, um, but yeah, I, I do think we could really, really make an impact if we could double.

From what we’re doing now, providing more around the tune of 5 million a year. We’ll get there eventually. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: That’s amazing. Like, I just feel like a lot of nonprofits are, you know, they’re trying to make an impact that is like, A drop in the ocean of need. And it’s not that that little drop is not needed. It is, but like to be in an organization like Jesse tree, where it’s like, we’re kind of like halfway there to fully, maybe not fully forever wiping out this [00:22:00] issue or meeting this need, but like getting pretty darn close, that has to be like, Very motivating.

I would imagine that it’s like, okay, we’re not that far away from something really, really 

Ali Rabe: big here. Exactly. It is really motivating to see the impacts that we’re having already in court and when we talk to the shelters and other places, but also just to see, yeah, the impacts that we’re having on each family that we serve.

Each family is, that we’re serving is avoiding that eviction on their record. They’re getting, you know, this large boost to their household budget to pay off this huge debt that they owe their rent and it’s setting them up for success in the future. We have also seen that of all the people we’ve supported over the last five years, only 5 percent of them have gone to shelter in the long term.

So we know that when people can just get that little boost during this really difficult time, they don’t end up back in the [00:23:00] system, you know, not only immediately, but more long term as well. So. Yeah, we get to see those short term benefits, of course, um, all the people that we serve every day, but we know those long term benefits as well.

And anyway, it is very motivating on many fronts, so. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: That’s awesome. That’s so good. And does the majority of your funding come from government grants? 

Ali Rabe: About half of our funding is from government, and then the, um, Next after that, it’s mostly individuals in the community. So the Treasure Valley is a really giving community.

A lot of people who live here are invested here. They’re here to stay. You know, I did some fundraising, um, efforts and worked in different. Nonprofits in the Bay Area. Um, and even Miami, I felt like a lot of people living there are more transitory. You know, they’re not, [00:24:00] um, really invested and staying in that community, uh, or engaged in that community here.

It’s very much, you know. People have been living here for their whole life, or they’re here to stay for their whole life. So I think, yeah, it’s just a very giving community, and people are really excited about our mission, because they’ve all traveled to Seattle, and Portland, and San Francisco, and they don’t want Boise to end up like that.

And, um, so it is very motivating for a lot of people here. Um, plus, you know, we’re seeing just, we’ve seen over the past, um, especially with the last few years, this huge rent increase, a lot more people needing help. And so, um, that’s very inspiring for people in our community as well to give. And, but yeah, after that, after individuals who receive money from foundations and, um, corporations and other entities as well, but.

Yeah, government makes up about half of our budget. Um, and they’re actually, it’s interesting. Our [00:25:00] homeless prevention is funded by a lot of governments. And there are other organizations like ours. But I should say agencies. They’re mostly government agencies. A lot of them. So, it’s kind of interesting that we are, you know, we’re 501c3 and doing this work.

There aren’t a lot of organizations like ours doing this. It’s mostly government, so, but you know, Idaho, so we don’t have as much government money here. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah.

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So with half of your revenue coming from government, how do you like? Stay agile and nimble as an organization with changes in administration, changes in funding priorities. Um, you know, I work with a few organizations that have, you know, large for them, federal grants that are in different areas and even areas that you’d think like, really the change in administration affects this thing.

It doesn’t seem like a super political issue. But, you know, it, it happens. So how do you, you know, really maintain Agile as an organization with changes in administration when half your funding is coming from the government? That’s 

Ali Rabe: a great [00:27:00] question. And we just dealt with this really seriously. So we got a 3.

4 million grant during the pandemic, actually. And so that was actually, um, at that point, government was about 75 percent of our budget. So we just spent two years. Um, we were just kind of, um, growing. We grew our development team and the capacity of our staff on the development side and created, you know, an individual giving program increased the number of grants we were receiving.

We identified a foundation, a national foundation that was focusing on what we were doing and got that grant to fund actually four of our staff positions ongoing. Which is really great. Um, the Seamer Foundation and, uh, really just focused on, okay, how are we going to replace this when this is over? We can’t depend on this.

And we’re actually able to maintain our entire staff, even when that 3 million grant [00:28:00] was, was gone. And, um, Just yeah, focusing on how I mean, how we’re gonna replace this money. I think that’s the case. No matter the funder, honestly, whether it’s government or corporate or foundation, you know, a lot of major donors like to give one time.

And so we’ve received other another grant from a foundation for 250, 000 another from the corporation that was 100, 000. Um, and you know, you have to grow your budget to spend that money down within the year, but then you have to think through, okay, how are we going to maintain this next year? So I just feel like it’s the nature of nonprofit, uh, really, I mean, no matter the funder, um, government in particular for sure can be concerning because there’s just so much outside of your control with that and it is.

Um, either a huge win or a huge loss, depending on [00:29:00] the election cycle or how it goes. And, um, yeah, one thing that’s really challenging for us with government, especially local government, is just that there is so little money to go around, government money to go around. And our city, like the city of Boise and other local cities like Meridian, um, just outside of Boise, are really Most robustly investing in homeless prevention, but our county’s not really doing anything.

Our state’s not doing anything. So, um, we’re competing for pretty scarce resources, I would say, around housing. There are so many needs, um, that we have. And so that’s been the biggest challenge, especially with local funds, uh, local government funds. It’s just that there’s not a lot to go around and our homeless agencies are also needing a lot of resources.

So that’s the hard part. And we just try to, you know, for government, I think, For housing, it’s really should be [00:30:00] a three legged stool investing in developing building housing, like housing trust funds or whatever it is, so you can create more housing, preventing eviction, and then homeless response, and trying to balance those three things.

It’s really difficult with scarce resources, so. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: Um, yeah, I actually work with another organization that got like funding through like emergency rental rent assistance program, like ERAP funds, um, around COVID. And it was the same thing. It felt like it was real exciting at first, like here’s several million dollars that we’re going to give you.

And great. There’s, you know, the, the 10 percent overhead and all the, you know, it felt great. And then after that, it’s like, Oh wait, now we have staff that we hired to work on this. It’s like, What do we do now, Tim? Yeah. The way that you talk about it, it just seems like, yeah, we’re going to figure out the next thing as it comes to us.

And, um, I mean, that’s, [00:31:00] that’s really all we can do. Um, you had mentioned when we first started talking about really managing the growth of your organization. Can you talk more about that? I mean, I know you mentioned. You know, getting this large, this large federal grant, was that sort of the catalyst of, of the growth or have there been other things that have, you know, push the organization and how have you kind of managed through that?

Ali Rabe: Yeah. So when I started at Jesse tree, so Jesse tree has been run for 25 years, but it was mostly volunteer led. And so I was really the first. professional executive director they had brought on, uh, in 2019, five years ago. And when I started, it was just me and one other person as our staff, and we had a 250, 000 annual budget.

Wow. And so we’ve grown 10 times that since then. So one big thing was I started in 2019, pandemic hit. 2020. So, uh, right away, people [00:32:00] were thinking about, oh my gosh, people can’t pay their rent in our community. And so we actually, um, really capitalized on that. I hate to say, but the pandemic, we were able to, um, Because, you know, the fact of the matter is people can pay their rent before the pandemic.

But the pandemic really helps people in our community, I think, have more empathy around that. And the fact that people are really struggling because, you know, government shutdowns and issues with getting to work and other things like that. Um, so we, um, just really spread the word about what we were doing throughout the pandemic and, um, people continue to step up and donate, um, um, again and again, that first year in 2020, we got a big, um, foundation grant as well, and we, we were able to grow a lot, um, that year and then 2021 is when we got the COVID funds that helped us grow even more, um, to the level that we’re at now, which is, [00:33:00] 18 staff and paying out about 2.

5 million a year. So yeah, the government grant help does get there, but I will say individuals, foundations along the way, we’re giving at really high levels as well. So I think the challenge since then has been to just maintain that sense of urgency in our community around our mission, and also that sense of empathy, just because during the pandemic, everyone felt, I think, more empathy, maybe for others that were struggling with household expenses, things like that.

And now. That that’s over. Um, we’re kind of resorting back to, at least in Idaho, there’s a little bit of that people need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps mentality. Like, why can’t they figure it out on their own? You know, I did, so they should be able to. And Um, so just kind of trying to explain that, hey, rent has increased [00:34:00] by 40 percent in the last few years.

If you were paying, um, you know, 1, 000 last year, a month, you’re paying 1, 400 a month. Now, um, this is kind of what that looks like for a household budget at the income levels that we have here. And if you have, your kid gets sick, Your car breaks down, whatever it is. Um, you know, you can end up in that situation.

So it’s been, um, that’s kind of what we’ve been trying to do to maintain our growth and even grow more is just explaining that rent increase and what it’s done for people here. Um, and it’s, like I said, we have a really giving community here, so it’s been going well, but, um, we have a lot of new people moving here from, up to Idaho, from other states, and they’re saying, wow, this is a wonderful place to live, like.

It’s so clean. There’s no homelessness here or not, you know, not as much as where I’m coming from. And we are [00:35:00] trying to educate more of those people to explain that, Hey, like if you want to be a part of this community, you have to invest in it because. This isn’t a wonderful community just because there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes and so I think that’s really our next, um, where we’re trying to hit is that population of new folks moving in and trying to get them to to give and be a part of what we’re doing as well.

Yeah. Yeah. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: What was it like, I mean, five years going, you know, 10X ing the organization, going from zero and then, you know, zero staff members and then you as one to, what did you say you have 18 today? Like what was the. Yeah. Um, how did you manage that sort of internal operational growth? Because like I have grown a business and, but we went from zero to 16 in like eight years, not, you know, not five [00:36:00] or fewer.

So it’s a lot, that’s, it’s hard. Um, yeah. Yeah. What, what, what’s it been like or how’d you get through it? I know. I know. Yeah. 

Ali Rabe: Yeah. I think I just, um, one thing I did is just ask for help and I thought I’m really, uh, have no shame in asking my friends or family for help, whether it’s help with thinking through a problem or connecting me to someone or.

Asking somebody for money, um, whatever it is. So, I mean, that’s something I did, um, through the whole thing. And then I think I was really intentional about hiring and who I brought on with my staff and my board. And I’m proud to say that a majority of our staff, um, since we brought most people on three, four years ago, more than 90 percent are still with us at Jesse tree.

And so I think just. Really being careful about hiring and, you know, that process and [00:37:00] trying to get a good read on folks, making sure to get fit for them, but also for us and, uh, and then along the way, just treating people well and. Making sure they feel really engaged in our process. So for sure, people that came on earlier could have easily burned out because when we were growing, they’re wearing like six, seven hats.

And so I just had to make sure to treat people well along the way and give them flexibility where needed and might be mindful of when they were burning out, encourage them to take some time or take something off their plate. Um, and ask for help, encouraging them to ask for help for sure. Um, I’ll say the same thing with my board.

We as in line with my staff, very intentional about bringing on really great board members and we’ve maintained all, you know, almost. Yeah, all of our board members that we’ve recruited over the last five years. We have now [00:38:00] from when I started, we just had three members. Now we have, um, 14 really great members there.

So, um, who are very engaged, um, incredible boards. So I think really, um, what I’m trying to say is focusing on the people that were building Jesse tree along the way. And then also just trying to stay organized. We’ve done a lot of work building our strategic plan, making sure we’re keeping that in mind, our values, our vision, our mission, making sure that is the forefront of all of our decision making and goal setting.

And then, um, we’ve been really careful and intentional about building out work plans from there with, with. Deadlines and, um, you know, um, making sure we’re getting stuff done along the way. So there’s a lot, definitely a lot to it for sure. And I think the only other piece that I, um, kind of lucked out on is just marketing side of things.

I’ll say, I think it’s [00:39:00] really important for nonprofits to market in order to raise money and also to grow their, um, ability to serve more people for sure. And we were able to get a lot of earned media. Through the pandemic and just sharing information with the community about what was going on for people being evicted.

So that helped a lot. Um, just getting more exposure, um, to the, our wider community. And like I said before, getting people really excited about our mission through those efforts. And then obviously me running for office. They get some more attention as well. I think it’s interesting. Somebody once told me.

You’re running for office is like the most creative PR scheme that any has ever come up with. Cause yeah, when I was running for office, um, you know, I was talking a lot about eviction and what was going on in our community there. And, um, cause that’s, you know, was my platform and what I wanted to address in the legislature.

So [00:40:00] I think that did in turn kind of, um, from the PR perspective, just raise the profile of Jesse tree as well and help us grow. Yeah. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: Such a good point. Yeah. Because as you’re getting that PR, then obviously the work that you’re doing is getting spread farther and farther out there. And you just have so much more, so many more opportunities to talk about it in a public, you know, in a public forum where people are going to hear you.

I was going to ask you, you obviously have a lot on your plate. I was going to ask you if you have any like time management. Tips or tricks or hacks or anything that you’re like, oh yeah, I like do my schedule this way or this is how I, you know, organize my calendar. Like what’s your favorite? Give us a couple of your favorite, like time management, time management tips.

Ali Rabe: I am glad you’re asking that because I think that’s so important. Stephanie, I don’t think enough people, especially in the nonprofit sector, think about that. And so many people burn out. And again, like just with being mindful of my [00:41:00] staff, I try to make sure people work 40 hours. And I try to do the same for myself, honestly, with the nonprofit, my nonprofit work.

And, um, I, I think working beyond that, burning the candle at both ends is counterproductive. And I’ve seen, even just locally, so many nonprofit professionals burned out. And it’s just. It’s not productive and time management and also boundary setting is so important. So boundary setting for me is my time management tip.

One on one, like, um, I try to do a lot of just 15 minute meetings with people if I can, or I do more phone calls instead of, you know, full hours or two hour long meetings. Um, I try to limit the time when I’m, if I can, um, with, with folks, if it’s possible. And just very mindful about, um, how I allocate my time to some of those longer stretch meetings.

And, um, try to [00:42:00] delegate some of that as well, if I can. And then I try to map out, um, each week. So I, we, we actually do a lot of our project management in Asana, which is a really great project management software. They have a nonprofit discount too. So, and I don’t have a referral code or anything, but, um, no, I, I do really like Asana.

Trello is actually free though. So we used to use Trello as well. And I, I really liked Trello too. So we use that as an organization so I can manage and delegate. Projects and delegate tasks through those platforms to people and, um, kind of also oversee what people are doing more, um, just really helpful.

Um, just now overseeing, you know, 18 staff and kind of trying to see, make sure everyone’s on task and, um, especially still attacking some of our larger, higher level goals. Um, so we use that. And then the other, another trick that I [00:43:00] have is. I use Calendly to schedule things. So I used to spend a lot of time emailing back and forth with people availability and I have my own Calendly now.

So if anyone wants to book a time with me, they can do so during like set hours that I have for meetings and I’ll give them the time allocation that I have, whether it’s 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes. whatever is needed for the topic that we’re discussing. So I don’t have to email back and forth with people all day about, you know, when we’re going to meet.

So those are a few things, um, boundary setting, project management software, calendar management. So, 

Stephanie Skryzowski: so good. And so like not often used enough in nonprofits and I’m like, I did a couple of workshop series last year. Um, with probably like 30 to 40 different nonprofits were represented and I’m like, who’s using a project management system and like pretty much no one raised their hand.

I’m like, so [00:44:00] how do you have a view of like what’s going on in the organization? And they just don’t. And so that. Okay. That disorganization and chaos just sucks up so much time and mental space. And so I love that you have that. Yeah. Not surprised. You seem like a very organized person, but yeah, the calendar, um, and having your setting the boundaries around that I do as well.

Like if I give someone my calendly link, it’s not going to show Monday at 9 AM to Friday at 5 PM as a wide open book, whenever you want, there’s like specific windows where I take calls. Right. But I feel like we’re not taking care of ourselves by setting those boundaries. Um, and you know, we’re just, I don’t know, it’s just chaos serving everybody else and not taking care of yourselves.

So I love that you’ve got that. And I would imagine that type of like, you know, sort of discipline is necessary when you’re running a large organization, when you are, you know, sitting in [00:45:00] a public office seat, like you have a lot going on. And so. I mean, I think you have a young, you have a young child, right?

Like that’s a lot. Yes, you have a baby. Oh my gosh. Okay. So all the boundaries are needed. Oh, so good. Um, oh, thank you so much for sharing those. And I hope anybody listening, if you’re like, Oh, project management system software. Yeah. We don’t have that. Go get it. It does not take a lot to set up. 

Ali Rabe: So important.

Um, especially for nonprofits because we are so important. We are. One of the largest employers in every state. We are solving the world’s problems, unlike government and business. Like we are trying to fill the gaps in all of our communities and these really necessary services. So we need to get organized and we need to not burn out so we can keep going.

Stephanie Skryzowski: Exactly. Exactly. And the tips that you shared are such a great way to do that, to take care of yourself. This has been amazing. I feel like I could talk to you a [00:46:00] lot more, but exactly in the interest of boundaries for both of us. 

Ali Rabe: I want to hear more about Haiti too and all the places you’ve been, but we’ll have to do it in due time.


Stephanie Skryzowski: we will. That sounds amazing. I would love that. Um, one question that I like to ask all of my guests before we wrap up is what does a prosperous nonprofit look like to you? 

Ali Rabe: That’s a great question. Um, I think a prosperous nonprofit is one that has a clear mission, a very indelible impact on vulnerable families in our communities and they have great people who are treated well along the way to meet the goals to support the mission and vision.

Love it. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: Yep. I think that’s so good. It is so much about the people. Absolutely. Awesome. [00:47:00] Well, um, we are going to have links. To Jesse tree in the show notes, but if anybody wants to go check it out, jessetreeidaho. org is where you can find out more about your incredible work and your organization. And yeah, anywhere else people should go check out, or should they just go to jessetreeidaho.

Ali Rabe: org? Yeah. And feel free to reach out to, if you’re in a community that doesn’t have eviction prevention, I’m happy to talk with anyone about that and how to get that going. Cause we need more of that across the United States. For 

Stephanie Skryzowski: sure. Oh my gosh. I’m so glad you said that. That was one thing I meant to bring up earlier.

We don’t need to like open that can of worms, but I was going to say like, okay, so we’re going to solve the issue in Boise. And then like, can we just replicate your model and plunk it down in other similar cities, the United States? Let’s 

Ali Rabe: do it. I’m ready. Okay. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: I mean, it seems like, okay, we’ve kind of like landed on something here.

How can we replicate and, you know, sort of license this model across the country? It’s fantastic. Love it. [00:48:00] Amazing. Awesome. I’m ready to go. Yes, yes. So good. That can be your, that can be your next venture. Well, it was so great chatting with you. Thank you so much for being here. Thanks for sharing all of your wisdom with me and with our listeners.

I know this is, they’re, they’re gonna love it. This was so good. So thank you so 

Ali Rabe: much. Thank you, Stephanie. Yeah. And we’ll have to do it again. Absolutely. 

Stephanie Skryzowski: Before you go, I just want to 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.