Transcript Episode 161

Transcript Episode 161 – Building Strong Community Relationships to Support Earned Income Initiatives with Megan McNally on The Prosperous Nonprofit

[00:00:00] Stephanie Skryzowski: 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 ways. Innovative, disruptive, and entrepreneurial ways creating organizations that fuel their lives, their hearts, and their communities. Let’s dive in.

Hey friends, welcome back to the Prosperous Nonprofit. I’m Stephanie Skrzewski, and today I’m here with Megan McNally. Now, Megan is an incredible founder. nonprofit leader here in Buffalo, New York, and she’s [00:01:00] going to share a bit about the organization that she co founded that is helping provide really useful skills and workforce development here in Buffalo.

And she is a woodworker. Isn’t that so cool? Um, so she’s going to share a little bit about her journey and how she went from being a woodworker to founding this incredible maker space in the East side of Buffalo. So let me tell you a little bit about Megan. Megan is the co founder of the Foundry. She graduated from Barnard college with a degree in environmental policy and has worked on green building construction sites around the country.

She gained experience in woodworking at Yestermorrow Design Build School, and she moved back to Buffalo to run a woodworking business from 2011 to 2014. And she’s passionate about supporting women. And people of color in nontraditional career pathways. She’s active in big brothers, big sisters, and encourages everyone to consider it mentorship.

Now she is very well decorated. She has been the recipient of a women who moved the city award [00:02:00] biz journals, 30 under 30 award. Protégé of the Year from University of Buffalo’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. And she was one of the finalists in the Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo Centennial Awards.

So the last like claim to fame that I will add to Megan is that she was a participant in the financial management workshops that I led with the OSHI Foundation earlier this year. So She, along with one of her team members, came to attend these workshops and that’s where we met each other and she was able to use the experience to really shore up the financial foundation and build her skills when it comes to financial management to support the foundry and their mission.

So we have a great conversation in studio. for you today. So without further ado, let’s go talk to Megan.

Hey, everyone. Welcome back to the Prosperous Nonprofit. I’m really excited to [00:03:00] have here with me today, Megan McNally. Megan, welcome. Thanks for having me. Yes. So I would love to learn a little bit more about you. So we first met each other, um, probably six months or so ago in a financial management workshop here in Buffalo, New York.

But I would love for you to tell our listeners a little bit more about you and what has. your journey looked like to where you are and what you’re doing today? That is a long question. 

[00:03:30] Megan McNally: Okay, so, um, Maggie McNally, I’m currently the executive director at the foundry, which is a nonprofit located over on the east side of Buffalo.

Um, It’s interesting. Every time I give a tour and I introduce myself, you know, most people see you in a certain way. Um, and so, you know, as a non profit administrator or whatever, and I go, well, secretly my background is in like environmental science policy and I’m a woodworker. 

[00:03:58] Stephanie Skryzowski: I love it. 

[00:03:59] Megan McNally: [00:04:00] So. I think that, you know, a lot of what I do, uh, because we are a makerspace on the east side, uh, we focus a lot on access to tools and resources.

And so, you know, being a woodworker and having actual experience in making really helps me understand some of the challenges and, and trials and tribulations that folks go through as they’re also learning. And so, yeah, I went to school for environmental policy and science. I traveled the country for a while building alternative.

buildings. So if you’ve ever heard of straw bale or rammed earth construction or Anything basically not made of wood, that would be what I was doing. And then I ended up in Vermont, uh, working with a woodworker and at YesterMorrow Design and Build School, where I naively at 20 something ish, decided that starting a business was a great idea.

Um, and it couldn’t be possibly very hard. Um, so I landed back in Buffalo, starting a woodworking company. And that’s, um, sort [00:05:00] of how the foundry all got going because, uh, I had a space where I was working on my own business and just feeling really under supported as a woman in non traditional trades. Um, and also being a business owner as a woman and sort of navigating all the challenges of being a woman, um, and having people have perceptions about like who’s in charge.

So having my male employee. You know, have people come up to him and ask him questions or he would get a different price points on supplies than I would. So I’d have him call suppliers and you know, all these different experiences that I was like, gosh, there needs to be more support for people who are making things and who are creative to like advocate for themselves.

Um, and so, you know, really started this space with the intention to help people navigate that and really share in my own learning journey. Um, and then You know, I just, I think that I’ve always had a passion for education and alternative education, primarily because the traditional school system doesn’t work for a lot of people [00:06:00] and they need other alternative outlets to explore and to recognize their inner strength and their inner powers.

So, um, you know, we kind of demystify the making process and we make learning fun and get people going with all the resources. 

[00:06:14] Stephanie Skryzowski: That is amazing. How did you get started woodworking? Was this like you’ve been doing this since you were a kid and like you just have this passion for it? Like, tell me about the, like, how did we get there?

That’s awesome. 

[00:06:26] Megan McNally: I wish I had started when I was younger. I think, so my grandfather was a great, uh, he was like a tinkerer, woodworker, made amazing little projects for us all the time at home. Like we have all these handmade wooden lamps and, you know, all these creative things that he made. And I didn’t really appreciate it.

And I also think like he was from a different generation. So he really was like, I’m not teaching my granddaughter how to do any of this stuff. So, you know, fast forward and I kind of got into it. It was like the first time I ever had like [00:07:00] a heart to heart with my grandfather, you know, we were able to kind of share with that, like share, he was like, Oh, what kind of joinery did you use?

That’s woodworking. Whoa, my grandfather’s talking to me about something other than like fluff. It’s amazing. But yeah, so I got into woodworking, um, I started volunteering with Buffalo Reuse, which, um, was an organization that actually was previously located at the foundry. They were doing material reclamation, uh, demolition, um, and deconstruction.

So reusing materials got super into that. Uh, and I actually had an independent study from my college where I was funded to do anything I wanted. And actually, you know, people took. That money, it was about three or 4, 000. You could do anything. You could study anything. And, you know, people were studying things across the ocean, you know, they would go on a glorious journey and go and study different things.

And I was like, I don’t know, there’s a lot of need in Buffalo. And like, I could do a really cool project. What could I [00:08:00] do that I could learn about some of the things that I’m into? And, you know, I was doing environmental science stuff and, um, learned about a lot of the challenges around just the old housing and housing stock in the city of Buffalo.

And I ended up convincing my school to buy a house in the foreclosure option. Gosh, I always joke about it. Um, I say that my college was more than just learning. It, it gave me a house

from working with, um, Buffalo reuse and working with a lot of folks, uh, in the neighborhood to just have a conversation around, like, we need a creative learning lab of like, people are afraid to put dents and holes in their house and they don’t want to waste money. They don’t want to get ripped off by, um, you know, the scam artists.

Who is trying to overcharge them for things and so really trying to Figure out like answers to how do you adequately repair houses and, um, like empower yourself to do so as well. And so, [00:09:00] um, we created a learning lab where we did free workshops and, um, invited professional like carpenters or whoever had the skillset to fix stuff because this was like an abandoned house.

So like. We had broken stairs. Well, like, let’s do a workshop on how to fix stairs and like the things to know about it and think about it. And like, if you’re hiring a contractor, this is what it looks like. And so really just like demystifying the process for people. And in the course of that, I was like, wow, I actually like building things.

Like I had never done that really before myself. And I just started getting really into it and, um, learning a bunch of different stuff about How to repair houses and then just wanted to pursue that after college and, um, travel the country and, and learn from various woodworkers. So. 

[00:09:47] Stephanie Skryzowski: That is so cool. Talk about entrepreneurial, like on this show, we talk a lot about like people and organizations that are doing things in new and innovative ways.

And you’re just casually like, okay, I have this college project college. Would you buy a house for [00:10:00] me to like do my project on? And they’re like, sure. That sounds great. 

[00:10:04] Megan McNally: I don’t know if they were exactly like Sherb. 

[00:10:10] Stephanie Skryzowski: But I mean, what a cool idea. Like, oh, what a cool idea. And so, like I said, that is something that we always love to talk about and showcase on here because I think a lot of nonprofits often, especially if they have a more like, I don’t know, sort of traditional model.

We feel sort of stuck in these traditional revenue models as well, where it’s like, okay, we got to do the like individual giving and like, let’s go ask these foundations for money. But, but I know that’s one thing I’m seeing a lot more is organizations like creating social enterprises, creating new revenue streams.

And so I would love for you to tell us a little bit about the social enterprise that you have at the foundry and what you’re doing there. 

[00:10:52] Megan McNally: Yeah. So I think, um, you know, entrepreneurial, right. We, two of our main missions is really focused on entrepreneurship and, you know, supporting the [00:11:00] creative maker, um, and navigating first time business ownership.

And then the second is that education piece and demystifying the making process. And, um, you know, so I think that we’ve always. Taking a critical look at ourselves and saying, if we’re telling other people to be innovative and creative, like we better be doing that ourselves. And I think I actually, to counter the like traditional, I think we suffer sometimes from not being traditional, um, as an organization, like I’ve had to learn some of the traditional ways in which people fundraise because.

Yeah, there is a cadence to it. And there is ways to fundraise that are really tested and true. And like, you should also do those things. Right. So I want to just make sure that that’s like elevated of like, there are reasons why people do those things. So, you know, I think that we, in terms of our approach, we really try to look at like, what sort of earned income can we do?

And so, um, I would [00:12:00] say that. Anytime anybody asks us like, how are you funded? I’m like, well, we have 1 billion ways to refund it. But I think that is really critical because you know, the cashflow and also making sure that if anyone grants or if anyone donor who is a big donor, like kind of disappears, that you have these alternative methods of income.

So you’re not just like, Oh my goodness, we must shut down tomorrow. So we are about. Actually, this year is the biggest year of, we’re about 60 percent grant funded this coming year, but prior years has been 40, 45, 50 percent, um, and then the rest is all earned income. Very little from like donor, sponsor, like probably 5 percent of that.

Um, and then the remainder is income. So we, in 2013, I believe we put together, it was like one of the first years of Kickstarter campaign. We were in the building and there was like a little bit of stuff going on. And we said, you know, we have this crazy [00:13:00] idea that we’re going to come up with this building that’s going to provide access to tools and equipment and resources, and like, it’s going to support makers, it’s going to support neighbors.

We think you should give us some money. Let’s do this together and build this. And so we did a Kickstarter campaign and we raised 30, 000 to put a down payment on our building. Yeah. So it’s a 20, 25, 000 square foot building. And really that has been critical in order for us to build our operations. And so we’re able to, we charge rent for tenants who were supporting.

So business, uh, tenants are, um, peer learning, they give mentorship and all that sort of stuff, but then they also get. You know, they’re, they’re paying the overhead of like the heat, the wifi, all of the connections and everything. So they’re, you know, they’re paying a base rate monthly, which really helps with our cashflow because we have wood shop and metal shop and all these other spaces in our building that we can teach.

[00:14:00] We teach classes to the general public. So you, Stephanie could decide that you’ve never done metalworking in your life and you would love to learn welding. Um, And so we do all sorts of fun classes, um, that are really, you know, they’re fee based. So any of the income that we make from that, it’s all cash flow, um, in order to really focus on our core, uh, mission, which is really supporting young people, um, you know, learning workforce development skills and then, you know, any of the makers supporting them as well and building their businesses.

And so, you know, I think it’s a little bit of like, Pull from here, pull from there in order to do the important work. And who can we leverage in our community that has, and is willing to pay money in order to kind of shift the money to where it needs to go. And so one of those other pieces that you brought up is our social enterprise.

So we have, um, what’s called foundry made. It’s a contracting arm of what we do. So we recently did a large project for [00:15:00] the central terminal. So if you go down to the central terminal, you can see there’s benches picnic tables, there’s large artistic looking trellises. And so it’s an opportunity for us to employ our young people who are practicing the skills that they’re developing and they get paid to do it.

So it’s, you know, justification of like the skills that you’re learning actually give you money. It’s not just like, we’re, you know, everybody can weld and have fun. And that’s great too. Like if you develop a hobby, great, but. You know, if you really want to learn welding and do this as a living, that’s something that can actually generate income for you.

Um, and so we’re able to both get at the core of our mission, which, you know, again, is that a whole workforce development and education piece, as well as that cashflow piece. So, you know, we’re not doing central terminals, not just saying, Hey, give us. there’s actually a contract involved or there’s a grant that we wrote together.

So, you know, more recently we’re [00:16:00] working with the health foundations with their go local, age friendly grant and they were working with slow roll to place bike racks across Western New York um, focusing a lot on the east side as well and, you know, making sure that it’s, the bike racks are all placed in diverse age range locations.

So like if it’s at a community center, a senior center, um, places in which people who are 60, 65 and up, um, are going to access, um, to make, us all healthier to, you know, bike around. Um, and then really backing up with Slow Roll because they’ve developed a lot of relationships across Western New York, um, for all age ranges.

You know, I, I feel like they, their mantra is like, they work with like nine year olds and 99 year olds. 


[00:16:54] Megan McNally: And so, you know, making sure that those get placed, uh, locally. It’s a way for us [00:17:00] to, um, guarantee income in some ways. It’s also a way for us to pay out to support our young people to learn, um, different things.

And yeah, I think it’s, it’s one of, it’s a creative way in which you can, which you can generate additional income. And I think, you know, it also leads to something that I didn’t mention is that we’ve worked with, um, many different companies in terms of sponsors. So, you know, like for us, it’s not like.

You’re the sponsor of this event. And, um, you know, that’s the sort of traditional way of thinking about it. Um, we have a more, uh, well, what do you need? Do you, do you need employee recognition gifts? Do you need, uh, bike racks in front of your space? Uh, are you super excited about another organization that you’re donating to that needs something that we can make for them?

Um, so most recently, uh, Easy Loan Auto, um, came to us and they are really passionate about. Literacy. Um, and we knew about Black Boys Read [00:18:00] Two and said, you know, I think this is a perfect match. Like, let’s talk about, we can, you can support the Foundry just as a sponsor, um, knowing that your dollars are going somewhere to support things that are really important in our community.

But as a perk, we would love to make 10 book cases for Black Boys Read Two. And so, in some ways, your dollars go farther, because You’re not only getting to supporting us as the foundry and our operations, but we’re also supporting another business or another nonprofit who really needs that support as well.

So we’ve been able to kind of turn that around using our, uh, social enterprise to do some very creative, interesting things that also just. Get to the core of our mission and make us really excited about it. 

[00:18:45] Stephanie Skryzowski: I love that. I mean, it sounds like at the heart of everything that you just talked about is really like building relationships with others in the community that want to have, you know, a similar impact and.

By doing that, you’ve been [00:19:00] able to really expand your resources, also their resources, expand your impact, and probably also their impact. And I think that’s so important, because I’ve worked with organizations before that are so like, insular, and they’re just kind of like, doing their own thing in their own bubble.

But, um, I feel like your work at the foundry is such a testament to like, okay, what does, um, you know, building relationships and being out in the community and forming these partnerships that are going to be mutually beneficial. I mean, the work, I feel like the impact is like exponential. So you’re co founder, like, how did you get started?

started with this. I’m like, who do you even talk? Like, where does this all begin? Like, how do you, I don’t know. Like, did you, were you like, okay, well, I need to be out in the community. I need to be making relationships. This is something that’s really important. Or did it just like sort of evolve over time?

[00:19:50] Megan McNally: Yeah. I mean, I think. Most good things evolve over time. Although I think, uh, you know, when we were co founding it, uh, you know, there was a couple of core businesses [00:20:00] working alongside each other and just really needing support. And so I think a lot of this over time has been organic, but at the heart and soul of it, you have to have a good heart, like, I guess we could have just, you know, we could have been extractive and like, been like, we want our space and we want to do this thing and only this thing.

And I, you know, I just. You can certainly do that. I don’t recommend it. And I think that we’ve always just been, uh, driven by the core understanding that there’s something very important about making things, like the physicality of it. Um, and I think, you know, anytime anybody who comes into our space whether they’re a maker or whether they’re not maker.

The first time somebody has ever built something in their life is a core experience that they can really speak to, saying like, I tried this thing and oh my gosh, everybody else, please look at this thing, even though it’s [00:21:00] like, you know, hodgepodge together, like it doesn’t have to be anything. It can be like the worst thing you’ve ever made in your life.

And I still, you know, I, I talked to folks who are older and they can still tell me to this day, the like, first thing that they ever built, that they realized that they were capable of building things. And I think, um, you know, throughout. As we build this organization, keeping that as a core, um, tenant of what we do and at the core of our understanding of like, Somebody who, you know, maybe they’ve been talked down to, maybe they’ve been told like they can’t do this thing as an entrepreneur.

Like you get the no answer every day as a student in school. Like you might have perceptions about yourself or the teacher might have perceptions about you. And if you can just foster this inner strength and resiliency around like, no, I built this stuff and I can work on myself and I can improve myself.

Like, I think that’s at the core of all of that we do. And I think, you know, if you’re wondering, [00:22:00] like, how did you get to be where you are or whatever, it’s just like having that, like growth mentality, not growth mentality, like, um, constant improvement. Right. So like, I don’t think that anybody on our team is like, this is the way we must do it.

This is the only way. And I’m not listening to anybody else. Cause that’s just really not what like collaborative entrepreneurship is about. It’s, it’s. you don’t have the best idea and you need to ask like 32 people and you need to figure it out and like yeah you’re gonna have to make some decisions around do we do this or do we do that but at least you have 32 answers of ways in which you could do it and maybe that sparked a creative answer within yourself right so i think that’s um you know our approach to everything always is Not assuming that we’re the like expert in the room.

[00:22:50] Stephanie Skryzowski: That is a very good lesson. That is a very, very good lesson.

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Okay. So like I said, at the beginning of this episode, we initially met in our like financial management workshop series that the O’Shy foundation, um, here in Buffalo sponsored. And it was like, Oh, it was amazing. And I always just use O’Shy and use Dr. Mark Scott as [00:24:00] an example when I’m talking to others of like, This is a funder that really understands how important operations and finance are, and they’re willing to help fund it.

They’re willing to invest in it. And it’s just like, I don’t see, I don’t talk to a lot of funders that are this passionate about operations and finance of nonprofits. Um, so anyway, I, I think it is just awesome. And I’d love to tell his story about how, how passionate he is about this work. But anyway, I would love to hear a little bit as the leader of your organization, what like financial management looks like for you, you know, what things are you looking at?

What things are you thinking about? And maybe if there’s one key thing that you took away from our time together in that, in that workshop that you’ve implemented. 

[00:24:49] Megan McNally: First of all, I want to say just thank you for offering that workshop because I think like. Again, continuous learning is just so important.

And [00:25:00] so, you know, I think that what I really appreciated about the people in the room is that like you had somebody who probably had like a hundred thousand, 200, 000 budget, and then you had people in the room who were like million, 2 million, 3 million, whatever. And at the end of the day, you realized everybody’s still working on the same things, you know?

And so understanding that you might be on a different timeline or you might be implementing. Uh, you know, step a of Z and this person’s implementing step C, but then they have to go back to a, and, you know, it’s like a constant. Revolving door of like implementation. Um, so I really appreciated that from there.

And I think, uh, some things that we’ve been working on and actually some of the, I think it was the first day that you presented about like all of the random technology solutions, um, to implement. And, you know, I think [00:26:00] at some points we were like, Oh, well, we use this other one or we use this other one.

And I’m happy to say we most recently adopted monday. com and I’m like, loving. We were on before, but it just wasn’t like, you know, in terms of having the free version of pro for nonprofits was like super helpful, um, and is really getting to what we need as an organization. And so that was awesome. And, you know, we’re slowly rolling that out.

And I think, you know, any adoption of a new tool is, I think can be challenging, right? You have to have like all of the, who’s staff are we, who who’s trained on it? Who’s then rolling it up. We’re kind of working through a lot of that stuff. But the other thing that I implemented was just leveling up in Gusto.

So we use Gusto for our payroll service. And, you know, I remember. I like raising my hand and being like, uh, how are you like for federal grants? What’s the best way for like time tracking, whatever you’re like, actually that’s built into a tool. You should just use it. Yes. [00:27:00] So, you know, I think it like, it is hard, right?

So as an, as a, like a really low budget nonprofit, adopting some of these fancier tools can be really challenging. I do think that monday. com being like free for, you know, up to 10 people has like, Super easy. Like you’re like, yes, I’ll implement that. But some are harder. Like, obviously we pay a lot more for our payroll service now that we’re doing all the like time tracking grants, tracking, like all that sort of stuff.

But then you have to think of the cost savings, um, in terms of like. Not going out of your mind. 

[00:27:34] Stephanie Skryzowski: Yes, 

[00:27:35] Megan McNally: exactly. And like having some like go to places of where like these things are tracked. So I think, you know, overall, I think it was just like being open to hearing how other people are handling it and, and adopting the things that work for you in the moment and recognizing, like, I’m still going to go back to that and kind of like, You know, thumb through, think it over, like, does that work for us now that we’re at this stage, um, and [00:28:00] always being open to, like, adopting that next thing now that you’ve reached, like, you know, step whatever of a million.

So, yeah, I think, do I answer all of those questions? I don’t know. 

[00:28:11] Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah, yeah, no, I think so. I think that’s huge and I love the point that you made about really understanding the time cost of things. I feel like a lot of times nonprofits are really focused on the money cost and not the time cost because they probably have more time than money.

But if you think about, okay, if we could implement this tool or this process or like whatever that would save me this much time, then I could be using that time for higher leveraged activities that are going to like get us closer to the big picture. And so I just think that a lot of organizations kind of forget about, or like, it’s just not top of mind.

And so I appreciate that you brought that up because I think that point is really important. It’s like, okay, if we can find some money in the budget for this particular thing, [00:29:00] Now I have these many hours freed up for this higher leverage activity, so. 

[00:29:04] Megan McNally: I would say that it, uh, it does take a minute to get there, right?

Because, especially as a startup non profit, every single penny counts. 

[00:29:13] Stephanie Skryzowski: So true. So true. What do you think is the shift then? Like, how do you get there? Is it like a mindset thing? Is it a dollar amount in the bank thing? 

[00:29:22] Megan McNally: Yeah, I think for us recently, it’s been a, I mean, I think I’ve always, you, you have the mindset or you don’t.

Um, I mean, I guess you can cultivate it for sure, but as an entrepreneur, you’re kind of always looking for the, like, what’s time saving what’s money saving and you’re like always, like I sit up at four in the 

morning thinking about it. Yeah. 

[00:29:44] Megan McNally: Evidence by emailing me at four 40 in the morning, I think. 

[00:29:48] Stephanie Skryzowski: Oh my gosh.

Okay. Embarrassing. Yes. I was up extraordinarily early today. I’ve, um, I’ve learned scheduling 

[00:29:55] Megan McNally: all of my emails so that people don’t freak out. 

[00:29:58] Stephanie Skryzowski: Oh my gosh. No, it’s [00:30:00] so funny. I’m like, nobody pays attention to timestamps. I’m like, yeah, everybody does. I always do that too. And I scheduled like a whole bunch of other emails to go out at 8am today.

Um, like I normally do, uh, apparently except yours. Sorry. I felt in good company. So. I hope you weren’t also awake when you received the email. 

[00:30:20] Megan McNally: No, I think I woke up a little later, but 

[00:30:23] Stephanie Skryzowski: okay. As an entrepreneur, you’re always kind of juggling the time versus money thing. 

[00:30:29] Megan McNally: And I think it does come with money though, really.

Um, and I think for us, um, being able to have some of that cashflow really helps, especially like in the current, um, stages of like high interest. Savings and all the high interest CDs, like because we had that bank of money, like I was able to put some of that in some of these higher yielding CDs and everything that’s like giving us, it gives me a peace of mind where I’m like, Oh, [00:31:00] it’s okay.

I’m spending a little bit more time here right now to develop the system to like do the time saving. I can spend a little bit more money now because I can save my time to do other things, you know, like, I think it did definitely help to have that. I think other, other points in which we’ve done this, um, which was really critical.

So we, um, went through Western New York foundation, had a capacity building opportunity. That is called ICAP. And so they funded us to go and work with a consultant to kind of figure out some of our capacity building plan. And that was really helpful. But what was also like. Additionally helpful was having implementable dollars at the end of that associated with it.

So like it was sort of like guilt free money in some ways where I know that I need to spend money on these things that will save us time, but I just can’t right like so that’s probably a lot of. Earlier or less funded nonprofits are like, Oh, we just can’t, we just [00:32:00] don’t have the money in this scenario.

That was us. You know, we were, I think at the time, like 150, 200, 000 budget or something. And so we always kind of put some of those things off. And so being in this program and then they were like, and now that you’ve developed this capacity plan, here’s some money to make some decisions about implementing some of that strategy.

Um, Um, then we were able to be like, yes, we should just outsource this, or yes, we should just do this with this money, and we were able to, um, do that, because it, it felt like, It wasn’t any money that we were planning for and it was allocated specifically for that. So I think that, that was very forward thinking of, of that foundation and like, I also appreciate that about OSHAI Foundation as well.

Like they, they are very willing to understand like, yes, you do need to invest in that thing. And that will mean that you can have this much more impact over here because this thing is dealt with and it was like sucking most of your staff time. 

[00:32:58] Stephanie Skryzowski: Yes. [00:33:00] Yes. I love that. Like, that’s such an interesting concept.

Okay, let’s have this workshop or this like training or development or whatever. And now we’re actually. Not just going to send you back to your office and you’re like 40 plus hour work week and all the things and like expect you to implement anything, but we’re actually going to give you money to do so.

Like that is a really smart. I like that. I’m like, how can I share this with others? This is brilliant. So 

[00:33:26] Megan McNally: we got funding from, um, the Wilson Foundation recently and Part of, um, actually it was originally from open for, um, which was a bunch of different foundations coming together. That experience through Western New York foundation really influenced sort of how I thought about the program that we created.

So it was, it was created for, um. e commerce, but like really teaching, uh, makers and business owners about how, if you have a product, like, how are you leveraging e commerce? How are you doing all the marketing [00:34:00] and, you know, making sure that like you have sales and flow and whatever. But there was this whole learning lab where you had to go through a series of workshops, learning about like.

Product packaging. And, um, like if you’re planning on shipping an e commerce, like you probably should have a packaging and shipping plan, you know, all these, all these things, you probably need a website that actually functions. You probably need X, Y, and Z. Um, and so there was a bunch of learning associated with it, but at the end, if you were able to complete that, then it also came with a grant.

And so the grant was for like web hosting and like hosting your Shopify or whatever, you know, platform that you were using, as well as paying for a professional to support you through that process. And I think that those two things are super critical. So, you know, it’s not only the money, right? It’s about the expertise.

Um, and it’s about somebody helping you through that process. And so I think that that has really influenced my thought process in terms of like, as we develop and [00:35:00] build our own capacity, what are the other things that we need? Well, we need money, but we also need the expertise and the mentors to guide us through that process.


[00:35:09] Stephanie Skryzowski: hmm. That’s so true. That’s such a good point because without that, you know, if you’re just tossed into a new software, a new tool or something that it could very well not be very useful unless you’ve got an expert to kind of shepherd you through and support. So I love that you mentioned impact. I’ve got two more questions for you.

One of them is what impact do you think a strong like financial management system or processes has on an organization’s impact. So like, if you have a really strong financial foundation, how does that impact the way that you’re executing your mission? Like how are those tied together? 

[00:35:46] Megan McNally: Well, I am, as we add more staff members to our own organization, I think that we’re going through it in the moment.

And a lot of it comes down to if you don’t have a strong financial management and like ease of [00:36:00] reporting, I will say it has been like One of those. So, you know, each staff member, if they’re a head of a department or they’re head on a program and, and they have grants that they’re pulling money from, if they can’t easily talk to the bookkeeper or talk to myself to like draw up a report to say like, you have 2, 000 more to spend, Well, then they’re texting me or slacking me, emailing me going, can I spend 200 on this?

And like those interruptions in the moment, they really need that answer. Right. And so then you’re like combing through these things, trying to find the answer. Like if you haven’t gotten your financial operations up to snuff, then like that causes all of this backlog and like, hold up. For your staff and making like in the moment decisions that had, had they already known that I only have a thousand dollars left to spend.

I can feel free to spend this thing. I’m not going to bother other people to make that decision, but also I’m going to get what I need. And so there’s all those, [00:37:00] like, I always imagine it kind of like a car jam or like a traffic jam, you know, it’s like when there’s that bottleneck and it’s just like, One backs up and then the other backs up and the other backs up and the other backs up, and all of a sudden you’re in stuck traffic for like 20 minutes or Mm-Hmm.

LA like three hours. Yeah. . Um, and so yeah, I think that, that, that is really the most critical piece to that. Obviously there’s a lot of, um, benefits to it where, you know, your donors can feel like they’re, you’re utilizing their funds efficiently, um, or you’re, you know, foundations or whoever and, you know, you’re getting grant reports out on time and.

All of the other good things that come with it, but I think that like operationally, that’s the most critical piece is that there’s so many bottlenecks. When you don’t have it all organized. 

[00:37:47] Stephanie Skryzowski: Agreed, totally agreed. Okay, last question quickly while we wrap this up. And I ask all of our guests this, but what does a prosperous non profit look like to you?

[00:37:58] Megan McNally: I think I, in the [00:38:00] interest of we were talking about finances, um, I mean, I think Financial perspective, I am such an advocate for having just a diversification of revenue, right? Like all of those things that I spoke to before, which is if any one of those arms of your finances goes out, at least you have other things to fall back on and rely on so that you’re not, you know, just closing down or firing people because, you know, you don’t have the money or anything like that.

So I think like prosperous financially means that. Yeah. It’s really just having that unified mission and having everybody like wholeheartedly believe in this thing and have as much impact as you possibly can. And just having everybody operate on the same page, I think, um, you know, again, speaking to the adding more staff members, um, it can be a beautiful thing, or it could be like, Go bash your head against the wall kind of thing.

Right. And so if you’re not all in alignment, if you don’t have your operating systems, if you don’t have your SOPs, if you don’t [00:39:00] have your financial management in order, like this thing, that could be an amazing thing where you’re like. Building more strength and more staff to have impact also just like falling apart and just like oh true and all these other things and like it doesn’t get to the heart of what you’re there for which is really making impact and supporting your mission and and supporting the people that You are tasked with, you know, supporting.

So I think that that’s really what I think of as like operationally prosperous. 

[00:39:31] Stephanie Skryzowski: I love that. Yes. Totally speaking my language, as you know, like 

[00:39:35] Megan McNally: I want to wake up every day being like, We’re on it. We’re on it. We’re going to get there, you know, and that does not happen when there’s fires to put out and you’re like throwing things against the wall.

[00:39:48] Stephanie Skryzowski: It’s so true. You can’t be strategic and like proactive if you’re constantly putting out fires because your systems are a hot mess and it’s just like a disaster internally. Like [00:40:00] I’ve personally been there. So like, yeah, it’s. Yeah. Anyway, um, Megan, it was wonderful to chat with you. Thank you so much for being here.

Um, if our listeners want to learn more about the foundry, where can they find you? 

[00:40:15] Megan McNally: They can find us at thefoundrybuffalo. org or we’re on Instagram, Facebook, all the good social media channels, all that sort of stuff. All the 

[00:40:23] Stephanie Skryzowski: places. Awesome. Cool. We’ll definitely go check them out. I think you, your organization is definitely like one of a kind in terms of those that we have had on the podcast before.

So come and take a class. Yes, I know. I need to check out your website and the classes that you have offered. I, um, have recently gotten into watercolor painting, but not so much woodworking or welding or, um, things like that, but I could definitely check it out. 

[00:40:50] Megan McNally: Well, we have crochet, we have knitting. We have, um, Um, like tech lab, laser cutting, uh, stained glass, if you’re more of a stained glass.

[00:40:59] Stephanie Skryzowski: [00:41:00] Cool. Fantastic. Well, thank you so much. Thanks again for being here. And I’ll talk to you soon. 

[00:41:05] Megan McNally: Thanks so much. 

[00:41:08] 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.