The Top 5 Things We Learned in the City of “Sibling” Love

We just wrapped our third season of The Kids Table, where we visited nonprofit leaders in the city of “sibling” love: Philadelphia. Here's what we learned.


We just wrapped our third season of The Kids Table, where we visited nonprofit leaders in the city of “sibling” love: Philadelphia. Philadelphia is home to some amazing impact leaders taking on homelessness, impact investing, and - this was first for us - trash.

If you haven’t listened to all the episodes yet, here’s a countdown of the Top 5 Lessons we learned from nonprofit leaders in the Philadelphia area:

1. Know your power (yes, even you have it!)

​​Terrill Haigler perhaps said it best when it comes to negotiating with big corporations who want to work with him: “I’m not missing an opportunity by not working with them just because they’re a large brand or corporation- so am I. That’s how I go into the situation.” As Jennifer Beer reminded us in her episode, every person at the table has some power in a negotiation: when it comes to nonprofits it’s important to remember the credibility- and true impact- you bring to any partnership. The moral of the story: don’t get intimidated by big names and big budgets.

 

2. Stop separating money from impact.

This point came up a lot in Philadelphia as it’s home to a ton of social entrepreneurship ventures, including YaFavTrashman, Glitter, and MilkCrate: we have to stop thinking of money and impact as things that live separately. As Margaret Berger Bradley remarked, “We’ve totally misjudged what these sectors are if we think that one is nice and not about money, and one is tough and all about money. And the ability to understand how you use assets, how you use resources, how you use capital- matters for the ability to do the things we need to do in the social sector.” Similarly, Cory Donovan pointed out the common conception that we make money with one hand and donate money with the other, when in fact we can think about investment and impact together without sacrificing our goals.

 

3. We actually might not need another nonprofit.

This was a hot take from Morgan Berman , and we are here for it. You might be super passionate about a cause- you might even have some personal experience with it that could lend itself to great storytelling and fundraising. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should start a nonprofit. As Berman pointed out, that mindset creates more competition for the same dollars- whereas joining existing organizations only makes the collective effort stronger. Food for thought before you file for your 501c(3).

 

4. Be yourself. Really.

We heard from so many leaders, including Edurne Irizarry and Jamila Harris Morrison: being exactly who they were meant being powerful in their leadership positions- especially since both of them grew up in the communities they currently serve. Being yourself could be the thing that makes you indispensable for your work and your organization.

5. Even outsiders can have an impact.

When donors push back against your organization’s stance on a particular issue, welcome the opportunity for a learning moment. Develop some resources, studies, polls, data, and other materials that support your position, and share it with them. If you really want to walk the walk, you can't sway from your convictions when your donors disagree with what you’re doing. 

Instead, come prepared and recognize that, most likely, their feelings aren’t ill-intentioned. Craft your words carefully and meet the donor where they are. Use common terminology rather than industry acronyms that might muddle your message or make the donor feel uncomfortable. People don't like to admit when they’re unfamiliar with things. On our side, we sometimes forget when we're closest to an issue that we're familiar with language and specific topics that are foreign to those beyond our organization.

Even if you don’t have community cred like Eddie or Jamila, you’re in a unique position to serve your community: just ask Katrina Keating, who began running her organization with exactly 0 years of experience. Katrina’s keys to success were humility, the ability to trust experts, and a passion for community: proving that if you can empower others, you’re well on your way.

Didn’t get a chance to listen to our Philadelphia season yet? Our episodes are live wherever you listen to Podcasts.

 

 

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