The following is a conversation between Lisa Brown Alexander, President and CEO of Nonprofit HR, and Denver Frederick, Host of The Business of Giving on AM 970 The Answer in New York City.
Denver: The nonprofit sector more than just about any other industry depends upon people. For many nonprofit, there’s no product; just the human capital provided by staff and employees. So the importance of creating cultures where people can thrive and do their best work, not to mention building organizations that will attract the very best talent – well, that cannot be overstated. And that is where the firm Nonprofit HR steps in. And it’s a great pleasure to have with us this evening their President and CEO, Lisa Brown Alexander. Good evening, Lisa, and welcome to The Business of Giving!
Lisa: Thank you so much! Glad to be here.
Denver: Tell us about Nonprofit HR and the work that you do.
Lisa: Well, Nonprofit HR is a full-service talent management firm that works exclusively with the nonprofit sector. So, essentially, our job is to help mission-driven organizations attract, develop, and retain the very best talent that money can buy.
…the most progressive organizations are intentional about how they bring talent into their organizations; they’re purposeful about making sure those people are engaged and connected to their work; and they also are mindful in allocating resources to make sure that those people can develop.
Denver: And what are some of the things that those most forward-thinking nonprofits are doing to attract and keep that talent, and create exceptional work cultures?
Lisa: Well, honestly, being mindful of the importance of talent. It sounds so simple and talent represents such a large part of most organizations’ budgets, yet so many organizations pay very little attention to the people who do the work. And so, honestly, the most progressive organizations are intentional about how they bring talent into their organizations; they’re purposeful about making sure those people are engaged and connected to their work; and they also are mindful in allocating resources to make sure that those people can develop. Doesn’t mean they’ll get promoted from assistant to manager to VP in three years or less, but it does mean that while those folks are there, their experiences will be enriching and meaningful and purpose driven.
Denver: That’s a great point you make. I think so many nonprofits are so focused on the mission and the program that they forget about the people, and I think those others who are probably so close to the bone and are trying to keep their doors open, they don’t understand that if you don’t develop these people…well, actually there’s options now. You can go to these social good companies that have purpose, so we don’t have quite the exclusivity on doing good anymore that we did perhaps a decade or two ago.
Lisa: Absolutely! And you raised a really good point, because the nonprofit sector is facing competition and they’re facing competition from entities that are well funded, that are startups that have excitement and energy around them. And that makes for a tough sell sometimes. If you’re that nonprofit working on the bone, writing on both sides of the paper, it can be really hard to position your organization against that social good organization that’s funded by a corporation.
Denver: You’re absolutely right. Well, your work touches so many different areas, Lisa – diversity and inclusion, performance reviews, the millennial workforce and others. Is there anyone or two things that are on your radar these days?
Lisa: I think the thing that’s most on my radar is the importance and the intersection between talent, culture and mission and sustainability. Those four points are really, really critical. I can’t say enough about what I think is the importance of paying attention to talent, making sure that you have a healthy mission in order to achieve the very thing that you said you want to do in the community.
So if you’re a social service agency and you’ve got 40% turnover and folks are constantly revolving in and out of the organization, it’s pretty likely that there’s some impact on mission and service delivery to that clients and the communities that you are intending to serve. There’s a correlation between all of those points. And really that’s the thing that’s burning in my soul lately, which is one of the reasons why we’ve created the Nonprofit Talent & Culture Summit. So, we’re excited about that convening happening in April, and it’s really to help organizations think through their people strategies and to leverage their culture in a way that it advances their mission.
Denver: Tell us a little bit more about the summit. When it is going to be and who are some of the people who are going to be participating?
Lisa: Well, the summit is taking place in Washington DC, April 5-7. And we’ve got over 30 workshops and seminars, all focused on talent and culture issues through the lens of a nonprofit. And so we’ve got a number of keynote speakers including one of my favorite CEOs–I’ve been stalking him for years–Billy Shore, who’s the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Share Our Strength…
Denver: You can’t do any better than that! That’s a great get, congratulations!
Lisa: Oh, yes! He’s fabulous and excellent speaker, and really a dynamic leader. And he’s going to be talking about the importance of leadership to the talent value proposition in nonprofits. We’ve also got Lori Malcolm, who’s the Chief Culture Officer of the United Way Worldwide. And then we decided to take a slightly different turn by inviting a rabbi by the name of Rabbi Goldberg. He runs an organization called Kids Kicking Cancer and he’s going to wrap up the conference with an inspirational, motivational piece around the connection between people and the communities that are served, and the young people in his organization that are trying to beat cancer. An amazing mission.
Denver: Fantastic! Well, this is your second conference, and it really serves a tremendous purpose for the nonprofit sector and that we’re all so glad that you’re doing this. Well, Lisa Brown Alexander, I want to thank you for taking the time to be with us this evening. For people who want to learn more about Nonprofit HR and its upcoming summit you just spoke about, what is your website?
Denver: Great! Well thanks so much for appearing on the program, Lisa. It was nice to have you on the show.
Lisa: My pleasure. Thank you!
The Business of Giving can be heard every Sunday evening between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Eastern on AM 970 The Answer in New York and on iHeartRadio. You can follow us @bizofgive on Twitter and at facebook.com/business of giving.