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The Integral Role of Cultural Competence in Movements with DeAnna Hoskins (RECAST)

Over the next two weeks on the Nonprofit Build Up®, Nic is talking with DeAnna Hoskins, President and CEO of JustLeadership USA also known as JLUSA. DeAnna Hoskins has been at the helm of JLUSA since 2018. A nationally recognized leader and dynamic public speaker, she has been committed to the movement for racial and social justice, working alongside those most impacted by marginalization for over two decades. DeAnna leads from the perspective that collective leadership, advocacy for justice with reinvestment, and bold systems change are only possible when those who are most harmed are provided the tools and resources to demand change. You will not want to miss these episodes.

 

Listen to Part One here:

 

Listen to Part Two here:

Resources:

About DeAnna Hoskins:

DeAnna Hoskins has been at the helm of JLUSA as the President and CEO of JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA) since 2018. A nationally recognized leader and dynamic public speaker, Ms. Hoskins has been committed to the movement for racial and social justice, working alongside those most impacted by marginalization for over two decades. Ms. Hoskins leads from the perspective that collective leadership, advocacy for justice with reinvestment, and bold systems change are only possible when those who are most harmed are provided the tools and resources to demand change. Her own life experience has been this driving force, having been directly impacted by the system of incarceration and the war on drugs, and with her professional experience, from working on grassroots campaigns to state and federal government. She is inspired to make the world more just with communities across the country, and for her three children – two that have experienced the criminal justice system.

Ms. Hoskins has been a part of JLUSA’s national alumni network since 2016, as a Leading with Conviction Fellow. Prior to taking the helm at JLUSA, Ms. Hoskins was at the Department of Justice where she joined under the Obama Administration. There, she served as a Senior Policy Advisor (Corrections/Reentry) providing national leadership on criminal justice policy, training, and technical assistance and information on best and promising practices. She oversaw the Second Chance Act portfolio and managed cooperative agreements between federal agencies – the Department of Labor’s Clean Slate Clearinghouse, supporting formerly incarcerated people with expunging their records; the National Reentry Resource Center; the National Inventory of Collateral Consequences and Convictions; the National Institute of Corrections Children of Incarcerated Parents initiative; and more. She also served as the Deputy Director of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council. DeAnna is also the 2021 recipient of the 400 Years of African American History Commission Award.

Throughout her career she has been committed to reducing stigma and harm in communities impacted by mass criminalization. Prior to joining the DOJ, Ms. Hoskins was the founding Director of Reentry for Ohio’s Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners where she worked to reduce recidivism by addressing individual and family needs; increased countywide public safety for under-resourced communities of color; reduced correctional spending; and coordinated social services to serve populations at risk that were impacted by decades of generational disinvestment and deprived of first chances. She has worked in local neighborhoods in Cincinnati and at the Indiana Department of Corrections on improving conditions and treatment of incarcerated people.

Ms. Hoskins is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio and holds a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati and a Bachelors of Social Work from the College of Mount St. Joseph. She is a Licensed Clinical Addictions Counselor, a certified Workforce Development Specialist trainer for formerly incarcerated people, a Peer Recovery Coach, and is trained as a Community Health Worker.

 

Read podcast transcription below:

Part One

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Nic Campbell: You’re listening to the Nonprofit Build Up podcast, and I’m your host, Nic Campbell. I want to support movements that can interrupt cycles of injustice and inequity, and shift power towards vulnerable and marginalized communities. I’ve spent years working in and with nonprofits and philanthropies, and I know how important infrastructure is to outcomes. On this show, we’ll talk about how to build capacity to transform the way you and your organization work.

Katy Thompson: Hi, everyone. It’s Katie, Build Up’s Manager of Global Operations. This week on the Nonprofit Build Up, Nic is talking with DeAnna Hoskins, President and CEO of JustLeadershipUSA, also known as JLUSA. JLUSA’s vision is to be a national platform, a go-to resource for people directly impacted by systemic racism and oppression to use as they hone and grow leadership skills needed to affect policy reforms that dismantle systemic oppression and build thriving, sustainable, and healthy communities. 

Katy Thompson: DeAnna Hoskins has been at the helm of JLUSA since 2018. A nationally recognized leader and dynamic public speaker, DeAnna has been committed to the movement for racial and social justice, working alongside those impacted by marginalization for over two decades. DeAnna leads from the perspective that collective leadership, advocacy for justice with reinvestment, and bold systems change are only possible when those who are most harmed are provided the tools and resources to demand change. 

Katy Thompson: Her own life experience has been this driving force, having been directly impacted by the system of incarceration and the war on drugs and with her professional experience from working on grassroots campaigns to state and federal government. She is inspired to make the world more just with communities across the country and for her three children, two that have experienced the criminal justice system. We could go on forever about her accomplishments, leadership, and awards. But with that, here is Nic’s conversation with DeAnna Hoskins.

Nic Campbell: Hi, DeAnna. Welcome to the Nonprofit Build Up.

DeAnna Hoskins: Thank you, Nic. I’m excited to be here.

Nic Campbell: Me too. I think it’s going to be an amazing conversation. And to get us started, can you tell us about JustLeadership USA, your role there, and what is JLUSA’s immediate priority?

DeAnna Hoskins: Yes. So my position with JustLeadershipUSA as president CEO, JustLeadership was founded in 2014, at the absence of the voices of directly impacted people in the policy conversation around issues impacting them in their communities. So JustLeadership’s mission and focus is to decarcerate the US abut also utilizing those voices and investing in the leadership of formerly incarcerated directly impacted individuals from oppressed and marginalized communities, to educate them on policies that are creating a hindrance, but also to elevate their voice and empower them to utilize those voice in those spaces that they have actually been marginalized and kept out of.

Nic Campbell: When you say decarcerate the US, talk to me about what that looks like. What does your vision look like, and how do you go about doing that?

DeAnna Hoskins: Thank you. So we know that the majority of the over sentencing has come through mandatory minimum policies. We also know – Let’s not be blind to the fact that racial disparities even exist in some of those spaces, and a lot of those policies were created during the war on drugs for communities that were definitely impacted those excessive sentence. 

DeAnna Hoskins: So empowering people to understand the policies that are leading up to the mass incarceration, underutilization of community alternatives and alternatives to incarceration and also bail reform of people should have their constitutional right to actually have bail set at their ability to pay, and we should not be criminalizing people who are poor or who live in poverty, which again we know, when we look at the number of individuals, we can’t get past the racial disparities that we see. 

DeAnna Hoskins: So when we talk about decarceration, there’s a magnitude of things. But also, Nic, I think it’s important that if we had more investment in our community resources, that gives people access to services that become the foundation of some of the things. What I like to say is our racist policies and hindrance into things such as education, health care, mental health, substance abuse, becomes the filter down into the catch basin of the criminal justice system. So while you were talking about decarceration, our focus may not always be on the criminal justice system. It may be on those other systems that have policies and barriers that filter into the criminal justice system.

Nic Campbell: That, to me, resonates so much because we talk a lot about systemic change. When you’re talking about decarcerating the US, I think a lot of people might think, “Okay. Well, what does that look like in terms of prisons and decarceration?” But what you’re seeing is, actually, it starting way before then. It’s about the policies, the lack of investment in certain communities, and the resources that are allocated to those communities. So that resonates so much to me, and I appreciate the framing. You also talked about investing in leadership. So I want to hear a little bit more about how you are taking that vision that you just articulated and now saying, “Okay. As part of our mission, we are going to invest in the leadership of formerly incarcerated people.”

DeAnna Hoskins: One of the things that we have to be aware of is that in all other sectors, whether it’s mental health, education, substance abuse, the system has utilized people with lived experience to help drive policies and what the needs are but has been very reluctant when it comes to the criminal justice system of actually engaging those with lived experience as the experts in the field to actually strategize and look at how policies impact. 

DeAnna Hoskins: A good example of that is the ‘94 Crime Bill. The ‘94 Crime Bill was a good policy on paper. It was the solution to a problem. Crack epidemic was that as high. Violence was coming out of that. So on paper, it looks like the perfect solution. But in implementation, nobody realized how it was going to devastate black communities, how it was going to over incarcerate people, how it was going to cause so much trauma, so many empty households, and families torn apart. That now, we’re trying to piecemeal it back together to say, “Hey, we made a mistake.” But that’s because who voice was at the table to talk about how that was going to play out in our communities. 

DeAnna Hoskins: Another good example is when we talk about risk assessment tools, anything around criminal justice reform, investing in leadership, that missing voice. You don’t know how risk assessments are going to play out in communities because black communities are over policed. I always like to use the example my child could steal my car. Somebody phones the same police department but a higher economic community, their child steals their car. Both of us call the police. Both of our children are caught with the car. My colleague’s child, they parked her car. They take her child to the police station and call her to come get them.

DeAnna Hoskins: My car is impounded. My child goes to juvenile hall, has a court date. Both of them then commit an adult crime at the same age, same crime. This risk assessment tool is going to ask, how many interactions have you had with police? How many probation violations? How many missed court hearings did you have without taking into consideration? Simply because black communities are over policed and over surveillanced, my child’s interaction with the juvenile system at that time is going to count as a point against him when he gets to prison, which now puts him in another higher class of at risk when people look at him around returning to court.

DeAnna Hoskins: Actually, what is his benefit to the community to stay – his stabilization in the community? Did he complete high school? Or does he have a GED? All of those things go against them. But nobody was sitting at the table to say, “Hey, you guys are relying on these risk assessments,” which now 20 years later, even the scientists who created them are coming back saying, “These risk assessments have racial bias built into them, simply how things play out in the community.” 

DeAnna Hoskins: That missing voice is actually led to the situation we’re in, whereas someone who was impacted by the system, who’s been a product being impacted by risk assessment tools, different things can utilize that voice of how things play out in our community. Typically, policy makers are not from our community. They’ve never lived in our community, and they actually don’t have the privilege of having been impacted by some things. So in criminal justice, that missing voice of formerly incarcerated, directly impacted has led to the misrepresentation of what policies can do and how they impact our community. So it’s very important to not only have that voice at the table. We’re starting to see the need for those voices to leave those conversations.

Nic Campbell: I see so many analogies to what you describe to what is happening quite frequently in the sector. So when you’re talking about policies that are being put together by decision makers who look nothing alike or not from the communities that will be impacted by the same policies, and there’s no one from the community that’s sitting in that room at that table and definitely not in that decision making space, right? 

Nic Campbell: So when you’re talking about leaving that conversation so that, again, you can talk about what decisions get made, what policies come out of it, and how that impact will then sort of reverberate throughout that community, it all makes sense to me, and it makes me think about grantmaking and the sorts of decisions that are happening in rooms with folks that maybe they’re well-intentioned, but they are not from the communities that they’re serving, but they think they know what’s best. 

Nic Campbell: No one from that community is in the room. Their voices are not being heard. They’re definitely not leading the conversation. So when I think about that analogy, and I know that you are doing good work at JustLeadership, I’d love to hear how you are thinking about that grantmaking space. Based on exactly what you described, how are you making sure that the voices of formerly incarcerated people are at that table, leading the conversation, part of the decision making? What are you seeing now, and how do we make that shift so that we can make sure that that’s happening in the grantmaking space as well?

DeAnna Hoskins: So it’s kind of twofolds. So there’s a fold of JustLeadership being intentional in our investment in people. Part of the saying of JustLeadership was built on the premises that are found or use this cliché of those closest to the problem are closest to the solution, but typically furthest from resource and power to do anything about it, right? How does JustLeadership in some of its privileged spaces that it sits, makes those introductions between our leaders and philanthropists. 

DeAnna Hoskins:But also not only that, ensuring that people see formerly incarcerated and directly impacted people for the experts. They are we have people with PhDs. We have people who are attorneys. We have individuals who have been impacted by the system and actually call a philanthropy out. Yet you’re supporting and funding projects of where the employer should hire more, or other people should be placing us in leadership. But you have failed to do so yourself, right? 

DeAnna Hoskins: I think there’s one philanthropist that’s making a very intentional role at putting directly impacted people in position of grantmaking. But we’re still not sitting on our foundation boards that actually vote on it, right? Also, ensuring that your program managers are culturally aware and culturally competent because, let’s be honest, as the President CEO who has to fundraise, I run into racial disparities and oppression, even in philanthropy. If I’m not willing to tap dance or allow people to talk to me in a certain way, I’ve been denied funding, and I’ve actually outright refused some funding from certain funders because you can’t talk to me a certain kind of way. 

DeAnna Hoskins: Does that hinder my operations? Sure, it does. It forces me to have to think of fundraising in a different strategy. It forces me to sometimes really evaluate what I’m walking away from because it’s not just about me and the organization. I have a staff, a team of 25. That’s 25 families that are going to be impacted by my inability to raise the funds. So for me, it was becoming very aware of how to diversify my funding, that I’m not the majority reliant on foundations and philanthropy. 

DeAnna Hoskins: That I am tapping into corporate America, but that I am really building out a robust individual donor base because that is the most sustainable element, where people believe in your mission. You don’t have to tap dance. You don’t have to sing a song to them. It doesn’t matter who’s in their boardroom because it’s the individual making the decision. But philanthropy, we’re seeing some slight movement of hiring people, but yet seeing the mega bold move to put people in positions of power to be the decision makers.

Nic Campbell: What you’re saying is making me think about accountability, and I have a set of questions that I want to raise with you about how do we hold folks accountable. What does that look like? But before I get to those, you talked about cultural competence, and I want to hear how you are thinking about cultural competence in this space, in the work that we’re doing. What does it look like to have a culturally competent program officer, for example, or a program person within a grantmaker that is then engaging with an organization? What does it look like? What doesn’t it look like? I just love to hear that. I hear that term thrown out a lot, and I think just level setting and saying, “This is what it looks like, and this is how it doesn’t look,” would be really helpful.

DeAnna Hoskins: When you talk about it in a level of philanthropy, is the person knowing where they have an understanding, right? What’s impacting communities and who they need to utilize and not creating barriers for the individuals that are trying to impact that community. But when I talk about cultural competence, it’s a true understanding of, one, for self, where my limitations lie, or where I don’t have an understanding, but also respecting the fact that the individual has experienced that, and that my questioning, my drive, or my thoughts of where it should go, possibly, as a white woman, plays no role in this conversation around funding. 

DeAnna Hoskins: How do I give space and respect to what communities are experiencing by actually understanding the strategy that is coming from this grantee that is asking me for this money, but also understanding where my [inaudible 00:15:53] abilities are, and I’m not going to inflict any more harm on this person? One, because we are formerly incarcerated, we still have the trauma of our past we’re trying to deal with. But then we walk into this space, where we’re challenged, especially as a black woman, where we’re challenged all the times and can’t nearly get away with showing up half in our work or being put through the wringer by certain funders, simply because of what their belief of what should happen, because of what possibly a black male had done later. 

DeAnna Hoskins: Just understanding all of those dynamics and the power that they bring as a program manager, and what we’re starting to see is they’re leveraging that power like slave masters. You will tap dance to get this funding, and it’s like you have to make a conscious decision. Do I tap dance to get it to pay for these 25 families that are on my team? Or do I try to walk away and go seek out a new funding source, but also exposing it and taking the chances? I think, for me, it has been a ladder. I expose it, and I know I’m chancy, never getting funding. There are some other funders who are not going to appreciate me calling other funders out, are going to walk away from us. But when do we get through change, and when do we as black women really get true respect?

Nic Campbell: I love that so much. It makes me think about approaching this as a systemic issue and actually not seeing it as a one off, right? So when we talk about, yes, this is “bad behavior,” like it’s systemic. So what do you do? In that instance, you call it out. As you mentioned, you say that’s actually not okay, and it shouldn’t be on a grantee to have to say that or do that. It should be on other funders saying that’s not okay. 

Nic Campbell: Because the way that we’re setting up this system of funding of support, of resource provision is this way. We want it to be equitable. We want it to be fair. We want it to be just, as opposed to seeing the behavior, not calling it out, and letting it stand. I think like when you talk about cultural competence, what resonates with me a lot is what I’m hearing you say is you can’t be culturally competent and be in a vacuum, right? You have to be engaged with a community that you’re working with and problem solving alongside of. You can think to yourself, “Well, I have the solution to this thing, and so you have to listen to me.” It’s like, “No, we’re working on this together, and I’m providing resources so that we can get to the same goal.” 

Nic Campbell: The last piece is just being self-aware and stepping in and saying with a lot of humility, “I don’t know everything, and I’m here to learn as well.” So I think like just looking at it, like you said, just taking a step back and saying what does this system look like? How can I step into it in a good way?

DeAnna Hoskins: You said something very important too, Nic. How do I, as part of the ecosystem of philanthropy, call it out and have true conversation amongst my other funding colleagues of, we should not be showing up like this because we are actually entrenching more harm than our money can ever do good.

Nic Campbell: While we’re talking about that, how do you hold grantmakers accountable, and what does that look like? So we just talked. We have a web series that we do call Fast Build Fridays, and we raise that question. How do you hold a grantmaker accountable and why you should hold them accountable? So I’d love to hear your thoughts on accountability and grantmaking.

DeAnna Hoskins: I’ll just speak from my perspective. I think I have a reputation and a history of just being direct and to the point. After a few encounters with philanthropists that I called out, and I shared it with their colleagues who are like, “Oh, wait a minute. So you have this reputation,” which it kind of puts people off, but it also demands a level of respect. So funders approach you different, but I think we have to start calling it out without the fear of not getting funded and as organizational grantees supporting chatter. 

DeAnna Hoskins: Let’s be honest. The money they’re given us is crumbs. Let’s just be honest. It’s not like people are giving – It’s a lot of money to us who have never had a lot of funding in our organizations. But to the families and the philanthropists, what they give out to us as directly impacted people, nonprofits, and grassroots is some bare minimum, right? Enough to write off that they gave it away, right? So that’s what I talked about, using that power almost as a slave master of this funding, because we have this so limited to the pool of philanthropy. We don’t know, and I’m just learning that there’s this whole world of philanthropy that has not been touched. When you’re about a single issue, what I realized we’re all swimming in the same pool with the same funders. So we’re in competition with each other. 

DeAnna Hoskins: So if you say, “Hey, this philanthropist really disrespected me in their conversation, and I don’t want to take any funding,” it’s real hard to tell other people don’t take funding as well, so we can demonstrate and show because they haven’t received funding before. Then the philanthropy or the program manager definitely wants to double what they give other people, so they don’t join your cause, and it appears that you’re out there by yourself. But you have to remain vigilant. You have to remain in that space and demand it. But I think we, as black organizations led by directly impacted people, smaller nonprofits, have been so underfunded, underinvested in, and unknowledgeable about the real pool of funding that is out there and open to us. 

DeAnna Hoskins: That comes with partnering with seasoned vets who understand the philanthropy world, who understands the corporate America world, how to build up individual donors. We were late to the game where Goodwill, Salvation Army’s ACOUs have been around for years. Guess what? They built that up. They built that individual membership base up because they understood the knowledge, and they had a team to actually focus on it. We’re just getting into that playground, and we’ve never been given that blueprint, and they damn sure ain’t going to share it with us.

Nic Campbell: Mic drop, right? I think that’s what happens at that point. I completely hear you, and I think that what’s interesting is that a lot of this has been perpetuated by grantmakers, right? So when we think about the inability to say I can’t raise my hand and call out behavior because I’ve actually been building my organization according to this grantmaker’s vision, and now I do have another 15, 20 people to support. Whereas before, maybe I wouldn’t have grown as quickly or have that same vision. 

Nic Campbell: But now, I’m tethered to it, and they’re also my largest funder. So how can I raise my hand and say I need to call you out? I think it’s a difficult position to be in, and it’s actually created by the very system that we know as philanthropy. So just even like acknowledging that piece and then, like you said, taking that stand I think is really brave to do, right. But that’s really about accountability. So while we’re on the topic, though, DeAnna, what do you think that philanthropies, funders could be doing better or they should be doing less of, and what do you think that they’re doing well?

DeAnna Hoskins: Thank you. So I want to start with less of, and I think less of trying to drive our mission or our movement. They’re in the driver’s seat of what should occur to the point where you’re even seeing what I call new money philanthropy create the programs that grassroot organizations are doing it in house in order not to support certain organizations that are led by. 

DeAnna Hoskins: I’ll give an example. We do a training. We invest in the leadership of formerly incarcerated. We’ve created a C-suite of curriculum as well. What we’re starting to see as funders are creating leadership training for formerly incarcerated, like within their house. People always say, “Well, what’s so special about JustLeadership?” We’re the only organization founded by and operated by formerly incarcerated people with lived experience. 

DeAnna Hoskins: What we’re seeing in philanthropy is the traditional. We see this as the carrot of the day. We see this as the moment, and part of our charity is we want to lead this initiative. You guys shouldn’t have this bright idea. I tell people, it’s a compliment that they’re copying it because it shows we had a bright idea. But what happens is they come in, and they exploit the movement when they see organizations led by black people, organizations led by people from oppressed communities having movement, having a probability to be a premier organization around what they do. 

DeAnna Hoskins: Instead of funding and supporting that organizations to grow its capacity, we’re going to replicate it and pull all our money into here. So that’s what they have to start doing less of, trying to control the movement, telling the movement what to do, and coopting the movement as well, which is what white people have done to black people over the years. What they have to do more of is getting okay with funding the movement and getting out away. Funding the movement and getting out the way. More of general operating support, I think, because a lot of funders also restrict their funding to certain activities. 

DeAnna Hoskins: When you start talking about organizing an advocacy, campaigns change. You might fund me for two years, And six months into the campaign, there’s been a drastic change. We saw that with COVID, right? Because funds were restricted to campaigns, and you can no longer be in those activities, funders had to switch and approve those funds to go to general operating. Supporting general operating of smaller organizations allow for sustainability. 

DeAnna Hoskins: I’m going to be honest, and I know I shouldn’t be sharing. But I think who really does this really well, who invest in sustainability of the organization, who allows for the organization to invest in future building, to invest in capacity building is the Ford Foundation. They’ve been very open about that, very transparent, and basically asking you as the grantee, how do you want to split the money. We want to give you this grant. What are some of your needs? So not telling us what to do with the funding but asking us so that it can be approved through their process of I need funds for future investment, right? I need funds to move towards sustainability and investment and capacity building, and then being very open to utilizing their funds around stabilizing the nonprofit because they believe in the mission, and they believe you should exist. 

DeAnna Hoskins: So if they can help you stabilize, to actually grow, that is how they’re investing because they believe in a mission. I think that’s where philanthropy has to go. Stop believing in the activities and believe in the mission of the organization. That’s what you invest in of whatever the mission and the goal. I was reading yesterday. I’ve been doing trainings around board development. Just when you read the definition of why nonprofits are actually built, they’re built for a purpose. People create nonprofits for purpose, and the purpose is usually to change the trajectory of something that’s happening to a certain population or certain communities, right? So if you believe in my purpose and my mission, that’s what you should be funding, not saying what are the activities you’re doing within that because the activities are going to change, because my ultimate goal is to get in service on my mission. 

DeAnna Hoskins: I think stop focusing on activities and focus on the mission and the drive of the organization, and provide the general support this needed to stabilize that so that they can grow and continue on that mission.

Nic Campbell: That makes a lot of sense. Like you said, fund and get out of the way and then just share an example of this is how it’s done. When you were talking about that process, it just, again, made me think about cultural competence. The exact same conversation we’re having around like having that cultural competence, stepping in, and saying, “You’re the expert here. I just want to make sure that we’re problem solving alongside each other, and we’re learning from each other.” So when you were describing it, I just thought like this is exactly the kind of environment that we want to find ourselves in as grantees.

Katy Thompson: That concludes part one of DeAnna and Nic’s conversation. Stay tuned for next week for part two.

-Upbeat Outro Music-

Nic Campbell: Thank you for listening to this episode of Nonprofit Build Up. To access the show notes, additional resources, and information on how you can work with us, please visit our website at buildupadvisory.com. We invite you to listen again next week, as we share another episode about scaling impact by building infrastructure and capacity in the nonprofit sector. Keep building bravely.

Part Two

-Upbeat Intro Music-

Nic Campbell: You’re listening to the Nonprofit Build Up Podcast. I’m your host, Nic Campbell. I want to support movements that can interrupt cycles of injustice and inequity and shift power towards vulnerable and marginalized communities. I’ve spent years working in and with non-profits and philanthropies and I know how important infrastructure is to outcomes. On this show, we’ll talk about how to build capacity to transform the way you and your organization work.

Katy Thompson: Hi, everyone. It’s Kat, Build Up’s manager of global operations. This week on the Nonprofit Build Up, Nic is continuing the conversation with DeAnna Hoskins, President and CEO of JustLeadershipUSA, also known as JLUSA. You can jump back to part one of our conversation to learn more about DeAnna’s expertise, passion, and major accomplishments and JLUSA’s work. But with that, let’s dive into the second part of Nic’s conversation with DeAnna.

Nic Campbell: Then we want to find ourselves in as grantees. I really liked when you were saying, stop focusing on activities and start focusing on the mission, like you’re investing in this organization. You use that word invest. I think it’s really important, because that’s what it is like. Are you investing in this organization’s vision and mission? Because if so, you show up a very different way.

DeAnna Hoskins: Different way.

Nic Campbell: Right. It’s about this partnership that you have, this relationship that you’re building. That’s when you’re investing. When you’re funding something, you show up that way. What is the deliverable? Did you get it done? No. Then you better get it done.

DeAnna Hoskins: How many people did you serve?

Nic Campbell: Exactly.

DeAnna Hoskins: There’s this one practice that I’m starting to see and I’ve been really sharing with organization leaders who are family organizations where – I don’t even want to call them philanthropy, billionaires are wanting to invest, dropping a million dollars, which is nothing to this billionaire. It’s a B. He’s dropping an M, right? But I’m going to invest this $1 million a year for the next five years in your organization. Well, you’re a grassroots. You barely been able to operate off of $100,000. Here’s this person committing a million for the next five, but there’s one caveat. I’m going to put somebody for my organization on your board. I’ve been sharing, I was like, capitalist wash their money. People who want to make a profit wash their money. That is not a donation. That is how do I benefit from this contribution into this organization that I can build off of. An example is a housing program where it happened.

DeAnna Hoskins: Now, what we’re seeing is that billionaire is now convinced them, you should expand across the country. Matter of fact, when you expand across the country. I know about houses that you got to live in, and you’ll just pay my company rent. He got his million dollars back and more, he ain’t gave you nothing. He just got his million, because it’s a real estate investment for him now. That was the plan to see what is the strategy, what is the concept, how can I capitalize and multiply also this million-dollar investment that I’m calling it, but I’m going to watch my money, because I need to see where the opportunity lies for me not the opportunity for the organization. I’m watching them build brand new constructive housing, calling them safe housing, but the landlord is the billionaire’s company that the organization has to pay rent to.

Nic Campbell: Yeah. It’s bringing up for me, and I see it a lot just inappropriate tool. People create tools and saying, “But we’re giving it in the sort of space of philanthropy, but we’re trying a different approach.” So you’ll hear different things. “This is an innovative approach. This is a different approach.” It’s not the status quo. Whatever it is, but acknowledging like this is a completely different tool. Then, just not also acknowledging, it’s also the wrong tool, or it may be the wrong tool to actually get at where we’re going. I think just flagging it is just so – it’s critical.

DeAnna Hoskins: Yeah, because I always say, with the donation, would I have preferred the million dollars or would I have preferred you say, “I would like to ask somebody on your board to help look at your concept, so that we can help you grow, and we’ll build the houses and donate them to you.” Now, that’s the real investment in our mission and belief in our system. Not, “I’m going to build the houses so that I can benefit as the developer and the owner of that property to multiply my portfolio.”

Nic Campbell: Right. Because I think you can be innovative in this space, and we’re not saying that you can. You can bring in a different tool, and I definitely encourage that because I think the way that we’re working, it can be concerning and it’s clunky. We’re not saying you shouldn’t be innovative. It’s about, again, stepping in with that cultural competence, the ability to listen, understand where you’re stepping into, what you’re actually trying to do, and having that dialogue and saying, “This is what we’re trying to get to where you trying to go, seeing great matches, and then finding a way to implement that tool.” DeAnna, if we look at it the other way, talked a lot about grant makers and funders, and what they should be doing more of less of. What about grantees? What about nonprofit organizations that are recipients of the funding? What should they be doing less of and what should they be doing more of?

DeAnna Hoskins: I think as grantees, we should be doing more education to ourselves of how this process works. We should be doing more research around prior movements. I always say, if you don’t know your history, you’re subject to repeat the history. One of the things that we’re seeing in the movement around formerly incarcerated, the movement around liberation is, if you make too much noise – I always say, if somebody’s making noise, and they go quiet, just look at, did they get large donations. Typically, in the past movements, but understanding that the donations come with something. How do we stand in that era that we’re still going to keep our voice? You’re not buying my voice; you’re not buying my silence.

DeAnna Hoskins: Same things are still going on like Black Lives Matter, but I’m like, nothing has changed, but I haven’t heard from you all. Nothing has changed, but I haven’t heard from you in this moment. I do believe they are doing some work. I believe they’re strategizing. But also, we as a country haven’t heard from you. You got everybody excited, and now, you kind of went radio silence on us. But how do we keep that momentum of – when we raise it, we get raised to a conscious level, we get investments. How do we keep going? I say, “Oh, I’m well financed right now” or different things. How do we keep that momentum going? Stand vigilant, and stand true, and staying authentic to why we were even created, and why we did it. We have to stand in that and being bold about it. 

DeAnna Hoskins: What I would love to see grantees do is understand the process of growing, and not just get comfortable with whatever they get. That if you truly believe in your mission of your organization, and it’s going to impact people. How do we continue to grow? The worst thing I hate is when grassroots organizations come up doing really good work, connecting with the community, changing people’s lives in the community. Then all of a sudden, they disappear, or they get swallowed up by the big nonprofits who see, “Oh, this work is going really well. We want to take it over or we want to exploit it. Then funders stop funding the grassroots because they don’t have the capacity to serve more and the larger nonprofits do. Then what traditionally happens, the larger nonprofit doesn’t have the real touch to proximity in the community that the grassroots have.

DeAnna Hoskins: Allowing funders are allowing our organizations to be controlled by the dollar. I know we need them to operate, but it can’t be controlled. We have to be able to get the courage to say, “We’re not going to do that” or “We’re not going to take that.” You don’t get to treat us this way. You don’t get to co-opt us. Sticking together. What I wish they would do more of is collaboration. Everyone, there’s enough funds out here for everyone. There are enough people to serve, enough communities to address. But we have to be collaborative and not in competition. I actually think funders keep us in competition with unlimited funds, but that’s also being limited to the pool of funding that’s funding your topic. Understanding collaboration allows for knowledge sharing of where other funds are. I always like to use the analogy. It’s a shame to go to an amusement park and only ride the roller coaster, because that’s all you know. You miss the true enjoyment of the whole amusement park and that’s how the funding world is.

DeAnna Hoskins: We get on one roller coaster, everybody’s in line to get on that roller coaster. We’re in competition to get on the roller coaster, when there’s a myriad of other funding. But because we’ve limited ourselves to say, I’m criminal justice reform and not understanding that criminal justice is a symptom of the racial disparities. So no, I’m not focused on criminal justice reform. I’m focused on racial disparities and eradicating racism within a system that are filtering into the criminal justice system. I just opened up my pool of funding to much more of the amusement park than everybody else who stand on the roller coaster.

Nic Campbell: Yeah, I really liked it, you’re focusing in on collaboration. Because I would say from where I sit, that’s needed a lot more. I do agree that it’s hard sometimes to collaborate in a system that is not set up to be collaborative, even though we say that it is. I understand the challenges, but I agree, I think that collaboration would – it would magnify so much impact within communities that actually really need it.

DeAnna Hoskins: I think it goes back to that old saying, there’s power in numbers. If you built the power through the collaboration, and understanding that we’re really not in competition. I always try to tell people collaborating, brightens the pot. It may seem like we’re in competition for the funding, but in a collaborative mode, we have access to more, and we can demand more. Because right now, even the policy changes, the fundings we’re asking for are crumbs. It’s just so bare minimum. It is so bare minimum, Nic. That I sit back some days, and I’m like – I used to work at the post office years ago, and I’m like, “You know, processing mail was not that bad.” When I think about my great, great, great grandkids probably are still going to be fighting this fight, because we’re asking for crumbs. One, because we don’t know our history, so everybody’s recreating the wheel. It’s like, “Dude, we’re so past that.” How do we take what has already been done by our forefathers, the people’s shoulders we stand on, when people – we talk about standing on the shoulders of other advocates, they did some work. How do we take the work they’ve done and build upon it, instead of trying to always start from scratch. We’re always building a new wheel and I’m like, there was some pieces of that wheel we could have brought it with us that would have had us way ahead of the game.

Nic Campbell: I’m going to ask a big follow-up question, DeAnna. Because when you started to explain that point, it made me think about how, “Huh? Okay.” Let’s say I am a leader of a grassroots organization. I’m sitting. I’m part of a group of other nonprofit leaders. We just talked about collaboration, we just talked about – look, we’re getting just small amounts of money compared to the kind of change that we want to have and want to make sure that we’re supporting. What do we do next? What does that next step look like? If we are we’re operating the way we are, we just describe that. But we know where we want to go, we know the kind of change you want to see within the sector as well. What do we do next?

DeAnna Hoskins: Thank you for that, because this is a conversation that I’m having with some real communities right now and it’s around the entry employment. The conversation is, organizations are doing great work around this. We get minimum dollars, and that’s because a lot of the organizations, the smaller ones don’t know how to advocate for the Federal allocations that are coming into their state of how it should be dispersed in their communities. But the larger nonprofits know, that’s why they’re getting all the money, and they know how to advocate. Bringing that collaborative effort together, one, gives us the opportunity to be educated and build power, that we now become a force that actually can advocate on our state level of how those federal dollars are coming into our state and how they’re allocated amongst our community, and how the larger nonprofits that’s been swallowing it up don’t really have access and proximity to the people you’re trying to serve. But as a collaborative, we do, right? How does the collaborative put in that grant application? But also, when you build those collaboratives, you build power. You now become a voice in that community that can talk to your elected officials that are speaking for your community, you’re advocating for the people most marginalized, to actually bring them to the forefront to speak again, which is why it goes back to the original question. Have the people who are directly impacted to be a part of that conversation of how money comes into our communities.

DeAnna Hoskins: You now have become a force up against that one nonprofit who’s this – and typically, is one to two nonprofits in every jurisdiction that has money. Monopolize the funding, federal funding that comes into the state, it is so much money that comes into states from federal government around workforce, labor force, workforce, investment boards, job trainings, housing. People haven’t even tapped into the DLT, but the huge nonprofits that do reentry employment, they know DLT. If they’re building infrastructure, new roads, new sewer in your area, those are federal DLT dollars. Actually, your section three in your area with hood states that any federal dollars that come into your jurisdiction has to have a 35% workforce from the most marginalized communities. But because we don’t know that or we haven’t built the collaborative to even hold the county government accountable, and how these contracts come out, our people are missing the boat on opportunities of economic mobility.

Nic Campbell: That’s really powerful, because it makes me think of this sort of cooperative model that could exist within the nonprofit sector. Formalizing that collaboration, and being really clear about – these are the organizations that we are formally collaborating with. When you think about the ecosystem, it’s like, you know all the different players, but how do we actually collaborate together? What does that look like, and just being – stepping forward with a more cooperative type of bend. That’s what it makes me think about.

DeAnna Hoskins: I’ve been thinking, it’s funny because I use analogies for everything. I had created this concept of checkers, backgammon, and chess. Checkers is the real quick game. Is the real – you move your pieces really quick. Backgammon, you have to line everything up. The chess is a strategy move. You move on strategy, you do it. If you’re thinking about building collaborations and coalitions, what is the checkers game that gets everybody into the room, and that’s the education about the funding, that’s the education about opportunities that lie within their jurisdiction. Using the funding opportunity and education as the character to get them in a room. Now, once they’re in the room, and you’re talking about this funding, you’re moving to backgammon to, how do we align to advocate at our state level that this funding needs to come in, but we advocate and align as a collective that we show power. 

DeAnna Hoskins: Then within that, are there federal legislation rules around the authorization definitions that need to change so that our communities are more inclusive, and intentionally defined as recipients of this funding. I’ll use an example, dislocated worker. Jurisdictions classify dislocated worker the way they want to. My argument, every person in prison is actually working at the prison. You work, most people, especially if you served a long amount of time, you might work in a brake shop, you may work on the yard, you may work in the kitchen, you may work in [inaudible 00:17:10]. When you get discharged from prison, you no longer have that income coming in. You have to find new income. You are really a dislocated worker, that could utilize the training and opportunities through the Workforce Investment Act funds that come into your state. But strategically, those localities do not define that or define those individuals as qualifying.

DeAnna Hoskins: You have to have been laid off from your job in the public sector some type of way. Department of Corrections are public sectors. They released me, I was laid off. I need to be able to have access. Same thing with housing. Obama administration defined the definition of homelessness as leaving an overcrowded facility, jail, and prison all day. Jurisdictions have the discretion. They say, “No. That just means shelters. That doesn’t mean prison, which means a person doesn’t qualify for those houses subsidies.” Who’s more in need of those houses’ subsidies for sustainability and self-sufficiency than a person being recently released from incarceration?

Nic Campbell: Yeah. That kind of information sharing, knowledge sharing that unless you were in this kind of collaborative structure likely wouldn’t have access to it because you’re in your own vacuum doing your own thing. Just a reminder to have those conversations, and be deliberate about it. Because you’re all working towards this common goal. Lots of folks in that ecosystem know lots more than you do. Back to this point, right? This space is being culturally competent, understanding that you’re not, don’t go in there thinking you’re the smartest person in the room, because the possibilities that come back from that.

DeAnna Hoskins: I think it’s very important to just – we throw this word around in community together. I’d be like, we are not in the community, because we don’t even know what’s growing in the community. We don’t even know what’s all accessible in the community. Being in a community is totally different than being in collaboration with each other.

Nic Campbell: Yeah. I think that just when we think about – somebody might say, “Well, what comes next? What could I do? We’ve said it, right? If you’re listening to this, the next thing you should think about is, who do I work closely with, what organizations are in our space or our area that we’re working, and who’s working alongside the same communities that we’re working alongside. It may not be in the same area, but again, shared goals. Taking that approach and saying, “Let’s have a conversation. What does collaboration look like? What does this cooperative model look like?” I think is a really good start for folks.

DeAnna Hoskins: It’s just having that collaboration to build the power. But then like you said, Nic, the various sectors, those become subcommittees all for the collaboration. There’s a Housing Committee, there’s a Substance Abuse Committee. There’s a direct service provider. Everybody has a subcommittee. Even when funding opportunities come, the collaboration say, “Who is the best person that actually go after this funding? Is it the Housing Committee because it’s around housing?” Then, “Who’s the most stable organization that can actually be the main grantor, but everybody else in the committee is a sub grantor on a grant?” Now, the money has been expanded, because the huge nonprofit who has the capabilities of a federal grant, and the mechanism can make you a sub grantee to access funds you never had access to.

Nic Campbell: In that same structure, you are building on your strengths, your safe gardening for your challenge areas within your organization. Because now, there’s a group of organizations working together.

DeAnna Hoskins: You’re growing in your knowledge base of how to expand or sustain your organization.

Nic Campbell: You’re learning. We’re talking about that kind of structure and that kind of collaboration. It makes me think about infrastructure. How do you think about infrastructure at JustLeadership when we’re talking about this kind of cooperative structure as well? When I say infrastructure, I mean, the boards, governance. How are we building out that structure? How are we looking at receiving grant award? What does that entire process look like? If you’re making grants, then how are you making sure that that grant making is reflective of your organizational values? Just how you are set up in terms of your team as well? Do they understand their roles and responsibilities? I’d love to hear how you all are thinking about infrastructure, that kind of emphasis that you put on it, if at all? What would be required when we’re talking about this collaborative approach with nonprofits?

DeAnna Hoskins: Thank you for that. I want to start with the board because I think people think, “Okay. This is the board that I started. It’s the founding board.” But I think boards have to be adjusted based on the growth of the organization and the stage where the organization is. I just literally created a document around how I think about a board of, how do you reset a board, how do you renew a board and then how do you reinvigorate a board? Coming into the organization, I came on the foot, the foundation of a founder, which was a founding board. A founding board has very different purposes than an actual operational board. Typically, your founding board is really helping you get the prestige and acknowledgement you need, introducing you to people, helping you get some funding, secure funding. It’s less about governance at that time.

DeAnna Hoskins: Well then, you move into this growth spurt. You got the funding, you got these protocols, you now – you’re hiring staff. You went from this one person with a vision, now you have staff, you got benefits, you got HR roles. How do I keep accountable of the actual funding that I’m getting? What are the finances of the organization? So it’s time to revisit the board structure, because, does that founding board have the expertise that I need for this growth spurt? Do I need to change my bylaws to expand my board? Because at the time, I just thought I needed three members to get me incorporated, right? Do I need to expand my board? When I expand my board, am I being deliberate around diversity, equity, and inclusion of who’s on my board, who’s represented, what sectors are represented, what expertise is needed on my board to help me? 

DeAnna Hoskins: But then, that also goes down into the capacity of my organization and my team. What you’ll see, what I’ve seen in my experience is all I can share. The team I needed that when it was a founding organization, and the founder or the president is out doing all the speaking, doing all the fundraising. I’ve now grown. I need a development chief development officer. Now, we’re bringing in this funding, I need the CFO to handle that. Who’s my third-party financial management? Who’s handling HR to make sure I’m in compliance. Now, I’m relying on not only the expertise in-house, but some contracting with experts outside who do this as well, but it’s being cognizant of my growth spurt and being deliberate. I’m no longer able to function on a QuickBooks spreadsheet. We have grown. But understanding, and knowing when I’ve reached that capacity, but also, “Is my board accountable for their responsibility of fiscal health and governance of this organization?” Making sure I’m being deliberate around board development, so some of my board members who may not be really versed in that actually have access to the board development to understand it, but also putting some seasoned people on my board who understands it as well so that it actually can mature and you’re having a fully functioning board.

DeAnna Hoskins: I think people look at one part of their organization and not realizing you have to look at it, especially as the president CEO, you have to look at it as a collective coal. If I my organization is going, “Is my board growing in their ability? Because as the president CEO, I can’t do it all. I rely on my chair, my finance committee from my board to sit in on those meetings with staff and the third-party fiscal management in times when I can’t. I check in with my board, I check in with my financial chair, but that they have a clear understanding.” You can’t be all things to all people, so how do you empower? Make sure you have the staff that understands it, but also that you have the board members who are sitting on those subcommittees understand it. So that when it comes to the board meeting, it’s not DeAnna moving the organization. Your board is reporting out, your staff is reporting out, because everybody is committed and invigorated around the mission of this organization, so everyone has taken on the ownership of that organization to ensure this mission moves forward.

Nic Campbell: I really like how you’re thinking about governance, but also how you’re talking about it, right? Because I think people say, “Well, look. We’ve got great passionate folks on the board, they’re really smart or they’re really steeped in an area and my board is good.” But what you’re really highlighting is your board can and should change based on the stage of development that your organization is in. We say this all the time, and to just hear you articulate that as a leader of an organization that’s like, “This is how I’m looking at governance.” To me, it’s just really refreshing. Because when you start to think about your governance structure as something that is really critical to your organization’s development, you can’t then say, “Well, it can never be changed.” This is how it is and that there’s no way. Particularly when you’re saying, “We want to be brave, we want to be innovative, we want to do things that may not have been done previously.” How do you do that when you just said, “This one part of my organization is never ever going to be changed.” I really just liked how you framed it.

DeAnna Hoskins: I think there’s – I’ll add to that too, and I shared this earlier with someone. It also comes down to the leader self-evaluating, have they stayed past their expiration date, right? That’s just being honest. Because you hear the term sometimes, when people step down and say, “It’s time for new thoughts, and new blood, because I’m drained.” If I can no longer bring innovation, I no longer can be moved around new ideas. My expiration date may have just exhausted with this organization. As a professional, I need to step out of the way because if I don’t, I’m now going to hinder this organization, and I’m going to stunt this growth and this impact. If I believe in the mission of the organization to help liberate people, it’s okay for me to say, “You know what, my time has come. It’s really okay” and being okay with that.

Nic Campbell: That takes self-awareness. DeAnna, we talked about that earlier. That takes –

DeAnna Hoskins: I’m telling to quit their jobs, right?

Nic Campbell: How do you know? I mean, you pointed out, when you’re not being innovative, how can you be that self-aware where you’re saying, “Oh! Well, I’m clearly not innovating anymore. I should step out.” What are some indicators that folks would use to say it’s time?

DeAnna Hoskins: I think this is one of the things that we talked about with just leadership. Our leadership training is very different than any other training. Most leadership trainings, focus on principles of leadership, or leadership characteristic styles, right? Our training really focuses on the principles of the internal awareness of how you show up. I think for me, and I only could use myself. It’s the self-evaluation when ideas or the job no longer excites me, or I don’t have these thoughts that truly – not only inside me, but when I share them with my team. If I’m no longer bringing ideas to my team, or if I’m not embracing my team’s ideas, right? Because part of leadership is creating a culture where everyone feels valued and heard. Everyone from my operations director has ideas around how operations should work or how programs – when I started to find myself closing off those ideas of possibility, or I don’t bring any, it’s really time for me to move out the way. I’ve over exhausted and I’m more of a hindrance to the organization. I don’t take jobs I don’t believe in. I just don’t accept assignments I don’t believe in.

DeAnna Hoskins: When I no longer feel I have anything to give, and maybe that’s just part of the work I’ve done on myself. I just don’t believe a stamp pass my expiration date nowhere, right? All right. Okay. I’m good. You may not feel good, but I’m going to go ahead and transition. Because what’s to come will be greater, but if I stay here, I’m going to make myself miserable, and I’m going to make everyone else around me miserable.

Nic Campbell: Yeah. I think it’s such an important point. We talk about leadership, and I think that’s part of leadership, right? Being able to say, I need to create space for other things to happen, for innovation to come into play, for us to really move at a more accelerated pace towards our goal, and to be self-aware enough to say, “I’m not that person. I’m not the person that can or should be doing that.” I think that’s actually part of leadership. Thank you so much for raising it. DeAnna, I could literally talk to you for hours, as you know, but I just want to say that this conversation has been just really refreshing. It reminds me why we need to have leaders in spaces where they are afraid to speak truth to power, and they are bravely leading organizations. This conversation is just really a reminder of that. I want to thank you for sharing everything you have.

DeAnna Hoskins: Oh, thank you.

Nic Campbell: I want to ask you a question that I asked all of our guest to help us continue to build knowledge through books and people you should learn from or about to close this out. What book do you think we should read next or what artist do you think we should be paying attention to?

DeAnna Hoskins: There’s two. I think everyone should read 1619. The reason I say that is because anything that’s controversial shows you there’s a reason people don’t want us to have access to and they don’t want to keep it out of our schools. It’s still the systemic oppression. But what I value at the 1619 is the historical aspect of understanding how almost a lot of things that we have just inherited as generational habits, how it may have originated for us. I don’t think we ever had access to that. But also, the fact that it’s part of our history as black African Americans, black people, is part of our history that we were never been taught, and that people are still fighting from us to understand it. I think if we know the fight of our ancestors, if we know the history, the perseverance, the resilience, we can step more boldly into a space. It’s not only about the book educating us. I think the book gives an empowerment. This fight has already been fought for me, why am I willing to cater or fall down and not just standing my truth, my authenticity.

DeAnna Hoskins: It shows me what has truly been put into people’s or our culture’s DNA of what we survived. There’s a picture – you can tell I like to do stories, but there’s a picture and I never thought about it. But you see these pictures of slave ships, and people bumped up in chain three, four deeps. Somebody sent it to me and said, “To think your ancestors survived this, somewhere down your lineage survived this trip of living a thesis under this, being deported from their country. And today, you want to give up in your trials and your struggles. But someone in your lineage survived that. They already survived the most terrifying trump traumatic part. How dare us give up today, because we got to sit and call philanthropy out. How dare us give up simply because we want to call out the wrongs that are going on when we have a history of people in our ancestral line that has survived the most traumatic experience a human can go through?

DeAnna Hoskins: That’s how I kind of speak today. I’ll always be like, “Well, you already took my freedom. You’ve taken the freedom of some of my children. Yeah, we did some actions that needed to be accountable. You’ve inflicted trauma into that incarceration on my son. What can you take from me at this point? How dare I not speak about the inhumanity and the conditions of confinement that we as a people are experiencing when we’re held accountable? How incarceration is a replication of that journey that our ancestors took is just all of the racial disparities and the collateral consequences. It’s just a new way to still say what you can’t have or what you can’t do in my country. We’ve used your criminal record, but there again, in the book, there again, understanding the criminal justice system was built off the abolishment of slavery as a way to still exploit free labor. It’s only a continuation and how dare us not fighting when our people fought against slavery. I know, we’re still in the middle of this fight, so we can’t give up.

Nic Campbell: Well, I’m going to put all about 1619 in the show notes so that people can experience exactly what you’re describing, because it just sounds incredibly powerful. I’m sure that people are going to want to devour it more. Thank you so much for sharing that. Seriously, DeAnna, this conversation has been so powerful. I think, again, we talked about cultural competence and just really breaking down what that means. I think throughout the conversation, talking about self-awareness, the power that it provides when you are self-aware, and you step into conversations to learn, and that then leads to collaboration. Then, thinking about investment and how that shows up in communities, but also in organizations when we’re talking about the nonprofit sector. At the end of the day, being brave enough to tell your story. So I want to thank you again so much for your time. I think everything that you’ve shared will allow leaders to build their own organizations bravely.

DeAnna Hoskins: Thank you. Thank you for the invite. It’s been a great conversation. I appreciate it.

-Upbeat Outro Music-

Nic Campbell: Thank you for listening to this episode of Nonprofit Build Up. To access the show notes, additional resources, and information on how you can work with us, please visit our website at buildupadvisory.com. We invite you to listen again next week as we share another episode about scaling impact by building infrastructure and capacity in the non-profit sector. Keep building bravely.

 

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Leading within Organizational Change with Nancy Murphy

Over the next two weeks at the Nonprofit Build Up, Nic is talking with Nancy Murphy, Founder and President of CSR Communications on “ Leading within Organizational Change”. Nancy has designed and implemented sustainability, community engagement, and philanthropic strategies for companies such as UPS and Johnson Controls, and nonprofit organizations, including W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Nancy will be sharing insights on leading, supporting, strategizing, and re-energizing big change initiatives, especially given the current climate. You won’t want to miss it.

 

Listen to Part 1:

Listen to Part 2:

Resources:

About Nancy Murphy:

Nancy’s spent her career saying what others are afraid to – and learning to say it in ways that others will listen. She’s the founder and president of CSR Communications and creator of Intrapreneurs Influence Lab. Her passion is teaching leaders how to make organizational change stick.

From challenging stereotypes of girls in her Catholic school more than 40 years ago, to her first job after college convincing nonprofits to engage youth volunteers, or her role as board chair of a global nonprofit transforming the way we do international development…

…She’s experienced the challenges of leading big change within established organizations.

And she’s willing to share all the mistakes she made – and all the solutions she discovered – so that you don’t have to learn them the hard way.

Nancy’s worked in philanthropy for Steve and Jean Case’s family foundation, as a federal government program officer with the Corporation for National & Community Service, and as a global consultant for APCO Worldwide, where she designed and implemented sustainability, community engagement and philanthropic strategies for companies such as UPS and Johnson Controls, and nonprofit organizations including W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Annie E. Casey Foundation. Nancy mentors and advises executives from local governments, federal agencies, global nonprofits, foundations and Fortune 100 companies.

As a trainer and speaker, Nancy has shared her expertise from Kuala Lumpur to Kansas City and London to Las
Vegas. She holds a master’s degree in public affairs from University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School, a
master’s in health communication from Boston University, and a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from
University of Dayton.

Read the podcast transcription below:

Part One

-Upbeat Intro Music-

Nic Campbell: You’re listening to the Nonprofit Build Up podcast, and I’m your host, Nic Campbell. I want to support movements that can interrupt cycles of injustice and inequity, and shift power towards vulnerable and marginalized communities. I’ve spent years working in and with nonprofits and philanthropies, and I know how important infrastructure is to outcomes. On this show, we’ll talk about how to build capacity to transform the way you and your organization work.

Stef Wong: Hi, everyone. It’s Stef, Build Up’s Executive Portfolio Liaison. This week on the Nonprofit Build Up is part one of a two-part discussion between Build Up’s Founder and CEO, Nic, and Founder and President of CSR Communications, Nancy Murphy. Nancy’s experience designing and implementing sustainability, community engagement, and philanthropic strategies has made her well-versed in navigating the challenges of leading big change within established organizations. In this episode, Nancy will be sharing insights on leading, supporting, strategizing, and reenergizing big change initiatives, especially given the current climate. You won’t want to miss it. And with that, here’s part one of leading with an organizational change with Nancy Murphy.

Nic Campbell: Hi, Nancy. Welcome to the Nonprofit Build Up. 

Nancy Murphy: Hi, Nicole. Great to be here. 

Nic Campbell: So I’m really looking forward to our conversation. To get us started, can you tell us about CSR Communications, your role there, and CSR Communications’ immediate priority, particularly given where we find ourselves today? 

Nancy Murphy: Yeah. Well, thank you for that invitation. So I am the Founder and CEO of CSR Communications and creator of the Intrapreneurs Influence Lab. So that’s really designed to support those folks who are driving change from within organizations, and we specialize in the human psychology that makes organizational change possible because we know that organizational change is often necessary for social purpose organizations to realize, achieve their next big initiative to rapidly expand their impact. So we really specialize in getting change leaders the skills they need to lead that change effectively, and that’s our immediate priority right now, given what’s going on in the world, right? How much change we’re all reacting to because it’s being thrust upon us, and how much change we’re proactively driving because of the sense of urgency of things that need to change in the world. So our immediate priority is how do we get more intrapreneurs, more change leaders the skills they need to deal with the change coming at them and that they’re driving right now.

Nic Campbell: I really love the term intrapreneurs, and I’d love to hear more about how you are working with organizations and, in particular, intrapreneurs to manage the change that they’re encountering, as they do their work. I mean, the environment that we’re in, there’s so much happening, and a lot of organizations have had to change strategy, adapted. So I’d love to just hear a little bit more about how you’re showing up to work with these organizations. 

Nancy Murphy: Yeah. Well, you just mentioned strategy. So that’s one way is we support leaders and teams, as they’re designing and implementing those strategic leaps inside their organization. So what is the strategy that’s going to drive the next big initiative or that’s going to enable them to shift and adapt in this shifting and changing environment? 

Nancy Murphy: We also do a lot around change leadership. So I personally do not like the term change management because it assumes that change is a logical, linear predictable thing. If we just have the right Gantt charts and checklists that it’s all going to go just as planned, right? Organizations are made up of people, and humans are messy beings. They’re emotional beings. That’s why we talk about specializing in the human psychology that makes organizational change possible. 

Nancy Murphy: We do a lot around re-energizing change journeys, how to lead change effectively. That’s a big part of what our Intrapreneurs Influence Lab is all about, equipping leaders with the skills, tools, and techniques to deal with the human psychology that makes organizational change hard, overcome resistance to change, and have a reenergizing change journey versus a de-energizing one that sort of leads to that change revolt, eventually, from fatigue, to exhaustion, to revolt. 

Nancy Murphy: We also do a lot with communication, message development, communication strategy internally and externally, and then, of course, board development because boards are a big part of whether change is even imagined inside organizations and whether change succeeds or fails inside our organizations. 

Nic Campbell: I like how you have described change as being nonlinear and a journey, which really resonates because it is not linear at all. You can’t plan for it in many ways, and you do have to make sure that you are supporting leaders, as they move through changes in their strategy, changes in their operations, and how that sort of works throughout the organization. 

Nic Campbell: When you talk about reenergizing a change journey, I love that phrasing. Can you speak a little bit more about how you go about reenergizing a change journey and what that looks like? 

Nancy Murphy: Yeah. So this will probably sound familiar to many people. If you are the leader of change inside an organization, if this is kind of your vision, and maybe you’ve been thinking about it for a long time before you’ve shared it externally, and it’s kind of all mapped out in your head, and you totally understand it, and you’ve been sitting with it for a while, or whether there’s some change coming at you that you have to implement. So COVID protocols or whatever it might be. That when we put something out there for the first time, that moment we describe as changed curiosity for the folks who are hearing this for the first time.

Nancy Murphy: A big part of being able to move forward, to change the behavior, or do things differently that our leaders are asking of us is to be able to make meaning of it for ourselves, right? So how do we do that? We ask questions. We try to learn more. We’re trying to understand. What does it mean for me? Well, did you think about this? Did you consider the implication here? So that moment of changed curiosity is really important. 

Nancy Murphy: But what we do as leaders most of the time is we get kind of frustrated. Well, just get on board. Why are you asking this question? Don’t you understand? It’s all super clear in my head, right? Or it’s our baby, and we get defensive when people start asking questions. So at that moment, the way we respond or typically react to the changed curiosity is to shut it down. We dismiss it. We suppress it. We misunderstand it. We think people are not capable of making the change, or they’re against change, or they’re naysayers, or we think it’ll just go away. When we do that, that’s where people start to get the change fatigue, the change exhaustion, and eventually change revolt because leaders don’t react appropriately. 

Nancy Murphy: What we do is help people understand that resistance is a gift. What is this teaching us? What blind spots is it illuminating? How are people using these questions to make meaning and understand it? Then when we give people the tools and techniques to embrace that resistance and to use it to make the ideas stronger and better, then we can move instead into changed readiness, changed resourcefulness, and changed harmony, instead of devolving into that revolt. 

Nancy Murphy: In addition to understanding the psychological triggers that make change hard, what are the common types of resistance, and what’s really underneath them, and how do we overcome them? A big part of the work we do with change leaders is teaching them to operate a little bit more like Indiana Jones. What do I mean by that? I mean, go on an archeological dig to find what we at CSR Communications call artifacts. 

Nancy Murphy: So all the little things we leave behind when we move forward with change, that tell us who and what we value, what matters, and how things really get done around here. Oftentimes, those conflict with the change we want. Again, what leads to a de energizing change journey, well, little things that we’ve left behind that send signals that maybe we’re not serious about the change. Maybe the change isn’t real, so it erodes trust inside our organizations. Well, you’re saying one thing, but all these little signals I’m getting over here are telling me something different. Or what else leads to fatigue, exhaustion, and revolt, making it harder to do the things you’re asking me to do. 

Nancy Murphy: There’s too much friction, right? Well, why? Because we have systems and processes, artifacts that were left behind, that are aligned with the old ways of thinking and working and doing. So you’re making it really, really hard for me to do the thing you’ve now asked me to do. Again, that leads to fatigue, exhaustion, and revolt. So we’ve got to unearth those artifacts. We’ve got to identify them, first of all. Unearth them. Replace them with ones that are aligned with the change so that we don’t get that de-energizing change journey. 

Nic Campbell: That all makes really good sense. I think one of the things that you said really resonated with me and stuck out, which was leadership’s response and reaction to that change curiosity. So when I think about that, I think about different stakeholders within the process, and I wonder if there is a group of stakeholders that you focus on more than others. 

Nic Campbell: For example, we started this conversation talking about intrapreneurs because you’re saying that you do a lot of work with intrapreneurs. They’re driving the change from within. But I think about other stakeholders within the organization that may not be intrapreneurs. But they’re still part of making sure that the organization advances its mission. 

Nic Campbell: When you think about this change journey and leadership’s response and reaction to change curiosity, how do you decide? Or do you decide on focusing on a group of stakeholders? Is it the intrapreneurs? Is it the folks who are not intrapreneurs, and there’s really skeptical about what’s happening? Where do you spend your energy, and how do you make that determination? 

Nancy Murphy: Yeah. Let me go to a short answer first, and then I’ll go to a little bit longer answer about the process. So one of the mistakes I think most intrapreneurs, most change leaders make is – This kind of goes back to it being, “Oh, but this is my baby. I’m so excited about it. This is my brilliant idea.” We don’t like for anyone not to be on board, right? 

Nancy Murphy: If we think about the diffusion of innovation curve that some of your listeners might be familiar with, it’s used in technology a lot where we have the innovators, the early adopters, right? The early majority, the late majority, and the laggards. It’s sort of that curve of who is most open to or embracing of change. You’ve got those innovators, the disruptors who are driving it. Then you’ve got all the way down to the laggards. 

Nancy Murphy: I see so many leaders focus on the laggards first or the late majorities. Like they’ve just got to get everybody. As soon as that one person in a town hall meeting is really dragging their feet and really – It’s almost like, well, now we’ve got to convince that person, and we’re spending all of our energy on the person or the group of people who are the least likely to embrace the change first. We miss all the energy earlier on in the curve, right? Where those folks would help carry the water of the persuasion and influence. 

Nancy Murphy: I don’t think it’s helpful to try to convince people. We can almost never convince people, right? So how do we just create an environment of excitement and energy around the change, and eventually those laggards will get on board? Or there will be consequences for them not, or they’ll just self-select out, right? That’s a huge mistake people make is like going straight to that hardest group to get on board and starting with them. 

Nancy Murphy: What I would say in terms of a little bit longer answer is we have several different kind of layers of stakeholder mapping that we do with leaders inside organizations to think about where’s informal power inside the organization, right? There’s formal authority, but there’s also informal power and authority. We want to understand the psychographics behind different stakeholders, either inside our organization or partners and external stakeholders as well. 

Nancy Murphy: So not just are you a funder? Are you a staff member? Are you a board member? Kind of the demographics, if you will, or the roles, but also understanding how open are different folks to change? Where are the power centers inside our organizations? What’s going to drive different groups of people? Then where do we start, right? Who needs to be on board first? Who are our champions who can help carry the water? 

Nancy Murphy: There’s a fairly sophisticated stakeholder mapping process with lots of different layers that we go through, and that helps us decide what makes sense as a starting point for you inside your organization with this change at this moment in time. But I would say, generally, let’s not make the mistake of going to the hardest people to get on board first and spending all of our time and energy there while missing out on the enthusiasm and energy that’s probably present and we’re missing out on. 

Nic Campbell: Right. Because you want to make sure that you can continue to build on that and have those folks also be ambassadors of the change that’s been introduced. So I’m thinking about, and you mentioned them earlier, board members are very key stakeholder in this process. How do you work with boards to make sure that they are involved enough, but they’re not getting into the day to day of the organization’s operations? But they’re maintaining their oversight and accountability of the organization, and they’re helping to carry forward change in a good way. Do you approach that group differently than you’re approaching staff within the organization? Or are there just common principles that you follow? 

Nic Campbell: I guess there are certainly common principles in terms of understanding the drivers for folks and how they will perceive and respond to change. So the specific dreams, desires, fears, anxieties, motivations might be different for board members or individual board members than for staff or individual staff or staff at different levels of leadership and authority within the organization. But understanding those drivers is a core principle, understanding the psychological triggers that make change hard and how they’re playing out at the board. They may play out differently at a board level than they would at a staff level, but the triggers are still the same. 

Nic Campbell: The one thing that’s kind of fascinating me recently when it comes to boards and change, particularly in this environment we’re in right now, where I’m getting very excited about moonshot opportunities, right? Like just given how much is shaking up in the world right now, there’s a huge opportunity to solve problems that impact millions of people for good, if we’re willing to dream and to take the risk. 

Nic Campbell: I was just listening to some of your earlier episodes where folks were talking a lot about risk, and it reminded me of this challenge I think we have around are we actually going to leap and make a radical solution to solve the problem for good to end the problem for good? Because what happens when we do? Does that mean our organization goes away? I think this is a real tension we don’t have enough conversations about in the nonprofit sector. 

Nic Campbell: As a previous board chair and a current board member, I’ve served on lots of nonprofit boards. We have a fiduciary duty to protect and preserve the organization. As a result, I think sometimes boards are afraid to solve the problem for good because what does that mean for the organization? Or is pursuing that radical solution putting the organization at too much risk because it’s disruptive by nature, right? Most of our social sector is kind of designed to tweak around the edges and make some incremental changes. 

Nic Campbell: Last year, we fed 3,000 hungry kids. This year, we hope to feed 3,500 hungry kids. Is that the conversation we should be having? But I think that, again, that’s the tension for boards, right? Like we believe in the vision and the mission, but our fiduciary duty is to protect and preserve the organization, which is kind of a status quo mindset. So I’m really excited about like having more conversations about what is the role of boards in some of these moonshot leaps, these really next big initiatives that could end some of these problems for good.

Nic Campbell: I agree with that. I think that having that initial conversation as an organization about risk, defining it, what do we mean when we say things are radical, things are risky, and just teasing that out because if you look within boards at each board member’s definition of risk, it might vary, right? It might even differ from the organization’s approach to risk and its own risk appetite. 

Nic Campbell: So I completely agree. Just starting that conversation around where are we trying to go, what do we mean when we say risk, and what does it means something is risky, and how do we move forward? Because at the end of the day, we’re talking about moonshots, we’re talking about nonprofits, and we’re in that space of risk, so it’s inherent. So how do you go along that change journey of exploring like how do you get from point A to B? That’s all really good points around engaging with boards. 

Stef Wong: That concludes part one of the series. Next week, Nic and Nancy will go in more depth regarding leading with an organizational change. Additionally, if you want to build a stronger board structure, make your grant process more responsive, and transform your organization to work more efficiently, then schedule a discovery call with a Build Up Advisory Group. The Build Up Advisory Group strives to be brave enough to truly be risk takers, be creative in ways others are afraid to be, and approach philanthropy with a unique and fresh perspective. We would love to hear more about your brave mission to change the world.

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Nic Campbell: Thank you for listening to this episode of Nonprofit Build Up. To access the show notes, additional resources, and information on how you can work with us, please visit our website at buildupadvisory.com. We invite you to listen again next week, as we share another episode about scaling impact by building infrastructure and capacity in the nonprofit sector. Keep building bravely.

Part Two

-Upbeat Intro Music-

Nic Campbell: You’re listening to the nonprofit buildup podcast. And I’m your host, Nic Campbell. I want to support movements that can interrupt cycles of injustice and inequity and shift power towards vulnerable and marginalized communities. I’ve spent years working in and with nonprofits and philanthropies, and I know how important infrastructure is to outcomes. On this show, we’ll talk about how to build capacity to transform the way you and your organization work.

Stef Wong: Hi, everyone, it’s Stef, Buildup’s Executive Portfolio Liaison. This week on the Nonprofit Build Up is part two of a two-part discussion between Buildup’s founder and CEO, Nic Campbell; and founder and President of CSR communications, Nancy Murphy. You can jump back to part one of this conversation to learn more about leading within organizational change. But with that, let’s dive into the second part of Nic and Nancy’s discussion, where Nancy continues sharing insights on leading, supporting, strategizing and reenergizing big change initiatives, especially given the current climate.

Nancy Murphy: We talked a lot about the change journey, how leadership can respond to that initial change curiosity, the roles of different stakeholders within the organizations. When you think about the nonprofit sector and all that you know about change and strategy, what do you think that we should be doing more of as a sector? And what do you think we should be doing less of?

Nic Campbell: I definitely think we should be doing more dreaming. I think as a sector, we’ve forgotten how to dream, right? Either because we’re all so overwhelmed with the crises of the hour, and trying to serve more and more people and meet bigger and bigger needs with ever tightening budgets. Now facing staff shortages, just like every other organization, but feeling like, “Well, we can’t pay the compensation.” And we think that a truss.

Nic Campbell: We get super locked into this what’s immediately in front of me that is urgent, and thinking of incremental progress and tweaking around the edges. But I think we miss the moment to imagine a world where the problem that we’re solving, the issue we’re addressing, no longer exists. And so, I wish we would do more dreaming. 

Nic Campbell: What do I wish we would do less of? Probably staying in our bubbles. Right? I, a couple of months ago, spent a few days in New York at the Wall Street Journal’s Future of Everything Festival. And that was definitely out of my bubble and out of my comfort zone. And I will tell you, it blew my mind in so many good ways. And it really got me thinking about what is possible in the world that I thought before the middle of May was impossible and what will be possible in the very near future. 

Nic Campbell: And I think when we spend all of our time having conversations with folks who are in our industry, or in our sector, or who already agree with the way we framed the problem, or their challenge, or who are so absorbed in whatever our cause or issue is that we can speak in shorthand and acronyms and all of that. And I really wish we would do less of that, because we all need our minds blown a little bit more frequently.

Nancy Murphy: I like that a lot. Because we talk a lot about an ecosystem approach for nonprofits. And when we think about how organizations operate, it’s less of a singular vehicle. And it’s more of how do different types of organizations and leaders work together towards a common goal. This idea of stepping out of bubbles, stepping out of your silos, I think really just plays really nicely into that, which makes a lot of sense. 

Nancy Murphy: I want to talk a little bit more about dreaming. I think that word is intriguing. Talk to me about how you would position folks who are working with historically marginalized and vulnerable communities who are really in a place where all of us actually are facing systems that are just inherently inequitable. We feel like there is a very uphill sort of journey that has to happen. And at every turn, there’s something else that’s coming up that’s really proving how inequitable the system is. 

Nancy Murphy: To go to organizations that are working with communities that are really just trying to, at this point, keep their heads above water, just within the system itself, how do you frame that to say let’s do more dreaming at this point in a way that then resonates with that organization and resonates in the work that they’re doing with those communities?

Nic Campbell: Well, I think first of all, let’s not pretend that that work is easy. And that it’s the environment and the context that most leaders operate in and most communities live in is not very dream friendly. I don’t want to pretend that this is easy, and that this work isn’t frustrating, and demotivating, and all of that. Because, of course, it is. 

Nic Campbell: At the same time, what I’ve kept coming back to the last few years is a quote from one of my favorite, guided meditations. And I’m forgetting exactly who the person in the guided meditation is quoting right now. But it’s about when we’re committed to change, that we commit not to fighting the old, but to building the new. And that’s what speaks to me. Because we can spend tons of energy fighting the old. But I am a firm believer that the old – There are so many cracks in the foundation, the oldest crumbling away. And if we don’t build the new, if we’re not dreaming about what could be possible, then someone else is going to build the new that’s not going to be the new we want, right? Or the old will crumble, and there will be nothing in its place. 

Nic Campbell: I think the frustration comes when we’re fighting the old and we feel like, again, we’re sort of convincing those laggards that are holding on to the status quo for dear life. And it’s very freeing, I think, to just say, “You’re going away.” What I’m going to do instead is dream and build the new so that if we together can create a vision of what’s possible, if we can actually imagine a future that’s better than what we have now, then we can start to paint that picture and others are going to want to come along. 

Nic Campbell: I sort of feel like it’s a freeing experience to just say whatever the crap is that’s kind of coming at me every day, I accept that it’s here and that it’s hard. But I want to build the new. So, how do I carve out the space to dream and to have those imagination conversations with people who share my values and will help me create the new?

Nancy Murphy: Yeah, it’s like a both an, right? Where you are dealing with the inequities, the issues that are coming up today and knowing that you have to address them and you have to fight back, so to speak. 

Nancy Murphy: And then also, stepping into leadership, really, and saying, “I am designing this new world, the new possibility, the new vision, the new system, in which we will all operate.” And its leadership in the way I’m seeing it from what you describe, because you’re telling your own story. And you’re recreating it in a way that’s outside of the current system and you’re stepping into that in a very unique way. I like that approach. And I like the word dream, because I think it’s just not a word that we use a lot in the sector. And I think it’s very inspirational to say you get to step into a new type of leadership, actually.

Nic Campbell: well. And let’s think about the people who really have the lived experience of inequity, and marginalization, and discrimination, and structural racism, and ableism, and ageism, and all the things. Most people don’t get through the day without dreaming, right? I think we can learn – Those of us who have more privilege can learn dreaming from people who the only space that they could create that was a positive life many times was in their dreams. 

Nic Campbell: And so, by dreaming that something better was possible, not everyone, unfortunately, is sable to manifest that in their lifetimes. But I think that how did we come out of slavery? When you talk to women in some countries around the world who are still considered property, and they have to dream that there is something better that’s possible. And I think we can learn to dream by having more conversations and learning more from people who spend more of their lives in marginalized, inequitable, discriminatory situations.

Nancy Murphy: Right, and seeing that dreaming is actually a critical part of change.

Nic Campbell: It’s where we reclaim power and agency, right? In our dreams. If we can imagine a future where I have power and you don’t, or whatever, that’s a way to reclaim agency and to reclaim our power. I think there’s a lot of power in dreaming and an imagination.

Nancy Murphy: Right. And if we think about funders and nonprofit organizations that are seeking funding, so they’re their grantees of other funders, other organizations. When we think about how do we support this dreaming, right? Because we are talking about dreaming as a critical part of change. And so, we’re there. But then the additional work steps in where it’s like, “Okay, now we’re going to take this dream and make it a reality, right? And we’re going to talk about implementation and how we take this forward. What role can funders play? What role can nonprofits play in all of this?

Nic Campbell: Well, let’s start with funders. What creates the imagination deficit in nonprofits? Well, oftentimes, it’s the funding practices, requirements, restrictions that lead to an imagination deficit in our nonprofits. 

Nic Campbell: So how can funders help? Well, I mentioned to you earlier, I used to work for grant makers for effective organizations, a big part of what GO is about is encouraging funders to give general operating support. How do we have resources that we trust – This goes back to the power dynamic. We trust the leadership of the nonprofit organization to decide how best to use resources at their disposal to meet their mission? To meet the needs of the people or the communities they serve? 

Nic Campbell: If there’s less chasing and trying to fit things in, and well, we can only do programmatic. Well, that just creates an environment where dreaming and imagination is less possible. How do we have the type of trust-based funding that enables leaders to operate in a way that opens up space for dreaming? I think that’s a big one. 

Nic Campbell: When I was at Cayce Foundation, we used to talk a lot about proposals that – And I think this is what the funding community creates. This dynamic of, we would get a proposal, and the first 10 pages would be all about how bad the problem is, all of the data, all the stories. It’s such a horrible thing. And we’ve been doing this work for 75 years, and we want you to give us more money to do that. 

Nic Campbell: And we would look at this and be like, “Well, you’ve been doing this for 75 years. And the problem seems worse than it was when you started.” And maybe that’s actually not the case exactly, right? But it’s like, as funders, we sort of want to fund the greatest need. We encourage nonprofits to focus on how bad the problem is, and how big the problem is, and how persistent the problem is. Versus here’s what the world could look like and will look like if you invest in us. Because this is what we’re building, as opposed to highlighting. Because that sort of creates this weird mindset. It kind of triggers things in our brains have this deficit and scarcity. 

Nic Campbell: And so, I think that gets in the way of dreaming. How do we help create abundance mindset from a funder perspective? What can nonprofits do? Well, I think part of it is how do we get out of the Groundhog Day mentality of it’s like crisis of the hour over and over and over again? And we never carve out time for strategic thinking. 

Nic Campbell: We continue to add more and more programs and initiatives. And we never do the Marie Kondo of our strategy where we sort of look at things we’ve been doing and thank them for their service and how they contributed to our mission, but then we let them go. Right? When are we calling programs and initiatives so that we’re not just piling things on top, but we’re creating that space? 

Nic Campbell: And then how do we invite people to get creative? To get innovative? To really dream? We need to sort of break the pattern. Right? So how do we do the pattern interrupt? How do we convene meetings differently? How do we trick our brains into opening up new areas and seeing beyond the thing that’s right in front of us? There are lots of tools and techniques for that. But as nonprofits, we not only have to create the time, we also have to be open to trying some of those and really having that experimenter’s mindset.

Nancy Murphy: Right. And seeing innovation from the existing programs strategy that you might have, because you’re calling those things and looking for opportunities as well. So, I really liked that. And with the funders, you had me at general operating support. I say this all the time. I completely agree with you about the imagination deficit. That’s really what it creates. And this idea of giving very limited non-flexible funding. Compared to just saying, “Here, I believe in your mission. I want to invest in it. Show us what you plan to do.” Right? I think that’s a very different approach. And it does encourage dreaming, and imagination, and innovation. I think that’s a great advice for both. 

Nancy Murphy: Nancy, I could literally talk to you for hours about this topic, because your responses have been so thoughtful and insightful, and really helping us think about change in a different way. And I want to ask you a question that I ask all of our guests to help us continue to build knowledge through books and people we should learn from or about to close this out. What book do you think we should read next? Or what artist do you think we should be paying attention to?

Nic Campbell: Well, I’m going to suggest a book and an organization. I’m in the middle of about six books right now. This is one of my bad habits. It’s always really hard for me to just recommend one. But given what we’ve been talking about today, I’m going to recommend Imagination Gap by Brian Reich. Because when I, about six months ago, started like really digging into this imagination deficit, I started Googling around and I found this book. And I was like, “How did I not know about this book?” I think it’s a great tool for anyone who’s intrigued by this imagination idea. Imagination Gap is the book. 

Nic Campbell: Two, build on this idea of getting out of our own bubbles and having our minds blown, I’m going to recommend an organization called Grow Your Own Cloud. Just because the idea is so wild. Apparently, we can now store our data on the DNA of a plant. Think about that for a moment. And if that is possible, let’s imagine what else might be possible. Check out Grow Your Own Cloud. I learned about them at the Future of Everything Festival. And I love what they’re doing, because it blows my mind. 

Nancy Murphy: Well, thank you so much for both of these suggestions. We’ll put them in the show notes so that listeners have access to them as well. 

Nancy Murphy: Nancy, you have shared such tremendous knowledge and insights that I think that leaders will be able to use to build out their own organizations, embrace change, think about change a little bit differently, even how they approach different stakeholders within their organization. I also liked just this idea of dreaming. I really like the word itself. Again, I just don’t think we use it enough in the sector. And really seeing dreaming as a critical component of change and an ability for leaders to really step into the work that they’re doing. I just want to thank you for your time today and for helping leaders be able to use that information to help them build bravely. Thank you again so much for joining us.

Nic Campbell: Thank you, Nicole. This was a really fun conversation.

Stef Wong: And that completes this two part series on leading within organizational change with Nic Campbell and Nancy Murphy. Additionally, if you want to build a stronger board structure, make your grant process more responsive and transform your organization to work more efficiently, then schedule discovery call with the Buildup Advisory Group. The Buildup Advisory Group strives to be brave enough to truly be risk takers, be creative in ways others are afraid to be, and approach philanthropy with a unique and fresh perspective. We would love to hear more about your brave mission to change the world.

-Upbeat Outro Music-

Nic Campbell: Thank you for listening to this episode of Nonprofit Buildup. To access the show notes, additional resources and information on how you can work with us, please visit our website at buildupadvisory.com We invite you to listen again next week as we share another episode about scaling impact by building infrastructure and capacity in the nonprofit sector. Keep building bravely.

 

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Legal Capacity as Capacity Building with A. Nicole Campbell Solocast

During this week and next at the Nonprofit Build Up, a two-part series solocast by Build Up Companies’ CEO and Managing Attorney, A. Nicole Campbell is a reflective and thought-provoking perspective on what it means for organizations, philanthropies, and grassroots movements to have “Legal Capacity as Capacity Building.”

Recent events such as the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, the mass shootings across America, and other recent tragedies have shown the importance of institutions needing to have the capacity to build bravely. In this episode, Nic dives into the direct role that legal capacity has to build an organization in a way that lasts. You won’t want to miss it.

Listen to the podcasts here:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Resources:

Read the podcast transcription below:

Part One

-Upbeat Intro Music-

Nic Campbell: You’re listening to the Nonprofit Build Up Podcast. I’m your host, Nic Campbell. I want to support movements that can interrupt cycles of injustice and inequity and shift power towards vulnerable and marginalized communities. I’ve spent years working in and with non-profits and philanthropies and I know how important infrastructure is to outcomes. On this show, we’ll talk about how to build capacity to transform the way you and your organization work.

Stef Wong: Hi, everyone. It’s Stef. Build Up’s Executive Portfolio Liaison. This week on the Nonprofit Build Up is two-part series, solo cast presentation by Build Up’s CEO, A. Nicole Campbell, where she reflects and provides a thought-provoking perspective on what it means for organizations, philanthropies and grassroots movements to have legal capacity as capacity building. Recent events, such as the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the mass shootings across America, and other recent historic tragedies have shown the importance of institutions needing to have the capacity to build bravely.

Stef Wong: In this episode, Nic dives into the direct role that legal capacity has, to build in a way that lasts, you won’t want to miss it. With that, here’s part one of legal capacity as capacity building with A. Nicole Campbell.

Nic Campbell: Hi, everyone, it’s Nic. I’m doing a solo cast. So, it’s just going to be me today. I hope that everyone is doing the best they can, in these very interesting times. Very scary times, in which we find ourselves. We are dealing with mass shootings, mass killings in the United States, in particular, and the world we live in, as we know, it has significantly changed, right? We have just most recently, Roe v. Wade, the overturning of that decision, and the list really goes on and on. So, I hope that everyone is finding ways to do their best to work in these very challenging times. Because it’s more important than ever, how we show up to each other, to ourselves, and to the communities that we’re serving.

Nic Campbell: I think that we all can agree that we have to be strong, we have to be stronger than we’ve ever been, particularly now, us as people, as individuals, as groups, as communities, our institutions need to be stronger. And when we talk about institutions, we’re definitely talking about nonprofits, philanthropies, those within the sector. And when I think about how do we make organizations stronger? How do we build them to withstand all the things that we are facing right now, and that will come in the future? I think about capacity building, right? How are we set up to do our very best work? Do we have the capacity to do our very best work so that when these kinds of crises, keep reoccurring, or come up again, and we know that they will, right? It’s just a matter of time. How are we set up to do our very best work, and to be our very best selves, right? I’m talking about organizations and the people within them. The systems within them as well.

Nic Campbell: Now, here’s the problem. Leaders of these organizations are burnt out. We talk about it with ourselves, we talk about it amongst ourselves, we talk about it in the communities that we’re working in, that the leaders of these organizations that are doing incredible work. They’re supporting vulnerable, marginalized communities. They are burned out. They’re being overworked. They don’t have enough funding to do their work. So, they are taking on multiple jobs at once. They’re wearing all kinds of hats. We joke around about leaders wearing 15 different hats, and they’re switching off these hats. They’re playing CEO and CFO and CEO, all kinds of leadership roles, their own assistance. They’re just providing so much support and leverage to others. But they also have to provide to themselves. So, they are understandably burnt out.

Nic Campbell: Leaders of color are even more burnt out, right? We’ve seen the data. We’ve seen the reports come out that leaders of color are burnt out or even higher rates than leaders that are not of color that are within the sector. So, we can agree that the leaders of these organizations, of these institutions that we need these organizations themselves to be strong. The leaders that are running them, that are leading them, that are taking them to the next level are burnt out themselves. So, they don’t even have the capacity to do their best work often.

Nic Campbell: The systems in which these leaders are operating, that these organizations have within them, they’re sometimes nonexistent. There are often no systems. People are just doing what they’re doing, because again, they’re trying to get by with the little resources that they have. So, they often don’t have that time, the space, the money or the resources to develop systems and frameworks of how they want to act within these organizations. A lot of times, what we’re seeing is that these systems are nonexistent, they’re not around. So, imagine having to create and lift to provide leverage to do all these things, when each and every day is probably different, because you have no system in place. And if you do have a system in place, there’s lots of work that has to be done, in order for it to function at a level that makes sense to help folks, teams within the organization, individuals within organization to do their best work.

Nic Campbell: When we take a look at the governance structures within these organizations, a lot of boards are disengaged, right? Even if the board members are engaged, sometimes they don’t really understand what it means to be an effective board member for the organization at that stage of this development. It’s not that folks don’t know how to help leaders, or that they’re not passionate about the work, it’s that they don’t necessarily know how to provide the best kind of capacity or leverage to those leaders at that particular time. All that organizations development in existence.

Nic Campbell: So, we have all of these things coming to their leaders being burnt out, systems being not existing or not working optimally, boards being disengaged, or not necessarily having the tools that they need to provide the right kind of oversight and accountability that the organization needs. When we step out of the organization, and we look at the networks, that leaders might have, that the organization itself might have built, these networks also tapped out, they’re exhausted. Because all of the organizations within these networks are also feeling the same things that I just described.

Nic Campbell: So, this is the problem, that we understand that we need capacity building, we need to have capacity to do our best work. But then we look around and we realize the places and the people from which we would get that capacity is not there. So, what’s the solution? What do we need to do? We’re in the super challenging times, we know we need the capacity, we can’t necessarily tap the places that we think we can tap. So, what do we do? The solution, you hear a lot is capacity building. There’s lots of different capacity building programs and I love to see it. Every time I hear about a capacity building program, I get excited, because I want to hear how funders, how nonprofits are thinking about capacity, how they’re thinking about building it, how they’re thinking about maintaining it, providing additional leverage. I love to hear all of it.

Nic Campbell: So, when I hear these programs, and they’re talking about capacity building, I think about program support. I see a lot of capacity building programs. How do we strengthen your program strategy? How do we help you with your strategic planning? I think that’s amazing. There’s leadership support now that’s coming out, like how do we support leaders in smaller organizations that may not have the team there to provide additional leverage. So, how do we provide you with that capacity? How do we help you build your team? How do we just provide you some support so that you’re not feeling so burnt out?

Nic Campbell: Again, when I see these programs, I’m like, “This is great. We’re getting at the root of a lot of these issues around capacity.” Here are the builder companies, we focus on infrastructure. So, I love to see those programs. I think they are essential, they are critical in how organizations are being built up. I also want to hear how we’re building capacity in terms of infrastructure. When we talk about infrastructure, we’re talking about governance. We’re talking about grant making processes and systems, and we’re talking about how organizations are structured. Their compliance, needs, what is their compliance capacity to meet those compliance needs, or they set up in their right vehicle to do their best work. All those kinds of questions, those are the kinds of things that come to mind when we start thinking about infrastructure.

Nic Campbell: I like to see capacity building programs focused on how are we building up that structure, that framework of organization in addition to the programmatic strategy, and in addition to the support that we’re giving to leadership. Because if we’re not also focused on the infrastructure and the frameworks, that’s not really building capacity. So, within build up companies, we use different vehicles, when we think about infrastructure, because we understand that there are different parts of infrastructure and different ways to go about it. So, we talk a lot about Build Up Advisory Group, which is our advisory firm that works for brave nonprofits and philanthropies, and really is focused on strengthening capacity within infrastructure. So, within governance grantmaking, structuring of organizations themselves, and really going in and working alongside leaders to say, this is how we’re going to build up this infrastructure within the organization.

Nic Campbell: So, we not only assess it, but then we go in and say, “Now that we’ve assessed it, now, let’s help you build.” So, we’re working hand in hand in doing that. We also have Build Up Inc., which is our non-profit capacity builder that provides fiscal sponsorship. We work with women lead, and bipoc led projects and initiatives and organizations, literally, around the globe are doing such brave work. Working with vulnerable and marginalized communities to make sure that their voices are being heard and they’re not being invisibilized. So, these projects really run the gamut. But essentially, we’re trying to build the capacity of these projects, particularly, grass roots, community led initiatives and projects. How do we give them the capacity to do their best work? So, that’s what Build Up Inc., the nonprofit is focused on.

Nic Campbell: We also have the Campbell Law Firm, which is a law firm that works with brave social impact entrepreneurs and philanthropists, nonprofits and philanthropies in order to be their trusted legal advisor and thought partner, and we take those phrases, those subscriptions very seriously. As a law firm, we really try to show up differently. You might automatically be thinking, or at this point, be thinking, “Wait a minute, we’re talking about infrastructure. I get Build Up Advisory Group, I get Build Up Inc., we’re talking about an advisory firm, we’re talking about a fiscal sponsor, that is all about capacity building. Why are we talking about the law firm? And that’s why I want to focus on today.

Nic Campbell: I want to focus on legal capacity as part of capacity building, right? The way we hold it at the Build Up companies, is that capacity building is a very big phrase, right? It can encompass so many different things. As I mentioned, a lot of times we hear about strategic planning, programmatic support, leadership support, we want to hear about financial support, we want to hear about financial capacity building, building financial systems. And we really wanted to focus on governance, grant making and structuring. The legal piece of this touches on all of that, and it also gets into how do you build your capacity when your organization that has no legal capacity? Could you imagine being an organization, you’re doing all this capacity building, and you have no legal team that is helping you with your risk management, your legal compliance, the legal questions that are coming up, helping you be proactive. How are you able to say we have built capacity?

Nic Campbell: So, the position that we take at Build Up is that legal capacity is a critical component of capacity building. What kind of legal support do you have to make your organization stronger? How are you using your legal resources to build the capacity of your leadership, of your organization itself, of your infrastructure? And if you haven’t thought about these questions, I want you to use this time to really think about it. Because I think it’s an often-overlooked part of capacity building. Think about it. You don’t really hear folks talking about legal support as part of capacity building programs. When you hear capacity building, you hear a lot of consultants, sort of coming in and helping to build out your capacity. Like I said, they’re working with you on strategic planning and working with you on leadership. You might see a coach talked about here and there. It’s very rare, and I have not yet seen it, where lawyers are actually being included as part of that capacity building.

Nic Campbell: But we, at Build Up, have thought about this for years now, and that is how we hold capacity building. We think that when you have really strong legal capacity, we’re talking about quality thought partnership, where you can pick up the phone and talk to your counsel, to the lawyer for your organization and say, “I have a problem that I want to think through with you.” That is thought partnership. How often are folks doing that? Or thinking about that as part of capacity building?

Nic Campbell: When you have strong legal capacity, you have an advisor, and a problem solver, someone who is coming to help you solve problems, they just happen to have legal expertise and experience, right? They’re coming to help guide the conversation based on that expertise and experience. We’re also talking about how you have built up legal systems within your organization’s frameworks. How do people work? When you have the compliance needs within a 501(c)(3) organization, have you set up systems within your organization so that people understand, “Okay, well, when I engage in this kind of transaction, or do this kind of work, I need to think about A, B, and C. And if I don’t, or I have these questions, I can raise them with this person, or I should have these kinds of questions if this thing happens.” That is the beauty of having strong legal systems and frameworks, and that is part of your capacity building, right? That then leads into being really proactive.

Nic Campbell: What does that mean? Do you have templates? Are those templates vetted? They’re not templates that were created 10 years ago, after looking at some other organization’s templates, and you decided, “Oh, I guess I’ll use that as my consulting agreement.” Right? Or I’ll guess I’ll use that as my vendor agreement. Or I’ll take whatever agreements are coming my way, because I just don’t understand the value of having a strong vetted template. Why? This all comes down to risk management. The more you use your own templates, and the stronger they are, the lower your risk and exposure in different transactions. You’re able to better manage risk.

Nic Campbell: So, templates are not just, “I’ll just use a template”, right? There’s thought behind that, and when you have strong legal capacity, this is when it comes to throughout the organization, about the importance of templates and making sure that they’re vetted and that they actually reflect the organization itself. Do you have a legal partner that allows your work, your templates, your agreements to be values aligned? So, it’s not just, “Oh, do you have the legal agreement? Do you have this template?” No. Is it aligned with the organization’s values? The way you contract, the way you negotiate is that values aligned? That’s what it means to have a legal advisor, a thought partner who’s working alongside you and saying, “This is how we’re going to contract in a way that aligns with organization’s values.”

Nic Campbell: Now, we have another podcast about what values-based contracting looks like, and you should definitely take a look at that. We will listen to that. We will put the link to that podcast in the episode notes so you’ll have easy access to it. But realize that contracts are not just documents that you’re just putting out there. All those provisions that folks call boilerplate, they’re saying something about the way you want to engage with the other party to that transaction or to that agreement. So, you want to make sure that you have someone in your corner, who is able to say, “I understand this organization’s values and I know how they want to show up with their partners. This is how you know you’re going to engage with other party. This is the language you’re going to use. These are the terms we’re going to agree to, and these are things we cannot agree to.” If you don’t have somebody in your corner that can do that, you need to think about, “Okay, well, how are we using this contract as a tool to help us as an organization advance our mission?” Because if you can’t answer that, you’re actually decreasing the leverage that you have, and the capacity that you actually can build, with entering into agreements with other parties.

Nic Campbell: So, at the end of the day, realize that legal capacity, having legal capacity, increasing your legal capacity, is actually increasing your organization’s capacity. It is part of capacity building, and that’s what I wanted to talk with you all about today. Let’s start thinking about legal capacity as part of capacity building. It is not something that happens within the sector currently. But I really think it’s so important to start holding legal advisors, your counsel to that standard. You are part of my capacity, and so if you’re not providing that kind of leverage to my organization, I don’t see how we are helping to build the capacity of the organization. So, you need to seek out partners and advisors who can do that.

Nic Campbell: Think about the counsel that you’re working with now. I wanted to share some questions with you about how do we actually build the capacity? How are we actually building the capacity of organizations? You think about your counsel that you’re working with now, the lawyers that you’re working with now. How often do you call them? How often are you speaking with them? When do you call them? Are you only calling them when there’s a transaction? There’s an agreement to be reviewed? Are you calling them when you have an issue that you want to think through? And you’re really seeing them as thought partners? Are they problem solving with you? When you get on the phone, when you get on the email, do you think that problem solving is actually happening? Or are you just kind of reciting the facts and just saying, “Hey, do this contract. Give the review”, and raising the comments that you have? Right? What does that engagement look like? Do they know your organization? Have you shared information about your organization, with your legal team?

Nic Campbell: I mean, this is about weekly team meetings, things that have come up that way, strategy conversations, so not just, “Hey, here’s our website and here’s our vision and mission”, but what are you doing on a weekly basis? What are the big plans that you have? Are you sharing that information? Do they know that information? Do they know who’s on your team? Do they know whether your team members need to be trained in certain areas of the law? Because they’re being exposed to it repeatedly. These are the questions we have to ask ourselves. How familiar is my legal team with my organization? With the people that work within it? With a vision that we have? Our own short-term strategy over the next couple of years, and a longer-term strategy.

Nic Campbell: So, you want to ask those questions, but also think, are you sharing that information? If you’re not, why not? You have someone on your team that you want to help you answer a legal question, a legal issue a legal problem, and you have not shared any of this information with them. We have to think about that. What does that mean? What does is that telling you about how you are engaging with your legal team? Or how you’re seeing legal capacity as part of your organizational capacity building? And do you find that you explain, every time you get on the call, or every time you have to ask for a contract or an agreement review to be reviewed, are you explaining what your organization does? Are you explaining sort of the fundamental ways in which you work over and over and over? Because again, you have to think about how is that helping the way you engage with your legal team. What does that saying about the way you engage?

Nic Campbell: Because all these questions are really key, because they impact your capacity building, right? They impact your organization’s strengths, the way it can show up to serve and support the vulnerable and marginalized communities that you’re working with. Don’t think that legal is off by itself, doing its own thing. This is the kind of messaging that I’ve seen throughout the sector in many ways. Where it’s sort of this idea of like, “Well, we just have this contract, we’re going to get it reviewed”, and you send it off to a lawyer, and then you get the comments back, and we share it and that’s not necessarily how you can build capacity within your organization. This may not actually be the best way. The best way may be something that looks entirely different. But because they then can impact how you negotiate your grant agreements, your grant awards, your funding, the responsibilities that you take on as part of these agreements, the commitments that you make, should you be making them? Do you know why you’re making them? Are they aligned with what you want your organization to be doing or saying?

Nic Campbell: These are the critical questions we have to be asking ourselves, because this can add to or detract from our capacity. If you’re doing things that you really should not be doing as an organization, as a leadership team. You’re stepping into spaces that you really should not be in and you’re over committing yourself. You are reducing the capacity that you have as a leadership team, as an organization, to then show up for those communities that you’re serving. So, when you enter into an agreement, or you’re working with your legal team on an agreement, you have to ask yourself these questions, because it ultimately impacts your capacity.

Stef Wong: That concludes part one of the series. Next week, Nic will go in more depth regarding legal capacity as capacity building. Additionally, if you’re interested in partnering with a law firm that leverages a global network of experienced attorneys with decades of legal training and practical experience, and focuses on social impact organizations to serve as an outsourced general counsel and thought partner, then schedule a discovery call with the Campbell Law Firm today. The Campbell Law Firm works with brave non-profits, philanthropists, ultra-high net worth individuals and movements, offering high-touch counsel to social impact entrepreneurs and organizations around the world. We would love to hear more about your brave mission to change the world.

-Upbeat Outro Music-

Nic Campbell: Thank you for listening to this episode of Nonprofit Build Up. To access the show notes, additional resources and information on how you can work with us, please visit our website at buildupadvisory.com. We invite you to listen again next week as we share another episode about scaling impact by building infrastructure and capacity in the non-profit sector. Keep building bravely.

Part Two

-Upbeat Intro Music-

Nic Campbell: You’re listening to the Nonprofit Build Up Podcast. I’m your host, Nic Campbell. I want to support movements that can interrupt cycles of injustice and inequity and shift power towards vulnerable and marginalized communities. I’ve spent years working in and with non-profits and philanthropies and I know how important infrastructure is to outcomes. On this show, we’ll talk about how to build capacity to transform the way you and your organization work.

Stef Wong: Hi, everyone. It’s Stef. Build Up’s Executive Portfolio Liaison. This week on the Nonprofit Build Up is part two of a two-part series, solo cast presentation by Build Up’s CEO, A. Nicole Campbell, as she reflects and provides a thought-provoking perspective on what it means for organizations, philanthropies and grassroots movements to have legal capacity as capacity building. You can jump back to part one of the conversation to learn more about legal capacity as capacity building. With that, let’s dive into the second part of Nic’s reflections, where she continues to elaborate on the direct role about legal capacity build, in ways that lasts.

Nic Campbell: Now, you might be saying to yourself, “Well, Nic, I don’t have a general counsel team. I don’t have a general counsel within my organization. I don’t have a counsel team. I don’t have any of that.” And I will say to that, as a result, you are missing critical elements of capacity building. You are doing your organization a disservice, if you do not have a team of folks that you can rely on to provide critical legal capacity. And all your other capacity building is being compromised as a result.

Nic Campbell: That’s harsh, right? That sounds like – wait, I thought you’re going to say something completely different. No, that’s what I’m saying to you. If you do not have a general counsel team, a team of lawyers, a team of legal folks that you can rely on, to help provide additional capacity, legal capacity to your organization, and to help you think through these critical questions that come up in your work and help you be proactive in those areas, you are compromising your capacity building. You are leaving these really critical questions, these huge questions in some instances when we’ve gotten involved, right? Where we have worked with organizations that may not have had counsel today. And they’ve been working with someone on a team who is smart and maybe has been exposed to different questions before, and they’ve been playing lawyer.

Nic Campbell: Well, we’ve realized this, wow, you’ve missed out on a lot of opportunities, you’ve agreed to things that you should not have, you’ve overcommitted yourself, you’ve agreed to responsibilities that you should not have. In some instances, we get into, well actually, are we actually being compliant as an organization? You don’t want to be there. Because not as now we’re in cleanup mode. We’re still in a much better position than never having half the conversation, but you want to make sure that you’re being proactive, right? That these conversations are happening at the front end, not after a transaction has already happened.

Nic Campbell: So, don’t leave it up to folks who are not that counsel team to tell you about compliance, potential legal issues, problems. That’s scary. That is detracting from your capacity building efforts. So, if anyone is listening to this, and you are an organization, and you’re saying I don’t have a general counsel, I don’t have a general counsel team. I don’t have lawyers that I can rely on. This can be pro bono attorneys. This can be attorneys that you’re paying on a fee basis. I just mean someone who has the ability to provide legal capacity to your organization. If you do not have that team of folks or that person, you are missing a critical element of your capacity building efforts, and you are compromising your organization’s mission.

Nic Campbell: I have to say that out loud, because it came to me just over the past few weeks just having conversations with folks and looking around the sector and realizing, “Wait a minute, we don’t talk about legal capacity as part of capacity building. We kind of ignore it. We don’t see it as part of this overall conversation, or just general conversation about capacity building, when in fact, it is a very fundamental piece of it.” So, think about what other parts of your organization, would you do this? Or would you say, “You know what, we don’t need this person heading up this particular area. We’ll just use folks who might have heard of this thing before and will get by, because we just don’t have the funding for it. We just don’t think we can afford it.” 

Nic Campbell: Again, there are pro bono options out there. There are pro bono networks of attorneys. There are different ways that you can engage counsel, right? But if you’re not doing that at all, think about what other areas of your organization would you ever attempt to do this in? And I don’t think that there are many that likely come to mind. Another thing we hear is, we’re too grassroots, right? We’re too small for this. We don’t actually need a general counsel team, Nic. We are doing our work, there’s five of us, we don’t really need someone to come in and help with that legal capacity at this stage. The reality of this is that you’re likely the ones that are most in need. The smaller you are, doesn’t mean that your problems are smaller, it just means that your problems are likely not be addressed, right?

Nic Campbell: So, you’re still in the same situation, and you likely need it the most, because you probably have team members that are playing these roles that need training, that need conversations with folks that have seen lots of different organizations in these situations and can say, “Oh, I’ve seen this before. Here’s what we need to do. Here’s what we don’t need to do.” At the end of the day, you need a problem solver, with legal experience, to help you build your organization’s capacity. That’s at any level. Grassroots level, your mid-size, you are an enormous nonprofit or philanthropy. You need someone with those problem-solving skills, and that legal experience and expertise to help you build that capacity.

Nic Campbell: Now, I understand cost is real. I’m not ignoring that. I’m not saying, “Oh, go out there and everything is pro bono. I understand the reality in which we all sit.” So, costs is real. Having someone as general counsel or in-house counsel team, there’s a real cost to that, right? You have employees that are sitting there as a legal team. There is a real cost to that. We’re talking legal assistance and systems that have been set up. That’s not all pro bono. So, I’m not being naive at all, and saying, “Oh, just go out there and get pro bono assistance. Don’t worry about it.” No. That cost is real and you have to consider all of this against the kind of work you’re doing, the risk analysis, risk management.

Nic Campbell: But there are ways in which you can still accomplish this. And this is why at The Campbell Law Firm, at TCLF, we aim to show up differently, because our model is really based on working with grassroots organizations, working with brave nonprofits and philanthropy that are not – they just don’t want to be seen as “just another nonprofit”. They want to maintain their movement, sort of flexibility and status, and we want to as well. We also work with multibillion-dollar philanthropies. So, our model is really set up to say, “Look, at the end of the day, the core of it is we want to partner with folks.” So, these social impact entrepreneurs, these philanthropists, these brave nonprofits and philanthropies that are trying to disrupt and change the status quo, that is our model.

Nic Campbell: So, you can be an organization of five. You can be an organization of 50, of 500. We want to make sure that at the core of it all, we’re able to address problems as they come up, issues before they arise, and work alongside teams in grassroots organizations and organizations that are medium sized, large as well. Our approach is that, again, we’re talking about costs. We want to make sure that it’s cost effective, right? So, we don’t bill by the minute. That’s a huge surprise and it’s probably a shocker for a lot of folks listening. We do not bill by the minute. We do not think that that allows us to partner in the way that we want to. We don’t want folks getting on the phone with us and counting the minutes, I don’t want to ask how your day was because now I’m going to get billed for your small talk, right?

Nic Campbell: I’ve been in-house counsel and I understand that feeling, right? It’s real. So, we don’t bill by the minute, we don’t do surprise bills, we do flat fee arrangements. And this allows small organizations and large organizations to budget for these costs. As soon as you start an engagement with us, this is what it will cost for the year. We talked about how many reviews of agreements and how we’re going to engage and we allow you to – we want to hear from you. The thinking is not, look, we’re just going to get into this engagement, use us as little as you can, because we know that the money’s there. No, we want you to reach out to us, to share everything that is coming up. “Hey, this has happened. Do you think that this might be a situation that you should know about? Do you think that this is a question that we should add?” We want all of those questions. And that’s all built into the way we have set up our fee structure, because we want it to be cost effective. Because we realize right that legal capacity is a critical component of capacity building.

Nic Campbell: So, you cannot talk about I’m building this amazing organization. I’m focused on capacity building. I want to provide support to my leadership team, and I want to make sure that my strategy is sound, and you have no legal capacity. You’re not even thinking about how do you build capacity in your legal systems, your frameworks, your legal team. We just don’t understand how that can coexist, right? The same ideas come up when we talk about infrastructure, right? Infrastructure is part of your capacity building. So, if you’re not talking about how you are trying to strengthen your infrastructure, and your framework, organizational framework, you’re not talking about capacity building, right?

Nic Campbell: So, we need to have a larger conversation about what do we mean, when we are talking about capacity building for an organization. Legal needs to be included. And so, we want to make sure that we have a model that allows even the most grassroots organization that we work with, to say, “We can rely on a legal team of folks who can be our thought partners in this space, who can help us problem solve, and have this legal experience to help us do so.”

Nic Campbell: That’s the thinking with our model that we want it to be cost effective. We provide a dedicated general counsel team. It’s not like, “Well, today, I’m talking to this person, and I’m explaining all of this. And then the next day, you might be talking to someone else. You’ve got to do it all over again. The next week, you’re talking to someone else.” No, you have a dedicated team, you have folks who have decades of experience combined. We’re providing, you know, essentially a general counsel, an outsourced, in-house general counsel for the organization, someone else who’s working alongside that attorney to help provide that legal capacity. And then you’ve got the team itself that that person can then rely on when questions come up, right?

Nic Campbell: Imagine having all of those resources at your disposal, you compare that organization that has that kind of legal teams set up, that kind of legal capacity to an organization that isn’t even thinking about legal capacity, but they’re thinking about organizational capacity building. There’s no way that that second organization can then say, “Okay, we’re going to move ahead and do this in a sustainable way with this gaping hole of legal capacity just not be discussed.” This is really important to us, right? The reason I talk about legal capacity so much is yes, I think it is a critical component of capacity building. I also want folks to work with lawyers in a very different way than what has been put out there and what we think of when we consider working with attorneys, or working with, “outside counsel”. Because again, we’re not talking about employees who are sitting within an organization because it’s a different dynamic.

Nic Campbell: I’ve been an in-house counsel, as I’ve mentioned, and it’s a very different dynamic. Folks on our team will tell you that as well, that you are in it in a very different way than “outside counsel” might be. Because you’re there day to day, you are joining team meetings, depending on the organizational setup, and we want to recreate that kind of dynamic because there is a beauty that comes from being in-house counsel, when you don’t have to get the explanations over and over and over again, about how an organization works. What kinds of partnerships you’re trying to create? The kinds of risks that they’re willing to step into or be exposed to, and the kinds of things that they want to avoid. I’m really passionate about making sure that we can continue to work this way. Because I really don’t think that the law as it has been set up, law firms, generally. It wasn’t set up for folks that look like me, or firms that work the way we do to thrive. And those are facts, right?

Nic Campbell: If you look at – I mean, just some of these really outdated ethics rules that are in play in different states, you will see that it is set up in a way that is saying this is the kind of firm that we want. These are the kinds of people that we want. This is how we think the law should work. And that has nothing to do with the way that you are lawyering. It has nothing to do with the way you are providing legal advice and counseling support. So, the way I want to show up is I want to make sure that I give voice to those who have been invisibilized, the organizations that are out there working on behalf of communities that are vulnerable and marginalized, that they have the resources, they have the legal capacity they need to make sure that they are sustainable. Their work can be sustained. The solutions that they’re coming up with, can be leveraged. And we can scale and we can start to have different kinds of conversations, and you cannot do that without access to quality, legal resources and capacity.

Nic Campbell: So, that is the entire vision behind The Campbell Law Firm. So, when we talk about capacity building, don’t talk about capacity building, and not ask about legal capacity. When you look at all these capacity building programs, you see all the consultants and different aspects of the work that are critical, right to really building up these organizations. I want us also to think about, what about the legal capacity? How are we providing additional legal support and resources to these organizations to support their work? Because if we’re not asking that question, we’re doing a real disservice. Because legal capacity is part of the capacity building conversations. 

Nic Campbell: This is why at TCLF, we do not do one off transactions. You will not see us just, “Oh, you want us to review that one agreement for you?” Here you go by. Because there is a bigger conversation and bigger context in which this agreement sits, and this transaction sits. I understand that that’s not for everyone. I understand that some organizations might say, “Well, you know what, we just needed the answer to this one thing.” But what we have found is when organizations have that mentality, they’re not thinking about capacity building as it’s going to include legal capacity as well. And it’s very telling, and sometimes it’s just not the right time, I get that. But those conversations, when folks have come to us with one off, what we’ll do is we’ll say, this is not the way we work, here’s how we work and a lot of organizations, they’re just kind of like, “Whoa, I didn’t know that was a possibility.”

Nic Campbell: So, we start down the path of here’s how you can retain us and we can work together, and this is what a partnership looks like. This is how we can provide additional legal capacity. Sometimes, the organization might say, “Oh, well, you know, we’re just looking for this one-off review.” And we still are able to provide additional legal resources or recommendations to other law firms that might work a little bit differently, but still have that same mentality around, here’s how we’re going to try to build your legal capacity in this instance, right?

Nic Campbell: I say all of this to say that legal capacity is not about just reviewing agreements. You have somebody that can – a lawyer that can review your transaction or review an agreement or a contract, it’s about all of those things. It’s about the legal framework, it’s about how they’re reviewing, the questions they’re asking, the conversations that they’re having with you, how often they’re talking with you. How well do they know your organization? How much information are you sharing about your organization with them?

Nic Campbell: A lot of folks who know me know that I was not trying to start a law firm. When I started to Build Up companies, I did not want to start a law firm, because I was so indoctrinated into that very system that I just described, where law firms worked a lot differently. They didn’t work the way that TCLF worked, or the way I envisioned a law firm could work. So, I thought, “Well, if it hasn’t been done before, and I haven’t seen it, and these law firms are successful models, it can’t be done. So, I will start a law firm.” It wasn’t until I was talking with an ideal client. There’s still a client to this day and amazing organization that works around the globe. And they said, “Well, how do we work with you?” And I said, “Well, this is how I want to work.” And I have that model where legal capacity is part of capacity building. So, what do I want that to look like?

Nic Campbell: I want to know what you’re doing. My team should know what you’re doing. We should be able to say, “This is how we’re going to help you build your legal framework, your protocols, your templates. This is how you’re going to be proactive. Here’s how we’re going to help you solve this problem on a consistent basis. Here’s how we’re going to help you be sustainable so that when you show up to the communities that you’re working with, you have the legal capacity and the general capacity and leverage to do so.” That’s when we created the way that we work now, which is TCLF. 

Nic Campbell: So, we really are doing it differently and we’re doing it that way. We’re doing it in a way that is inclusive of grassroots organizations, of small organizations, of large organizations that want to show up differently, that want to be disruptive in the truest sense of that word, and it’s the only way I know how to work.

Nic Campbell: When I think about if you are a grassroots organization listening to this and saying, “I don’t know if this is for me. I don’t know if I can afford it.” Just know that we created TCLF with you in mind. We created the way that we work with you in mind, our approach with you in mind. And this also goes for our clients that are multibillion-dollar philanthropies. The core and the commonality is that you are trying to be disruptive to the status quo, that perpetuates injustice and inequity. And so, if you are trying to be disruptive in that way, know that we understand that legal capacity needs to be part of the conversation, and we will work with you to provide that kind of support and leverage.

Nic Campbell: When legal capacity is not part of the capacity building conversation, ask why. Push the conversation, push the question. Think about how legal capacity can help your team, your work, your organizational vision. Hopefully, this episode, this solo cast is helping you think about how legal capacity can play such a key role in how your organization is built out, how its vision can be advanced, how its mission can be supported, and how your goals can be leveraged in scale, and then come talk to us.

Nic Campbell: As I mentioned, if we’re not a fit, we can still point you to additional resources and others that might be. But I just want us to start this conversation. I want to start having this conversation about legal capacity as part of capacity building. It doesn’t have to be with TCLF. I tell people this all the time that I am not in the convincing business. When I started the Build Up companies, I said very, very quickly, I am not in the convincing business. I’m in the building business, the problem-solving business. And I’m into working with brave organizations and leaders that are trying to disrupt the status quo, right? That are trying to show up sustainably and at scale for vulnerable and marginalized communities that have been historically left out of the conversation. That’s the common thread.

Nic Campbell: So, it’s not about just picking TCLF and that’s the only way you get legal capacity. I want you to just have this conversation about legal capacity as part of capacity building. That is all. I want to leave you with this. Ask yourself, how can legal capacity help my organization’s capacity building? How can increasing and strengthening my own organization’s legal capacity, help the communities that I work with and that I serve? How will it help us sustainably show up, consistently show up for these communities? Those are the questions I want to leave you with, so that you can start to think about legal capacity in a different way, or even just start thinking about legal capacity, because it is critical.

Nic Campbell: Thank you all for the amazing work that you do every day, for building your organizations in such a way that can be such a resource, and so helpful to communities that need it. And every day that your building is allowing the stories of communities to be told and having them be the storytellers, as opposed to speaking on their behalf. So, thank you, and any questions that you have about legal capacity, I’d love to continue this conversation. Please feel free to reach out to us by email or just on any of our socials and we’re happy to talk about legal capacity. Talk to you all soon.

Stef Wong: That completes this two-part series on legal capacity as capacity building, with A. Nicole Campbell. As we wrap up, if you’re interested in partnering with a law firm that leverages a global network of experienced attorneys with decades of legal training and practical experience, and focuses on social impact organizations to serve as an outsourced general counsel and thought partner, then schedule a discovery call with The Campbell Law Firm today. The Campbell Law Firm works with brave non-profits, philanthropists, ultra-high net worth individuals and movements, offering high-touch counsel to social impact entrepreneurs and organizations around the world. We would love to hear more about your brave mission to change the world.

-Upbeat Outro Music-

Nic Campbell: Thank you for listening to this episode of Nonprofit Build Up. To access the show notes, additional resources and information on how you can work with us, please visit our website at buildupadvisory.com. We invite you to listen again next week as we share another episode about scaling impact by building infrastructure and capacity in the non-profit sector. Keep building bravely.

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Managing Risk for Equitable Grant Making with Melanie Brown, DeAnna Hoskins, and Aleesha Taylor

Over the next two weeks at the Non-Profit Build Up, we will be exploring the context and common concerns on “Managing Risk for Equitable Grant Making”. This week’s episode is part one of a two-part panel discussion originally recorded at the PEAK 2022 Conference. Moderated by Build Up’s CEO, A. Nicole Campbell and in conversation with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Deputy Director, Melanie Brown, JustLeadershipUSA’s President and CEO DeAnna Hoskins, and Herald Advisor’s Principal, Aleesha Taylor. This presentation was originally recorded in March 2022. This is a two-part series.

Nic, Melanie, DeAnna, and Aleesha dive into the practice of progressive grantmaking, the inequities that traditional grantmaking have on the marginalized communities it aims to serve, and how to align the definition of risk with an organization’s appetite for risk. You won’t want to miss it.

Listen to the podcasts here:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Resources:

Read the podcast transcription below:

Part One

-Upbeat Intro Music-

Nic Campbell: You’re listening to the Nonprofit Build Up Podcast. I’m your host, Nic Campbell. I want to support movements that can interrupt cycles of injustice and inequity and shift power towards vulnerable and marginalized communities. I’ve spent years working in and with non-profits and philanthropies and I know how important infrastructure is to outcomes. On this show, we’ll talk about how to build capacity to transform the way you and your organization work.

Stef Wong: Hi, everyone. It’s Stef. Buildup’s Executive Portfolio Liaison. This week on the Nonprofit Build Up is part one of a two-part panel discussion originally recorded at the PEAK2022 Conference. Moderated by Build Up’s CEO, A. Nicole Campbell and in conversation with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Deputy Director, Melanie Brown, JustLeadershipUSA’s President and CEO, DeAnna Hoskins and Herald Advisor’s Principal, Aleesha Taylor. This presentation was originally recorded in March 2022.

Stef Wong: In this episode, Nic, Melanie, DeAnna and Aleesha dive into the practice of progressive grantmaking, discuss the inequalities that traditional grantmaking have on the marginalized communities it aims to serve, and how to align the definition of risk with an organization’s appetite for risk. You won’t want to miss it. With that, here is part one of managing risk for equitable grantmaking.

Claire: Hi, everyone again, and welcome. Now, I’m pleased to turn it over to our speakers for the managing risk for equitable grantmaking session. Over to you all.

Nic Campbell: Thanks so much, Claire. Hello, everyone. My name is Nic Campbell, and I am the Founder and CEO of the Build Up Companies. We work only with brave non-profits and philanthropies to strengthen their organizational infrastructure, so that they are best placed to do their work. For our clients, that means interrupting cycles of inequity and injustice.

Nic Campbell: That’s why I’m so excited to have this conversation today. This discussion is about being brave, calling out practices and perspectives and sharing the thought leadership of black women who often stand in the vanguard of social justice in the sector, both domestically and internationally, to ultimately inform how the entire sector should come to this work.

Nic Campbell: During our conversation today, we will explore what it means to both work and award funding in a way that doesn’t contribute to, or perpetuate harmful practices and power dynamics of the same inequitable system in which we operate when working with vulnerable communities. We’ll also focus on the relationship between risk and decision-making, risk and equity and risk and inclusion, and how risk ultimately informs, support and can even derail equitable grantmaking.

Nic Campbell: My colleague, Stephanie, is also joining us from Build Up. She will be monitoring the chat and be able to get to all the questions that you might have, so that we can make sure that we address them during our key list.

Nic Campbell: Could each of you take a minute or two and introduce yourself and the focus of your work, given the context of our conversation today, which is about managing risk, and equitable grantmaking? Aleesha, I’ll start with you.

Aleesha Taylor: Good afternoon, and I’m excited to join you today. I’m Dr. Aleesha Taylor, Principal of Herald Advisors. My academic background is in international educational development, and my focus is on education policy and systems that enable governments to provide education to even their most marginalized communities. I spent 10 years as a grant maker with the Open Society Foundations. In 2016 when I transitioned, I was the deputy director of their global education program.

Aleesha Taylor: For the past five years, I’ve been working independently at Herald Advisors, partnering with leaders and organizations and supporting them to thrive within the intersections of education, international development and philanthropy.

Nic Campbell: Thanks so much, Aleesha. DeAnna.

DeAnna Hoskins: Yes. Good afternoon. I’m grateful to be here. My name is DeAnna Hoskins. I’m the President/CEO of JustLeadershipUSA. We’re the only national organization that has been founded by and operated by formerly incarcerated individuals. We invest in their leadership by educating, elevating and empowering their voices to change their communities, or addressing the policies that continue to oppress and marginalize them.

DeAnna Hoskins: I came to this work through way of working the increasing levels of government from state to local and federal government and engagement. I realized that the leaders we were missing from the conversation were those directly impacted by the issues we were trying to address. My focus is on bringing that expertise to those tables of policy change.

Nic Campbell: Thanks, DeAnna. And Melanie.

Melanie Brown: Thank you, Nic. It is a pleasure to be here with you, DeAnna and Aleesha. Hi, everyone. I am Melanie Brown. I am Deputy Director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I sit on the foundation’s North America team, which is focused on the foundation’s investments in the United States and Canada.

Melanie Brown: I lead a team focused on public engagement. We are responsible for managing the relationships, constituency relationships that are influential to our strategies and our strategies being successful. That includes safe communities and business sector and also communities of color. I believe I said this, but if not, I’ll say again, I’ve been at Gates for about seven years. Prior to that, I was at the Heinz Endowments for eight years. I’ve been in this field of philanthropy for 15 years, as a black woman Grantmaker, managing risk and internally and externally, and moving money to communities of color. Just really excited to have this conversation today.

Nic Campbell: Well, thank you all so much. You can understand why I was very excited about this panel and having this conversation, particularly given the perspectives that each of our panelists bring. My first question is that the relationship between bias and risk inherently informs a Grantmaker’s efforts in capacity building and support of organizations.

Nic Campbell: Now, we talk a lot about risk, but there doesn’t seem to be a shared definition of risk within the sector that we’ve all adopted. How do each of you define risk?

DeAnna Hoskins: I can start from there. Thank you for that question, Nic. I think this came up, because one of my concerns, from a philanthropy perspective, even when applications are denied, or you’re working with philanthropy, that risk of they evaluate each application on is never publicly shared. If you’re a small, non-profit, black-led organization, you never know what gaps in your organizational structure, what gaps in your capacity you need to feel to become a viable grantee of that fund, that grant maker.

DeAnna Hoskins: With that, I internally can look at my operations and how my development team is, how we’re being responsible stewards of the funding granted to us to carry out our mission. Also, always struggling to identify what are the risks, or things that the philanthropist, or the Grantmaker that I’m applying to was looking for, there’s no transparency there. Even when they say they’re investing in capacity building, what is defined as capacity building to them may be totally different as where I’m looking at capacity building of strengthening organizational processes, and expanding the organization and grow where they may be looking at something totally different.

DeAnna Hoskins: Because there’s no transparency, there’s no clear meaning. We struggle with that in the equitable. But you have larger organizations who may not be having the impact to infiltrate the communities we’re actually trying to engage with. Because they have this huge structure, they’ve been around for 60 years, it’s assumed that they are less risky than the newer organizations who are under 10-years-old.

Aleesha Taylor: For me, I define the risk as, or understand it as just simply the level of comfort that an organization, or a funder may have. I think it’s also important to recognize that at a definitional term, it really is obscure. That risk can be identified as, well understood as what Levi Strauss referred to as a floating signifier. Meaning, that there’s no agreed upon meaning and essentially means – inherently means different things to different people. I see it as an opportunity, or even a requirement really, for organizations to stop and define it. What does it mean, and what does it even refer to?

Aleesha Taylor: Also, to understand what or who is being put at risk? Do we understand if the organizations understand risk in terms of reputation, resources, physical safety, impact, or even emotional security of grantees? Also, who is impacted by risk? Just the funder? To what extent do we consider the risk to grantee partners? As DeAnna was saying, the critical piece there is for organizations to clarify and be transparent around their unique understanding and approach to risk.

Melanie Brown: I’ll just add, I mean, I agree with much that has been said. What I think of and I don’t think that funders do a good job of explaining this to grantees is that when I’m looking at making an investment, I’m also thinking about, is this investment going to allow me and therefore, the foundation to achieve its goals? Is it a risk to us meeting what we are being told we need to achieve in order to reach our goals, or to stay in alignment with our broader priorities?

Melanie Brown: It’s not always just about that individual partner, but how does this partner fit within a portfolio of investments that I’m trying to move in order to achieve a goal? I agree with DeAnna that it is very obscure, and it is very difficult to understand when a foundation says that you’re risky. At the same time, foundations should be willing to make risky investments. If we’re not making risky investments and making some mistakes, then we’re actually not doing our job. It is that balance of comfort, but it’s also a willingness to understand that you may have some outliers.

Melanie Brown: I always think of my work as a target. I have some partners who are on the bull’s eye of that target. Maybe those are ones that are a little bit safer, for whatever criteria I may use per se. Then I have some that are in the outer rings of that target. It doesn’t mean that they’re not good investments. It could mean that I’m testing some things out, but I’m willing to take a risk. I’m trying to see, is this something that could eventually go into that bullseye?

Melanie Brown: Then sometimes not everything has to fit into that bullseye, because that’s not how change happens with just one strategy. It is a combination of things. Then, the last thing I’ll say is just I often ask myself, what is the risk of not investing in a partner? I think, DeAnna, that you really hit on this. As I said, I lead our work foundation’s engagement with communities of color in the US. What does it risk if we don’t invest in those organizations? If we don’t invest in them at the same level, and over the same amount of time, we are other investments, our white-led organizations.

Melanie Brown: I just wanted to add that nuance that there is often a risk that if we look at these organizations, some of them who’ve been around for 60 years, and they’re not having impact with communities of color, the risk is actually to keep investing in them. That is the risk. Not to move funding to a new organization, or a person of color-led organization.

Nic Campbell: No, I really appreciate all of your definitions and the way you are looking at risk. From even what you just shared, you’re talking about risk being the level of comfort that a Grantmaker might have. There’s the risk of not investing and what happens if you don’t. Then really, that taking a step back and looking at the grant as a part of a portfolio of grants and within your grant making a single, how does that fit? Does it fit? And raising those questions.

Nic Campbell: I’m going to ask a follow-up question to what you all just shared. Do you think that black-led organizations are more impacted by how risk is perceived, defined or not defined at all? Do you actually think that the lack of definition that exists throughout the sector, particularly within grant making organizations is deliberate?

Melanie Brown: I would say yes, and then not have to expand on my answer. Yes, I do. Philanthropy is intentionally obscure. It’s not just for black-led organizations. Philanthropy doesn’t want you to know how we do what we do. Pushing for transparency in a sector that does not want to be transparent, historically has not – We’ve certainly seen some changes in that more recently, is a challenge in and of itself.

Melanie Brown: I think, if you look at anything in our society, where black-led, people of color is put at a disadvantage, we see that having some entropy as well. I think that we don’t define risk. One, I don’t think we could define risk. I don’t think there’s one definition for risk for every – That would be a blanket for the sector, but do think every institution could be better at thinking about risk. I have to believe that it’s intentional, even if it’s not intended to be harmful. I think, it’s intended to be a little bit close to the chest, to protect ourselves. I welcome a challenge to that.

DeAnna Hoskins: No, I totally agree that when I look at the risk of funders, and I’m a person who’s known to be very authentic, and just speak my voice. I look at situations that are happening now. I’ll take MacKenzie Scott. I love what she’s doing, actually disseminating it, but no one knows how to get on her radar. When you look at the organizations that she is investing in, you know there’s a team of researchers that are just investing and looking at people organizations from the outside, and not really even having conversation with operations, what is the impact?

DeAnna Hoskins: When you look at that, you look at okay, do I need to increase my social media presence? Do I need to be a nationally attached organization with chapters in 50 states? Do I need to be the black-led organization ran by formerly incarcerated individuals that’s attached to celebrities? Those different things that is actually being highlighted, when the true passion and the work lies within the impact that we’re having and the people were touching in the communities we’re empowering. Nobody knows. Nobody knows, even if it’s a secret anonymous ballot, how do you put who you are, so that they can identify these organizations that aren’t attached to celebrities, these organizations that don’t have chapters in every state, such as the Boys and Girls Club, or Planned Parenthood, that are actually have any impact?

DeAnna Hoskins: When I say, is it intentional, I think it is. Now, let me say something that I wanted to follow up on when she said, it’s risky not to invest in other organizations. Because here’s the thing, if we’re really going to change and our investments is around changing and making the world better in some way, we have to be willing to try something different. Sometimes trying something different is the innovation and the thinking outside the box, but it’s really hard to get philanthropy to move in that direction and take those chances when you don’t have those major celebrity connections, or you’re not in 50 different states.

DeAnna Hoskins: Do I think it’s additional? I think it is. While they’ll pick up some black-led organizations, or formerly incarcerated, you then look who they’re attached to. The one philanthropy doesn’t want to be the first one. Once one takes a chance, everyone else will follow, because it actually looks safe and we won’t be the only ones called out if it doesn’t work out.

Aleesha Taylor: Just to add to that, briefly, I think in addition to transparency around funders’ appetite for risk to build on what something that Melanie pointed out, I think there’s a lack of transparency around the actual goals and intentions of some organizations, and a need for transparency and clarity around that. Just to know, is an organization a funder seeking to create more diverse organizations, or diverse leadership in a sector? Is it to get more refugees in schools?

Aleesha Taylor: Some funders, their goal is to be perhaps, develop a reputation of being the riskiest, or being the largest and most prominent philanthropy that’s moving the needle on a particular issue. I think, understanding that broad goal and then finding the appetite, identifying the appetite for risk was in that framework.

Nic Campbell: What I’m hearing from you all is this idea that it’s intentional. There’s not a lot of transparency, and that’s deliberate. Then you are also struggling with this idea of what is actually the stated goal of the program, of the work, of the organization? I’m thinking about, how do we start to shift risk frameworks? I missed all of what you just shared, lack of transparency, it’s really deliberate. This lack of definition of risk is also very deliberate. How can we shift risk frameworks within Grantmakers, particularly in the context of capacity building? Given that we struggle with all of the things that you just called out? We’re also struggling with this idea of how do we invest in organizations? Do we focus on deliverables? Do we focus on outcomes? Do we focus on impact, which is building on what Aleesha just shared? How do you start to shift risk frameworks within Grantmakers, given the context in which we’re operating? Melanie, I’d love to get your thoughts on that.

Melanie Brown: I’d love to hear from one of my fellow panelists. I will admit to nothing sure. I’m not sure how we shift it. Individual crashes, yes. I think as institutions, it’s a lot more difficult. I don’t mean to not contribute, but I don’t want to fumble around in an answer. DeAnna and Aleesha has something much more brilliant to share.

Aleesha Taylor: Oh, no. Well, actually, it is brilliant, because I’m going to pick up on something that DeAnna has said. I’ll pick up on her brilliance. I think, one of the ways we can start to shift risk frameworks is really, perhaps by interrogating the grant-making of organizations. Looking into, for example, the example that Deanna held up around MacKenzie Scott, using this just as an example, and really tracing the types of organizations that funds are going to and really asking the question and assessing like, “Is this actually a risky investment when investments are channeled towards organizations with higher profile, celebrity connections, international and international networks?”

Aleesha Taylor: Who is favored and who is left out and asking those questions? Then looking at what, again, the goal that funders want to contribute to, or achieve and looking at and comparing their investments to their decisions around investments to the organizations, or a broader understanding of organizations that are on the ground and doing the work that they say that they want to invest in, and to see is there some space between that. Again, it’s almost forcing additional transparency.

DeAnna Hoskins: I’ll follow up to what Aleesha said. To even go deeper than that, I always question when funders say, “This is what we want to do with our money.” Versus, what is the mission you came to the work to create this foundation? Was it identifying the injustices that you see in a community, the injustices, or the disparities that you see? Are you perpetrating disparities in even your grantmaking while you’re saying your funding is going to disrupt disparities, right?

DeAnna Hoskins: I shy away from finding opportunities to say, this is what we want you to do with our funding. Because what you want me to do, because you don’t have close proximity to the problem, you’ve just read some research, may not be applicable in practice. Is there a way for funders to say, “This is our mission to disrupt the disparities that we see, the injustices?” But we’re going to support organizations that have close proximity to those issues, to help provide the solution and we’re not going to tell them how to drive the solution. We’re going to support their proposed solutions in that manner.

DeAnna Hoskins: I don’t know if that makes sense, because what happens, you typically go after funding, ad if you’re a small shop like us, while we’re national, if you’re a small shop like us, when I first took over JustLeadership in 2018, and coming from federal government managing the second chance portfolio, I felt like an octopus. Because I felt as if for sustainability of the organization, because most organizations or businesses fail within the first five years. As a new nonprofit, launched international attention, we were just grabbing funding. What that resulted in is me doing a different report for every funder, because I didn’t feel it was aligned to the mission of what this funding was supporting.

DeAnna Hoskins: We’ve been able to strategize, come up with a strategic plan, that any funding that comes into this organization is going to support and align with our mission to educate, elevate and empower the most marginalized individuals in those communities. Whether that’s through training, whether that’s through communications, whether that’s through actually working with Congress to address the policies, helping them build campaigns. I now have a strategic plan. No matter what funding we get, I can write a report that demonstrates our impact, our strategies, where we’ve been able to touch people, instead of actually building a development team that was more of donor management around the reporting, because we had to do all these different reports, because every funder expected me to do something different.

DeAnna Hoskins: What that has caused me to do, let’s be honest, I don’t have as much funding, because I’ve aligned and transparent with our mission. These are the funders that we actually go after and work with, who allow us the space to be who we are, who allow us the space to be authentic, but also, who allow us the space to invest in communities the way we have aligned with our mission, instead of telling us what to do. Which to me, sometimes take me off mission.

DeAnna Hoskins: As a small shop, I have probably have to hire a team to manage that grant for two years. After two years, I’m perpetrating what I’m trying to disrupt. Because now I’m laying people off, because that program no longer have funding. If you support us as an organization, we can build our capacity around sustainability, because we’re aligned and driven.

Aleesha Taylor: I think, that’s another critical piece that DeAnna brings up. I think, we often think about risks at the decision-making point of the funder, and don’t consider the risks to the organization after funding is dispersed. Then also, more importantly, after funders decide to perhaps shift and make a decision, when no longer funding education, or we’re no longer funding a particular issue and what risks have you exposed that grantee to after you have supported their organizations, or their programs as opposed to the organization.

Melanie Brown: Just something I was going to – that just came to mind, DeAnna, as you were speaking is a question of, I don’t think I even asked enough in engaging with partners, but what can we do together? I think that sense of not I’m giving you money to achieve our goals, or that it’s just a sense of like, okay, well, it’s charity. I’m just giving you money. But it’s like, we can strategically come together. We need each other.

Melanie Brown: Now he’s trying to say that, that I can’t do my job without really good organizations who can execute on the work. We know that really good organizations who can execute me the resources to do it. That shift in power dynamic about approaching these issues is something that we can achieve together that we need each other is something that I think more funders need to do.

Melanie Brown: Then, that also led me to think of when I heard you talking about the different reports and reporting sectors and timelines is that we can work together more. We say this all the time. We always say we can collaborate, and we can we can work better together. It really is something that just hasn’t happened enough. To your earlier point, DeAnna, around foundations are often afraid to be the first, if you’re partnering, then you don’t have to be the first. You’re doing something together. It is like you said, Aleesha, where eventually your foundation says, “We’re not doing education anymore.” You’re not dropping the ball on these organizations. They have other opportunities to still receive funding.

Melanie Brown: I don’t think there’s a role for funders to vouch for the organizations that they invest in. There’s a responsibility for funders not to just say, “Oh, here’s your grant.” But to introduce you. Maybe you’re not as out there. Maybe you don’t have a celebrity connected to you, which to me is always a red flag, by the way. Any org that has a celebrity attached to it, I’m like, “I don’t know about that.”

Melanie Brown: But then I can be the person to vouch for you, right? It’s not just about our dollars vouching for you. It’s actually me taking the time to talk to other funders about your work, even if I’m not able to invest in. Maybe I say, this is a great organization. It’s not aligned to our work, but I think it’s aligned to your work to make a connection. Can I do that for you. I think that we can do that more as funders.

DeAnna Hoskins: I really appreciate that, Melanie, because I do think looking at it as a partnership, and not just a giving of funding. I’m going to hold you accountable. This is a partnership. In reality, the mission of the foundation should align with the mission of the organization, so that would be a partnership to actually address some change. Also, another thing we have to be strategically aware of is nothing in the world is going to change in one or two years. This is a conversation I’ve been having with funders.

DeAnna Hoskins: I have to, as a black-led organization say, do I take your generous gift over 24 months, and knowing after 24 months, this generosity is going to leave, versus going with a funder who gives me a smaller gift, but gives me five years runway? As those impacts, because as an executive director or president, what I find myself, I never can leave the organization, because I’m always in fundraiser mode. I’m always in fundraising mode. I have 15 people, families who depend on me raising funds for the next year, that the stress that is on me to still show up publicly on panels, to still show up as the face of this organization. After 5:00 when everybody else goes home, I’m strategizing on what relationships and doors I need to open, because there are 15 families making sure I can raise the funds for next year, because I’m losing 2.5 million in two year grants that’s getting ready to drop off.

DeAnna Hoskins: Even if funders look at how do we wean people off? If I give you a million a year, and we’re changing our direction, we don’t drop you. I think Melanie said, we don’t drop you. How do we wean you off? Because so you can start to replace. But we’re introducing you to other funders as well, because our portfolio, our name is not as big as a Goodwill, or Salvation Army, but our impact smashes theirs of being in marginalized communities than you can ever think about.

DeAnna Hoskins: What are we really looking at? How do we define that partnership is very important, because we have to make real decisions? Sometimes that can cause us harm. As a organization, if you really want us to have a presence and have an impact, how do we stay on that trajectory when we’re always in fundraising mode, because funders are only allocating funding for one or two years, but change doesn’t happen in that short amount of time.

Nic Campbell: Right. What I’ve heard from each of you is talking about this increased partnership that’s needed between our among funders, I’m thinking about risk management, which is this idea that risk doesn’t just end after you ask the question on the application. It’s also about what happens post-award and throughout the grant as well. Then listening really intently to your grantees, to your organizations that you’re funding and saying, you’re closest to the problem, and likely the solution. Where can we leverage your expertise? How can we support that?

Nic Campbell: What a lot of this then comes down to is accountability. How do you make sure that funders are doing exactly what we just described, or creating an environment that we just described? When we think about accountability, who holds folks accountable? Who was making sure that these Grantmakers are actually doing what we just talked about? That they are funding in the way that we’re talking about? Aleesha, you said something that really stuck with me, which was, we need to interrogate their grant-making. Who’s doing the interrogation?

DeAnna Hoskins: That’s dangerous to be in. It is. Are there certain Grantmakers I can have that conversation with? Honestly, yes. Because we built a relationship, right? Is there fear of backlash and the power dynamics? There is, and I’ll share one. When I first took over this organization, there was a huge funder that supported campaigns that were going on through this organization. As I was coming in, looking at shifting, they wanted me to make certain hiring decisions.

DeAnna Hoskins: One, they didn’t believe in my leadership, as an African-American woman, not from New York, and never had touched feet and Close Rikers, how was I going to lead the Close Rikers Campaign? I immediately had the conversation that they didn’t understand leadership, because leadership is not about me. Leadership is about me empowering other people who have been impacted to lead that campaign, which we successfully did.

DeAnna Hoskins: Two, she demanded I make a hiring decision in leadership that I was not willing to make. In terms, let me know that if I didn’t, that she would not be supporting this organization moving forward. I had to be okay with that. It was a huge amount of funding that we lost. What I realized that I was giving up was my voice and authentically who I was. The conversation switched. I remember returning the current funding we had, because I was determined, you couldn’t talk to me like that. You weren’t going to belittle me like that.

DeAnna Hoskins: What that resulted in was her going to other funders, character assassinating me. Thankfully, I had relationships with other funders who knew my integrity of working in the federal government, managing 85-million-dollar federal grants, work in state and local, that she was not able to have the impact. I thought about the power dynamic of that position she was in, because I wouldn’t leave the power, or do what she wanted me to do, which was not in the best interest of the organization, because she didn’t have close proximity, and didn’t understand leadership.

DeAnna Hoskins: I always go back to that. Even today, when I’m in funder spaces, she shows up. She’s there. We speak. We’re cordial. Even in my organization, I will not submit an application to that funder for supporting funding, and she’s huge in the criminal justice realm. Because of the power dynamics that she shifted on me, one, I know she’s not going to approve it. Two, I have to maintain my integrity. Because if I have to lose my voice, I no longer need to be in this seat of leadership that I’m in.

Aleesha Taylor: I think, it’s really critical for to answer your question, Nic, and to build on what DeAnna has said for – Your question made me reflect also on my role in the field, and how oftentimes, when I’m contacted either to sit on panels, or to do some strategic work, a common thread that I tend to get is that, “Well, Aleesha, we need you in the room, because you’re able to speak the truth to funders.”

Aleesha Taylor: I think, there’s a responsibility for those of us who don’t have the restrictions and the constraints of getting our funding cut to our organizations to actually step up and play a larger role in calling out and exposing those power dynamics. Actually, it’s horrible, that DeAnna would have to – just the fact that she has to remain cordial to someone who really tried that character assassination, and also attempt to diminish the work of her organization in the field. Calling out that specific issue, and I think it’s a reflection of the lack of accountability that we have towards that we place on funders.

Aleesha Taylor: That risk and accountability is always just placed, put at the feet, or laid at the feet of the grantee partners that are doing the work. In some ways, I also see that as a call to action for some of us, depending on our positions in the field.

Melanie Brown: I would just say, I agree. I mean, I think, Aleesha, you set in a really interesting in between space where you can be that advocate, or that person that speaks truth to power. I think, philanthropy needs to have a reckoning. I mean, I can’t very well think that people should be called out for one thing over here and then think – but don’t call out funders. We’re trying our best. No, these power dynamics that are in play or in philanthropy and are in so many other things. My belief is as hard as I know that it is is that it should be called out. It should be a conversation that if we are committed to making the world better, whatever that means for different organizations and for different philanthropies, then we can’t somehow think that we are immune to critique, that we are above critique, that we are not ourselves perpetuating many of the issues that we say we are committed to achieving.

Melanie Brown: I try to build relationships with my grantees where they feel they can come to me, but who’s to say I don’t have blind spots? Who’s to say that, that there still aren’t things that I’m doing, that I need to be more aware of? I think, there’s moments when it makes sense to call out. There’s moments where we call people in, and we try to – It sounds like in your situation, DeAnna, calling in was probably not going to work.

Melanie Brown: Let me also just say, that is absolutely horrible and that is disgusting. That is someone who would probably behave like that in whatever profession they were in. Not to take anything off of the responsibility as a funder, but that sounds like someone who has their own issues and hasn’t done their own personal work. A funder who is advising you on, or even forcing you on hiring decisions, in 15 years, I have never done that. I don’t understand why someone feels they have the right to do that. You were right not to accept those dollars. I do think that the balance of calling in and calling out is what is needed.

Nic Campbell: What I’m hearing from you all is that if you’re in the room, and you’re a stakeholder in this entire grant-making process, think about the role that you’re playing. When you’re seeing behaviors, practices, policies, that are not in-line with equitable grant-making focus, to call it out. Particularly when you are sitting in “the power seat,” or you are in that power part of the equation.

Melanie Brown: Can I add one thing, Nic, that when I was early in my – starting in philanthropy, I had a colleague say to me that I have to be willing to risk my privilege as a funder to do what’s right in the sector. I’m in the room in a way that my grantees aren’t. If I hear the way that we’re talking about people of color-led organizations, or the way that we’re talking about an organization in particular, and I know that it’s wrong, I have to be willing to risk my privilege as a program officer, as a director, as a whatever I am inside that institution to say, that’s not right. I challenge other funders to do the same.

Stef Wong: That concludes part one of this series. Next week, Nic, Melanie, DeAnna and Aleesha will go in more depth regarding equitable grant-making. Additionally, if you’re interested in partnering with a law firm that leverages a global network of experienced attorneys with decades of legal training and practical experience, and focuses on social impact organizations to serve as an outsourced general counsel and thought partner, then schedule a discovery call with the Campbell Law Firm today. 

Stef Wong: The Campbell Law Firm works with brave non-profits, philanthropists, ultra-high net worth individuals and movements, offering high-touch counsel to social impact entrepreneurs and organizations around the world. We would love to hear more about your brave mission to change the world.

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Nic Campbell: Thank you for listening to this episode of Nonprofit Build Up. To access the show notes, additional resources and information on how you can work with us, please visit our website at buildupadvisory.com. We invite you to listen again next week as we share another episode about scaling impact by building infrastructure and capacity in the non-profit sector. Keep building bravely.

Part Two

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Nic Campbell: You’re listening to the Nonprofit Build Up podcast. And I’m your host, Nic Campbell. I want to support movements that can interrupt cycles of injustice and inequity and shift power towards vulnerable and marginalized communities. I’ve spent years working in and with nonprofits and philanthropies, and I know how important infrastructure is to outcomes. On this show, we’ll talk about how to build capacity to transform the way you and your organization work. 

Stef Wong: Hi, everyone. It’s Steph, Build Up’s Executive Portfolio Liaison. This week on the Nonprofit Build Up is part two of a two-part panel discussion originally recorded at the PEAK 2022 Conference.

Stef Wong: Moderated by Build Up CEO, A. Nicole Campbell, and in conversation with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Deputy Director, Melanie Brown; JustLeadershipUSA’s President and CEO, DeAnna Hoskins; and Herald Advisor’s principal, Aleesha Taylor. 

Stef Wong: This presentation was originally recorded in March 2022. You can jump back to part 1 of the conversation to learn more about managing risk for equitable grant making. But with that, let’s dive into the second part of Nic, Melanie, DeAnna and Aleesha’s discussion where they dive into the practice of progressive grant making, the inequities that traditional grant making has on marginalized communities funders’ aim to serve, and how to align grant making with an organization’s appetite for risk. You won’t want to miss it. 

Nic Campbell: I really like that framing, Melanie. And you know we’ve talked about funders, the role that they can play and how we can hold funders accountable to make sure that we are in this equitable grantmaking space. And I want to make sure that we focus on grantee practices as we think about grant making as a whole. What do grantees need to wrestle with when it comes to risk? And what does reframing of risk look like for grantee organizations? DeAnna, I would love to get your thoughts on those questions. 

DeAnna Hoskins: One, I think grantee organizations have to take a look internally. I actually look at internal processes to ensure that safety nets are in place. And I guess this is my – People say my PTSD are coming from government, because I just believe you have to be good stewards of the money entrusted in you. So, what are the processes and procedures you have in place? 

DeAnna Hoskins: One, to physically be held accountable. But two, that you’re not even wearing your staff out that Just is going to be an opportunity to build your staff and build the capacity of the organization. That even when this funding goes, that’s going to be sustainable, right? 

DeAnna Hoskins: So, one of the things that I do within the organization that I had to do to minimize risk was I couldn’t be the only decision maker in the organization. I realized structures, our titles, are there because we’re in a capitalist world. And they need to know somebody’s running the ship. But in decision making or funding opportunities, we collectively do it as a team. And sometimes I get outvoted because my team is actually delivering it. They’re actually doing the work. And I have to be mindful of the harm I’m causing them by chasing funding, right? 

DeAnna Hoskins: But I also think we have to be honest with ourselves. Am I, one, operationally prepared to go after five million dollars? Two, do I have the capacity to deliver on what I’m saying I’m going to deliver on in this proposal? And then three, what is my potential sustainability plan if I get this and I expand my organization, I do these things, what are my potential sustainability plans to keep it on that I keep my staff on? That I’m able to have a team. I’m not just chasing funding and hiring people, firing people. But then two, what does that sustainability look like, right? And for me, again, you could tell I’m a storyteller. I’ll share that, for me, being bold, we have this this culture in our organization that we’re going to boldly call out what it is. 

DeAnna Hoskins: So, while we address criminal justice issue, we’re boldly calling out the racial disparities and equalities in the various systems that filter into criminal justice. Because if I stay talking about criminal justice as the only problem, criminal justice ain’t going to be sexy in seven years with funders, right? Funders are going to go somewhere else. 

DeAnna Hoskins: But the one thing, no matter if it’s education, reproductive rights, criminal justice, mental health, substance abuse, it’s always a racial disparity to it. And if you follow it, through the end results of those failed systems, that systemic poverty and all those things, always fall into the criminal justice system, right? 

DeAnna Hoskins: So, in order not to bury ourselves and be limited to funding and then everybody’s going after the same money, we’re trying to change a system that has created racial disparities in economics, reproductive rights, education, mental health, access to all these things. 

DeAnna Hoskins: So, as an organization I had to strategically look, “How do I sustain this organization while still meeting our overall mission of disrupting the oppressive and marginalizing policies that are actually having the impact on the communities we’re trying to empower?” 

DeAnna Hoskins: So, it was like turning a ship in the middle of the ocean without anyone on board feeling the turn? Without anyone on board filling the turn. And then you’re here, you have this strategic plan. And just so happened what was happening in the world at the time unfortunately aligned with what you were saying. So, when everyone was saying, “We don’t know what you’re talking about. Why you’re doing that?” George Floyd happened. Breonna Taylor happened, right? COVID happened. And now everyone’s like, “Oh my God! We get it.” No. We’ve been screaming this, and that’s because you didn’t have close proximity to the problem like we did is why we were screaming it before the world noticed it. But you have to be bold enough to stand in your own lane and own that lane. 

Nic Campbell: No. I really appreciate just your response, DeAnna. Because what it what it signals to me is that we need to think about preparedness. We need to do this introspective look into capacity. And I really like this focus on sustainability planning. That you’re not just taking in funds for the moment, but you’re looking in the go forward. What do we need to actually be able to stand up for the long term? And I really appreciate all of that framework. We’re thinking particularly about grantee organizations. 

Nic Campbell: We also talk a lot about this term cultural competence, right? Sure, this is not the first time that many of us have heard that. But we talk a lot about cultural competence within the sector. And I’d love to hear how you all think about cultural competence, particularly as we’re talking about equitable grantmaking and we’re trying to center equity in our work. What role can cultural competence play in grantmaking strategy and implementation? 

Nic Campbell: Again, listening to all of your responses. So far, we’ve talked about listening. We’ve talked about accountability. How to work collaboratively? How does cultural competence come into play when we’re thinking about strategy and implementation?

Aleesha Taylor: I think with cultural competence, it’s about the importance of understanding the dynamics within the communities being served and really knowing if and when multiple sets of norms and rules are in play and the dynamics between them. And it gets directly to also what DeAnna was talking about around partnering. The importance of partnering with individuals who are closest to the problem. And understanding also cultural competence within communities. But then also cultural competence within our organizations, within the funding organizations and how the different dynamics play together. And so, I think the first step is just having an appreciation for overlapping interest. And understanding how power and power dynamics impact them. 

Melanie Brown: Yeah, I would agree. And I think for me, a lot of it is being able to show up in my work as my full self, as my full intersectional self, and allowing that to be an asset. And not something that has to be diminished in order to make a good investment. And so, I think it’s not far from what you’re saying, Aleesha, is being able to say like, “I do understand some of these dynamics in these communities. And some of them maybe I don’t understand because it might connect to my black identity, but it may not have connected to my class identity,” for example. 

Melanie Brown: And so, Just being funders is not being philantropoids as I like to say, right? Like, we are people and bringing that full personal self to the work. And I’ll add, at the Gates Foundation, a lot of our work is – The majority of our work is global. And so, even though we focus – My team focuses on relationships in the US. It is relationships that allow us to do our work in the US and across the world on issues around global health and global development. And so, humility is required, right? To act with the cultural competence is a respect that your culture, your ways of working, of knowing, of being are not the only ways. And so, that is when I think of cultural confidence. 

Melanie Brown: And I initially have like a knee-jerk reaction to that label, because it does become like another way of just saying, “This is how we should be treating people, right?” And so, we should need a label for it. We should value the perspectives of folks who are different than us. But that’s something that I always start with. 

Melanie Brown: And I always look, I will say – And this is related to managing risk, is I’m thinking about values and skills. And so, cultural competence is not solely focused on the skills or the way that we think about skills and executing, but also the values that people bring to their work. And balancing that as being equal to someone’s ability to do it is what are the values that are coming from these communities or these constituencies that are just as important to the work that we’re trying to do as what might be a focus on another cultural way of knowing, or doing, or being. 

DeAnna Hoskins: I’ll just follow up in total agreeance, but also being willing to be culturally competent is to be self-aware. That I need more than one opinion at the table. So, when we start talking about having a cultural awareness of different things, we do technical assistance with federal government entities who are implementing re-entry initiatives across the country. And when grantees struggle with recruitment or retaining participants who are leaving incarceration, moving to their community, they kind of reach out to us as formerly incarcerated people and say, “What can we do?” 

DeAnna Hoskins: And I immediately know, if this is a tribal grantee, working with a tribal population, DeAnna is not the person that acts on how to do recruitment, right? DeAnna reaches out to another leader who has a native American background who’s that’s their culture. There are certain things that we will never be able to tap into that taps into a person. But self-awareness of knowing just because I’m in the power seat to make the decision, I don’t have the knowledge culturally to actually have the impact that’s intended. 

DeAnna Hoskins: And I think it goes back to Melanie’s talking about humbleness and knowing when to step back that this is not my lane. Just because I’m the one who’s in charge of the project or in charge of this portfolio, I need. So, I wonder when organizations or funders say we’ve created a DEI task force, right? And then I look at the task force and I’ll be like, “Well, who are they culturally for the change to actually do something?” Because just because you’re actually making a task force to say you’re addressing that, are you truly having representation of the various cultures of the constituencies that you’re trying to impact at that table? And it goes to what Melanie said, just because I’m an African-American person at that table, can I put aside my class privilege to actually have the impact, of my black impact, that is happening in the marginalized communities? 

DeAnna Hoskins: Even having the ability to separate it even if I, within a race, identify, I may have obtained other privileges that I can no longer connect to. So, I have to be self-aware to put that on the table to say, “DeAnna, you’ve broken through glass ceilings of careers and different things. That’s on the table. Go back to the impoverished community from where you were with. And how is this policy, or this impact, or process going to impact those most marginalized who have not yet to obtain that?”

DeAnna Hoskins: So, self-aware. But also, just not how we give our grants. Do we go deep enough within organizations to look internally within their own HR hiring policies and different things of that nature that actually perpetrate the same disparities and cultural impact that they’re saying they’re trying to have outward? Are they doing it internally? Because I believe you can’t sustain it outwardly if you haven’t changed your culture and adaptation internally.

Nic Campbell: It makes me just think about the different ways in which you can lead, right? So, when we think about cultural competence, it’s this idea that you just don’t always have to be at the forefront knowing everything. I’m being that person. But it’s actually knowing when to take a step back and saying, “Someone else should lead this conversation. And I will be supporting that leadership.” So, everything that you all shared makes me think about how do we re-envision leadership in many of these contexts in which we find ourselves? 

Nic Campbell: And something you said, Deanna, was about how do you look internally, right? We start that evaluation process. And it should happen first internally. And then we start to look at what are the impacts of our work and our grantmaking? And so, I would love us to just talk and highlight a little bit about evaluation of work and impact just to hear from you all on how do you develop a shared understanding of risk within your organization? Where neither its application of risk, of this definition, or the definition itself perpetuates systemic racism in grantmaking and promotes equitable evaluation. 

Nic Campbell: So, we’ve talked about all of this to this point where we’re saying, “How can we continue to be self-aware enough to realize when we are not stepping into those same harmful practices and protocols that we’re trying to fight against?” So, how do you develop that shared understanding of risk to actually get us to the point where we are not perpetuating harm? 

DeAnna Hoskins: Nic, are you asking from an organizational standpoint? For me, just in this work, I’ve always, whether hired by the Board of County Commissioners, the governor, whatever the work that we were supposed to do externally, I would always look internally to see are we even doing it? And I could not be a voice for organization externally about practices and procedures that we weren’t following internally. 

DeAnna Hoskins: My current position, we’re promoting that formerly incarcerated directly impacted people need to be in positions of leadership making decisions. But I was the only person formerly incarcerated in leadership. So, I had to immediately change that and address that, that I had to walk the walk that I was talking to authentically own it, to have the credibility. But that was, if I truly believe that people who have close proximity to the issue should be in leadership in decision making at those policy tables, I had to actually replicate that internally because I believe in that, right? 

DeAnna Hoskins: So, it shows where the organizations are. I always say I look at an organization and they say this is what we’re doing for the most marginalized communities in African-American communities. Then I look at your whole executive team and leadership in your board of directors and there’s not one African-American on there. You’re just actually saying it. Because you internally have not ingested that to say, “This is what we believe in. And this is how we operate because we’re going to role model.” 

DeAnna Hoskins: Part of leadership, we teach principles of leadership. And the main principle of leadership is modeling the way. Don’t tell me what you want to do. Show me what you are actually saying you want to do because it will perpetrate out. And that’s a huge component of leadership even when I look at opportunities of advancement for myself. And people say this is what we do and what we want to do. And then I look inside internally and you don’t replicate what you’re saying. So, I think that, for organizations, we have to internally digest. If we’re asking people to be fair and equitable, are we internally fair and equitable to our team that we’re building as well? 

Aleesha Taylor: I think, and also, to build on that beyond the representation amongst decision makers and leadership is looking at, even if you have a diverse table, who has power and who has voice? And who feels supported enough to take risks and present perhaps risky portfolios? 

Aleesha Taylor: I think one thing I’m going to start suggesting to some of my clients is to, first of all, study the facial expressions that we saw this week with Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and study them and look around your tables during board meetings and portfolio reviews. And if you see them, just note that perhaps your organization has a problem and needs to take a step back. 

Aleesha Taylor: So, I think, again, it’s really that focused attention on power and voice really. And who is able to really speak freely once they are at what we hope to be as a diverse decision-making table? And speak freely without repercussion. 

Melanie Brown: Yeah, I’ll just build on that just to say one thing as a leader and as a newer leader, someone who’s just recently within the last year taking on a leadership position, is giving my team permission to fail. And so, sometimes I don’t fully see the vision, I will admit. But to say like, “Okay, let’s try it. Let’s see.” And that being okay to do something that’s a little bit more risky. Something that is challenging the norms within our organization or within the sector. And let’s see if it works. Let’s try it. 

Nic Campbell: I love it all. So, I completely agree. And again, this theme of leadership. Giving folks permission to fail when we’re thinking about how do we start this evaluation process? And making sure that it’s starting internally before we then move externally.

Melanie Brown: And let me say something, DeAnna, to your point if you’re not able to walk the walk or talk the talk. Then don’t be out in front, right? If you know something is a direction that you should be going into – And I say this all the time. Like, funders and grantees are partners. And often, I have in the past used my funders to push my organization towards a direction. And so, sometimes you’re right. We may not be doing the work internally that we need to be doing. But I can move money into this organization who is and begin to show that we could be going in this direction. But then I shouldn’t come to you and say, “Oh, DeAnna, I’ve already figured it out,” right? I need to then understand to be behind you and to let you lead the way until my organization is ready. 

Nic Campbell: So, we wanted to also save some time for some Q&A. And we already have some questions that have come in. And so, I would encourage you to continue to submit questions in the chat and we’ll see if we can get to them during this conversation. So, the first question, and this is to any of you. And it’s, “Can you address the line between the technical assistance that’s offered by a funder and that kind of prescriptive dictation of how funds should actually be spent?” We see this come up a lot. I would love to get some thoughts. 

DeAnna Hoskins: I hate to keep going first. But I think it’s the clear definition of what is technical assistance, right? Because it can take on many facets of it. And I think Melanie talked about one. One of the technical assistants can be simply I need the introduction to other funders or relationships that you have around the work we’re doing. But then you get into a technical assistance of, “This is how you should be running your program. This is how you should be hiring your structure and different things of that nature.” 

DeAnna Hoskins: I think identifying what technical assistance look like, or is it technical assistance, or is it simply support? We’re here to support you. If you find yourself struggling with carrying out some of the objectives of the grant. Maybe the technical assistance of support is actually moving your grant date. Giving you an extension of time, right? That you don’t feel overwhelmed because you had to ramp up to actually get to the deliverables of the grant. Or in the middle of the grant, the technical assistance can be the flexibility of working with you to put in a budget modification or a scope of work modification. Because once you got into it, what you outlined to implement, the community had another direction and priority that you need to address and support with getting to the overall goal. 

DeAnna Hoskins: So, what is technical assistance? I think it’s kind of like risk. It’s not a broad topic. Philanthropy comes at it as we’re going to hold your hand around finances, operations or programmatic issues where it simply may be supporting you to actually move the needle. Because sometimes when you write the grant was the issue. But when you get to the community, the community may have identified another priority. So, I think transparency and clarity on is it technical assistance that guides you? Or is the support that supports you? 

Aleesha Taylor: I think it’s also important for funders to think about technical assistance beyond the program or project deliverables and to think about what additional support might, as DeAnna was saying, the organization need around perhaps around institutional development? Perhaps it can be about board strengthening or strengthening their governance systems and things things that will support the organization to be stronger after technical assistance that enables the organization to be stronger after the grant period. I think, again, like it’s about reframing our understanding of technical assistance. 

Melanie Brown: And I’ll just say quickly about the line when it goes too far, is I wonder if that’s a call-in, call-out moment for an executive director to say to the funder, “I appreciate the assistance. But this is actually not where we need the help.” And to have that be a conversation between what feels like overstep on part of the funder. Or just quite frankly, missing the mark, right? Of just not being able to see the organization in the same light they do. 

Melanie Brown: I will never see and understand an organization better than any of the grantees that run it because I’m not thinking about it day to day. It’s not my organization. It’s not what I do. And so, how can you use that example where there is that line being crossed to say, “This technical assistance is not helping. This is not where we are right now. And how can we work together to get some clarity on that and to get to a place that achieves what you need to achieve, funder, but is also beneficial to our organization?” 

Nic Campbell: Right, that reframe of, “How are we actually supporting you? How are we continuing to invest in your sustainability?” 

Nic Campbell: So, another question is, have any of you done work around assessing risk tolerance with the board, with the organization, with the organization’s leadership or their staff? And if you have, have you seen a disconnect where the board might want to be riskier but the staff wants to move a little bit cautiously? Or vice versa? And what have you done in that situation? 

DeAnna Hoskins: That’s scary. And I’ll say it’s scary because, as a President, CEO, not only am I running an organization to have an impact driven around the mission. I’m actually running a business. And sometimes those are making business decisions and your board may be focused on the mission and not understand investments, right? Stabilization of the organization. Why are we moving in that direction? 

DeAnna Hoskins: I think one of the biggest for me was I came into an organization that had a founding board. And so, we know founding boards support the founder more so and get aligned with the mission. As we were pivoting, we had people who struggled. Why are we pivoting? This is not – And literally, I had to go search and find the founding documents that talked about, “I’m not driving us away from my mission. I’m just trying to get us aligned with our mission,” right? 

DeAnna Hoskins: But because what threw us into the natural spotlight was so opposite, it literally became the tail wagging the dog versus the dog wagging the tail of the organization. But that was bringing the board along. But then I had staff who literally came on for the actual other things of the organization and not the founding principles, the mission, and had no understanding why we were going there. And I had a huge turnover. But I had to plan for that because I knew it was coming. 

DeAnna Hoskins: As a leadership position, I was transparent. I prepared for the huge turnover. But I also prepared for the huge turnover to actually work with the staff that I knew was going to be a part of the reduction in force and give them options of other job assignments that aligned with the mission and still was in line with what they did. And of course, people were not there. 

DeAnna Hoskins: So, I was struggling. And at one time I thought, “I’m going to be the only person in this organization with a laptop. I’m going to have to start from scratch.” But it was understanding the business model of it. And I was faced between staff who was not okay with the change in the pivot or the risk. And then I was a risk to the funders, because funders had got behind this national theme, and here I was pivoting this shift. 

DeAnna Hoskins: But as a leader and understanding of non-profit management, that mission drift happens. And if you don’t stay in line with your mission, you’re going to find yourself all over the place. And staying focused on that, we’ve survived it. But it was. I lost some funder relationships. I’ve lost a couple of board members. And I’ve lost over 50% of the staff when we were doing that pivot. We’ve built back up since then aligned with the mission. But that was a scary time, because I had to look from a personal career objective. Am I killing my career by being willing to take this risk and moving everyone in the organization along from the board, the funders and the staff in this direction to get in line? Turned out to be the right decision. But it was a really stressful scary time. 

Nic Campbell: Thanks for sharing that, DeAnna. And I think in terms of the time, I know we just have a five or so more minutes. And I want to make sure I ask a question that sort of can tie up all of what we’ve talked through today. And so, based on everything that we’ve discussed and we’ve talked through practices, tools, mindsets as well, right? That shift that has to happen even individually when you are a grant maker within a grantmaking organization. What do you all think is the next step for grant makers to legitimately support the storytelling of historically marginalized communities in such a way that strengthens both grantee capacity as well as the communities in which those grantees operate? 

Nic Campbell: So, it’s a big question. But we’ve had a big conversation. So, I would love to get your thoughts on how we move forward from here. 

Aleesha Taylor: I think, briefly, one of the key things is just to embrace the messiness of narratives and storytelling. And to really recognize that change is not linear. And I think we fundamentally understand that. But then we still want these sort of neat and linear strategies and stories that are tied with a bow. And so, I think a first step is just understanding that we move through paradoxes. And stories just aren’t neat and linear. 

Melanie Brown: I would say a return to – I don’t know if it’s a return. But truth-telling. I think we have to be honest with ourselves that the stories that we’ve been telling are not the full stories and they’re not the only stories. And in a world where truth is in question – I forget the phrase that was used by the last administration. But there was some phrase that that was used about something. It’s like not a true – There’s some in between truth and a lie. 

Melanie Brown: And we can’t even just blame it on the last administration. We’ve been down this path. There’s been a long history especially – Of course, in the world, especially in this country, of people lying about how things have gotten to the place where they are. And so, I think a return to truth. And one way to do that is through stories. 

Melanie Brown: I will just give a shout out to an organization that I love, which is Pop Culture Collaborative. I think the way that they are tapping into pop culture to reframe those narratives. If you’re not familiar with them, I encourage everyone to take a look. But I think that’s what’s needed for philanthropy, is a reckoning with the stories that we have told ourselves and how we’ve allowed those stories. Because some of them are done with really good intentions, right? 

Melanie Brown: I mean, I’m not saying that it’s always negative. That we tell ourselves these stories about who people are, and what they need, and how they don’t know what’s best for them and for their communities. And so, all of that needs to change. And I don’t want to change that. I don’t need to look at a chart and a graph to know that that needs to change. And I think what will change hearts and minds is the stories that we amplify with the stories that we allow to also infiltrate our thinking and our work. 

DeAnna Hoskins: I’ll just follow up that I concur with everything Melanie says something really powerful, that stories change hearts and minds. People change policies based on humanizing the issues. But also knowing the stories, tell the story that – From my perspective of the world, that people committed violent crimes, people formerly incarcerated are not hindered by advancing and becoming productive members of society. But we’ve kept that so secret only to the nonprofit narrative to raise funds, but not actually to storytelling to actually change and actually humanize the issues around the individuals we’re addressing, right? 

DeAnna Hoskins: And we continue to allow – Melanie said something very important, and it made me think of where we are in this country. That even in spite of knowing truth-telling has to be centered, there are still people fighting for certain populations of knowing the true history, right? And I just believe that if you don’t understand where a person has been or what the process has been, you can’t make adequate changes that actually undoes that injustice. So, storytelling has to be centered. But the space has to welcome it as well. Instead of charts and graphs, as Melanie said, how do [inaudible 00:32:10] from the theory of change? That people change? Communities are changing? Because that is actually the deliverable and the impact we’re actually finding to do in this work.

Nic Campbell: Yeah. And I think I think what you each have shared, these are really the principles around equitable grantmaking at the end of the day, right? This idea that change is not going to be linear. It’s about how do you step in and really manage any sort of risk that might come up. 

Nic Campbell: As Aleesha said, embrace the messiness. And then truth-telling. There needs to be this reckoning for philanthropy to make sure that we are accountable for the things that we say we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it. And then finally, DeAnna, your point about just centering. Humans human-centered work at the end of the day. 

Nic Campbell: And for everyone who joined us, this conversation should not end here. The question now is how do we take forward what we heard here to change our own personal behavior as grant makers transform organizational behavior, and the culture of grant making organizations and institutions, and continue to build bravely. 

Nic Campbell: I want to say my immense thanks to our panelists, our wonderful panelists, Aleesha, Melanie and DeAnna for such powerful sharing of your own experiences and your expertise. And I want to thank all of you who joined us for your time and your engagement. 

Stef Wong: And that completes this two-part series of managing risk for equitable grantmaking. As we wrap up, if you are interested in partnering with a law firm that leverages a global network of experienced attorneys with decades of legal training and practical experience and focuses on social impact organizations to serve as an outsourced general counsel and thought partner, then schedule a discovery call with the Campbell Law Firm today.

Stef Wong: The Campbell Law firm works with brave non-profits, philanthropists, ultra-high-net-worth individuals and movements offering high-touch counsel to social impact entrepreneurs and organizations around the world. We would love to hear more about your brave mission to change the world. 

Nic Campbell: Thank you for listening to this episode of Nonprofit Build Up. To access the show notes, additional resources and information on how you can work with us, please visit our website at buildupadvisory.com. We invite you to listen again next week as we share another episode about scaling impact by building infrastructure and capacity in the nonprofit sector. Keep building bravely.

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Cross-Border Grantmaking: Due Diligence and Legal Considerations for Global Grantmaking with A. Nicole Campbell

Over the next two weeks at the Non-Profit Build Up, we will be exploring the context and common concerns on “Cross-Border Grantmaking: Due Diligence and Legal Considerations for Global Grantmaking”. This week’s episode is part one of a two-part information-packed session led by Build Up’s CEO (and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors’ General Counsel), A. Nicole Campbell, and moderated by RPA’s Senior Vice President and Corporate Secretary, Renee Karibi-Whyte. This presentation was originally recorded in April 2022. This is a two part series.

Nic provides an overview of the global giving landscape; reviews definitions and descriptions of expenditure responsibility and equivalency determination, which are concepts that arise frequently within cross-border grant making; and reminds us about compliance considerations to keep in mind when making international grants. You won’t want to miss it.

Listen to the podcasts here:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Resources:

Read the podcast transcription below:

Part One

-Upbeat Intro Music-

Nic Campbell: You’re listening to the Nonprofit Build Up podcast, and I’m your host, Nic Campbell. I want to support movements that can interrupt cycles of injustice and inequity, and shift power towards vulnerable and marginalized communities. I’ve spent years working in and with nonprofits and philanthropies, and I know how important infrastructure is to outcomes. On this show, we’ll talk about how to build capacity to transform the way you and your organization work.

Stef Wong: Hi, everyone. It’s Stef, Build Up’s Executive Portfolio Liaison. This week on the Nonprofit Build Up, we are bringing part one of a two-part informative session led by Build Up’s CEO and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors’ (RPA) General Counsel, A. Nicole Campbell, and moderated by RPA’s Senior Vice President and Corporate Secretary, Renee Karibi-Whyte.

Stef Wong: This presentation was originally recorded as a webinar in April 2022. It is the first part of a two part series. The Campbell Law Firm serves as outsourced general counsel to brave nonprofits and philanthropies, and RPA is one of our brave clients. RPA is a nonprofit organization that currently advises and manages more than 400 million in annual giving by individuals, families, corporations, and foundations, whose mission is to help donors create thoughtful, effective philanthropy throughout the world.

Stef Wong: Nic provides an overview of the global giving landscape, reviews definitions and descriptions of expenditure responsibility, and equivalency determination, which are concepts that arise frequently within cross border grantmaking, and reminds us about compliance considerations to keep in mind when making international grants. You won’t want to miss it. With that, here’s part one of cross border grantmaking, due diligence and legal considerations for global grantmaking.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: Hello, everyone. Welcome to today’s webinar. We’re excited that you’re here. This is the third in a series of legal webinars that we’re doing to help donors create thoughtful and effective philanthropy in line with RPA’s mission. We have today, as we had with the other webinars, and you can go to the next slide, RPA’s General Counsel, Nic Campbell. She advises on the work of RPA, which includes a considerable amount of cross border work, both for our sponsored projects and the clients and partners we advise and manage their philanthropy.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: Most recently, before coming to RPA, Nic was the Senior Director of Operations and Foundation Counsel for Dalio Philanthropies. Before that, she was the Deputy General Counsel of the Open Society Foundations, and there she provided strategic legal governance and operational advice to the global network of over 35 charitable organizations and foundations created by George Soros.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: Nic is very well-versed in this topic. So I’m excited to have this discussion with her today.In addition to working as RPA’s General Counsel, Nic is also the Founder of Build Up Advisory Group, which specializes in strengthening organizational infrastructure for philanthropies and nonprofits more generally. So as I mentioned earlier, this is the third in this series of webinars. The first two were values-based contracting for grant makers and navigating grants that support advocacy to C3 and C4 organizations. The links to those prior webinars are in this deck that we’re going to send out after the webinar completes.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: So for today’s discussion, as with all the previous webinars, we’re really focused on helping to lay the groundwork to give people an understanding of the framework for this. So we’re going to really get deep and give you a lot of insight around the framework. We’re going to have lots of opportunities for questions throughout. I wanted to thank all of you for providing great questions when you registered because we did have probably the most questions we’ve ever had on this topic for any webinar we’ve ever done.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: We’re going to get into expenditure responsibility and equivalency determinations. We’re going to talk a little bit about how these items change, depending on who you’re giving to. We’re going to cover fiscal sponsors versus fiscal agents, sanctions considerations. Then we have some hypotheticals, where you’ll get a chance to show your knowledge. Again, we’ll have some time for questions at the end, and questions are always welcome throughout, and I’ll ask them as I can during the discussion.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: Just first off, you can go to the next slide. Just to kind of set the framework a little bit, based on some recent studies, the foundation in the United States have given over $48 billion outside of the US, based on their most recent information I could find. That compares to about five billion from the United Kingdom, three billion from Canada, three billion from Germany, and one billion from the Netherlands. So the United States is a huge source around the globe of cross border grants.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: At the same time, and this is why it’s so important to talk about those intermediaries, because only 12% of those international grant dollars and, again, this information isn’t 100% current, it’s around about 2018 is latest information I could find, 12% of that goes directly to the organizations, and 88% of that amount goes through organizations that are acting as intermediaries. Well, that’s made cross border giving so difficult and so challenging, is the closing space for giving, with so many countries introducing regulations that limit foreign funds for the philanthropies.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: With kind of laying the groundwork, Nic, can you just start talking about what are the influences on global grantmaking? What are the things that people should be concerned about generally?

Nic Campbell: Yeah, sure. Thanks, Renee. So when we think about what influences global grantmaking, there are certain elements that we wanted to pull out. The first are US legal requirements, and we’ll be talking through those today. So we mean the tax code, IRS regulations, sanctions. So OFAC, for example, and FCPA. We also have to think about what are the restrictions or requirements within the country where the grantee might be located. So we have to understand the role that the governments play within grant awards. It’s not just private foundation to grantee and country. It’s also what’s the role of the government within that transaction?

Nic Campbell: Relatedly, we also have to consider the local landscape. What is happening on the ground, so to speak? Are we immediately post-conflict? Is there a war that’s happening within the country? What other practical considerations do we need to keep in mind? Then finally, we always have to think about the overall goal and purpose of the grants. What is the programmatic reason that we’re making this grant, and does it fit? Or how can we make it fit with all of the other pieces that we talked through? So the legal requirements, the restrictions within country, and the local landscape.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: So we’re going to talk about the legal framework first.

Nic Campbell: That’s right. So to pull that out a little bit more, when we talk about charitable organizations, we mean public charities and private foundations within the United States. Charitable organizations have one requirement. They have to use their funding for charitable purposes. That is going to be really important because every grant that you make, you have to ensure that the funding is being used for charitable purposes. This is why we’re asking due diligence questions. This is why we’re asking for reporting. This is why the application is in place to ensure that funding is being used for charitable purposes.

Nic Campbell: As I mentioned, there’s public charities and private foundations. What’s the difference between the two? Public charities receive funding from the general public, right? So the majority of their funding, a significant portion of their funding is coming from the general public or from the government. Private foundations, on the other hand, usually have a single source of support. So we mean like one family, a group of family members, one corporation, for example.

Nic Campbell: When you’re a private foundation, you’re making a grant to a non-US public charity. Under the tax code, there’s only two ways that you can make that grant without that grant award being seen as a taxable expenditure, meaning that you would be taxed on that grant award otherwise. The first is through something called expenditure responsibility that we’ll talk about in more detail. Then the second is equivalency determination that we’ll also talk through.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: How does a public charity giving a grant overseas change that discussion? Does a public charity that gives a grant overseas fall into the same bucket as the private foundation giving a grant overseas?

Nic Campbell: So the rules that I just talked through are only for private foundations, which means that public charities do not have those requirements. Still, when you were working with public charities that do a lot of cross border giving, you’ll see that they’re also exercising expenditure responsibility. The beauty, though, is that they have a lot more flexibility. They can determine when they can require pre-grant inquiry, for example, as we’re looking at these requirements under expenditure responsibility or just some other requirements within ER. They can say, “We don’t want to exercise that part of ER right now.” But private foundations do not have that ability.

Nic Campbell: When we’re talking about expenditure responsibility, what is it? It’s a federally mandated procedure that a private foundation, not a public charity, must follow for any grant management organization that is not a US public charity. So that means that a private foundation cannot say, “Well, we don’t want to exercise expenditure responsibility. It’s required by the IRS.” We’ll see the exception to that, which is the equivalency determination. But otherwise, you have to be an expenditure responsibility.What does it require? One, a pre-grant inquiry, which is pretty much what you’re doing when you’re asking for applications, information. You’re doing your diligence. You essentially want to be reassured that you are awarding funds to an organization that can complete the charitable purposes of the grant. That is what your pre-grant inquiry should be getting you to, that place of comfort.

Nic Campbell: The second is that you need a grant agreement. So some foundations may not have grant agreements when they’re awarding funds to public charities, for example. But in ER, you must use a grant agreement. You also have a requirement that there has to be separate accounting for grant funds. It doesn’t mean that you have to open up a separate bank account for these funds, but it doesn’t mean that you have to have a way to account. You, the grantee, has to have a way to account for the grant funds that it has received. So this is usually done through the books, right? We have fund accounting that’s happening there.

Nic Campbell: Then you also need annual grant reports from the grantee until all funds are expended. This is usually where you’ll see questions coming in about exponential responsibility. Like what if it’s a de minimis amount? Do we still have to provide report? Yes. The answer is yes. There is no exception for de minimis amounts. You have to have the grantee continue to report until all funds are expended or the funds are returned.

Nic Campbell: On the foundation side, there is an annual reporting requirement until the funds are fully expended to the IRS, to essentially tell the IRS what the grant was for, how much funds have been expended to date, and has there been any sort of diversion of those funds. Usually, in ER, we want to see project support. General support is very tricky because you have to understand this concept of you’re making a grant to an organization that is not deemed charitable, that’s not been deemed charitable by the IRS. So to give this sort of unrestricted pot of money to that organization would be problematic from the IRS rules and regulations. We really want to see project support grants, and we can get flexible in that, and we’ll talk about that. But you want to see a budget that’s really tying to the line items within that project.

Nic Campbell: Then finally, re-granting. Anytime you have ER in play, you make a grant to an organization that then will re-grant to other organizations. That second set of granting also takes on ER, right? So that means that all of the things that we just talked through have to be present in the grant agreements and in the grant relationship between that grantee and the sub grantees. So you do have to ask that question of do you, the sub grantees, have the ability to comply with ER.

Nic Campbell: Ultimately, all sorts of penalties, anything that’s coming out of ER or not compliance with ER, will happen to the foundation, not the non-US organization. So ultimately, the foundation does have a responsibility to ask questions and make sure that ER can be followed.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: So how extensive does the report need to be on how the grant funds are spent?

Nic Campbell: The report doesn’t have to be that extensive. You really have to just talk about how have you been spending the funds to date? How much funds are left over or remaining? Has there been any diversion? Have you used the funds for a purpose, other than what was intended, right? So it’s really the kind of report that you would see in the non-ER context, the kind of programmatic report that you’d want from your grantees anyway.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: Okay. Then the other question from a participant, if there are funds left over, can those funds be reapplied to the organization for another use?

Nic Campbell: It could be, but you have to make sure that the use is papered, right? So that means that there is an amendment that has been done to the grant agreement, and you sort of go through that ER process again, but realizing that you don’t have to do another pre-grant inquiry because it’s the same organization. But if you’re applying for a different purpose, you still want to have that comfort as the funder that this grantee can satisfy the new purposes of the grant, so the repurposing that’s happening. So you can do it, but it has to be documented.
If you contrast that with something that’s happening with a public charity, if the public charity has grant funds that are leftover, you don’t necessarily need an amendment. Now, I do think it’s good practice to have an amendment in place. But you do have that flexibility to say, “Well, it’s only $200 of a million dollar grant.” You can just hold on to the 200 and use it for your charitable purposes, right? In ER, you just don’t have that flexibility.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: Okay. Then we spoke a little bit about the reporting requirements being not that heavy. What are the financial reporting requirements? Are there specifics that are required?

Nic Campbell: No. It’s really just budget to actuals again. So basically, what was budgeted? What was actually spent? Have you actually been spending it in accordance with the budget and the proposed activities? So there’s nothing special that comes out of a report for ER, except that you do want to make sure – I think it is good practice to have someone, a representative, an officer of that organization that sign off and saying there have been no diversion of funds through whatever grant period or reporting period that you’re dealing with. But nothing in addition to what you have in a standard financial report.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: Okay, thanks. Let’s move on to equivalency determination.

Nic Campbell: Of course. So we talked about expenditure responsibility, and we also said that the other way that a foundation committee grant to a non-US organization and non-US public charity is through requirements determination. So I’ll just flag here that ER also comes into play when you’re making a grant within the United States. So if you’re making a grant to an organization that is just not a US public charity, but it’s operating within the United States, you have to exercise ER.

Nic Campbell: Equivalency determination only comes into play when you’re dealing with an organization that has not been organized or incorporated within the United States. So you are basically making a good faith determination that the organization is a US public charity equivalent, right? Financial responsibility, you don’t have to comply with those rules. You’re now saying, “Listen, if this organization were formed in the United States, it would be the equivalent of a US public charity,” right? So what does that require? It means that you have to make sure that that organization is actually functioning like a US public charity. So you have to make sure that it has requirements within its governing documents, that it will only use funds a particular way, in the same way that the US public charity is required to use those funds.

Nic Campbell: If you remember back to one of the initial slides, we said charitable organizations must always make expenditures that are charitable. That’s the same requirement here. We want to make sure that the governing documents are saying every time this organization has an expenditure, it’s for charitable purpose. You also want to think about equivalency determination when you are thinking about investing in the organization itself, as opposed to a specific project. So you want to take a step back and say, “Can I actually provide a general support grant to this organization? Would I want to provide a general support grant, a more flexible funding to this organization?”

Nic Campbell: That’s when you also want to think about equivalency determination. Remember that with ER, you’re in that project support space. Now, you can get flexible, but you really do have to have this budget to actuals type of conversation when you’re in the ER space. You don’t need to have that kind of conversation. There are some safe harbors that you can apply in the equivalency determination or the ED space.

Nic Campbell: What does an ideal candidate for an ED look like? One, charitable organization, as we mentioned. We’d like to see that organizations have been in existence for five years or more. This does not mean that you can’t find startups, right? So I’ve also seen this applied in a way that limits funding for startup organizations, and that’s not true. It’s just that with five years or more in existence, you have actual financial information to go from. With startups, now you’re doing projections, right?

Nic Campbell: You want to make sure that this is a long-term relationship. Equivalency determinations, although they’re not something that you can do in a day or so probably, they do take a couple of weeks for the grantee to gather all that information. So if you’re going to put in this amount of effort, you want to make sure that it’s a long-term relationship, as opposed to a one-time kind of grant that you’re making. You will also want to make sure that this organization receives a large amount of its support from the general public. Remember that when you’re talking about public charities, the thing that makes them public charities is that they’re receiving a substantial amount of their support from the general public. You want to see that here as well.

Nic Campbell: Some sticking points that I always like to point out for ED candidates are, one, when they’re sharing documents about governance, how they’re operating, all these things that are going to establish with your charitable organization, their documents must be translated to English. So you want to think about, okay, do we have to pay those expenses? Should we pay those expenses? How will the organization basically comply with this ED process? You cannot have an organization that engages in political campaign activity, just like a public charity cannot. You do need financial information, right? So if you have an organization that’s doing amazing work, but they just don’t have those financial projections or financial information, they’re not going to be ideal when it comes to determination candidates.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: Can you speak to roughly, in your experience, the comparison of how often equivalency determination is used versus ER?

Nic Campbell: I would say that it’s more about the kind of grant that you want to make. So if you want to make a general support grant, if you want to make a multi-year support grant, you start to think about equivalency determination because you’re stepping into that long-term relationship. Maybe you’re awarding grant funding for activities that, otherwise, you’d have to be carving out into a project. So maybe the organization engages in some lobbying, for example. Maybe they’re making grants to individuals, and you want to support those activities without being pulled into the foundation’s activities itself. So you can get out of ER and do ED that way. So it’s usually more about the kind of award and funding you want to provide.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: What are the chances that an ED will be challenged or interrogated? What kind of documentation should you keep too in the event that that happens?

Nic Campbell:  So there’s a third-party source, at least one that does equivalency determinations, and it’s nice in the sense that there’s a sort of database of organizations that have EDs. So you can kind of go to that database now and say, “Does this organization have an ED?” If it does, you pay a reduced fee, and you can rely on that equivalency determination. If not, you can submit that organization to do the equivalency determination that way. So you don’t see a lot of challenges. I would say over the course of my career, I have not yet seen it challenged. You want to make sure, though, that you are collecting all of the information that we flagged. That database, that third party resource that I talked about, they understand all of these ED requirements. So the governing documents, the affidavits that you have to collect, the determination that you have to make. All of those things are documented and placed into that database, so you can rely on it. So I haven’t yet seen challenges to it. But if there is a challenge, you definitely want to make sure you have that information to say, “I made a good faith determination based on the information I had.”

Renee Karibi-Whyte: If there is a challenge, who would be the challenger? Would it be the IRS? Would it be – Who would be the organization?

Nic Campbell: I think it would be the IRS maybe in an audit. So if an audit comes up, or someone says, “We think –” And audits can be sort of launched with any reason or by any – Or be prompted by several reasons. So if someone just writes to the IRS and says, “We think they’re making improper grants,” they being the foundation, then the IRS could decide to initiate an examination or an audit and review the grants that were made internationally by that foundation.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: Do you have the name of that third-party database? There’s a question about that.

Nic Campbell: Yes. It’s NGOsource.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: Okay. Thanks. So we will include it in the slides that we send out. Now, I know we’re going to move into individuals. We have a question on the factors to consider for individual grantmaking. So we’re going to move right into that.

Nic Campbell: Yes. So why are we talking about grants to individuals? We’re really focused on cross border giving. Well, two reasons. The first is that individuals play a really critical role in the international landscape. So particularly when you’re getting into local context and in country, and you’re thinking about marginalized communities, there are a lot of community leaders that I think can play a really critical role in this space. So ignoring grants to individuals or the roles that individuals can play I think really does impact cross border grantmaking.

Nic Campbell: The second is even when you’re making a grant to an organization, you still have to think about, okay, is this actually a grant to individual, even though I’ve made a grant to the organization itself? I’ll talk through why. So let me just start by saying private foundations cannot make grants to individuals for travel study or similar purposes. When they talk about similar purposes, they’re talking about scholarships, fellowships, internships, right? Unless they receive pre-approval from the IRS, right? So unless you have that written pre-approval or that pre-approval from the IRS, you really cannot, as a foundation, make those grants.

Nic Campbell: There is an exception that says, “Look. If you don’t hear from us in 45 days of submission, you can sort of move forward until you hear from us officially, and you can act as though you can make grants to individuals.” So you really do need that pre-approval in order to make grants individuals as a private foundation. Public charities don’t have that same kind of restriction. So when we talk about grants to individuals, we’re not talking about service arrangements. We’re not talking about employees. We’re talking about grants for scholarships, fellowships, that kind of thing.

Nic Campbell: So when you make a grant to an organization, in the expenditure responsibility context, for example, and that organization says, “We’re now going to make scholarship awards. We’re going to issue a couple of fellowships,” that has to follow the grants to individual rules for private foundations. So you might say, “Well, wait a minute, Nic. Like what if the foundation just makes the grant to that organization, has no role in selecting those individuals, doesn’t do anything around that process, and that organization then makes it grants to individuals? Are we still in grant individual territory?” The answer is yes when you’re in expenditure responsibility.

Nic Campbell: So what does that mean? It means that if the private foundation itself cannot make those kinds of awards, you can’t then fund an organization to go off and make those awards in your stead, right? So when you’re in an expenditure responsibility situation, you do have to ask yourself, is the foundation able to make grants to individuals? If the answer is no, then the organization itself cannot then make the grants individual. If the foundation can, then you want to make sure that the organization is following the procedures laid out for the grant’s individual programs of the foundation. So you still have to ask lots of questions. How are you selecting folks? How are you making sure that they are actually compliant with the terms of the fellowship, those kinds of questions?

Nic Campbell: So then you might now be saying, “Wait a minute, Nic. Anytime I make a grant organization, I just have to ask these questions.” There are some exceptions to that. When you’re funding intermediary organizations because there’s a lot of foundations that do this, you can still get away from these grants to individuals characterization, right. So the first is if you’re making a grant to a public charity, you can actually play a limited role in the selection. You can give recommendations. You can even participate in the selection process, as long as the public charity itself is seen as leading the selection, leading the process, and the decision is the public charities. It will be seen as a grant to an organization and will not be transformed into any sort of grant individual. You have to make sure that the foundation this ability or things like that.

Nic Campbell: Now, you can start to see. Well, now I understand like if an organization that is not a US public charity, wants to make grants to individuals, maybe I don’t do ER, and I can consider whether or not they are a candidate for equivalency determination. Why? Because now you’re saying you’re just like a public charity. When you have that a US public charity equivalency, again, you can even play a limited role in the selection. You can participate in the way that you can’t. Or you can just do the same sort of grant where your hands off, not involved, and it’s not going to be seen as a grant to an individual. That’s one of the ways you can start to think about equivalency determination, exponential responsibility, and is it appropriate.

Nic Campbell: Similarly, when you’re engaged with governmental agencies, you can even have even more control within that process, and it will still be seen as a grant to organization. With other organizations, you want it to be made complete independent of the foundation itself.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: When you think about the level of control for government agencies, is there a 50% mark, like more control than the other organization? Can you kind of go into a little bit more about that?

Nic Campbell: As you probably can guess from the IRS, they’re not giving these bright line tests. From what I’ve seen over the years, you can actually – Let’s say you have a selection committee of seven. You could likely have four foundation representatives on that committee and still have it be seen as the grant being made to the governmental agency. Now, in practice, does that happen? Likely not. I think foundations tend to take that place of we still want to sit in a role of decision making, maybe alongside the governmental agency. But we don’t necessarily want to “control it,” right? So I’ve usually seen that over the years, but there’s no bright line test coming from the IRS.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: If you had that four person of seven people panel on the public charity, that would be too many.

Nic Campbell: That would be controlled. Another thing you want to think about is not only just the numbers but the veto rights, right? So let’s say you’re not sitting on the selection committee at all, but you still have the ability to veto a decision. That is a tremendous amount of control that you also want to think about, and it’s not permissible.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: There’s a lot of conversation right now about power dynamics between grantees and grantors. Sometimes, even if there is no explicit control, there’s a perception of control. How do you suggest that foundations overcome that when they’re in this position?

Nic Campbell: It’s a really good question, right? It’s something that comes up a lot. I’ve definitely had the question of, well, let’s say we’re not on the selection committee, and the founder of the foundation actually just wants to be in the room, sitting off to the side while the selection is being played, is occurring or taking place. To that, I always require like what is the purpose of that? If you were trusting your grantee to do the work, are they asking you to participate? If so, why? I’m just really trying to understand like why am I in the room? Why am I playing a part in this process? Is it actually furthering the charitable purpose of the grant? Is it getting us closer to our goal? Or is it me sort of stepping in and inappropriately exercising power within this dynamic?

Nic Campbell: I think those are the kinds of questions you have to ask yourself before you say, well, we’re just doing it because we’re partnering, right? I think you do have to ask yourself the question that – I always bring this up that, yes, there is the legal things that you can do. So legally, yes, you can take three spaces of that selection committee, for example, in the seven-person selection committee, but why? Like why are you doing it? I still think you have to ask those questions, like why do you want to do it.

Nic Campbell: Particularly, when you’re operating internationally, you do get into this space of optics, in particular. Making optics are very important. If you’re trying to give the control to the grantee and you say, “Look, we trust you. We want you to work the way you want to work,” why are you sitting on the selection committee, right? Just ask those questions. Not to say that you can’t, but think about, okay, well, we’re putting three people on because without the three, we couldn’t do A, B, and C. If you’re not able to point to those things concretely, then I don’t think you should be sitting on the selection committee, and that’s outside of the legal consideration.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: Can you give an example of a structure for getting grant funds to individuals abroad?

Nic Campbell: Yeah. One, you can work with a public charity. So I’ll talk through a few. One, if you’re a foundation, you can work with an intermediary, right? So we just talked about having this public charity that plays a role, and maybe they’re the ones that then can engage in a selection of individuals and providing funding to individuals. You can recommend, right? You can say we would love it if these grants went to these individuals, but it’s completely up to you, public charity, who you decide to award these funds to.

Nic Campbell: Another is to – If you’re making grants individuals, and you have a real grants to individuals program sort of happening, resurfacing, you might want to think about do we just go to the IRS and get this pre-approval, because now you can make grants in the ER context. You can make grants directly if you have that capacity. So you can make grants in those ways. You can use an intermediary, or you can do it directly. I think if you are at the point where you are making a substantial amount of awards to individuals through intermediaries, think about your own capacity, of course.

Nic Campbell: But then also think about like is this a place where we should now go out and get our own pre approval from the IRS because what it does is it allows you to then step into this ER space with non-US public charities and make those kinds of awards, ensuring that the awards line up with the kind of approval that you’d receive from the IRS.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: So what happens if you end up altering your program? So once you receive approval from the IRS, how do you determine if any alterations that you make will make it differ significantly from those described in your original request?

Nic Campbell: When you go off and request this pre-approval, you’re going to describe a program. Sometimes, you do have a specific program in mind. But you’re going to describe a program that is broad enough to capture sort of permutations of variations on that program. But specific enough to clearly say this is what we’re proposing to do. So that’s the kind of application that we like to put forward for foundations when they’re going to the IRS.

Nic Campbell: Now, just move forward, programs evolve, right? We want them to. We want them to be reflective of the environment in which they’re operating. So if you want to change the program, again, you will have built in the flexibility initially to say, “We don’t necessarily need to go back to the IRS and get pre-approval.” If you’re doing a significant change, like you have now eliminated a selection committee when you said that this was really critical to the process, or you’re doing something that is really substantially changing the program itself, or it may be who you’re awarding funds to, that kind of thing, then you do have to go back to the IRS and receive your pre-approval and just forms for that. It’s a pretty straightforward process when you go back and you get that approval from the IRS.

Stef Wong: That concludes part one of this series. Next week, Nic will continue to share her insights about cross border grantmaking. Additionally, if you’re interested in partnering with a law firm that leverages a global network of experienced attorneys with decades of legal training and practical experience and focuses on social impact organizations to serve as an outsourced general counsel and thought partner, then schedule a discovery call with the Campbell Law Firm today.

Stef Wong: The Campbell Law Firm works with brave nonprofits, philanthropists, ultra high-net-worth individuals and movements, offering high-touch counsel to social impact entrepreneurs and organizations around the world. We would love to hear more about your brave mission to change the world.

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Nic Campbell: Thank you for listening to this episode of Nonprofit Build Up. To access the show notes, additional resources, and information on how you can work with us, please visit our website at buildupadvisory.com. We invite you to listen again next week as we share another episode about scaling impact by building infrastructure and capacity in the nonprofit sector. Keep building bravely.

Part Two

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Nic Campbell: You’re listening to the Nonprofit Build Up podcast, and I’m your host, Nic Campbell. I want to support movements that can interrupt cycles of injustice and inequity, and shift power towards vulnerable and marginalized communities. I’ve spent years working in and with nonprofits and philanthropies, and I know how important infrastructure is to outcomes. On this show, we’ll talk about how to build capacity to transform the way you and your organization work.

Stef Wong: Hi, everyone. It’s Stef, Build Up’s Executive Portfolio Liaison. This week on the Nonprofit Build Up, we are recasting part two of a two-part informative session led by Build Up’s CEO and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors’ (RPA) General Counsel, A. Nicole Campbell, and moderated by RPA’s Senior Vice President and Corporate Secretary, Renee Karibi-Whyte. 

Stef Wong: This presentation was originally recorded as a webinar in April, 2022. The Campbell Law Firm serves as outsourced general counsel to brave nonprofits and philanthropies, and RPA is one of our brave clients. You can jump back to part one of the conversation to learn more about cross-border grantmaking, due diligence, and legal considerations for global grantmaking. 

Stef Wong: But with that, let’s dive into the discussion where Nic provides an overview of the global giving landscape, reviews definitions and descriptions of expenditure responsibility and equivalency determination, which are concepts that arise frequently within cross-border grantmaking, and remind us about compliance considerations to keep in mind when making international grants.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: We’re going to talk a little bit more about, aside from individuals, how what you’re giving to makes a difference. 

Nic Campbell: Yes. So as you can imagine, as we talk through, you have to ask these questions. Who are you giving to, right? Who’s actually receiving the funds? If you’re giving it to a US public charity, then you have a lot of options, right? This is why you will see foundation say, “We only made grant awards to US public charities.” Why? Because you can do general support. You can do project support. You have safe harbors for organizations that are engaged in lobbying, and you can still make a project support grant to them, same thing with general support. So there’s a lot of things that you can do in that context. 

Nic Campbell: I don’t think that that’s the only way that you can engage in cross-border giving, nor should it be, because there’s a lot of other vehicles out there. Individuals, as we talked about, if you’re going to make a grant to an individual, you have to follow special rules, right? Get that pre-approval if you’re making it directly. You have to make sure that your selection process is objective and nondiscriminatory. So the IRS is making you say, “I, the foundation, award grants to individuals. I am not perpetuating some harm within this system, right? I am making sure that my selection process is objective and nondiscriminatory in goodness of the charitable purpose of the grant.”

Nic Campbell: When you’re making awards or providing awards to intermediaries like fiscal sponsors and fiscal agents, then you have to determine when you’re dealing with which, right? So fiscal sponsors need to have discretion over the funds. They need to have – Usually, you see the board having a vote over whether or not they can accept a project as a fiscally sponsored project or leadership. Somebody needs to approve that these funds can be deployed as proposed. So as a result, if you have a US public charity as a fiscal sponsor, you can work with that intermediary and make grants to individuals, make grants to other organizations, and still have that grant be treated as an organizational grant. 

Nic Campbell: Fiscal agents are a little bit different. But sometimes, they play a role when you’re in the international space because sometimes you’re dealing with organizations or individuals that may not have bank accounts, right? So someone maybe on behalf of that group will say, “You can use our bank account. You can pay the funds into the bank account. Then we will transfer it over to the ultimate grantee.” Of course, in that situation, you want to make sure there’s protections written in that the fiscal agent will actually transfer the funds as promised. But that’s another way that you might say, “Look, this is how we have to get funds to these organizations and individuals in country.” 

Nic Campbell: Then the last is what we’ve been talking through, a non-US public charity, right? Like how do you actually provide awards to organizations that are not US public charities? We’ve talked about equivalency determinations. We talked about expenditure responsibility. So you have to think about who you’re actually providing awards to because it has implications. That’s why we wanted to talk to this structure because before you can get into like, “Here’s what we want to do. Here’s how we want to give it,” know who you’re giving it to and understand like the legal structure in which it serves.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: We talked a little bit about designating funds for a particular purpose, and I know there’s something about earmarking that you wanted to cover. 

Nic Campbell: Yes. This comes up. We talk about fiscal agent, right? But it’ll come up generally. We talked about it, again, when we talked about control with individuals and selection process. So earmarking is when you set aside funds to support specific activities. The first question should be, “Well, Nic, isn’t that grantmaking,” right? Like when we make project support grants, aren’t we earmarking? Yes, you are. The question, though, is what are you earmarking it for?

Nic Campbell: That is what your diligence should be getting at. This is why you’re asking those questions in your application. This is why you’re getting reporting, to ensure that air marking is done appropriately. So we have grant agreements that talk about safeguards. You might even have language that says, “We are not earmarking these funds for any other purpose than the purpose intended.” You’ll see foundations have that kind of language, and this is why. What are the implications? Are we granting, right? 

Nic Campbell: You talked about like, look, if you’re expenditure responsibility and you’re sort of like bypassing this US public charity, for example, if you’re making a grant to a US public charity, earmarking for the ultimate grantee that’s not a US public charity, you’re not pushing yourself into expenditure responsibility, when you should have been staying in that grant to a US public charity, right? If you’re earmarking improper activities, you could be earmarking funds for lobbying, which private foundations cannot support, and similarly for political campaign activity. 

Renee Karibi-Whyte: We went into fiscal sponsor versus fiscal agent, where there’s an additional detail you wanted to discuss here as well. 

Nic Campbell: Yes. So I will just flag that it is very important to understand the difference between fiscal sponsors and fiscal agents. As we talked about, fiscal sponsors have the control. They have the discretion to use the funds in a particular way, and fiscal agents do not. Why does that matter? Because it’s earmarking. So if you’re using an organization that claims to be a fiscal sponsor. But you, the foundation, do not review a fiscal sponsorship agreement between the fiscal sponsor and the project that basically says, “We have full control and discretion to use the funds as intended.” You could be in an earmarking situation. You might be giving to a fiscal agent without knowing it, right?

Nic Campbell: You want to make sure that you know when you’re engaging with a fiscal sponsor or a fiscal agent, and the fiscal sponsor has the control and discretion. So review the fiscal sponsorship agreement as a private foundation. It’s a private foundation. If you were making a grant to an organization or some project that has a fiscal sponsor at a minimum, review the fiscal sponsorship agreement between the fiscal sponsor and that project because you want to make sure that it’s supportive of the fact that fiscal sponsor has discretion and control. 

Nic Campbell: Usually, we see fiscal sponsors as US public charities because, again, private foundations making that grant to the US public charities makes it a lot more straightforward for the grantmaking, even if the grant funds are then further deployed. On the fiscal agent side, again, this is usually seen when you want someone to provide a bank account. This is earmarking, right? So you are essentially saying, “I am giving a grant to this non-US public charity. I am just using this fiscal agent because that’s where the funds will be paid into.” So this grant, you need to think about expenditure responsibility in that example because you have earmarked the grant to the ultimate organization. 

Nic Campbell: The fiscal agent, if they do this a lot, they’re not going to sign on to any sort of agreement that looks like a grant agreement with the fiscal sponsor, between the foundation and the fiscal sponsor. They’re going to say, “The only thing I’m promising is that I will take the funds from you, and I will send the funds to the intended grantee.” So you have to think about expenditure responsibility here, and the one thing I’ll pull out is that I would strongly encourage using a grant agreement, regardless of the amount. So if it’s $500, and you usually make grants of a million or 500,000 and up, use a grant agreement because it very clearly spells out the responsibilities and obligations of each of the parties. 

Renee Karibi-Whyte: Thanks, Nic. Let’s turn to sanctions and how to prevent corruption. 

Nic Campbell: Yes. It’s a very interesting topic, right? What I want to do here is just highlight it in that pointing out that as a US person, foundations, public charities, we have to think about sanctions, right? We have to think about how our funds are being used, and are we in compliance with the various sanctions, rules, and laws that are within the United States. 

Nic Campbell: So you’ll see here we pull out a quote. Essentially, don’t think that because you’re doing good work, you are pulled out of this conversation, right? So you will see that bolded language that says we have a responsibility to do all we can to shut down the funding channels of terrorism, which is are you ensuring that your charitable funds are not being used to further any sort of terrorist activities as defined under US law. 

Nic Campbell: There are a couple that we wanted to just highlight because they tend to come up a lot. So the first is, you’ve probably heard of it, OFAC, right? This is coming out of the Office of Foreign Assets Control. Essentially, it’s when the US Treasury Department has put in regulations to ensure that organizations, US persons, do not do business with terrorist organizations or individuals. You’ve heard of this OFAC as specially designated nationals list. If you’re on that list, you cannot engage in those kinds of activities with individuals on that list. 

Nic Campbell: There are also countries that OFAC has sort of determined to be sanction countries or countries that are aren’t sanctioned, but they might be in a region where there are a lot of specially designated nationals. So you have to take certain precautions. It affects all US persons. One thing I’ll say here is if you are a US person with affiliates or branches in other countries, don’t think that just because, well, they’re a separate entity under that particular country and so they’re not a US person, they’re not subject to OFAC. 

Nic Campbell: OFAC also considers are you controlled by a US person, such that you are a US person for purposes of OFAC. That then impacts the kinds of questions you ask in diligence, applications, those kinds of things. So you want to be clear on who is actually subject to OFAC, and is my diligence getting at the kinds of things that I want to make sure that are not triggering OFAC. The last piece I’ll say about OFAC is we want to make sure that we are taking a tailored approach to OFAC. So sometimes, you will see language in grant agreements that are a page – I mean, sometimes a page long of OFAC provisions, of all the things that a grantee has to comply with. People just kind of move on and sign the agreement. 

Nic Campbell: But the question is what is sitting in your diligence? What are the questions that you’re asking to actually make sure that this grant is not triggering any sort of OFAC penalties or situations? Ask questions during the application process and make sure that the reporting, you’re monitoring that as well. So it’s not just you put it into the grant agreement and forget about it, but you have to make sure that you are asking the right questions as well. 

Renee Karibi-Whyte: The FCPA, of course, has some sway here as well. 

Nic Campbell: Yes. So the other piece that we wanted to talk about is the FCPA, and this is when you pay or offer something of value with corrupt intent to a foreign government official or political party official, right? So you’re trying to do that so that you can maybe get a license, get a permit, get some improper advantage, right? This is language taken out of the statute. 

Nic Campbell: One, it applies to us persons, nonprofit organizations as well. Think about agents that you might be using. So if you’re dealing with intermediaries outside of the United States, think about their actions because you can be held liable under FCPA for those actions, and other anti-bribery laws apply in other jurisdictions, not just FCPA, right? So as you step into other countries, as we talked about at the top of this, you have to think about the rules or regulations, the laws that are also in that country as well. 

Nic Campbell: This is just FCPA to say that, and sometimes it’s not just always, “Hey, if I give you $50, will you do ABC.” It could be inviting a government official to an event that you’re having, a private event that you’re having. Thinking about will that trigger – That invitation, will that trigger FCPA? Sometimes, you do have to have those conversations. So whenever you have a government official involved, raise your hand and say, “Okay, is this a situation that might have implications under FCPA?” 

Nic Campbell: One of the things we wanted to point out here is how do you work in conflict and post-conflict settings? I think in 2022, this conversation is about being immediately post-conflict. Are you not immediately post-conflict? Or are you in conflict? Because at this point, there aren’t many countries, I can say, that they are not post-conflict, right? So these are more programmatic ways of how you approach it, right? Do your research. Be prepared to take risks. Understand the local context, Support the folks on the ground. You will see that all of these tips, the reason we call this out here is that you cannot have a conversation about cross-border grantmaking, particularly from the legal perspective, if you are not considering the programmatic perspective as well. 

Nic Campbell: These things have to work together so that you can say this is how we approach cross-border grantmaking, and all of the pieces that you’re seeing here from a programmatic perspective also apply in the legal context as well. So if you’re working with your attorneys, they’re going to ask you questions, right? Like have you ever been in this country before? Who have you spoken to? Are you aware of any local laws that might have implications? They’re going to ask these questions of local counsel, if they’re engaging them, of you, your partners, if you’ve worked there before. 

Nic Campbell: Just another reminder that we have to make sure that we’re not separating these conversations and having programmatic conversations on the one hand, and then saying, “Okay, we’re done here. Let’s go talk to legal. We’re done here. Let’s go talk to the compliance team.”

Renee Karibi-Whyte: Okay. Now, we get to move into some hypotheticals.

Nic Campbell: With all of what we’ve talked about now, you should have the tools to step into these hypos. So the first is foundation makes a grant to World Alive. It’s a non-US nonprofit organization, working in public health throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. World Alive’s proposal indicated World Alive would like to make the following grants. One to two individuals for a public health fellowship to a local partner organization working on groundbreaking research, so we’ve got some free granting there, and to fund public health projects in Zimbabwe. 

Nic Campbell: So you have a poll question that’s coming up, and the question is should foundation make the grant to World Alive? Yes, using ER. Yes, using ED. No, the grantee wants to fund two fellowships. Or, no, the grantee wants to fund work in Zimbabwe. 

Renee Karibi-Whyte: Let’s see what kind of answers we have. 

Nic Campbell: Okay. So I’m seeing about 56% saying yes using ER, 19% saying yes using ED, a few folks saying, “No, the grantee wants to fund two fellowships.” No one said no because of the work in Zimbabwe. So how did we come out? These are all actual examples taken from work that’s been done over the years. So here, you could make an ER grant to World Alive. But let’s think about what the funds will be used for. We’ve got public health fellowships, and we’ve got grants to individuals. So the question is can this foundation actually make grants to individuals. 

Nic Campbell: You have re-granting, again, to a local partner organization that’s working on groundbreaking research. So you’re now stepping into another level of ER with that second grant. Another question is can this local partner organization actually comply with ER requirements, and then to fund public health projects in Zimbabwe? Now, to sort of raise a hand around OFAC and no one selected that. Zimbabwe has a flag, I would say, from OFAC, but it’s not currently on the list. 

Nic Campbell: So the way that we have made the grant is through equivalency determination, right? Saying that World Alive as a non-US nonprofit organization was actually eligible for an ED. As a result, when you make that EDI, you could provide general support, grant to that organization. Then they will be able to provide these other grants that are listed without the additional ER monitoring.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: Great. Let’s move on to the second hypothetical.

Nic Campbell: Okay. The second is foundation makes a grant to Better World. It’s a US public charity focusing on criminal justice reform, specifically the school to prison pipeline throughout the global south. This grant includes the foundation working with Better World to make a project support grant to ABC Learn, a school in Belize. The foundation controlled the selection process there. The foundation is also working with Better World to support reform efforts in Cuba. Foundation’s diligence focuses on Better World’s efforts to ensure programmatic success. 

Nic Campbell: So the question is – Two questions here. The first is does the foundation’s grant to Better World require the foundation to exercise ER? No, foundation made a grant to Better World, and it’s a US public charity, so ER required. No, because there was a selection process for ABC Learn. Yes, the work will be done throughout the global south. As a result, you need ER. Or, yes, the foundation earmarked the grant to ABC Learn. The second question is about the diligence. The question is, was foundation’s diligence comprehensive based on what we see here? 

Nic Campbell: We have a majority of folks saying no. The foundation made a grant a better world. It’s a US public charity, so no ER. Just one person that’s still saying, no, there was a selection process for ABC Learn. So that’s why we don’t need ER. Yes, because the work is going to be done throughout the global south. A few folks saying, yes, the foundation earmarked the grant to ABC Learn. All right, so we’ll take that question first. 

Nic Campbell: Here, yes, Better World is a US public charity. Ordinarily, we would not have to exercise ER because we’re making that grant. But if you look in that first bullet, we said that the foundation controlled the selection process for ABC Learn, right? So that grant that was going to ABC Learn, the foundation came in, controlled the selection process, and essentially earmarked that grant to ABC Learn. Because ABC Learn is not a US public charity, we’re now in expenditure responsibility because the foundation has earmarked the grant to ABC Learn. 

Nic Campbell: Was the foundation’s diligence comprehensive? We have a sort of mix of yes, no, and I don’t know. All right, the majority of folks is saying no. I would agree with the no and say when we’ve seen that second bullet, that the foundation is doing work to support reform efforts in Cuba, and that their diligence focused on Better World’s efforts to ensure programmatic success. Are we also thinking about diligence in terms of what is happening on the ground in Cuba? What about OFAC? Cuba has been on the list, off the list. Do they need a license? 

Nic Campbell: There’s a lot of questions that would come up in that context. So let’s say at this point no because the diligence only focused on programmatic success. 

Renee Karibi-Whyte: Okay. That brings us to the last hypothetical for today. 

Nic Campbell: Okay, hypo three. Foundation seeks to make a grant to TeachersFirst to provide mentoring and school-based support to new teachers in rural districts in Botswana. Although this grant is a third grant foundation has made, and it is confident that TeachersFirst energetic leadership can deliver, foundation has continued concerns about the overall strength of the organization. So the question here is should foundation make the project support grant to TeachersFirst to support new teachers? 

Nic Campbell: Currently, that’s the kind of grant that it wants to make, this project support grant to support the teachers. Yes, foundation is confident TeachersFirst leadership can deliver. No, foundation will be making an expenditure responsibility grant. Yes, foundation has considered organizational impact and capacity building. No, foundation should also consider organizational impact and capacity building. 

Renee Karibi-Whyte: I think we have a lot of people who are unsure of answers. So even if you’re not confident in your answer, go ahead and guess, and let’s pull up the results. 

Nic Campbell: I think everyone can see the polling results, and I’ll just look for the majority. So the majority of folks said, no, foundation should also consider organizational impact and capacity building. I would agree with that. I think here, what we’re trying to talk about is at what point do we stop making these project support grants to an organization and think holistically about how we invest in the organization to consider as capacity building and its organizational impact as well. 

Nic Campbell: There’s ways, as we’ve talked about, that we can do now, if we want to make this kind of general support grant to TeachersFirst. So we can think about equivalency determination, for example. There’s a lot of ways that we can do it if we are in the international context.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: Great. So with time getting a little short, let’s wrap it up with some best practices.

Nic Campbell: Yes. So we just wanted to highlight some points here from what we’ve been talking through. The first is conduct only enough diligence to give you confidence that the grantee can perform the charitable purposes of the grant. You might say, “Well, Nic, yes, of course, that’s what we want to do. That’s what we aim to do.” But that means looking at every question that you were asking as part of your application process to ensure that each question leads you to say, okay, yes, this means that the grantee can perform under the grant itself, right? If you have questions that are just being asked, just because they’ve historically been asked, you might want to think about, okay, do we actually need those questions? 

Nic Campbell: The next is to consider to whom the grant has been made, for what purpose, and where the grant funds will be used to ensure that your grant award serves as a resource to the grantee. So we talked about who’s actually receiving the grant that has implications around structure. Why is the grant being provided? Where will the grant funds be used? All of those things then inform how will I, the foundation team, serves as a resource to the grantee? So, yes, I’m providing funding, but how am I actually providing a resource and a support to the grantee organization?

Nic Campbell: Ensure that your diligence procedures are not antithetical to your organization’s values. So you might be saying out loud, “We are inclusive. We are risk takers. We are innovative.” When you look at your diligence procedures, they are clunky. They’re asking questions that are not needed. Or they’re making you exclude a large group of folks from your grantmaking process. So make sure that your diligence procedures are supportive of your organizational values. 

Nic Campbell: The next is to examine the role of intermediary organizations structurally, programmatically, and within the local context. We’ve talked about this. Make sure that you know when you need a fiscal sponsor, a fiscal agent. When you are working with a fiscal sponsor, that they understand the local context and can appreciate it and can engage with partners on the ground. 

Nic Campbell: Underscore flexibility, equity, impact, and partnership throughout your grantmaking, domestically and internationally. This is the way you should be showing up. Every grant award that you make should be trying to get at these things. That happens, yes, within the United States, but it doesn’t disappear because now you’re engaged in cross-border giving. It should still be present then too. 

Nic Campbell: Engage with local council and partners before funding in a new geography. If you are stepping into a new country and you’re working in a new space, yes, you talk to folks on the ground, partners to make sure like you understand what’s happening. But you also want to understand what’s happening legally, what’s happening within the governments. So engaging local counsel as you start to explore within that region is also critically important. 

Nic Campbell: Understand the defined risk within your organization and grantmaking. If we start to talk about taking risks or things are too risky, we need to understand and have a shared definition of risks throughout the organization. That impacts your grantmaking as well. Then finally, remain equity-centered. At the end of the day, we want to talk through these legal structures because that gives you the tools and the vehicles to do your work. But it should all be centered around equity and how are we making sure that those who have been historically excluded from the conversation are now able to participate and problem solve for their own communities. 

Renee Karibi-Whyte: Thanks for those practical tips, Nic. We have a couple of questions that I want to get to in a little bit of time left. There was some question around using DAFs for cross-border grantmaking. Are there special concerns or considerations for DAFs? 

Nic Campbell: With DAFs, it’s a really good question because DAFs then take on – They have the same expenditure responsibility requirements that probably foundations have. So donor- advised funds, DAFs, they are public charities. But when we start to get into grants to non-US public charities, they have the same expenditure responsibility requirements that we talked through for private foundations. So what you’ll see with DAFs is it does vary from DAF to DAF. 

Nic Campbell: Exponential responsibility, as we know, you can still make these grants. But it requires some more diligence, reporting, things like that. So many DAFs will not engage in international grantmaking. So you want to make sure that the DAFs that you’re engaging with or working with will actually do that kind of grantmaking, but they’re not prohibited from engaging in grantmaking.

Renee Karibi-Whyte: Okay. The last question that I have right now is about the reporting requirements based on fiscal years and grant period timing.

Nic Campbell: It’s a really good question. I think practically what happens is foundations tend to use it based on their own calendar year or fiscal year. The regulations talk about the fiscal year of the grantee themselves. But usually, what you’ll see is calendar year for the most part and having reports within like three months of the close of the calendar year before it. But you do have some flexibility there. 

Nic Campbell: Essentially, what you want is that when you, the foundation, are reporting on the grant’s activities, you are in a position to say, okay, based on the grant period and the grant term, I can honestly say that there has been no diversion, or here’s how much money has been spent. So you want that information.

Stef Wong: As we wrap up, if you’re interested in partnering with a law firm that leverages a global network of experienced attorneys with decades of legal training and practical experience, and focuses on social impact organizations to serve as an outsourced general counsel and thought partner, then schedule a discovery call with the Campbell Law Firm today. 

Stef Wong: The Campbell Law Firm works with brave nonprofits, philanthropists, ultra high-net-worth individuals and movements, offering high-touch counsel to social impact entrepreneurs and organizations around the world. We would love to hear more about your brave mission to change the world.

Stef Wong: That completes this two-part series on cross-border grantmaking, due diligence, and legal considerations for global grantmaking.

-Upbeat Outro Music-

Nic Campbell: Thank you for listening to this episode of Nonprofit Build Up. To access the show notes, additional resources, and information on how you can work with us, please visit our website at buildupadvisory.com. We invite you to listen again next week, as we share another episode about scaling impact by building infrastructure and capacity in the nonprofit sector. Keep building bravely.

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