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Welcome to the Nonprofit Build Up Podcast!

Welcome to the Nonprofit Build Up, hosted by A. Nicole Campbell. Discover insights from nonprofit and philanthropy leaders about assessing and building better organizational infrastructure, programmatic strategies, and challenging traditional sector approaches on how to support some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.

A. Nicole Campbell has over fifteen years of legal and operational experience in the social sector and has worked in private practice, private philanthropy, and the public sector. Nic is currently the Founder and CEO of Build Up Advisory Group®, a global advisory firm that specializes in building the organizational infrastructure capacity of brave nonprofits and philanthropies.

Immediately prior to founding Build Up Advisory Group®, Nic was the Senior Director of Operations and Foundation Counsel for Dalio Philanthropies, the philanthropy of Ray Dalio, where she was responsible for the Philanthropies’ infrastructure build-out, management of the Philanthropies’ legal affairs, and programmatic leadership of the Philanthropies’ China portfolio of grants.

Immediately prior to joining Dalio Philanthropies, she was the Deputy General Counsel and Secretary for the Open Society Foundations, where she was responsible for providing strategic legal, governance, grant-making, and operational advice to the global network of over 35 charitable organizations and foundations created by George Soros.

Nic is frequently asked to lecture and speak at professional meetings and conferences in various regions around the world, including the Caribbean, West, East, and Southern Africa, Europe, and throughout the United States, on a variety of topics impacting the social sector, including philanthropy trends, governance, and grant making.

Nic is passionate about using her legal training, operations and strategy expertise, and knowledge of nonprofit law to think creatively to transform the way organizations work and learn from their work. Now, on the Nonprofit Build Up podcast, she brings that same dedication and passion to help nonprofits and philanthropies consistently and sustainably support the marginalized and vulnerable communities they serve.

The Nonprofit Build Up provides fundraising and development ideas, program strategy, innovative thinking, organizational structuring, and grant-making policies and practices for the sector to help you transform the way you and your organization work. For nonprofits, securing funding for work and operations, making better grants, designing stronger programs, and strengthening organizational infrastructure can be daunting while also trying to effect change in the communities they serve. And philanthropies can be challenged with how to support their grantees to create sustainable outcomes for the marginalized communities they serve. The bottom line is if you are struggling with how to build capacity and scale your impact, you are diverting your focus from the communities that need you.

Start the power shift. Here. Now. Join Nonprofit Build Up with A. Nicole Campbell today.

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About A. Nicole Campbell

A. Nicole Campbell specializes in creating peace of mind. She has provided strategic legal, governance, and operational guidance as a senior advisor for two of the world’s most prominent philanthropists, and has spoken on and trained senior management teams and board members in nearly every region of the world in grant making, governance, and organizational design.

With more than fifteen years of experience in the public and private sectors, Nic has deep expertise in designing and building nonprofit organizations from concept phase to full independence and designing innovative organizational, grant-making, and governance structures. For her entire career, she has been a sought-after strategist and thought partner to philanthropists, philanthropies, collaboratives, movements, and nonprofit organizations in the United States, the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and around the world.

Nic is founder of the Build Up Companies, a federated group of companies comprised of Build Up Advisory Group, The Campbell Law Firm, and Build Up, Inc. and focused on transforming outcomes for vulnerable and marginalized communities. She is Chief Executive Officer of Build Up Advisory Group, an advisory firm that specializes in improving governance, grant making, and organizational design for brave philanthropists, philanthropies, movements, and nonprofit organizations to provide them with the structural capacity to deliver on their missions.

She is Managing Partner of The Campbell Law Firm, a boutique law firm that serves as a trusted advisor to brave grant-making nonprofits, movements, philanthropies, and philanthropists to interrupt cycles of injustice and inequity. She is also President of Build Up, Inc., a nonprofit capacity builder that supports leaders of color and incubates and fiscally sponsors charitable projects and organizations that work with under-resourced and invisibilized communities around the world.

Prior to founding the Build Up Companies, Nic was Senior Director of Operations and Foundation Counsel for Dalio Philanthropies, Ray Dalio’s global, multi-million dollar family philanthropy; Deputy General Counsel and Secretary for the Open Society Foundations, George Soros’s global, multi-billion dollar philanthropic network; and Associate General Counsel for the New York Community Trust, a multi-billion dollar community foundation. Prior to her in-house roles, Nic was a tax associate attorney in private practice working with both nonprofit and for-profit clients.

Nic received her B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law, and her LL.M. in Taxation from New York University School of Law.

Read podcast transcription below:

 -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.

Nic Campbell: Hi everyone! Welcome to the first episode of the Nonprofit Build Up Podcast. I’m your host, Nic Campbell. Thank you so much for tuning in, I’m so excited to be launching this podcast and to be in conversation with you.

Nic Campbell: On this first episode, I wanted to do a couple of things. First, I wanted to talk about the purpose of the podcast itself; what it’s all about and what we’ll cover. I also wanted to introduce myself and share the reason why I wanted to do this podcast in the first place. So, what is the Nonprofit Buildup Podcast all about? This podcast is about hearing the diverse voices that comprise the sector – so, hearing from the people who are doing the actual work. They’re not just thinking about it and writing about it; they’re doing those things too but they’re actually in nonprofit organizations, philanthropies, and they’re in the trenches, so to speak. Why is this important? Why does it matter?

Nic Campbell: I think that this practitioner perspective is so critical, because what it does is it allows us to gain insight into things that we would have to work for years, or even sometimes decades, to understand, appreciate, or even experience. Through this podcast, we’ll be able to hear directly from people who are doing the actual work. They’re bringing a really comprehensive way to think about the questions that we’ll be talking through and the issues that we’ll be wrestling with. We get to hear their strategies, their thoughts, and their insights about the sector, nonprofits, philanthropies, and social impact vehicles.

Nic Campbell: I know that there is a lot of conversation happening right now within the sector about social impact vehicles. What are they? They’re not really nonprofits. They’re not philanthropies. How do they fit within the sector? How do we work alongside these organizations? How are philanthropists thinking about incorporating these vehicles into their ecosystem? How are social impact entrepreneurs thinking about working with and using these vehicles? This podcast will be able to tease that out a bit, and make sure that we’re having those conversations, and thinking about how we’re working alongside these vehicles.

Nic Campbell: We’ll also focus on how we can build better, stronger, and faster. I think that there is a real push in the sector to build slowly and steadily – which I can certainly appreciate. But, I think, in 2021, we should realize that we need to build better much, much, faster. I want to think about how we can build faster but do it deliberately and with integrity. I want to hear from people who can put us in conversation about this topic and have us thinking critically about ways that we can build better, stronger, and faster.

Nic Campbell: We’ll also be able to hear how we can make sure that those who have been invisibilized or silenced by the systems and society are able to be heard loudest while we’re problem-solving alongside them.

Nic Campbell: This podcast is also about sharing my experience in the sector. As a person that is exclusively focused on infrastructure, I understand and appreciate the emphasis on programmatic strategy and making sure that you have a strong programmatic strategy to create a strong organization. But I also understand, appreciate, and know that you need a strong infrastructure to support that strategy in order to create a sustainable organization. Being able to talk about infrastructure when we’re talking about creating strong organizations, creating organizations that are sustainable, and organizations that have a tremendous impact in the communities that they’re serving, is extremely important to me.

Nic Campbell: I want to make sure this podcast enables us to have those kinds of conversations and we’re not thinking about infrastructure as an afterthought.

This podcast is also about sharing my experience as a black woman in the sector – working in and with nonprofits and philanthropies – and my experience as an immigrant. All of these experiences come to bear on how I view nonprofits, philanthropies, social impact vehicles and who’s building them, who’s not building them, who’s been excluded, and how we can be more inclusive.

Nic Campbell: I want to hear from people with diverse perspectives who are not the typical voices you’re hearing all the time in the sector. That’s so that we can challenge ourselves, learn from each other, share our thoughts, and showcase best practices. I also want to focus on the nonprofit sector around the world. There is a real emphasis on the United States when you hear about nonprofit podcasts, and I can appreciate that. I am a U.S. practitioner and I work with U.S. nonprofits and philanthropies, but I also work very closely with organizations that are outside of the United States. So, I want to think about how we build organizations, institutions, practices, strategies, and capacity globally.

Nic Campbell: I want us to understand that when we are building capacity of nonprofits and philanthropies in the United States, how does that impact the building of capacity in the Caribbean, for example? The more we think about how this sector can be aligned, the stronger it can become. Capacity building within different regions around the world: when those things are aligned, when best practices are aligned to the extent that they can be – we are creating a stronger nonprofit sector, stronger organizations, and creating more sustainable impact.

Nic Campbell: So, you might be thinking: “Wow, these are a lot of topics. This is really interesting. These are exactly the kinds of things I’d love to be talking about and I’m really excited about this podcast.” But you might also be having the question of: “Well, who is this woman who will be leading this dialogue and facilitating these conversations?”

Nic Campbell: I’m the Founder and CEO of the Build Up Companies which is comprised of Build Up Advisory Group – an advisory firm that focuses on strengthening the infrastructure of nonprofits and philanthropies.

Nic Campbell: So, what that really means is that we spend all of our time focused on strengthening governance, grant-making, and structuring of organization. So, making sure that they have compliance capacity, that they’re structured the right way, and they’re set up to do their best work. That their grant-making allows their organizational values to show through in the processes that they have, money is getting out of the door really quickly to those who need it, and their governance structures – their board – is set up in such a way that they’re providing the necessary oversight for the organization’s strategy, their people, and to make sure that they’re set up sustainably.

Nic Campbell: The other company that’s within the Build Up Companies is the Campbell Law Firm, and that is a law firm that works only with nonprofits and philanthropies to make sure that they are getting the legal guidance, advice, and counsel that they need. They’re doing it in a way where they’re in partnership with their counsel as opposed to being transactional.

Nic Campbell: Then finally, is Build Up, Inc., which is a nonprofit fiscal sponsor working with grassroots projects and initiatives around the globe that are focused on supporting vulnerable and marginalized communities. So, all of these companies comprise Build Up Companies, and at the end of the day, are focused on strengthening nonprofits, philanthropies, and social impact entrepreneurs.

Nic Campbell: We essentially work with brave nonprofits and philanthropies that are trying to problem solve alongside vulnerable and marginalized communities. The concept of bravery is core to our work. Bravery, as we see it, is the ability to authentically create your infrastructure and strategy so that the voices of the marginalized communities that you’re serving are heard loudest. I’ve worked in and with nonprofits, philanthropies, foundations, public charities, social welfare organizations as that entity is known in the United States – so these are the 501(c)(4)’s. I’ve worked literally with nonprofits, foundations, and philanthropies around the globe.

Nic Campbell: I have seen the way infrastructure has been built in different regions. I have seen how strategy plays with infrastructure and understand that capacity is needed to do our best work. So, I’m on a mission to make sure that infrastructure is part of our everyday conversation when we’re talking about capacity building for nonprofit organizations. I’m also on a mission to create more general support awards.

Nic Campbell: The more flexible funding that is awarded to nonprofits, the more they have the ability to do their work. I’m also a big proponent of including technical assistance and support with that general support award. I don’t think that you just give a bunch of money to anyone – to any organization without also saying, “Here is the additional support and capacity to be able to use that money in the best way.” I think providing additional support is always a great thing.

Nic Campbell: I also want to push innovation in grant-making and structuring. Innovation is not only present or needed in programmatic strategy; you also need it in your grant-making and the way your organization is structured. I want flexibility to be a given in the sector, as you can see, and the work that nonprofits and philanthropies do. My vision is to create 100 big, bettable grassroots organizations by 2025. So, let’s start to place our bets on these organizations that are community-based, community-led, and are closest to the problem and the solution.

Nic Campbell: I believe that if we can create more big, bettable grassroots organizations – these organizations that are smaller but they get huge grant awards that are flexible, they come with technical assistance and support – that we can change the world.

Nic Campbell: Once we have organizations that are grassroots and are big bets, we can interrupt cycles of injustice and inequity. I am so excited to keep this conversation going. It’s incredibly important and necessary. Thank you so much for listening to our very first episode and I’ll talk with you soon.

-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