Meet Amanda

Tuesday June 16, 2020 comments Tags: Infrastructure, Systems, Accounting, Nonprofit

Chyla Graham (00:06):

Any accounting, business or tax advice in this here podcast is not intended as a thorough in depth analysis of your specific issues. It's not a substitute for a formal opinion. It is not good enough to avoid tax related penalties. Got to tell you this because don't want y'all coming for me. Back to the episode.  Hey, it's Chyla Graham. Welcome to season three of the Nonprofit Nuggets Podcast. This season is going to be about infrastructure and systems. You know, the things I love. I'll be talking to some friends and you get to hear their interviews spread out over time. Because as you know, we keep these things short and sweet, but for those of you who want a little bit more in depth, and you're like, I'd rather listen to them all at one time, head over to our website for the full interview.

This episode of the podcast is brought to you by my upcoming workshop, Building Infrastructure for Your Nonprofit on Tuesday, June 30th at 10:00 AM Mountain. I am ready to talk to you about what it's going to take to build a successful nonprofit. The website for registration will be in the notes. Stay tuned for my conversation with Amanda Wallander Roberts of Capacity Building Consulting. I think you're in for a treat and I'm super excited to hear your feedback. Hey Amanda, thank you for joining us today on the Nonprofit Nuggets Podcast. For those of you who are joining in today, Amanda Wallander Roberts is the Chief Consultant, CEO, brain operator of Capacity Building Consulting. I'm super excited to have her here. Amanda, why don't you tell a little bit about yourself?

Amanda Wallander Roberts (01:44):

Yeah, that's awesome. Thank you so much for having me on this podcast. I'm really excited to get to share some of my information and insights with the group. A little bit about me. I am a social worker and so I started off working in nonprofits, really underfunded and understaffed. We didn't evaluate our programs. So some days, you know, I was working with youth aging out of the foster care system. Some days I was wondering, are we really even helping? I don't have any evidence to know for sure one way or another. So after that experience, seeing a lot of my colleagues just burn out straight out of school, I thought we really could be doing a better job in nonprofits of getting enough staff and enough funding, um, evaluation practices to really support the people who are providing these amazing services in the community to really support us internally, not only to feel better as staff members, but also to do our jobs better. So that's, that's why I got into consulting. 

Chyla Graham (02:41):

No, that's, that is great information because I think that's the part that most people don't really know is that so many of the consultants come from that background. We're like, Oh, we've seen it. And we know it can be done better. Yeah. I don't know. Like part of the branching out into consulting is like, I want to test this out to see if it's just in my head and can I prove that this actually works. So can you tell us a little bit about what you do? So we got a little bit about you and that you're a social worker. We know that there's evaluations, but what exactly does Capacity Building Consulting do?

Amanda Wallander Roberts (03:25):

So we work with organization. I mean, just like our name says to build capacity. So, um, whether that's in fundraising or evaluation, those are two primary areas. We really work with clients to coach them and really be in charge of their organization's fundraising and their organization's evaluation and learn how to do it themselves. So that's everything from the planning pieces to the implementation, to all of that reporting for grants, for individual donors, fundraising for, um, evaluation, logic models, those kinds of things, surveys, you name it. But at the end of the day, our goal is making sure nonprofits are set up so that they don't have to rely on a consultant to help them with evaluation or fundraising, except for, you know, every, every so often, occasionally you might want to bring someone else in, but really they're in charge of it. They know how to do it themselves.

Chyla Graham (04:21):

I love that idea. I'm very big on, can I give you this information so that you can rely on yourself? That's one of the reasons I love talking to you and being like, Hey, let's hear a little bit more. Is that surprising though, when you work with nonprofits, are they surprised that you're like, I'm going to step away from this at some point?

Amanda Wallander Roberts (04:43):

Yes. Um, yes. They are often very surprised, especially when it comes to things like grant writing. They're like, Oh, can we just get someone to do this for us? Like, let's just farm this out. And I'm like, you know what? It's more efficient and effective. Um, not just cost wise, but the return on your investment, if you learn how to do it in house. And then when you're starting to apply for like huge major federal grants or, you know, really upping your grand scheme to hire someone on staff. Cause someone internally is going to know what's going on day to day and it's going to be able to better prepare an application that's accurate for your organization, but they're like, wait, I thought you would just do it for us forever. And I'm like, Nope, if we're going to, if we're going to sign this contract together, there's an exit strategy where you know how to do it yourself.

Chyla Graham (05:29):

Yeah. I definitely come across they would be just like you, aren't going to just sort of like, we're going to help you so that when this isn't an option, at some point you want to go back capacity to say, we're going to hire someone, right. When your knowledge lies with someone else.

Amanda Wallander Roberts (05:48):

And it's like, great. Well, and it's so sad to see nonprofits paying so much money because that's just not a longterm strategy. It's not a longterm solution to pay someone externally to do these things that could be in house. So it makes sense for a little while, while you're learning how to do it while you're figuring it out. Um, but not for, not for two, three years.

Chyla Graham (06:11):

So I guess right along that is like, how does, how do organizations best maximize their time with you?

Amanda Wallander Roberts (06:18):

Well, um, recently I've been putting the information that I coach my one-on-one clients with into online trainings, um, because a lot of organizations can learn things on their own and just get some like group coaching or smaller feedback sessions, especially organizations who can't afford to have that one on one time. And so really my online programs are what I'm building out to be the most efficient and effective way to work with me. And that's really important to me because I think it's important that this kind of information is accessible, but also I've noticed when organizations just take one online training after another, you know, those one hour free workshops, it's like, Oh good, you've got some great tips and tricks. That's super helpful, but you don't have a strategy. Find your fundraising behind your evaluation. You don't have a strategy. So I would say, yeah, working, working with me online.

Chyla Graham (07:16):

The way of the future, yes. You mentioned something there. They don't have a strategy behind their fundraising behind their evaluation. So it made me think of strategic planning. And is that something that you help them with or what comes to mind for you when you hear we're doing a strategic plan?

Amanda Wallander Roberts (07:38):

I'm like, yay, congratulations, good for you. Two thumbs up. I will help you if that's something that you're needing. I'm a huge proponent of strategic planning. I've done several sessions with different organizations. And so if that's, you know, the step back we need to take in order to prepare, because I don't want you fundraising, if you don't even know where your organization is going and I don't really want you evaluating, if you have no idea what programs you're going to have. And so I feel like, yeah, that's absolutely foundational piece. Strategic planning is super important and something that we also offer.

Chyla Graham (08:12):

Okay. I always think of, Oh, we're doing a strategic plan. And I'm like, yeah, how long it becomes my question. I'm just like, are you thinking like five years? Are you thinking like three years? Cause I've definitely seen an organization like this is our 20 year plan. And I'm like, Whoa, how much can happen in 20 years?

Amanda Wallander Roberts (08:33):

Goodness. If people had planned a strategic plan 20 years ago and today is 2020, my goodness, the world is just such a different place. No, I've never heard of 20 year. I have heard of three to five year. That's where I try and stay in that range.

Chyla Graham (08:49):

Yeah. I was just like, ah, I'm not really sure that this is the best use of your time.

Amanda Wallander Roberts (08:55):

The one year plan. I also think on the other end, it's like, no, let's, let's shoot a little bit further out. That's more of an action plan than a strategic plan. If you're just focusing on one year.

Chyla Graham (09:06):

That is a good differentiator and action plan versus a strategic plan. Gotta keep that in mind.

Was that too short? Were you looking for more head over to our website to hear the full episode of my interview with Amanda? Otherwise you'll get weekly doses of our conversation. Check out our show notes for a way to contact Amanda, talk to you next week. Bye.


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