The Nonprofit Hero Factory Episode 27

The nonprofit funding landscape continues to shift in response to the changing landscape in the pandemic and post-pandemic era. At the same time, there is a growing digital divide between those that are quickly adapting and adopting new strategies and those that are in danger of losing the ability to achieve their mission.

Elizabeth Ngonzi, founder and CEO of the International Social Impact Institute joins Boris this week to talk about how some nonprofits are staying ahead of the changes and new opportunities to connect with communities and funders alike. We also discuss how LinkedIn is fast becoming a critical platform for nonprofits, and how professionals can improve their skill sets to help their organizations and themselves.

 

Webinar Summary – Digital Fundraising: Best Practices to Boost Your End of Year Campaign

August 25th, 2021The Blackbaud Institute’s 2020 Charitable Giving Report, which tracks $40 billion in giving, indicates that over the last three years growth in overall philanthropic giving has only been 5%, whereas online giving has grown by a remarkable 32%. Given the growing importance of online philanthropy, organizations must adapt by learning to craft compelling stories and develop thoughtful and data-driven strategies for delivering messaging to the right audience on the right platform. New York University’s new Digital Fundraising certificate program offers just the right tools to equip individuals, nonprofits and other organizations to utilize the digital space in their fundraising efforts – tapping into the growing online giving platform. 

Webinar Overview

On August 19th, Liz Ngonzi, adjunct assistant professor in the Center for Global Affairs at New York University, hosted a webinar launching the new certificate program alongside fellow program faculty members Cheryl Gentry, Boris Kievsky, Kathleen Murphy Toms and Dane Wiseman. The program, which is housed within the Heyman Program for Fundraising and Philanthropy in the Center for Global Affairs at NYU’s School of Professional Studies, was developed in recognition of the increase in virtual learning, work, and socializing brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and, more generally, in recognition of the central role of digital fundraising in enabling nonprofit organizations to inspire, engage, and catalyze both new and existing supporters.

Best Practices

The launch event hosted by Liz and her colleagues included a lively conversation addressing “Best Practices to Boost Your End of Year Campaign,” in which the program faculty shared a number of useful tips with webinar participants.  

Cheryl Gentry, who will co-teach the course on “Virtual Events and Fundraising” with Liz, cautioned virtual event organizers against treating audience members as “second class citizens”. She advised making an appropriate investment of time (including rehearsal time) and resources in order to ensure that sponsors, donors and other attendees have the best possible event experience.

Boris Kievsky, who will teach “Developing High-Impact Websites for Nonprofits,” advised that nonprofits place emphasis on their story and on guiding their audience through it. The content of the story, and how effectively it is told, are more important than the platform on which it is being presented.

To encourage donors and supporters to prioritize their interactions with nonprofit organizations, Kathleen Murphy Toms, who will teach “Social Media and Email Fundraising,” recommended that those organizations send out calendar invitations and reminders to their supporters. “If it’s not on my calendar, it’s not happening,” she emphasized.  

Dane Wiseman, who will teach “Social Media Marketing Analytics,” pointed out how crucial the use of data analytics and dashboards (websites, social media, etc.) are for nonprofits and other organizations. He emphasized that they can help organizations identify the peak days and times when different audience groups are engaging with specific content – helping nonprofits maximize the consumption of that content. 

To close out the discussion, Liz Ngonzi, who teaches “Digital Storytelling, Innovation and Fundraising,” advised listeners: “Don’t do what you can’t measure!” She encouraged the audience to set specific and measurable goals for their fundraising efforts and to track their progress, outputs, and impacts. 

Webinar Takeaways

Finally, listeners were polled and asked to identify what they regarded as key lessons of the webinar.  Based on 41 poll responses (presented graphically in the word cloud below), the audience’s top three takeaways were: 

  1. Send Calendar Invites to Donors – to prepare them to support the organization’s Giving Tuesday campaign
  2. Rehearse – to ensure smooth flow of your virtual event
  3. Recruit Among Millennials – and engage them as co-creators, not just as donors.

 

Click on this LINK to watch the full webinar and click this LINK to learn about and register for the new Professional Certificate Program in Digital Fundraising.  You can also access resources provided by the speakers below.

Resources Shared by Speakers:

Boris Kievsky

Nonprofit Digital Strategist – dotorgStrategy

Course:  Developing High-Impact Websites for Nonprofits

Resources

 

Cheryl Gentry 

Founder & CEO – Glow Global Events

Course: Virtual Events and Fundraisers

Resources

  

Dane Wiseman 

Chief Marketing Officer – CyberFunnel

Course: Social Media Marketing Analytics

Resources

 

Kathleen Murphy Toms

Director, Digital Strategy – Giving Tuesday

Course:  Social Media and Email Fundraising

Resources

 

Elizabeth Ngonzi, CFRE

Panel Moderator

Founder & CEOThe International Social Impact Institute 

Course: Digital Storytelling, Innovation and Fundraising

Resources

Why Learning How to Tell Your Story Can Help You Align Your Purpose and Your Paycheck

Over the last year of remote work, Zoom school, and simply trying to stay healthy, many of us have been wondering about our careers, and about whether our current job allows us to be the best version of ourselves – for ourselves, for our families, and for our communities.  Some of us have lost the jobs and titles that seemed to define us and are reflecting on career issues as a matter of necessity.  But the solitude and isolation that we all experienced has brought up, even for many whose careers seemingly remain on track, questions like “What is my purpose?” and “Could I earn a paycheck in a way that enables me to fulfill that purpose?”

I have been in the position of asking similar questions at various stages of my life.  In my first job after undergrad, as a Marketing Specialist at Digital Equipment Corporation, I saw colleagues with 20+ years of experience caught up in a mass layoff through no fault of their own.  Several years later, the apparently solid and stable consulting firm that employed me was completely shuttered owing to its association with a major corporate scandal.  During the 2009 economic downturn, my own consulting business abruptly lost 60 percent of its client base.  Most recently, I found myself pondering these questions when I came to realize that my purpose had evolved beyond the executive role that I had held for four years with a particular nonprofit organization.

At each of those turning points, I took stock of my situation – seeking inspiration from a favorite author, guidance from a mentor, enrolling in a seminar, or working with a coach – and spent some time assessing my strengths and weaknesses, where I wanted to go and how I might get there.  I also thought through how to re-position myself for my desired career move: by refreshing my resume and LinkedIn profile, of course, but also by generating content to support my new positioning, by seeking out speaking opportunities to build visibility in the new conversations that I wanted to participate in, and by re-sharing older material that I had written or in which I had been quoted.

The last time I began such a process was in 2018.  At that time, I observed that many people had been seeking me out for career guidance and for assistance with their LinkedIn profiles and with matters related to their careers, businesses, or organizations.  Looking through the content that I had created over many years, I realized that everything I had done throughout my career – from working as a Marketing Specialist in the information technology industry to teaching nonprofit leaders about Digital Storytelling at New York University – had always been about helping others to tell their stories for maximum effect.  That realization led me to form two new businesses.  Through the first of these entities, called Liz Ngonzi Transforms, I work with leaders looking to clarify their purpose, develop their story and communicate it effectively to stakeholders such as clients, partners, investors and potential employers.  Through the second, called The International Social Impact Institute, I assemble teams of trusted collaborators to deliver training, consulting services and events that are meant to amplify the voices and impact of purpose-driven leaders from historically marginalized communities – enabling them to clarify, develop and share their stories with stakeholders such as prospective funders, partners, and employees.

I would like to inspire you to undertake a similar process of clarifying, developing and sharing your story with the goal of aligning your purpose and your paycheck.

Find out more here.

Learn About My Services

Coaching Speaking & Training

Mother’s Day Tribute: Avoid “Dream Killers”

10 years ago, I wrote a piece for Leading-Women.com (as part of its Personal Heros series), honoring my mom, Hilda Rwabazaire Paqui, an amazing Ugandan-born global citizen, who has been a mother, mentor, inspiration and advocate for many, during her lifetime.

I wrote the piece to share her story, because of how she is the embodiment of the African Woman of Distinction whom people seldom hear about and from whose wisdom many can potentially benefit. While the piece was written ten years ago, the timeless wisdom still applies and could be helpful to those who are seeking to improve their engagement with their stakeholders (e.g., clients, customers, students, employees), understand their purpose, and thereby increase their impact.

How to Align Your Purpose and Paycheck to Build a Career with Social Impact in 2021 and Beyond

As we close out what has been a challenging and in many respects, an eye-opening year, you may be wondering about how to align your desire to make a difference in our world, with your need to earn a living in 2021 and beyond.

Last week, I had the honor of speaking on the Cornell University alumni panel, Purpose and Paychecks: Building a Career with Social Impact on how to align one’s purpose and one’s paycheck with Lauren Braun, MScPH (founder of Alma Sana Inc.) and Dan Schiff (Assistant Director of Institutional Development at Martha’s Table), and moderated by Mike Bishop (Director for Student Leadership in the Cornell University Office of Engagement Services).

This Cornell Alumni News article, Finding Your North Star: Aligning Your Purpose and Your Paycheck, highlights what we shared about our individual journeys, as well as resources we provided to the 175 webinar attendees.

Below are quotes from each of us (also included in the article) that might be helpful as you think about your own journey:

  • My advice on the importance of proactively sharing your story – a key element of your personal brand that helps to facilitate your career pivots, “By not sharing your story with others, you’re actually depriving those who could potentially be inspired by, partner with, or hire you, of the opportunity to learn about what you uniquely bring into this world. The failure to share your accomplishments, though it may be inspired by humility, is actually an act of selfishness.”
  • Dan Schiff on how to pivot into a social sector career: “Find a way to volunteer, write a blog, or do whatever enables you to tell a new story about yourself that allows you to pivot”.
  • Lauren Braun’s advice for those considering a career pivot, “Don’t be afraid to challenge what you think you wanted and what you think it says about you and your values. We want and need different things at different stages of our lives. It’s ok to change your mind—that’s how we evolve.”

As I also shared on the panel, one does not necessarily have to leave a corporate job to create social impact. Here are two of my presentation slides providing the spectrum of organizations and funders that provide opportunities to do so.

Finally, in this eCornell Keynote presentation, Your Personal Brand: Leveraging Your Unique Knowledge and Experience that I recorded earlier this year (LINK), I provide strategies and tactics to help you think through how to develop your own impact-driven journey, as well as develop your personal brand.

Finding Your North Star: Aligning Your Purpose and Your Paycheck

Elizabeth (Liz) Ngonzi MMH ’98 is founder and CEO of The International Social Impact Institute™, which is currently developing training programs and events to help non-governmental organizations in under-resourced communities in the U.S. and around the world rebound from the pandemic.

“Now is the right time for all of us to get involved and engaged,” she says. “What’s seemingly impossible is possible if you focus on what you want to do and why you’re doing it. You are able to create a lot of change.”

“You don’t necessarily need to leave your corporate job to have a social impact,” Liz says. “There is a spectrum of organizations you can get involved with.” She notes that these include existing non-profits, such as Cornell University, for-profit corporations with a social impact mission, such as Patagonia, and funders, such as foundations and venture philanthropy organizations.

How This iSchool Alum Uses Digital Skills For Social Impact

If there’s anything you should know about Liz Ngonzi (’92), it’s that she’s bold, she’s courageous, and she’s devoted her life to strengthening the social impact ecosystem around the globe.

But her path to a career as a social entrepreneur, educator, and international speaker didn’t take the direction you might expect.

It’s true that Liz has always been a bit of an entrepreneur. By the time she was 14 years old, she had created a babysitting service and scaled to at least six different client families. It was a “baby empire,” as she describes it.

When she came to Syracuse University in 1988, however, she didn’t major in business. Instead, she started out in visual and performing arts. About mid-way through her freshman year, a mentor introduced her to the iSchool. She was hooked and decided to transfer in the following semester.

“I barely knew how to type!” Liz said, “[But] I loved the fact that you could solve problems with technology and information.”

In 1992, the year Liz graduated, the country was in the midst of a recession. While many of her peers took jobs waiting tables just to get by, she graduated with five job offers in hand. She started receiving some of them as early as the fall of her senior year and credits the real-world skills learned in her major with making her stand out in a struggling economy.

Liz ended up taking a job in marketing with Digital Equipment Corporation, the legendary computer company founded by Ken Olson and Harlan Anderson. They had recruited her as one of 16 people nationwide for their exclusive Marketing Development Program, a rotational program which exposed her to areas such as aerospace marketing, corporate communications and sales. Following that, she worked in B2B sales for MICROS Systems Inc., the leading provider of hospitality Point of Sales Systems in the world, where she learned about the hospitality industry through her clients, ranging from independent restaurants to amusement parks.

Program Empowers Aspiring Black Entrepreneurs

Startup founders who are black receive less than 1% of venture capital funding annually, according to research from Crunchbase, Kauffman Institute and CB Insights.

Cornell’s Black Entrepreneurs in Training (BET) – founded in the spring of 2018 as a student club to inspire and inform black student entrepreneurs – is aiming to change that through the establishment of workshops, guest speakers and entrepreneurial mentorship.

BET, which runs from October to April, aims to increase the participation of students of color in Cornell’s entrepreneurship ecosystem and generate an active and visible group of black alumni who’ve founded successful companies. Each fall, the program accepts students of color who are passionate about entrepreneurship, and offers networking events and workshops.

“Connecting our BET participants with successful alumni is an invaluable learning experience, and enables them to envision their future as startup leaders,” BET co-founder Jehron Petty ’20 said.

Petty – with co-founders Ansumana Bangura ’20 and Julia Reeves ’20 – reached out to Andrea Ippolito ’06, M.Eng. ’07, lecturer in Cornell’s Engineering Management Program and program director of W.E. Cornell to establish a partnership with the Center for Regional Economic Advancement, which would allow the program to grow after the founders graduate.

What I learned Chimp Trekking in Uganda—Everything is Teachable!

Indeed it is, as stated by the t-shirt I fortuitously chose to wear that morning after Thanksgiving!

I came, I was conquered by nature, I retreated and regrouped, and then I conquered my fears!

As part of my Thanksgiving trip to Uganda, I had the great fortune of visiting Queen Elizabeth National Park in the Western part of the country where my family originates.

During this awe-inspiring trip through which we saw lots of elephants, a leopard and several other mammals and birds during a game drive and boat ride, the most memorable activity of all was the 3+ hours we spent chimp trekking in Kalinzu Forest Reserve.

What started out as an adventure to accompany my partner on his bucket list experience to observe chimps in their natural habitat, turned into a series of teachable moments!

The trekking experience definitely taught me a great deal about myself and reminded me about the importance of trust, perseverance, humility, humor, bravery, positive thinking, the power of setting short-term goals in order to accomplish big ones, and asking for and accepting support.

Teaching Why Storytelling, “Tribes”​ and Diversification Are Critical to Entrepreneurs!

I had the honor of returning to my alma mater, Cornell University, to address and advise the first official cohort of Cornell Black Entrepreneurs in Training. This was one of several events planned by the organizers to “stimulate creative ideation and problem solving,” as part of a program whose ultimate vision includes preparing black entrepreneurs to found startups focused on some of “today’s most pertinent problems.”

I was there to teach the participants about self-awareness, finding purpose and founder-opportunity fit, defining and developing one’s story, finding one’s “tribe”, and navigating the business (nonprofit to for-profit) and funding (donations to equity investments) model spectrum and the plethora of programs (e.g. incubators, accelerators and fellowships) through which one might develop a new venture.

The members range from undergrads to professional and graduate students, and the majority are studying engineering, with a few in business and science majors.

What became evident to me after spending time with these extraordinary students — both while leading the workshop and while meeting with them one on one during office hours — is that we all need the occasional reminder of our own greatness and a framework for sharing our visions and stories in a manner that honors our unique gifts and identities.

They are working on some awesome venture ideas that address real gaps in the market.

I can’t wait to see what’s to come next semester when they begin working on their Minimum Viable Products (#MVP).

No matter which professions the cohort participants ultimately choose, having an entrepreneurial mindset and approach to problem solving is critical to achieving success in any area. And even if they do not choose to pursue their startup ventures on a full-time basis, the participants might reasonably continue working on those ventures as supplementary/alternative revenue sources. As I’ve learned repeatedly over the years from various contributors to Black Enterprise Magazine, it is wise to lay the groundwork for a diversity of revenue streams, including at least one “side-hustle” that can be developed into its own full-time business.

Learn more about Cornell Black Entrepreneurs in Training: https://crea.cornell.edu/project/black-entrepreneurs-in-training/

Elizabeth Ngonzi Leads Discussion about “The African Female Executive”

As part of the Wharton Africa Student Association’s WASA Wednesdays series, Elizabeth Ngonzi, former CEO of Afrika Tikkun USA, led a discussion titled “The African Female Executive.” The event, a collaboration between WASA and WWIB, was organized to learn about the experience of a woman of color in business and discuss strategies for career advancement. The 90-minute interactive session delved into various themes including, expanding your network and building relationships, cultivating varied interests, and establishing your personal brand from the perspective of a woman in business, especially from a woman of color. At the start of the program, as students listened over their plates of jollof and plantain, Ms. Ngonzi quickly turned the event into an interactive discussion. After sharing an anecdote about an exchange with a boss at a prior job, she said to the room, I’d like to hear about your experiences. Students quickly raised their hands, keen to share their individual stories as women and men of color in business. Various questions were raised about maintaining your identity at work, assertiveness without being labeled “pushy”, and relating to coworkers in predominantly male industries.

7th Annual African Diaspora Awards

Applause Africa presented the seventh annual African Diaspora Awards ceremony at Florence Gould Hall in New York City. These awards recognize significant achievements in social justice, entrepreneurism, arts and humanities by Africans living in diaspora. The event both celebrates the diversity of this inherently multinational gathering, and also the unity that is possible among Africans, regardless of origin and background. As impressive as the individual honorees were—and they were truly impressive—it was equally powerful to see movers and shakers from Nigeria, Ghana, Congo, Kenya, Senegal, Zimbabwe and beyond celebrating one another in a spirit of unity and camaraderie. Indeed, the theme of the 2017 gathering was “Building Unity,” suggesting that for all the unity this unique process has nurtured, the work continues.

This was a glamorous affair, with a nearly packed house of beautifully turned-out attendees, a red carpet reception before hand, and a fast paced stage ceremony that featured introductory speakers for each award, a DJ, two hosts and four live music performances—not to mention the actual honorees, each of whom spoke briefly and movingly.

40 0ver 40: Liz Ngonzi Uses her Super Powers to Solve the World’s Problems

Elizabeth Ngonzi has superpowers. She can listen to others and recall even the smallest details. This allows her to be an idea making machine, a force to be reckoned with in the nonprofit industry. She is  the CEO of the North American operations of Afrika Tikkun, a nonprofit that serves underprivileged communities in South Africa. Her work through Afrika Tikkun has revolutionized solutions to the problems that plague the world.

GIBS Business School Interview in South Africa: Elizabeth Ngonzi , CEO of Afrika Tikkun USA

Elizabeth Ngonzi is the CEO of Afrika Tikkun USA, the US affiliate of Afrika Tikkun, a South African NGO which assists more than 19,000 of today’s disadvantaged youth. Here she advises other NGO’s on how to raise funding and meet their strategic goals.

University of Limpopo South Africa Announcement: Brand Management Strategies with USA Businesswoman: Elizabeth Ngonzi

The University of Limpopo R40 Conference Hall was packed with students who were eager to learn about strategies of becoming successful entrepreneurs from an international renowned business woman, Elizabeth Ngonzi -Chair of an International NGO Africa Tikkun USA. Her visit is part of the IIP program run by United States of America Embassy in South Africa.

By the end of her presentation, students were able to:

  • Understand of what makes a brand;
  • Grasp how digital footprints shape virtual brands;
  • Tips to manage  virtual brand;
  • Examples of how to curate the virtual brand  needed to successfully pursue  goals; and
  • Means to measure  virtual brand reach.

According to Elizabeth, Social Media platforms are the best tools to use, especially when you are just starting to promote your brand. Touching on the element of a brand, she quoted Maya Angelou when she said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” In a nutshell, be careful how you position your corporate identity – brand reputation.

In this regard, students were encouraged to build a strong virtual brand that will create  positive digital footprints.  If one is to post any violating information, images and videos online; that could have a negative impact and could ruin their reputation in the future. Nowadays people, organizations or companies use online searches to verify your information and learn more about you.

Elizabeth was born in Uganda and raised in the United Nation. She is an inspirational speaker, entrepreneur and an education activist. Her organization focuses mostly on developing disadvantaged youth in the fields of TRADE and Innovation, Entrepreneurship etc.

GIBS Business School South Africa Event Announcement:

GIBS welcomes Ms. Elizabeth Ngonzi, CEO of Afrika Tikkun, USA, lecturer in fundraising at New York City’s Heyman Centre for Philanthropy and Fundraising, and Entrepreneur in Residence at Cornell University, for a limited-seat breakfast event that aims to unpack the mysterious art of Fundraising: exploring international trends and new ways of doing things.

Fundraising is a mysterious profession – is it charisma and personal networks that brings money to an organization? Or is it a series of complex processes that govern proposal writing, event and donation management? South Africa’s recent status as a Upper Middle Income Country shows confidence that the country can fund its civil society. But service delivery non-profits are at best subsidized by governments, and our individual and corporate donor base remains small and driven by compliance.

The session will explore:

  • What is happening globally in the world of fundraising?
  • How are these changes going to impact South Africa (if at all?)
  • Introducing technology and fundraising – creating a global base of supporters for your local project
  • What do you need to change? If anything at all?
  • What are your responsibilities to your donors? And your
    stakeholders?
  • Do we really suffer from a lack of money, or it is a lack of ideas to deliver new approaches to social change?
  • Why is social entrepreneurship touted as a new way for sustainability?