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nonprofit sector role models with Jarrett Ransom

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“What am I doing in modeling for future leaders? I firmly believe everyone is a leader. Everyone has that ability just innately from birth. And so what are we doing to support the next leaders of the community, of the nonprofit sector in particular? - Jarrett Ransom


Join our conversation with Jarrett Ransom, known as The Nonprofit Nerd. We reflect on the legacy that we would want to leave behind in the nonprofit sector, which led to a discussion of the mindsets we don’t want to pass on, and how we can overcome these.


  1. The responsibility of teaching the next generation of nonprofit professionals

  2. Why investing in people is so important for our sector (and why we’re bad at it)

  3. Shifting to an abundance perspective



[00:00:00] Cindy: So if you've been following me or listening to the podcast— or if you've read the book, my book— you will know that mindset plays such a huge role in our daily behaviors and decisions. And specifically what gets repeated to us over and over in sort of our formative years becomes our lens for our reality or a lens for our truth.

[00:00:25] And today I'm really excited to start to dive into not just our reality, but how we're role modeling the reality for the next generation of nonprofit workers and professionals. Because what we say to them over and over and over again becomes their reality. And when you think of that responsibility, it's a big one.

[00:00:55] I'm your host, Cindy Wagman. And you're listening to the Small Nonprofit Podcast where we bring you practical down to earth advice on how to get more done for your small organization. You're gonna change the world. We're just here to help.

[00:01:08] So today's guest is Jarrett Ransom and Jarrett is known as "the nonprofit nerd", which I love. She's also the cohost of The Nonprofit Show which if you haven't checked out, you absolutely need to, they have a huge library of episodes and continue to produce more, highly recommend. And of course, personal note about Jared is she loves visiting national parks with her son. Jarrett welcome to the podcast.

[00:01:39] Jarrett: Thank you so much, Cindy. It is fantastic to be here. Love any of these conversations. When you and I first connected as we even said today, before we got started, we have a lot in common and I just love your energy, your vibe. It just feels really comfortable in a really good, like welcome home kind of way.

[00:02:01] And I just love that you're out doing such great work in the world and I'm honored to, to be beside you as we do this.

[00:02:08] Cindy: Well, thank you and likewise. I would say all the same things and I'm so excited for this conversation because I do feel like both of us are at a point in our careers where we've done a lot of the work we've been on the like, you know, front lines of fundraising and stuff.

[00:02:24] And we're both consulting now and we're thinking a lot about our legacy to the sector. And that sounds a little bit like heavy, but what does the next chapter for us look like? What are we doing? What are we actively doing to create the sector of the future that we love and, and wanna, what changes do we wanna make? And that's sort of, I mean, we could truly talk about anything, but I think that's been on both our minds.

[00:02:53] Jarrett: That is a deep subject. And as you just went through that chills from head to toe in my body, literally. My whole, you know, life has been about to be of service. My license plate reads be of service.

[00:03:06] Every time I say that my son who is 11 he's like, mom, you're not supposed to tell people what's on your license plate. I'm like, well, it's hard not to because it literally says be of service.

[00:03:16] Cindy: I love that.

[00:03:16] Jarrett: So to be of service is truly my religion. It's my love language. It's just who I am and what I do. I also, you know, would be hugely remiss if I didn't honor all of the people that had the same mindset, Cindy, that helped me get to where I am today.

[00:03:33] I had phenomenal mentors. Right? Professionally, personally, some that were formal mentors, some that were extremely informal. You know I've gone through the association of fundraising professionals and like all of these different organizations to support me as I grow in my career.

[00:03:53] But you're right. I'm looking at this next chapter one as a parent, right? What am I doing,

modeling to my own child? And then what am I doing in modeling to the future leaders? Which I firmly believe everyone is a leader, right? Like everyone has that ability just innately from birth. And so what are we doing to support the next leaders of, of the community, of the sector in particular, the nonprofit sector?

[00:04:25] So this has been weighing on me and I'm thrilled to nerd out with you about this.

[00:04:29] Cindy: I love it. And I think, you know, we're, we're at similar stages of life. I also, with my kids have been thinking a lot about what are the messages I'm repeating to them.

[00:04:40] And you told me a story about your travel and, and how your, you know, what literally what's coming out of your mouth and how we can shape their experiences through that. Are you, do you wanna share that?

[00:04:53] Jarrett: I would love to share! Yes, thank you. Well, I remember growing up as, you know, a child, obviously that my parents and I will say I'm very grateful, very blessed. I had a beautiful, wonderful, happy childhood.

[00:05:05] However, these money conversations, right? They're seeded and planted at such a young developmental age. So I was literally just in Cabo San Lucas with my son, who's 11. And I have to stop myself from saying, you know, when he wants to order something or buy something, it's like, do not say the words, "that's too expensive."

[00:05:28] Cindy: Mm-hmm.

[00:05:28] Jarrett: Because once he hears that word, I'm planting that value for him. And in particular, this tends to come up when we're at a restaurant, right. And so how dare I tell him what a very basic human need is too much for what he's, he's personally worth. Right? So do I say it on occasion? Absolutely. I'm human. I'm not perfect. But do I, do I become more, more aware? Yes.

[00:05:59] And so, you know, really for me and I was, I was telling a girl friend about this, if I'm not willing to pay for anything on the menu, we need to go to a fast food restaurant. Like I just need to make that option not available.

[00:06:12] Cindy: Yeah. And I love that example because that scarcity of like, you know, trying to calculate all of these, these decisions and things that are going to be, you know, lovely. You're on holiday, you've saved for this. You're, you know, this is the time when you're not supposed to be calculating all those things. I mean, that is the experience of nonprofits. Especially small ones where every, you work so, so hard yet at every decision, especially financial decision, it is the scarcity of like, "I can't afford it."

[00:06:56] And what that really means is our work isn't worth it.

[00:07:01] Jarrett: Right. Yeah. And our work isn't worth it, or, you know, what will this mean in six months? And I, I get it, you know, every, every decision there's consequences. And so you wanna do right by your donors, you wanna steward your dollars properly. I get it. But this scarcity mindset absolutely is something I think Cindy stops us in our tracks, right. It doesn't allow us to think bigger.

[00:07:26] We tend to "shop" if you will, and I'm using the like air quotes for those of you that are listening, with our bank account, not our donors. And so we do, we do a disservice, right. And I think that's, that's something, you know, that, that we should definitely think about.

[00:07:42] I love having prosperity consciousness conversations, right. So it's like, Are you conscious when it comes to your prosperity mindset and it is a mindset, you know, and too often in the nonprofit sector, we also say, you know, well, we can't invest in ourself. Whether that's personal development, professional development.

[00:08:06] I provide executive coaching and I work with clients across the nation. And I hear that all the time as, "I don't know if I can afford this", or "I don't think that my agency would be willing to invest in this", which means what? Like, they're not willing to invest in their staff? So, there's such a deep conversation.

[00:08:27] Cindy: It's, it's so, I hear it too all the time, you know. And again, very often it's placing a value or a lack of value on ourselves or on our work. And going back to that legacy piece, how are we teaching the people around us, the, the next generation of nonprofit professionals that that is the status quo and that we lack that value?

[00:08:57] Jarrett: You know, I think about that all the time. I can't necessarily say every day, but a lot. Right. And so it's like, well, what have I done today or this week to make a dent in that?

[00:09:08] For me, investing in my community is really important. We have here in the states, YNPN. Young Nonprofit Professional Network, where we have so many amazing leaders. You know, I, I also joke Cindy I'm of this age, like somewhere in the forties but when I went to undergrad, it wasn't an option to manage or to, to, secure degree in nonprofit management.

[00:09:34] Cindy: Mm-hmm.

[00:09:34] Jarrett: Literally was not an option.

[00:09:36] Cindy: Yeah.

[00:09:36] Jarrett: So there are now leaders coming up that have mindfully intentionally selected these degrees and invested in their career early in education. I didn't have that opportunity right. But now it exists. So it's more so that we have to do, you know, even more for our legacy.

[00:09:57] I talked about my mentors along my career trajectory. It is my responsibility to do the same, right. It's in camping, you know, I'm a huge camper. Kind of goes along with the whole national park, is leave it better than you got there. So what are we doing? You know, to leave the place, the space, the sector in a better way than it was when we entered. And that's what I want.

[00:10:20] You know, all of us, myself included all of our listeners. What have you done today to leave the sector better than it was when you got here?

[00:10:28] Cindy: And I love that it can be as easy as some self-talk right. Like going back to the work that you do around, like when you're traveling with your family, like what are, and as a coach, like what are some things that, instead of saying, "we can't afford that."

[00:10:45] Jarrett: Yes.

[00:10:45] Cindy: What are some different ways that we can reframe that? And from a more abundance perspective?

[00:10:53] Jarrett: Oh, good question. There, there's a lot of ways, right? And many of them are subtle that don't cost a penny and I mean this. And I, I have invested myself. I've done a lot of professional and personal development.

[00:11:07] One of the things that sticks with me is using powerless words, you know, words like "but". And we've heard a lot lately. It's the "yes and". "Yes and let's consider what this might be", you know. Using words like "just", it's just X amount of dollar take out that powerless word, which is just, including the word think, you know.

[00:11:29] You think or you know? Take out the word "think" because it's powerless. And so it's that mindset subtle shift. But when you can acknowledge those and, and start to catch your own language, your own self talk, then it literally, you know, encapsulates and I'm gonna say, like even creates new cells and, and it reframes the story in our bodies that says, Oh, yes and there is another opportunity.

[00:12:01] Cindy: I love that. Fun fact. I've always wanted fundraising education to include improv.

[00:12:07] Jarrett: Oh, I would love that. So, yeah. So I'm actually mass communication, undergrad with theater. And so I've got a little bit of Thesian in me with this improv? Right up my alley, Cindy.

[00:12:19] Cindy: Oh my goodness! I think it's one of the biggest things missing. Because it is such a skill set. And, and for those of you who don't know much about improv, improv is founded on this concept of "yes and". That you sort of commit it, that it's an act of commitment to the people you're engaging with to like buy into what they're saying and add to it.

[00:12:42] And to me that even, that idea of abundance is like we can be together and grow together. And that "yes and" act is, is really powerful. Anyways, that's a whole nother conversation.