A Sit-Down with Amy Elliott of Nonprofits LEAD

As Part of the Heroes of Change Podcast

Jeremy Turner, Founder and Managing Director of EPIC Mission:

Hey there and thank you for tuning in for this episode of the Heroes of Change podcast from EPIC Mission. I’m Jeremy Turner, the founder and managing director of EPIC Mission. Here on the  Heroes of Change, we are highlighting the trials, victories, and applied wisdom of our community change agents, unsung heroes, and those who empower them to be the change across Appalachia and beyond. We seek to inspire and equip everyday heroes just like you to take on our greatest challenges because together, we are the change. I’m really, really happy to have my friend, Amy Elliott from Nonprofits LEAD join us today.; she’s going to be our guest. We’re going to learn all about her and the work that she’s doing, but first, a little introduction to Amy. 

Amy Elliott is the program director of Nonprofits LEAD, a program that strengthens nonprofits in the Mid-Ohio Valley and is housed in the McDonough Center for Leadership and Business at Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio. Amy works with local foundations that provide collaborative funding in order to provide training, consulting, professional development, and planning resources for any mission-based social profit organizations in the area. Amy is a native of the Mid-Ohio Valley and continues to live, work, and play there with her family today. 

So, that’s your bio. What else? Who else, what else is going on with Amy Elliott? Who are you and what are you about? What’s your story?

Amy Elliott, Program Director of Nonprofits LEAD

My story is, I don’t feel comfortable with the term ‘hero’ because the reason why I am so comfortable in this position, the reason why I love what I do so much and I do find this to be kind of a dream job is because I feel like I’m supporting the heroes. The people who are doing front line, feeding people, helping people in crisis, all the things that a nonprofit here is; I actually support them. I’m kind of second line and that’s perfect for me because I have a personality issue where I I wear my emotions pretty close to the surface and I can easily cry and I can easily be visibly moved. And so when I try to work with people, especially in some of the real intense work that needs to be done in our area, I find myself getting choked up and I find myself being less present and less effective than I would like to be. I find that one of the ways that I can help best, luckily it also has some skill matching with it I guess, is that I can be second line. I can help the people who help the people. That’s kind of my philosophy behind where I stand.

Jeremy Turner:

Well, it absolutely takes all of us. Right? And you know, I’ve known you for a while and I do know that you have a huge heart and it shows and I get it; some of the work that’s being done out there in the world, it is really hard. And not everyone’s really good at maintaining that clinical distance. But the good thing is that in order to get this work done, it does take all of us. It takes people who are not just willing to stay behind the scenes as it were, but who prefer it, you know? So I think that’s great. There’s nothing wrong. You don’t have a personality flaw at all.

Amy Elliott:

Well maybe not that one.

Jeremy Turner:

I’m going to get into a little bit about more of the work that you do, but I want to find out you know, today’s about pulling your story out, right? And so when you think about the work that you do, the work that you do is hard, too. We can’t take anything away from that. You may not be on the front line serving the people in crisis, but you’re serving those who serve those in crisis and that can be hard, too. So what inspires you or who inspires you? Maybe who inspired you as a child, who inspires you now to stay in this work?

Amy Elliott:

I think my inspiration comes from a lot of different places. And I feel like they all sound cliche, but one of the lesser cliches that came to mind was my funding group, the people in the local foundations in this area who are collaboratively coming together to fund this capacity building program; they’re forward thinkers. This program has been in place for 10 years. I like to say they were capacity builders before it was cool. I’m not sure it was cool, but they are forward thinkers. They also have big hearts. They’re responsible managers of money and they have the best interest of everybody in the community. They see the interconnectedness. They have the long-term game plan in mind. I just, I’m inspired by the people that are funding me to do the work. I think it’s amazing that they are willing to kind of put their money where their mouth is and to stay engaged in that way.

Jeremy Turner:

Yeah. There is some amazing work going on up your way. And I’ve told you this before, if I didn’t love Huntington so much, I’d move to Marietta because I like it there and not just the town itself, but there are so many really cool resources. There are people doing good work and you know, the fact that the funding circle is so progressive in their thinking of not just continuing to do what’s always been done, but thinking about how to do things differently. I think that’s super cool. So, you know, your work is, it’s hard still again. I think many times we think about the people behind the scenes, they have it easy, right? But I don’t think they have it easy. They just have it different. So, when people out there are thinking about doing something that’s meaningful and worthwhile and can possibly lead to really deep, sustainable, lasting impact, it can be pretty frightening. There’s so much to it and you know, there certainly are hurdles along the way. When in thinking back over the years you’ve been in this work, when have you felt like giving up and, or when are there any situations that come to mind where you’re like “wow, this sucks. I don’t want to do this anymore.” And why did you persist?

Amy Elliott:

So usually it’s when I am working with an organization that can’t get out of their own way that can be frustrating. When I can see their potential and I can see what they can do, their abilities, where they can go as an organization, how they could serve more or more deeply, or grow or be more stable, or be more long-term and they have trouble seeing that or they have some beliefs that just are limiting themselves and holding them back. And that can be really hard because you, I, capacity voters, consultants; we can’t do it for them. And so all we can do is help somebody assess where they are or help them see what possibilities are there or help introduce some tools. But the work, the actual work happens at the organization, you know, by the board or the staff, or the executive director and the volunteers. And so, yeah, my most frustrating piece, my least enjoyable, I suppose piece of the job is when there’s a breakdown in what I see as possible versus what they see as possible.

Jeremy Turner:

You know, I’ve run into that too. I think any of us have that work with organizations; for or nonprofit doesn’t matter. What do you think is the cause of that? Why is it that some organizations seem either to maybe just not get out of their own way or they try to micromanage the people that are trying to help them, you know, the consultants or the organizations? What do you think is the why? Why is that happening?

Amy Elliott:

Yeah, it’s mindset. It’s limiting beliefs, if you’ll accept that terminology. It sometimes is about the nonprofit sector itself and what’s possible within the sector, or even just nonprofits that they’re supposed to be poor or it’s that there are some status in being all volunteer versus actually going ahead and paying some people to do some work. So a lot of times, it’s just their own limiting beliefs about what’s possible or where they’re supposed to be or how they’re supposed to work.

Jeremy Turner:

I think that’s an interesting mindset, it’s such a crucial part of the work that all of us do. This phrase or quote a long time ago, you know, “whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” So, I wonder, sometimes in the work that we do if maybe it comes down to trust as well, if some of the folks maybe have trust issues or just maybe don’t trust the outside, quote unquote outside person who says they’re willing to help. I wonder if that might be some of the issue as well.

Amy Elliott:

Yeah. And don’t forget that because this is this interconnected community that they know I’m talking to funders; funders that they want to get a grant from. And so going belly up and showing me the underside of the organization is really uncomfortable, and so there might even be a temptation sometimes to not show it all, even though it often does show.

Jeremy Turner:

That vulnerability and transparency piece is super hard, but you know, those are also the underlying components of trust. I think, you know, something that I’d like for people listening to this to get is that you absolutely have to have that trust in relationships. There are people out here like Amy who are trying to help and we can’t help if you don’t let us help. But we also can’t do it all for you either. And so, having a modicum of transparency and vulnerability and letting us see what’s actually going on because the thing that I think many times people don’t realize is we see it anyway. Even if they don’t, if they try and hide it and don’t want us to see it, we see what’s going on. Maybe it’s more a matter of accepting themselves, accepting that there’s a need.

Amy Elliott:

And you know, the reason we see it is because although nonprofit missions and programs can be unique, nonprofit structures, organizations, communication patterns, difficulties, life cycle stages, none of those are unique. Those are things that are pretty predictable. And so it’s important; part of the responsibility that’s on me is to communicate to the organizations and the individuals that they are where they are and that that’s okay and completely accept that. Let them accept it, that I completely accept it and come alongside them and let them know that I’m all in, too, if they’re all in. And that you know, nothing is necessarily surprising, horrible, the end of the world. It’s just where we are right now.

Jeremy Turner:

Right. Yeah. You can’t always confuse the where you are now with where you’re going to be. Too often, as we’ve been talking about, we hold ourselves back from progressing past the point where we are now, where we’re stuck in whatever way that we’re stuck. Hopefully we can all reflect on some of these lessons from the day; we all need to get out of our own way sometimes.

Amy Elliott:

Yeah. This applies across the board, doesn’t it?

Jeremy Turner:

Yeah. I think it does. We’re learning all kinds of lessons today. This isn’t just for the nonprofit folks. You and I, we’ve been going at this stuff for awhile. This isn’t our first rodeo per se. In thinking back, if you can go back to your younger self maybe even when you first started in this current role or you can go back to an earlier time, you can pick, what kind of advice would you give to your younger self knowing what you know now and having been through what you’ve experienced?

Amy Elliott:

Twofold: patience and agency. It takes, sometimes, something that with experience or the assessment criteria in front of me, something that I might see immediately or during, you know, an assessment phase with an organization or relationship building phase, the people within that organization might not see for six months. And to the patience to let them come to that self-discovery and have that agency over their own process of self-discovery and their own pulling back the veil at their own pace and in a way that allows them to own what they discover and what they’re going to do about it. And I think that the younger me was in a hurry to say, “here’s where you are and here’s what you need to do about it. Listen to me, listen to me, listen to me” instead of, you know, “ let’s walk through this and here are some examples” and allowing people the space and time to discover things on their own and being patient while that happens, because it actually works out better when it happens that way, even if it takes longer and it’s okay to take longer because there’s a benefit to it.

Jeremy Turner:

It’s hard though, right? When you see someone struggling.

Amy Elliott:

It is very hard to let somebody struggle for six more months, so to speak, while they figure it out than it is to just say, “listen to me right now, do this right now,” but it’s not effective.

Jeremy Turner:

Have you ever had anyone come to you afterwards and say, “why didn’t you tell me this sooner?”

Amy Elliott:

Oh, gosh, yeah. Yeah.

Jeremy Turner:

And you know, the answer that would be “I wanted to, but you have to experience it yourself.”

Amy Elliott:

Or you know, “it was there, you just didn’t understand what it was at the time.” You know, a lot of times people go, “oh, that’s what that means.” So there’s also sometimes a jargon barrier or trying to translate into the language of the people that you’re working with.

Jeremy Turner:

There is a lot of seemingly alphabet soup in our world.  With this set of letters and this acronym. Sometimes I get lost in it, too.

Amy Elliott:

Yeah. And nonprofit, even staff, CEOs, executive directors, but definitely board members are coming from all walks of life and all industries. So, if I’m working with a board of directors, I might be working with a group that is made up of teachers and bankers and accountants and you know, theater majors. I could be working with a whole bunch of different professional backgrounds and cultural backgrounds and different understandings about a lot of different things. And so yeah, there is definitely a learning curve for everybody.

Jeremy Turner:

Well, you know, I think we’ve talked about this sort of thing before, is the need to continue learning, maintaining this growth mindset concept that we especially if we’re in rolls to support other people who are doing amazing things and we don’t continue learning, how can we continue to help them go do amazing things? So you started off today by saying that you’re not comfortable with the term hero, so that’s cool. I’m not going to throw any labels on you.

Amy Elliott:

I still agreed to do the interview.

Jeremy Turner:

What were you thinking? Right?

So, let’s think about this. I shared in the opening that this podcast is about the community change agents, unsung heroes, and those who empower them to be the change. So you know, we don’t have to throw that moniker of hero or heroine on top of you if you don’t want it. But you know, think about the others; think about the people that you would consider to be these Heroes of Change. When you hear that term, what do you think about? What does that mean to you?

Amy Elliott:

To me, it means somebody that has a real good compass and a good internal compass for the direction that they want to go. And a lot of patience and a lot of acceptance or understanding of the people that they’re working with to get there. Change is uncomfortable. As inevitable as it is, it’s uncomfortable and it’s often resisted and it is very rarely agreed upon what the change should be or at what pace the change to take place. And so when we talk about change, especially on this community level or a societal level or social impact level, of the kind of change that we deal with or even organizational development and personal development level, it’s something we have to be extremely patient with and yet, have some pretty good rails on as far as what we believe to be true North and why and so that it’s always done with integrity. Don’t change for the sake of change.

Jeremy Turner:

Right. Okay, good. I like to ask that question because I think each of us, that phrase to some degree, it’s meant to be left open to interpretation. That each of us can sort of figure out what does that mean, you know to be a hero and hero, I think, is one of those words that it gets thrown up, thrown around a fair bit. 

Well you mentioned something about professional development just a moment ago. So I wanted to ask you, where are some places that you go for ongoing personal and professional development? What, do you have any favorites that jump out?

Amy Elliott:

Yes. Currently there are two. I have a coach for the first time in my career. I have an executive coach, and so she’s helping me with those rails, et cetera. Professional and personal development, the two are intertwined, of course. And then more professional skill certification-type level with the Nonprofit Life Cycles Institute and Susan Kenny-Stevens and that group there. We’ve been working with them and I’m going to continue to work with them and find them to be a great source of professional development because we see eye-to-eye the same things I mentioned earlier about meeting people where they are and how important the nonprofit sector is to the health, not just economic well-being but literal health, et cetera of a community. Patience, tools we even agree on. So those are the two places that I go for professional development.

Jeremy Turner:

Got it. So, what captured your attention or made you think about working with the coach? What is the value that you see in working with the coach?

Amy Elliott:

Well, I have a colleague, I have a couple of colleagues and my best friend who works with coaches and just said, “oh, you got to do it.” I saw a professional coach is something that somebody important, a real hero, somebody important, somebody in a real high status or high stress or how to say it, you know, a real high level position would have. And I didn’t really see myself in those terms. And then it was framed differently to me so that I could accept it; that my position, my program is so important to the nonprofit sector in my area and the nonprofit sector in my area is so important to the health and stability and economic development of my area and I care so deeply about it. So then, therefore you are that important person to take care of. Plus, I want to set an example. I have a daughter, so I want to set a good example,

Jeremy Turner:

But I think that’s a great point there, too. That, you know, people are watching, right? Your daughter’s looking at you and trying to make sense of the world around her based on what she sees from you. So think about this for a second. It’s really a two-part question there; I think they’re intertwined though. When will you feel like you’ve really succeeded in your role and what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind when you step out of it?

Amy Elliott:

That’s deep.

Jeremy Turner:

We’re playing in the deep end today, Amy.

Amy Elliott:

Yeah, I would feel success and feel like there was a legacy left or the legacy I’d like to leave would be that, for lack of a better word, I know some people feel like it’s overused, but to create a capacity building ecosystem; have an ongoing system where there are professionals who are developing capacity and nonprofits. There are funding and funders funding agencies, foundations, et cetera, that are funding capacity building. And there are nonprofits that understand the need for their own capacity building and are seeking it out through those professionals and funders so that they end up with a stable nonprofit sector in the area.

Jeremy Turner:

So you know, the, term, ‘capacity building’ is one that, it’s used a lot and not everyone, I think not everyone, knows what that means. What do you think it means or how would you describe it simply? 

Amy Elliott:

It’s making the organization itself stronger. So in nonprofits, when we build capacity, we think about the nonprofit. This is where I want to turn to the visual, right? But I can describe it. It’s a challenge, but I can do it. So we think about the nonprofit in terms of its mission. Often, that’s the first thing we think about and then it delivers its mission through its programs. And so what we find in the nonprofit sector is the board and the staff and volunteers. Everybody’s focused on that mission and those programs. Great. That’s what they do and that’s the important thing. And yet there are, you know, information systems, governance, management, financial responsibility, there’s marketing, there’s a whole bunch of business functions and organizational structure and systems and processes and policies that need to come up under neath and support that programming and the mission so that it can happen effectively and continue to happen for as long as it needs to. And so, that capacity building is just putting those legs underneath of the programs.

Jeremy Turner:

Okay. Good. Thank you for that. You know, we talked about jargon earlier and we get caught up in our own jargon. So, related to what you said earlier about success and legacy and if the things that you’re striving for were super easy, they would’ve been done already. So in thinking about that, what do you see as some of the greatest barriers to future success? And either you can focus on something specific or in general to what it is that you’re describing as overall success. So what are some of the greatest barriers that you see and how do you plan to overcome those? What does that look like?

Amy Elliott:

I think the greatest barrier to success in capacity building is that, so as I described that it’s what’s kind of holding up the programs to accomplish the mission. When things get tough or slim with resources; people, time, money. When things get tough or slim with resources, people go back to programs and mission and sometimes pull away from supporting what supports that program or mission. And so, that’s when those systems can fall off. That’s probably the biggest threat is limited resources. So how do you overcome that? We overcome it by educating the funders that resources for capacity building need to be available, not just for programs. By also educating boards of directors about what kinds of things they need to budget for and what time and you know, including on whatever their dashboards or indicators are. Some of the capacity building measures and then also with staff or volunteers  to make sure that they understand what pieces of this, right up to and including self-care. So, avoid burnout because these are passionate people and just making sure that everybody knows that the capacity building part is important to the mission because that’s the only reason that kind of thing ever falls off is just because people think that if it gets away from being intimately connected with the mission.

Jeremy Turner:

You mentioned self-care just now and I think that’s such an important topic. We could spend days talking about that, but we don’t have that long; I don’t want to keep you here that long. Why is self-care so important and what are some things that you do to get away and unplug and recharge? Because again, even though you’re not on the front line, you’re still right there and the work that you do can be hard and draining,

Amy Elliott:

Self-care is so important. You have to rejuvenate. You can’t just burn on passion alone. You actually have to have physical energy, emotional energy, and mental energy as well. And those things, you know, we’re only human. Those things need to be rejuvenated. And that is an individual thing about how to do it, how often to do it, that kind of thing. But for me, I’m fortunate enough to have a great family and a great dog. So for me, I can get rejuvenated just by going home. I also have a fantastic group of friends, a nice group of women who support me both personally and professionally, as a mother and as a wife and as a friend. And so I feel like I can just turn to the things and people in places that I have in my life other than work and pretty easily and quickly get rejuvenated.

Jeremy Turner:

That’s great. And I love that you’ve got the circle of people and you know, it’s so needed because the work that we do again, either us or those directly on the front lines can seem so alone, right? Like, so you’re just out there doing it all. You’re the lone ranger. So that’s awesome to hear. How was this something that just sort of formed organically, you know, these are just people that you’ve known for awhile. How did the circle form around you?

Amy Elliott:

Yeah, I guess it just formed organically because when I think about the people that are in that circle, they were just people that I enjoyed being with and enjoyed being with each other. And so we have found different excuses to get together. Sometimes we exercise together or sometimes we read books together or sometimes we sew together. Sometimes we eat or drink together. Just whatever is a good excuse to get together at the time that feeds us and gives us our social time as well.

Jeremy Turner:

Good. So, I think anyone that obviously I can, I’m sitting here, I’m looking at you and you know, the people in the podcast will not necessarily be able to do that right away. You can share and go to our YouTube channel and watch the video of this, if you’d like. But I think even just hearing you, people should be able to hear, you know, the passion that you have for doing the work that you do. And I know you well enough that if you weren’t passionate about it, you’d go do something else. Why do you feel so compelled to do what you do? What’s driving that? 

Amy Elliott:

I get it on a bigger level, but I also grew up here. So I’m a local. And so when you talk about having this community survive and even thrive, I am just so onboard for that because here, I grew up and here I choose to continue to live and raise a family and have lots of family and friends here. And so this community is so very important to me and I want the organizations that are in it, the people that are in it to be doing well. I want it to be thriving. I want to live in this thriving place. And so for me, it has a lot to do with community. But I also, I mean I get the, I get capacity building and I get the work on a larger level. You know, as I’ve connected with the Life Cycles Institute and we talk to people in other parts of the country and throughout Canada about the work that they’re doing in their place-based capacity building. You know, I get why it’s important to them as well, but I think it always has a lot to do with place. It has a lot to do with home and community.

Jeremy Turner:

Love it. I left my home for a long time. You get it. I completely get it. And you know, I jokingly say that Charlotte was the place I live, but West Virginia was always my home. And you know, I jokingly say that, but it really is true. I mean, I loved my time in the Carolinas and I met some amazing people and you know, got to do some really, really cool things. Things that shaped me as a human being and also as a professional doing the work that I do. There’s no place like home and so loving being back home and having that connection, it’s more meaningful when it’s your home. 

So, you described them as mission-based and social impact organizations and I’m not sure that depending on who’s listening to this episode, not everyone is going to know you’re with these terms or even just the concepts are probably, I’m sorry, we’re back to jargon, jargon and all, it always goes back to jargon and jargon is kind of a term. So, yeah. You know, so maybe not everyone listening to this is going to be super familiar with nonprofits in general or what it is they do and why it’s important. Why should people care about the work that you’re doing and the population that you’re serving?

Amy Elliott: 

The nonprofit sector, not to sound too remedial or academic, but just in case, because that’s kind of why you asked the question. So, the nonprofit sector fills a space that isn’t otherwise fulfilled. So, you know, the government has certain services, infrastructure, et cetera, that it offers and provides. And then the for-profit sector has products and services, that kind of thing that it provides. But if you take the things that government can or will or should, depending on your philosophy, provide and the things that a for-profit business can provide and still maintain a profit, there’s a missing piece. There’s literally a gap or a hole where you can’t necessarily do it well as a government and you can’t necessarily do it well as a business. And so those are the products or services or needs that need to be fulfilled by the nonprofit sector.

And so that’s why the sector was developed. That’s why the sector, the organizations in the sector, are given special tax status. You know, there’s a lot of misconceptions that they can’t make money. They’re supposed to be poor, they are charities and people should just do it out of the goodness of their own heart and shouldn’t make money at it. But it’s not necessarily true or even according to my beliefs, it’s a very important piece of our community, of our economy, and of the development of people and in our communities as well. The long winded version or the short winded version, I’m not sure.

Jeremy Turner:

Well we’ll create a transcription of this so we need to get ahead of it.

Amy Elliott:

We’re going to need diagrams next time. I’m going to need at least two charts for our next interview.

Jeremy Turner: 

Great. Well we’ll make that happen, but yeah. Thank you for sharing that. That thought though. You know, we do want to be careful because we have no idea who’s listening to this and we want to make sure that we’re explaining things simply, but without being, we’re surely not trying to be insulting. We just want to make sure that we’re all operating from the same sort of shared understandings. So you know, in my world and your world as well, we’ve met a lot of people that became inspired by something and decided to go do something. Why is that so important for these everyday heroes to step up and just say, “you know what, enough’s enough. I’m going to go do something.” Why? Why is that so important?

Amy Elliott:

Gosh, I mean, again, not to sound cliche, but I don’t know how else anything gets done. It’s just somebody sees a need and says, “I feel that calling, I’ll go fulfill that need.” That’s how stuff happens. I don’t have a better answer for each hear me. I’m not sure that was on the list of all the questions.

Jeremy Turner: 

It was fine. I mean, I think it was clean, clear, and concise. If the only way that things get done is that someone gets up and goes and does, yeah. I think I shared this on another episode, but I’ll repeat it here. Years ago, I heard and there’s more to it than that, but this thing called the Leader’s Creed and part of the Creed set; “If not me then who; if not now, then when.” And I think that seems to speak to that concept of too many times, I think we were waiting for someone else to do something about something that we’ve noticed and we talked about this in the world of entrepreneurship a lot, is you know, what bugs you, what keeps you up at night, what frustrates the daylights out of you and then go do something about it.

Amy Elliott:

Well, it’s all solving a problem and different people see different problems and see different solutions to those problems. I had a young lady in my office 30 minutes before we started talking who found a problem. She’s a freshman in college and she started solving a problem already and she’s got great ideas and great energy for it. And so, she’s going to be one of those people, I imagine that goes out into the world and she’ll start a nonprofit and it’ll fulfill a need and the grid work.

Jeremy Turner:

How cool is it that she’s got resources around her in such close proximity to help her take these raw ideas and develop them into something.

Amy Elliott:

Yeah, that’s honor; that’s fun.

Jeremy Turner:

So she’s likely going to encounter some obstacles along the way, you know, it’s likely to be failing, unfortunately. Unfortunately, failure is something that is like a dirty word in our culture. You know, we’re taught failure is not an option when at all costs, the end justifies the means and on and on. And I really want to help demystify failure and get people to embrace it a little bit more in hopes that they can be a learning opportunity. So, you know, thinking for your life, it can be personally, professionally, whatever frame you want to put on it. Is there some way that you failed in life that now upon reflection, certainly in the moment it, it didn’t feel so great. Can you think about a time when you failed and you were able to glean something from it that now you apply your life? Does that question make sense?

Amy Elliott:

Yeah, it does. I feel like I have found each and every time that I haven’t been patient or kind to the extreme that I could possibly be. Anytime that I was inpatient or short, you know, I think I felt justified in my boots at the time, but when I look back on it, that was failure because that wasn’t getting us any closer to really, the goal or where we needed to be.

Jeremy Turner:

Good. So the patience and kindness; be kind, always.

Amy Elliott:

Yeah. I mean, it mattered. You know, they say that the meaning of communication is the response you get. It doesn’t matter what I’m saying, it’s what that person I’m communicating with is hearing; what they’re feeling. And so I failed the times that I haven’t been patient or kind or open enough to work with somebody in a compassionate way through whatever needed to be done. You know, it’s not always enough to be right.

That’s when I’ve failed, is when I’ve rested on just the fact that I was right.

Jeremy Turner: 

You’re wrong by being right.

I think that’s an interesting point. And many of us who are driven have likely found ourselves in that position as well, where we were pushing so hard for something and we get caught on the “but I’m right.” Rather than, I guess, doing what’s right. Maybe that’s another way to think about it, being right or doing what’s right. It’s a hard place to be.

Amy Elliott:

Yeah. Should is an ugly word.

Jeremy Turner:

Yeah. It’s a heavy, heavy word for sure. So, you know, I promised I wouldn’t keep you here all day, but I’ve got just a couple more questions and one that it’s sort of sparked my interest was, we’ve talked a lot about nonprofits and we could talk more and more about nonprofits. And I think I said this earlier that you know, perhaps not everyone listening is really super familiar with the nonprofit space and we just got through talking about the word ‘should.’ What do you think are some of the most common misperceptions about nonprofits and what would you like listeners to know about nonprofit organizations with a sector as a whole?

Amy Elliott:

I would like listeners, every single person listening to have something they care deeply about. It could be animal welfare, it could be supporting people through illnesses. It could be putting shoes on the feet of people who don’t have them at the moment. Whatever that thing is that really touches them and that they care about the most, I would like for them to understand that there’s an organization that’s out there with a mission to do that, and that organization needs supported. Not just financially, but in lots of different ways. And that if that organization is strong, not just financially, but in lots of different ways, then that thing they care about is going to get done for real, not just drippy, little by little by little. And that it really does honestly translate into a stronger, like a better community that if that trying to this, this myth that people who were doing good shouldn’t be rewarded for it or people that are doing good should have to do it on a shoestring budget.

And I’m not saying there should be waste or embezzlement or anything, trust me, but strong and healthy is all I’m asking for. If everybody’s mindset would just change, to “I want the organizations that are doing the things that I care about to be strong, healthy organizations. I want them to have money in the bank. I want them to pay their people well. I want them to get the training they need. I want them to get the rest that they need. I want them to have all hands on deck when they need all hands on deck.” If everybody would think that about their organizations and their causes, then the nonprofit community would be way better off for it. And learn how to be a board member and go do it.

Jeremy Turner:

Yeah. And if you don’t know how to be a board member, find someone that can teach you, because you don’t just get to walk onto a board and suddenly it’s intuitive. You know, these are skill sets you have to learn, right? And what you’re talking about I think is overhead myth and the, and the Dan Plata Ted Talk from a few years ago. So if anyone’s listening and they go check that out, I think the concept that nonprofits should operate on this incredibly ridiculously low overhead and still make deep impact, it’s erroneous at best. I could think of some other words to describe it as well, but I won’t do that today. Jargon; that was so yesterday, this jargon.

Next to the last question for you. Final words of wisdom, advice, anything for Heroes of Change out there that maybe they’re already on a journey and they’re you know, facing some obstacles or maybe everything’s good, everything’s smooth sailing for them or someone out there that’s saying, “this is sort of bubbling up inside of me or I’m feeling this tug a and I want to go do something; I don’t know.” Any sort of words of wisdom or advice?

Amy Elliott:

Yeah, those are kind of two, I don’t know. Those are almost two different questions, or two different answers for me, but the first thing that came to mind when you’re talking about, you know, kind of words of wisdom to other Heroes of Change is back to that self-care. And that does apply to everybody. Again, I know that it sounds cliche, but you come from such a better place if you have physical energy, if you feel good mental energy, and emotional energy to give to these things. And that comes from being able to replenish those in whatever way works for you. And so I would preach self-care.

Jeremy Turner:

Love it. That I think that applies to a couple of those scenarios, right? Whether everything’s going really well or not, or if you haven’t even started, yet.

Amy Elliott:

Yeah. And you know, part of self-care is being with the people that we love, as I alluded to, that’s part of my self-care. And I’m no good around those people, also though, if I don’t have the kind of physical, mental, and emotional energy for that, for even being around them and being with them in a way that feels good. And so if you’re grumpy, nobody wants to be around you, so go get yourself ungrumpy.

Jeremy Turner:

I think that that covers it right there. Stay ungrumpy.

Amy Elliott:

Yeah. Different doors.

 

Jeremy Turner:

Pick a different one. Yeah. Give me the happy one. 

So, as we move to wrap up here, if somebody wants to learn more about the Nonprofits LEAD and the work that you do, or if they want to, perhaps, come alongside you, how can they learn more about what it is you’re doing and possibly engage with you?

Amy Elliott:

So we have a Facebook page that often has updates and events on it with our programs. And so that’s kind of an easy way to connect via social media. And we have a website through the Marietta College website, at marietta.edu, Nonprofits LEAD, and you can type Nonprofits LEAD into the search bar or, you know, I think it’s forward slash Nonprofits dash LEAD, and do you put my contact information up with this? So yeah, contacting me directly is always an option as well.

Jeremy Turner:

Okay, terrific. We’ll absolutely do that and hope that someone hears what we’ve been talking about today and they find some inspiration or some words of wisdom or some little nugget that they can take and apply. So with that for today – 

Amy Elliott:

It’s gotta be a nugget in here somewhere. 

Jeremy Turner:

It’s not jargon – 

So, that’s a wrap. We really appreciate you tuning in for this episode of the Heroes of Change with Amy Elliott of Nonprofits LEAD, and do hope that you tune in next time as we have another conversation with someone else out there in the community that’s doing amazing work. And so in the meantime, stay inspired and continue to be the change. Thanks so much.