Building Better Solutions for the Nonprofit Community

by | Apr 6, 2022

Why is it so hard for nonprofits to find the help they need?

From choosing a fundraising software to getting financial advice to finding a grant writer, nonprofits struggle to find good help.

Despite being a sector that employs 20 million people and spends $1 billion each year, the market for solutions and services for nonprofits continues to lag a decade behind most of the rest of the business world.

That’s the solution that Mitch Stein set out to solve as a co-Founder of Pond, a website that helps connect nonprofits to solutions and providers in a trusting environment.

So how did a former VP at Goldman Sachs end up serving nonprofits? And what can the for-profit world learn from the nonprofit world?

Find out in this week’s episode of A Modern Nonprofit Podcast.

Mitch talks with me about some of the hottest topics in nonprofits today, like:

  • The role technology can play in today’s nonprofits
  • Why the $1B nonprofit industry is so horribly underserved (and why it’s a HUGE missed opportunity)
  • How the leading tech companies’ attempts at corporate philanthropy are failing
  • The 3 BIG things for-profit companies could learn from nonprofits

Thanks for watching. Be sure to subscribe for new episodes every week!

If you’d like to join Pond’s growing marketplace, visit www.joinpond.com to sign up today! And don’t forget to Mitch Stein on LinkedIn for updates.

For more nonprofit accounting resources check out www.thecharitycfo.com

🎧 Click here to listen to the Podcast on  AnchorFM or Apple Podcasts

👇 Or scroll below the to read the full transcript of our conversation

 


A Modern Nonprofit Podcast

Building Better Solutions for the Nonprofit Community

3/30/2022

Tosha Anderson:

Hey everyone. Welcome back to another episode of a modern nonprofit podcast. I’m Tasha Anderson and I am very excited to have this conversation. You all know based on for your previous episodes that I like to geek out on all things operational and how to make lives for those leading nonprofit organizations, much, much easier. So I brought of my new friend, Mitch Stein. Mitch has a really fascinating background, and we’re gonna dive into that in a little bit, but you are the founder of join pond.com or you know, more simply book pond. And I wanna talk a little bit more about this, but I think you like me, um, started in maybe what would’ve been a pretty lucrative prestigious career, right? You graduated Summa cum LA, you went to business school, you ended up at Goldman Sachs. Like you could have created any path for yourself.

Tosha Anderson:

Mitch, probably. Uh, I similar went into working in public accounting, could have picked with any industry, but I think our personal lives I’m, I’m probably paraphrasing, I’m putting words in your mouth, but our personal lives in our professional lives started to kind of maybe hit across roads or like intertwine. And then there was this idea. Is there a way that I can take what I’ve learned in business about business, um, and apply that to the nonprofit sector and you meet some really cool people along the way. So, Mitch, I’m excited to chat with you a little bit more about your story and here a little bit more about that. Um, but first I wanna say thank you for joining us first and foremost. Yeah. And, uh, looking forward to this talk.

Mitch Stein:

Yeah. Thank you so much for having me I’m looking forward to jumping in as we like to say it pun.

Tosha Anderson:

Yes. No pun intended. Right.

Mitch Stein:

Very much intended.

Tosha Anderson:

So tell me it’s right out of the gate. How does a former VP from Goldman Sachs end up in the impact sector, working with nonprofit organizations and other mission based business leaders?

Mitch Stein:

Yeah, so, um, you know, I, it’s always been a real core part of me, uh, growing up, you know, I was running bake sales for nonprofits or like selling Krispy Kreme donuts in the cafeteria for tsunami relief and, um, uh, did a, a big like leukemia lymphoma fundraiser for, uh, one of my mom’s friends had, uh, leukemia and we were selling bandanas that she would wear when she was going through chemo. So I, I always just from a young age, that was like a part of me and what I, I like to do. Um, and I think as I started my professional career initially, I was so busy that I, and I, I didn’t feel like I had capacity to really do much outside of work. And I think that’s something, a trap, a lot of young people fall into where the perception is like, oh, well, once I’m successful, then I, then I become a philanthropist, you know, in my sixties.

Mitch Stein:

Um, and there’s sort of this gap in understanding of like where you can really give back and, and participate. And in 2016, um, one of my colleagues, a guy named Yohan who I’ll come back to me in a second, uh, was a mentor of mine. And he was on the board of an organization called the L G B T center here in New York city. And, um, they have an event every summer called cycle for the cause. And it’s the Northeast aids ride, a bike ride from Boston to New York. And Johan knew that we had lost my uncle to aids. And so my dad and I signed up for that event, um, together to, to ride together and we didn’t really have any expectations and it just turned into this like massive passion project for me and my family. Now we’ve raised over $400,000 for the organization over the past several rides.

Mitch Stein:

Um, wow. And it just like lit a spark in me that I never really felt before. And, um, not only, obviously it’s great to maybe there’s a little bit of guilt that I had been toiling away at a big bank and it felt nice to get my and other people’s money, like moving in the right direction and helping other people. Um, but really just the, the education too, because so many people had no idea, you know, the extent of the aids epidemic, even up until now and in certain communities, um, where it’s, you know, and there’s been a lot of progress in the past few years, but especially in 2016, it was still very real, um, and very dangerous. And, um, so that like education component and really educating people and talking about something that had a lot of Sigma historically, I also think was just really exciting to me to bring that into like the workplace in particular.

Mitch Stein:

So, um, I’d spent a lot of time grappling with like what that means for me and how, how I could, you know, am I gonna, should I go be a development director? What’s like the right thing for me to do. And, um, I ultimately just felt like if there were a way for me to impact a large number of organizations versus just going to work for just one, especially with my background in, in working in markets and marketplaces, I wonder if there’s something I could do. And I think that’s what really got me down this road. It’s been a long winding one, but starting to think about, um, is there something more entrepreneurial and, and tech oriented? Um, I covered the technology space as a banker, so I’m definitely not a technologists, but I was just really familiar with a lot of these successful internet and software businesses, especially online marketplaces. And that’s a lot of, uh, what inspired me to get started with bond.

Tosha Anderson:

I love that. So, uh, tech, you talked about is a big part, certainly of Pond. I mean, it is an online platforms, an online a marketplace. Uh, I think a lot of people are concerned or reluctant or hesitant to embrace technology within the nonprofit space. And some might even question, what does a tech company have to do with nonprofits? We can’t use it, we don’t have the skills set. We don’t have the, whatever it is, whatever people think there’s a stigma associated with that or, or some sort of, um, these things don’t mix together or whatever. What, what would you say, uh, tech has to do with the nonprofits in your experience? Not just working with them through Goldman Sachs and tech companies that are also working with nonprofits, but now in your position, how do you see those two worlds intersect?

Mitch Stein:

Yeah. And, and part of really what inspired me to get started was with the organization I worked for, they were transitioning to a new fundraising platform, um, and they just had a really bad experience with their old one. And then the search process that they went through was also, you know, kind of a nightmare. And I just heard about the second hand and I was like, that is crazy. There’s no way that that exists. There has to be an easier way to go shopping for stuff for your nonprofit. You know, I think about all the things in my life, if I want a car or a home or to book a trip, like how easy that is. Um, and there’s literally nothing for a nonprofit, you know, and you talk to different people of how, what did you do the last time you needed to find a new tool or, um, hire a consultant?

Mitch Stein:

It’s like always, I don’t know. I called some friends. I posted on Facebook. I got a lot of helpful or unhelpful comments I Googled around on, uh, on the internet for a while. And everything seemed like an ad. I didn’t know what to trust. And then I just got bombarded by sales people. And so I, I think a lot of it isn’t so much that people are like, like, I think a lot of times when we describe nonprofits as being like averse to tech, or I think it has a lot more to do with, with just time limitations and, and really trust because so many of these companies get in their own way of like, they’ve been instructed in their sales manual, that they send 45,000 outreaches, you know, it’s in every method possible. Um, and this is just an audience that doesn’t have time for that.

Mitch Stein:

And they’re also really relational. Um, yeah. And so the more that you approach them as like a box, sending them emails constantly or constant messages, it doesn’t work. And it actually drives a wedge for not just between your company and the, the potential customer, but truly, I believe like between the sector and between and between the sector and technology. And so for me, that’s where I, I covered a lot of these marketplace businesses and I was like, okay, this is a, this is a high volume like nonprofits. It’s a big segment. Um, yeah, it’s super augmented, which means that inevitably is kind of disorganized in how people procure and make decisions on outside vendors, technology, consultants, trainings, and everything in between outsource CFOs or accountants, whatever it is like there’s, there’s no like organized way to go about finding and selecting those providers. And so, so that was really the big vision for pond is like, how could this be the central store?

Mitch Stein:

Like where could you go shopping? And, and so it went through a lot of different iterations, but I think what we learned most importantly, is that nonprofits have severe limitations on their time. Like you said, their bandwidths, um, they all have 25 D and hats on, um, they generally are social workers, educators, teachers. Yep. Um, definitely it’s really rare that someone was like formally trained in software, for example, or a lot of other things that they’re procuring. So it’s really intimidating and there’s a bit of a, a knowledge gap. Um, and people have limited budgets. I’m not saying, I think sometimes people cast a bad light on nonprofits that they’re all like don’t have any money, which is definitely not true. Um, but by and large, you have limited budgets, especially to spend on things that constitute overhead, which technology and systems always does. Um, and then the last one is the trust that I mentioned.

Mitch Stein:

And so we took a deep look at, okay, this can’t just be a normal marketplace. It can’t just be like listings like Yelp, right. And with reviews, it’s not actually helpful. It’s not solving the real problems. And so that’s why when, when someone comes to paw today, it’s a lot more like if you’ve ever used Angie’s list or Thumbtack, like we guide you in what are your problems, right? Like, let’s just start with you, let’s meet you where you are. What do you need help with? Can you answer a couple questions? Um, we’re gonna share this with our vendor audience. You can come back to paw and check. Who’s interested to talk to you. No one gets your email, it’s all in your control. Um, and you’re actually gonna get a hundred dollars for each conversation. You have all facilitated through. Pond saves you a ton of time.

Mitch Stein:

Um, and we provide references for people. We help them if they need to learn more about these product areas, we have webinars and tutorials and ways to talk to your board and like all the resources to just smooth out that whole process. Um, so back to your question of like, what does a tech company have to with nonprofits? Like, everything I just mentioned is, is, has by technology. Um, and even though we are not like a deep tech business, you know, not like I’m inventing some crazy new technology. Um, I think it is so cool to see how technology can be used to bring about a more human experience, which I don’t think we normally think about it’s it like we actually are bringing people closer together at the right point in time. Like you’re talking to the right person about the right thing that matters to you at the right time. And that’s how you make use technology to make those kinds of connections more human.

Tosha Anderson:

You said so many good points along the way. Um, relational, that is definitely something that I’ve noticed, uh, working in this market, you know, and I think that vendors, it’s funny, I was talking with one of my team members the other day, and he has recently switched from being a service provider. So an accountant to working more operationally with, with my firm. And he had said something through this experience, we’re going through all these transitions on our HR stuff. So we’re changing systems and working with new providers. And he said something that really rings true that some providers look at it, very transactional, robotic in nature, giving this super complex implementation to somebody that has no business managing that implementation on their own. And so for us, we are not HR experts. And yet we’re given this bullet pointless of all these super jargony technical things for which I don’t know what they are.

Tosha Anderson:

And it’s like, okay, here, figure it out. And I think that that’s one of the issues with the non-profit is they don’t have the time to research and figure this stuff out. They don’t necessarily have the skillset within their organization to help figure this stuff out. Um, it’s really transactional, not super relational. And that was my response to my team member was something to the effect of in these moments. I think that’s why I grow really frustrated with service providers, because I know what we do for our clients to try to take that heavy lifting off of the nonprofit that does not, that’s why they’re hiring us to help. Right. And that builds the relational piece and something else you said that I thought was interesting businesses that wanna work with the nonprofit stack. Um, you mentioned that they’re very, um, like I’ll use the word.

Tosha Anderson:

I don’t remember the exact word that you use, but I call ’em like little micro ecosystems, right. So you’ll have either by region or you’ll have by mission or you’ll have by something else. Right. So for example, homeless shelters, completely different operation than, um, you know, one of my web based, you know, you know, social justice, more advocacy lobby, work type organizations, which is totally different than an arts museum. Right. And so meeting people where they’re at and understand their specific needs because it’s a massive market. Uh, and I think businesses that wanna work in this space have to understand like the nuances between these different organizations. And, and I think sometimes we say like the nonprofit industry as if there’s this big homogenous group of people that are non ho and in reality, yeah. That’s like saying the for-profit world is all the same.

Tosha Anderson:

When in reality, a restaurant is much different than a car dealership in a barber shop. And I mean, vastly different. And to, to assume that they’re all in the same and treat them all in the same way through the sales approach or otherwise. Um, that’s one of the things I really liked. I noticed all the questions that you ask, uh, or that you offer information to provider, uh, to people looking for providers on your website will help curate their experience, I think a little bit better. So I think that’s really cool. So going, so something else you said that, that I remember when I started this firm six years ago, I have lots of friends that you might expect that are accountants and they own accounting firms, none of them, by the way, work with nonprofits, um, you came from the financial background working at a large bank, and it’s no secret that people don’t go into the nonprofit sector to get rich. I mean, this is not to get rich quick theme by no means. Uh, and there’s this idea like you were saying that nonprofits have no money. And oftentimes I got hurt, especially in the beginning, Tasha, you can’t build a business, just working with nonprofits. They don’t have the money. It’s not sustainable. How are you going to actually grow your business? And I think that that’s a myth I’d like to, I know my reasons for thinking that’s a myth, Mitch, but I’m curious to hear, what do you think, um, when people say things like that.

Mitch Stein:

Yeah. And I mean, I hear that all the time. Um, and I, as someone who’s gone through, you know, in the middle of some fundraising processes of talking to investors, I mean, there is just a massive gap in understanding, um, about what the sector is. Um, I mean, any sector that employs over 20 million people to say that it’s like not a valuable place to be doing business. I, I just don’t know how, how you get away with saying that. I mean, they’re spending over a trillion dollars a year. Um, and I think a lot of people are focused on the limitations today or, or some of the restrictions today on people as opposed. And, and for us as a business in particular, um, I am not selling a, a individual product or service, you know, in fact, we don’t charge nonprofits a dime. We actually pay them to use pond.

Mitch Stein:

Um, we are building the infrastructure to connect people, uh, with the right solutions because my fundamental belief is that that will prove that there can be a real efficient distribution channel for companies serving the nonprofit sector so that we can just shut this myth down once and for all. Um, and that there will be much more investment in the companies that can provide real innovative services, custom tailored to the nonprofit sector, because there is a clear way to go to market and reach those customers. Cause there’s 2 million of them in, in the us alone. There’s 10 million globally. Um, like I said, they’re spending over a trillion dollars a year and I don’t think any of us, anyone could say that that $1 trillion couldn’t be more efficiently spent or better leverage, you know, new tools and services to, to meet their missions. So I, I just, I just don’t have any patience for it anymore.

Mitch Stein:

Candidly, if someone asked me that question in an investor meeting, I’d probably politely end it early because, um, they’re just not the right person for us to be working with. So, and that’s the other thing too is, um, which I’m sure you’ve experienced this. It’s kind of like, okay, that’s fine. If you wanna believe that I don’t need you. Right. Like I, you should be, you should be looking to me to give you knowledge about the sector. Cause I talk to these people day in, day out, um, you know, for years now and for you to come in and tell me that this isn’t a worthwhile sector to be doing business. I think it’s preposterous and not to mention every single major technology company has a program trying to figure how they can better serve nonprofits, every single one. And the truth is that none of them know how to do it still.

Mitch Stein:

None of them. And they are all, I was just on a call last week with, um, a consortium of major technology companies based out of Silicon valley. Um, and they’re like, you know, we’ve been giving away coupons to our products, but it doesn’t seem to really be having an impact. And you’re like, yes. Yeah, yeah, exactly. It’s like 5% of the way there is just giving some that’s like, that’s like a free puppy program, right? Yeah. No, like what happens when the puppy leaves the lot, right? Like you’ve now someone has a new cost center, uh, new, some new thing they need to manage when they’ve been like been handed this thing without any training, um, without having the right people on staff or bandwidth to manage it or budget to hire a consultant, to do it. I mean, there’s

Tosha Anderson:

Available consultants even available. I know some platforms like, oh, you licenses, but really it’s, you have to build the whole thing and there’s no consultants available to do that. So,

Mitch Stein:

Um, and this is, this is why I don’t think the answer in this market is philanthropy because that philanthropy is doing so that’s corporate philanthropy, right. Is I’m gonna just allocate a certain amount of our product to give away for free or highly discounted. But that is number one, not actually having the impact you want it to. Um, and number two, it’s not helping to build a market, which is what the sector really needs it as it needs a market and a marketplace, um, where it is open to, um, innovators, entrepreneurs, you know, people like you and me that have a real passion for the space and bring unique knowledge and skills. Um, and they just need to better be able to connect with the right customers to what they offer. And if we can cut out, you know, some of the, the BS involved in the process of doing that, um, along with facilitating more capital investments in those businesses, I just think we are right on the cusp of an explosion in the productivity and in the nonprofit sector.

Tosha Anderson:

Oh man. Two things that you said there. If I can remember, I wanna get on one before I forget, but it goes back to, I remember when I first started this business six years ago, everyone thought I was crazy. I quit my job as a CFO. Very comfortable, not easy, stressful for sure, but comfortable by way of, I don’t have to worry about job security and I know I could stay here and I’m, I’m successful in this job, right? Yeah. Um, and I started this firm and after the initial, can I do this meaning, can I prove this concept that I could job share myself amongst a handful of nonprofit organizations? And can I serve these smaller organizations in a way that I serve this larger organization? Can I get enough people to, to pay me while I try to do their work while I try to prove this concept, right?

Tosha Anderson:

And then probably six months into it after I was successful in finding a handful of clients that, that were, um, willing to take a chance on me, I immediately shifted to the mindset of, I’m almost afraid to see what happens when people find out more about the work we’re able to do. And that was still probably true up until a year ago until I hired tons of people. And I still committed to hiring tons of people because going back to what we said, once you are a vetted resource, you’ve proven to have a successful model. You’re actually a heavy lifting source of support for these organizations. They can truly delegate the function and the responsibility and the oversight of this one particular thing. Once you figure it out, the market is so huge, the need so great. The talent out there is so few that you can’t fail.

Tosha Anderson:

And that’s what I tell people. It’s not like I’m Steve jobs, creating apple and something crazy and innovative. I mean, this is definitely a service that’s needed. And there’s a lot of people that are looking for support. Um, but you have to find the right mix of you have the right talent. You have the right skills and experience. You have the right connection with people and really understand their businesses and how they work. Not just truly how their program works, but you know, what their operational needs are. And once you kind of tap into all of that, they tell other people to tell other people because they all the people leading these organizations work in smaller ecosystems that have connections with other organizations that are dealing with the same exact problem, which is exactly why pond is so important. That’s exactly why there’s these large Facebook groups.

Tosha Anderson:

Hey, does anybody know how to fix this? Does anybody know a consultant that does that you get flooded with all these different people? You ask a question you’ll get 48 different responses, and then you have the burden of going through and actually vetting all of these different options. Uh, and to your point, in some cases, then you just get pestered with, you know, constant sales calls for, from providers, maybe even aren’t the best fit for it. So you said that, and I thought it was really interesting. And one other thing that I really love that you said that I find, and I am always on some sort of tirade about that. Um, there’s always this idea of capacity within the nonprofit organizations, right? You have to build capacity, you have to build capacity. And I work with a lot of smaller organizations, let’s say less than 3 million.

Tosha Anderson:

And in some cases their accounting is done by the founder or executive director, or it’s one of many hats that somebody’s wearing that might be also involved in, let’s say more operational office manager type roles. Right. And I see, um, not just corporate philanthropies, so giving away software that nobody trains them, how to use that happens all the time. But then I also see other funders, not necessarily corporate, but sometimes, but foundation type funders, um, that will say, oh, we’re gonna offer you to hire consultant. That does the neat and what I keep screaming to people. It’s not a training per se issue. You can train these folks all day long, but number one, you’re taking time that they don’t have to go through this training that they don’t wanna do for activities that they don’t have the bandwidth to do. Even if they are better trained, like actually put money or create a solution that allows them to truly delegate that function of the business.

Tosha Anderson:

They’re not trying to be better traded at bookkeeping. They want to hire a bookkeeper. So they don’t have to worry about this because going back to something you said before, oftentimes those leading organizations come through the programmatic side of the business, they don’t have the background in the back office stuff, whether it’s HR it or, um, financial management or any of those sort of things, right. They’re the nurses, the social workers or the educators or those folks. And that’s really where we want their skills, um, in talents enhancing the programs. So it makes me crazy when the idea is we’ll just give ’em discounted software or give them a little bit of training or we’ll provide all of our organizations, um, you know, uh, multi-class, you know, uh, webinar series. And like these EDS will go because you’re funders and they feel obligated to go, yeah, we’re not gonna not go. But the reality is it doesn’t actually create any capacity for them. So how can we connect them with providers that actually solve their problem? So anyway, I will digress on that, cause if you get me going on it, I,

Mitch Stein:

No, it’s all

Tosha Anderson:

You do a free training for our popular- and like, they don’t want your training. I’d be happy to do it. I remember when I was a CFO, I had to go to all these obligatory meetings when in reality, we all know anybody listening. Um, you know, that they’re mildly helpful sometimes, you know, um, the obligation of them. So anyway, I digress, no,

Mitch Stein:

No, no. I just would say quickly on that point, like I think there is a lot of dignity and choice. Um, and I bring that up because that’s a core concept on pond is we also have a, like nonprofit perk to the platform that nonprofits literally get paid to use the tool and engage with us in tons of different ways. Meaning they build up a balance of hundreds or thousands of dollars that they can turn around and spend on the stuff they’re discovering through the platform and do that on an ongoing basis. And so, um, that is not based on a coupon list that we have to different products. It’s you spent your time doing something and so you now have money to spend on other stuff. And I just bring that up because I wish everyone is so focused on capacity building, um, my money going to a specific program that I like, or like all these, like these efforts at controlling when like that, none of that is philanthropy. Same with like giving my product away for free. Like that’s not philanthropy, like real trust philanthropy is give people money so they know what they need. Like they, the right, if the right answer is that they need more capacity, they need some like capacity means like someone’s taking on a piece of work for them. Not that they’re adding something to their

Tosha Anderson:

Plate. Exactly.

Mitch Stein:

So like they need money to hire someone to do that internally or externally. And so I just think that narrative on capacity building, I agree should totally be shifted to trust philanthropy. Um, and then yeah, let people seek out the resources that they want, but like, have you been to the internet recently? Like there’s people can find answers. You don’t, there’s no magic in like your special webinar that you’re hosting, like whatever money you’re spending on that. Just put it in people’s pockets.

Tosha Anderson:

Yeah. I love that. So you have this idea that there are things that for-profits can learn from nonprofits and I absolutely agree as I, I have to tell people I run a for-profit business that works exclusively with nonprofits. So I’m to this line like every day. Um, but I’d be curious to hear from you, Mitch, um, you’ve worked in the impact in for-profit sectors, both of them, what could they learn from what can the for-profit world learn from the nonprofits? We’ll start there.

Mitch Stein:

Yeah. I mean, it’s a pretty, never ending list. I feel like I come up with another example. This is about every day, but I just think I count myself as it’s a massive blessing. Not only to be working on a company in this space, because I think there’s a massive opportunity and a lot of impact to be had. But I actually think because we listen so much to our nonprofit users, um, that they are what has really inspired all of the creativity for our business and, and what we’re doing for the company. Um, so a couple things that come to mind, I think community building is something that nonprofits do infinitely better than the, for profit counterparts. Um, you know, do your customers really feel a sense of belonging with your company? It’s pretty rare. It’s a really high bar and yet that’s like the bare minimum at a nonprofit, right?

Mitch Stein:

If you think of their customers as donors. Um, so I think there’s a lot to be said for shared mission with your audience. Um, I think some companies do better at this than others, but in everyone’s trying to be and oriented my God. I just started watching that new show with, um, that, uh, Elizabeth Holmes kind of docu-series on Hulu called the dropout. And there’s this really cringy moment where they’re asking her in this rapid fire interview, like one word to describe yourself and she sends mission, oh, sorry, mission oriented. Uh, which was just like, like really mission oriented. But I, so I don’t think a lot of companies do it super well. Um, and so that idea of like building community, like making the impact front and center of like why your customers are engaging with you. Yes. You’re solving a business problem for them. That’s why they’re engaging with you. But I think any ways that you can have shared collective mission with the people in stakeholders, in your audience, um, and turning that into community would be my number one lesson, but I could name a lot if you, we had more

Tosha Anderson:

Time. Yeah. I, I like that. I think, I think two kind of piggybacking on that with some mission focused. I think one of the things, you know, certainly obviously, um, my business is very focused on one thing. And one thing that I realized that nonprofits do really well, they constantly keep their offerings within a very niche, specific area, right. And a lot of business, they become conglomerate. They go to this, they go off to that. They’re chasing the dollars and people cue out of the nonprofits all the time. And I will say this from my own experience, right. And organization, they go through a lot of soul searching when they decide to add more programs and serve people that are maybe different than who they’re currently serving or, or in a different way. Right. And I will say that’s a lesson that I’ve learned when starting this business, because I get nonprofits to reach out to us all the time, asking me for this or that or this consulting project.

Tosha Anderson:

And I tell them, I’m only working with an organization under this budget size. I, we work with organizations in this way. I don’t take on any consulting projects. Like it’s a very small box. And the reason for that, that much like nonprofits, they wanna be really good at the few things that they do. And that’s my philosophy too. I don’t need to be okay at all of the things related to accounting. For example, I get people asking me probably once a week, working with for-profit businesses. I’m not gonna work with for-profit businesses. Oh, you should consider doing this. You, what about startups? They’re, you know, they’re really great and they need a lot of help. They do, but I’m only working. So that paying attention to mission creep is the buzzword in the nonprofit space. And making sure that for profit businesses don’t have their mission period. And I’ve learned you can go much further, faster, focusing your energy on a very small service offering and getting it really well. If I try to be everything to everybody, we would be much different. We would be much smaller and I suspect much more stressed out than, um, then, then where you’re at right now. So

Mitch Stein:

Something I talk a lot about, um, which I refer to as the pink sherbert theory, which is like, if you’re trying to be everything to everyone, your vanilla and like you’re no one’s favorite to keep talking about in terms of ice cream flavors. Right. And it’s like, when talk, thinking about funders and donors, there is such an unlimited audience of, I know it doesn’t feel like that. Oftentimes when you’re on the front line, writing your 100th grant application or like hunting down your, uh, you know, thousandth major donor to try to get a gift. But the truth is there is a lot of money out there. And if you’re struggling with a wide audience, it’s probably because you’re too wide. Like you should have a short list of people that you are the, like you would rather have 15 rabid fans of pink sherbert and just be pink sherbert, because they’re gonna help you connect with more people who really resonate with that specific mission. Um, and you won’t be working so hard because you’re just by virtue of doing, serving your mission better, you will be, you know, doing a better job fundraising. So I, I think that is, um, something businesses can learn from nonprofits too, is just like, figure out who you are and be that, and be like the best thing that you can, um, and stop trying, stop trying to, to be vanilla.

Tosha Anderson:

It reached me back to a quote. That’s one of my favorite, um, that said, if you can’t be the best be different. And that was my thought too. Like I don’t have all of the accounting rules for industry’s memorized in my brain, but where we are different, I’m only working with this group of people. I know a lot about this tiny little group of people in the grand scheme of the world. Uh, and I’m okay with that and that’s different and how we approach our work is different. And so, um, it echoes everything what you’re saying. And I kind of laugh at the pink sherbert because there’s this little ice cream shop right around the corner of, for me. And my favorite is their lemon poppy seed, vegan ice cream, and they have this fantastic vanilla. But when I go there, I’m not trying to look into vanilla. Like they have all of these fantastic flavors and there’s the lonely vanilla there. So it’s a good point. Um, and I love the pink. She, my pink sherbert is this lemon poppy seed. And it’s fantastic. I’m going there and excited about that. Um, even if some people think lemon poppyseed, what the heck vegan too. Um,

Mitch Stein:

Doesn’t matter. That’s what works for you. That’s, what’s important.

Tosha Anderson:

They, you know, and they only have a little, you know, three gallon bucket that’s, it’s not made for everybody. So, um, so one round out, um, what is the most exciting thing that’s going on at pond right now that we can talk about?

Mitch Stein:

Yeah, so literally last Friday from when we’re recording this. So here in early March, um, we launched, uh, completely redid our platform and launched a new feature called projects. And so I think this is a big step for us in, um, now nonprofit members on pond can create a project for about anything and have multiple going on at once and connect their teams to them. So, um, the idea is that you can get really specific on a certain question or search you have going on and manage those independently and get to like discreet timeframes, budgets, requirements, integrations, like whatever you want and have all that packaged up really nicely to help make those connections around different need areas, as efficient as possible. Um, we launched that on Friday and we had over 20 projects posted in our first day. So we’re really, really excited about that. Um, also for the rest of March, anyone who joins ponds that starts a project just automatically gets $200 in their account as we’re get, um, that new feature going. So, um, that’s what I’m most excited about. I think there’s so much to build on top of that in reaching new types of providers and solving new kinds of problems. Um, and so it’s really just the beginning and expanding the capabilities of the platform.

Tosha Anderson:

I love that. Yeah, it was, I was on the website today, creeping on, uh, those projects. And they’re really interesting. And I, and I’m also very curious about the different projects people are asking for some don’t surprise me and some kinda do in an interesting and, and fun and creative way. And it’s really cool to see what organizations are doing to really move the needle on the platforms that they’re using or how they’re reaching out to donors or oper- just what operational challenges they’re, they’re dealing with. So it’s in your background, but for those that can’t see your background, I guess the easiest way to find pond would be going to the website, join pond.com. Is that right? Mitch?

Mitch Stein:

Yep. Join pond.com. Like I said, it’s, it’s completely free, uh, completely free to join and we reward our members. You just start building up a balance to use on the platform if, and when you’re ready. Um, also I’m happy to chat with anyone who has questions or wants helped navigating or, or questions about specific projects I’ve met with literally over a thousand different vendors of solutions and products and services. So, um, you know, I’d love to my email is just Mitch@joinpond.com. So anyone who wants to reach out and catch up I’d, I’d love to, um, and then I’m most where all Pond is on LinkedIn, on Facebook, on, on Twitter, on Instagram, but I’m also super active on LinkedIn. So encourage folks to connect with me there. Um, just Mitch Stein Pond, uh, you should be able to find me I’m pretty loud for a written platform.

Tosha Anderson:

Great, great. We like loud. Uh, okay, Mitch. Well, then that was gonna be my next question. If people wanna follow your journey, how did they find you? So it sounds like LinkedIn. So we’ll put that in the show notes, Mitch, I wanna say thank you again for such an interesting conversation. Um, obviously I’m biased. I’m much of an operations junk. As I mentioned before, join PON sounds like an amazing solution for people to get connected with those people that could help them that desperately need help. Um, so thank you again for coming on and sharing your story, talking a little bit more about what join PON hopes to solve in this sector. And for those of you that wanna learn more about all of the work old problems that Mitch is solving, uh, go over to join.com or check out on LinkedIn. So Mitch, thank you again so much. Appreciate it. No, thank.

223857.c23b41d2d17906fed1fe0b5be33e7440

Don't hire the wrong accountant for your nonprofit!

The #1 accounting mistake that nonprofits make is hiring the wrong people to help them.

Get this FREE guide to discover what you need to do to ensure you hire the right accountant, bookkeeper, or CFO the FIRST time.

Get the free guide!

0 Comments

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: