In this series of Group Thinkers podcast episodes, our focus is on leadership. Throughout each episode, we’ll chat with leaders in the nonprofit and commercial space to learn more about their careers and the unique journeys that led them to where they are today.
On this episode, we sit down with Becky Endicott, Co-Founder and Chief Storyteller of “We Are For Good,” to discuss:
- How she started in the fundraising sector (9:41)
- Creating the We Are For Good movement with Jon McCoy (14:59)
- Her mental health journey (24:25)
- How trust and transparency play into We Are For Good (35:54)
- Who she is learning from (44:36)
Meet our guest
Co-Founder and Chief Storyteller of We Are For Good
"It was really important for us to share that story out loud and say, “Am I the only one dealing with this?” Because if I am, OK, that's a journey for me. But if I’m not, there are tenants to be learned here. Community was really the thing that got me out of it―finding a therapist, finding a psychiatrist, telling my friends, getting support at work. I had been masking and masking my pain because I knew everybody else at work had stress and pain, and it was not the way. ... And I think we're just now beginning to uncover how deep this is because no one's having this conversation.”
Justin: Welcome to Group Thinkers. I'm your host, Justin McCord. And with me, as you can see and/or are about to hear, here's Ronnie. So, Group Thinkers is the podcast of RKD Group, and on each and every episode, we're honestly, at this point, we're just trying to learn from people, and, you know, we have a wide range of guests that sit down with us, and we like to explore different avenues of nonprofit marketing and fundraising. We like to explore people's journeys. And it's because we have come to really appreciate how peoples’ journeys form who they are and what they're doing. And this is a special episode for us because we're putting this episode out during mental health week, mental illness awareness week, which is the first full week of October every year. And on this episode, we have Becky Endicott, who is a part of the team behind We Are For Good. Ronnie, tell us a little bit about Becky and the We Are For Good movement.
Ronnie: So, Becky's got a really fascinating journey. I feel like I say that a lot, but it's true. She was in the nonprofit sector for 20 years, and she takes us through that journey some, but she got to a point where just the pressure and the mental load on her became too much. And it’s something that we see across the sector a lot, this idea of burnout; we've talked about it. And she just, kind of, had this moment of, I need to do something different, and she'll talk all about it in the episode. So she, along with Jon McCoy, started We Are For Good, and it's a social impact movement, and they have a podcast that's extremely popular. And she just, really, it's just a fabulous journey.
Justin: Yeah. And a fabulous person, I think the thing that strikes me about We Are For Good is that Becky and Jon are in this to lift people up, to create community, which is, you know, a group of people with shared beliefs and shared values. And so they're, in fact, spreading good, spreading good ideas. And, that's refreshing. And they do such a great job of creating content and telling people's stories and telling their own story. And so, you know, it's, frankly, it's a pleasure for us and an honor for us to get to have her tell her story and a part of her story with her mental health journey. And it's an important conversation, not just for this week, but for those of us in the sector as we navigate, you know, continued pressure. And it's not just a new thing. It's just that I think that we're now becoming more in tune with the opportunity and the importance of walking through these things out loud. So this is, it's a special episode. And so, without further ado, here's Becky Endicott of We Are For Good on Group Thinkers.
So, Becky, we're gonna just dive right into this thing. First of all, welcome. That's the first part is welcome.
Becky: Thanks for having me. I'm so excited to be here.
Justin: Yeah. We're thrilled to have you here. And here's where I wanna dive in. Like, we wanted to have this conversation because mental health is such a focus of your movement, yours and Jon's movement. And when we release this, we'll be a part of us thinking about and talking about some of the mental health challenges that are pervasive within the space. And so, we're gonna get into your story today, but where I want to start is, in the last 3 years, have there been multiple moments, many moments … how often have you found yourself, like, on the verge of significant anxiety around the work of We Are For Good and the pressure around the movement that you've created?
Becky: Are you kidding? Every dang day of my life I'm feeling the anxiety and the pressure of it. Oh, yeah. It is … I could have never foreseen this and what would come of it. And, yeah, my therapist and I talk about it every Wednesday afternoon and how to navigate, how do you lean into being an influencer when you don't wanna be an influencer? But you want the conversation to keep going, and you want it to keep growing, and you wanna be in it enough that you can help guide because you've tripped through it and failed through it. But yeah, having the weight of that feels like a lot sometimes, but it's, like, one of the most dignified and beautiful obligations and things that I've taken into my life because of how it's connected me to human beings like never before.
Justin: Is it more, or less or different than the pressure you felt as a fundraiser?
Becky: Very good question. I would say, it's different. I think when you have people who are willing to step forward and share the most vulnerable and difficult parts of their life with you, there is this responsibility. At least, I feel it as an empath and as an enneagram too; I feel the need to carry that and nurture it incredibly well. And the amount of suffering that happens in the sector that's whispered about, and emailed to me, and DMed to me and apologized for. I mean, I get the apology before anyone ever goes into their story, which tells me how sick we are because we're finding that we can't even just say it without saying, am I bothering you? Is this a burden on you? Is this gonna stigmatize me to you? And so, I would say it's a different feeling than if I had to go in and ask for ten million dollars for a project, and that, kind of, is a, to me, that's more of an adrenaline rush. This, this feels like something like your child, like, that you need to walk very carefully with, treat very carefully and just sit back and listen and understand. And that's really where I think I am. It's just trying to understand where this sector is, where I am, where people are, and how we can be a conduit to getting healing, unlearning, more learning. And more kindness and compassion everywhere we go.
Justin: Okay. So that's a good segue into ... Let's rewind all the way back. Let's rewind to, like, little Becky. What was the first thing that little Becky wanted to be when she grew up?
Becky: Okay. Are you ready for this? Little Becky wanted to be a horror author. When I was very small … my dad is a voracious reader. Everyone in my family reads a lot, and my dad loves Stephen King. And I really wanted to connect with my dad, on my books. And so, I started out reading “The Stand,” which was really insanely long, like, almost a thousand pages, like, when I was 10, and it scared me.
Ronnie: I was gonna say, how old were you?
Becky: Yeah. It scared me enough that I didn't read it again until I was about 13. And I just loved sitting at my grandma's typewriter, and, like, click, click, click, click, and typing a story out. And I think I was just a born storyteller. So when I got older, I thought, you know, when I was in middle school, I wanted to be the on-air public relations or talent for the St. Louis Cardinals because I love Cardinals baseball so much. But, yeah, the writing has always been there for me, and I always, shockingly, had a lot to say.
Justin: It's not shocking. It's not shocking for anybody. No.
Becky: It's not shocking.
Ronnie: Is there a horror novel out there written by you?
Becky: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I mean, I used to write them for my father on the typewriter, and it would be, you know, I don't do any of the things I teach people now. Like, there's, there's not a lot of conflict. There's no ebb and flow. There's no hero’s journey. There's no anchors and emotion. It was just, kinda like, I walked into the scary house; something jumped out; I did something; they did something. And it was just these short little blurbs that would take me forever because when you're a kid trying to type on a typewriter and you're backing up and all the things ... Yeah. I'm sure there are many out there that my parents can unearth and embarrass me with, Ronnie. So
Justin: That's amazing. Yeah. So, mine wasn't of the horror variety. Mine was more of the sci-fi and adventure variety. And they still, to this day, my parents will bring folders with brads―you remember the little, like, the brad that you stick in the, like, separated part―where, you know, stories that they've kept of the all the wild adventures.
So, okay, so from this idea of telling the stories, how the heck did you end up as a fundraiser? Like, what was that journey out of school? Like this and it is scary. Right? Like, there are some scary movies there.
Becky: There's the horror back, which is ironic because I don't, like, read; I don't know that I've read two horror novels my whole life because that’s just not my jam, but, you know, I, I was a public relations of marketing major in college, and I did a lot of internships in the summer. And I realized quickly that my internships were showing me what I did not want to do in life. So, I worked at an agency. I did not like that at all. I worked at a very, very massive oil company. And you would know the name, you know, and I worked in their corporate communications department and was way scared out of being a female, trying to work on communications and find my voice in that sector. And then I found nonprofit, and it just felt like my people. It felt like home, and I got my job at the Science Museum, Oklahoma. Those who grew up around here would know it used to be called Omniplex. And it, it was such a great irony and challenge for me as a writer because I knew nothing about science. And I was writing to the lowest common denominator of a reader, which was great because that was me. So, then a little ways into that journey, I got a call from my alma mater, which is Oklahoma State University's Foundation, and they said, we've never had a marketing department. We know you're young, but we think you could come build this for us. And I was 24 at the time. I did not know what I was doing. And I basically said, well, if I'm gonna come up here, I'm just gonna find a way to tell the story of philanthropy in a way it's never been told before. And do I have your permission to do that? And my boss at the time, Kirk Jewel, said, go for it. I'll give you a budget. I had a great mentor, Bob Klein, who's the VP of development, and they just let me run. And they were very, very wise in that they put me in every marketing and communications class/webinar/book that I wanted to consume, but they also put me in every development training so I would know the language; I would know pathways; I would know donor journeys; I would know strategy. And so, I kind of got this dual education at Oklahoma State University at a time when it was having crazy philanthropy. We were in the middle of a billion-dollar campaign that we helped launch, and my―little-known fact: Jon McCoy, my business partner at We Are For Good, he was the one that just pulled that logo out―he's a graphic designer―out from his hip pocket after we had paid a major marketing firm to develop one. He ended up developing it. And, yeah, it was the time of Boone Pickens, and we would walk into, you know, an event, and he would just keep giving out hundred-million-dollar gifts everywhere we turn for all kinds of things, and it seemed normal. And I thought it was normal to have a million-dollar marketing budget. That is not normal, and those were the days of the land of milk and honey. And then I went into healthcare philanthropy, moved back to Oklahoma City, worked for Oklahoma’s largest, not-for-profit health care employer. We are getting sued by a very major country music star― that was the beginning of my journey―and realized that we had no culture of philanthropy there. And so, I recruited Jon. Again, he's like my little brother, my work little brother to this nonprofit, and we stayed 10 years testing these theories that we had about humanity, about the way that we could connect with human beings, not necessarily to raise money but to create a connection that was deeper, that … yes, money would be a part of that. Giving would be a part of it, but it was about movements. It was about belief. It was about values. It was about humanity. And we were lucky enough, again, to have a CEO that gave us leverage to try out some of these things, and it shocked us all when they worked. So … but being nice tends to work. And I don't want to sugarcoat it that much, but there is something in showing up for another human being kindly that has been a great multiplier for our company.
Ronnie: I'm always so fascinated by the guests we have. When they start telling us their path, first of all, how they got into the nonprofit field is always very … so similar, like, I just ended up there. I'm not really sure.
Becky: All of us.
Ronnie: But then the other part, I'm starting to hear a lot of like you just said: I was 25. I was 24. They gave me this huge budget and said, go with it. And I mean, I said the same thing. We just talked to Rhea Wong, and I've said that when I was that age, I didn't know what I was doing. I can't imagine being given that kind of a budget and saying, go. There you go. Just run with it. So I wanna tie that a little bit, too. You know, you worked in this, in the nonprofit field for so long, and I know the pressure is there. The … burnout is a real thing in the industry. Can you take us through how you got from working in that field with Jon to, kind of, starting that We Are For Good movement that you have going now.
Becky: Yeah. Thank you for talking just about pressures and compassion fatigue, burnout, I think even just power dynamics, everything that comes as a result of trying to feed a machine that has so much more power than you, there’s something that happens to our bodies and our minds when we do that. And so, we had, we were tasked with this opportunity from our CEO. And he said―I love how I say, ‘tasked with an opportunity.’ That's, that was the PR way when it was, hey, Becky and Jon, go build an employee-giving campaign. And so, and you've got, like, four months. And so, the journey of We Are For Good really started with that challenge because we started doing all this research on employee giving campaigns, and we just hated every single one of them. And we just like clean design. We like smart marketing, and everything we were looking at was so kitschy and, you know, Casino Royal, and get a cart filled with, you know, candy bars and go hand them out with your pledge cards to your nurses on night, you know, during night rotations. And it was, like, nothing connected. And so we said, what if we did everything the opposite. What if we literally flip that donor pyramid upside down? And we said, what if we focus on that base? And what if we worked on telling their story? And what if it wasn't just an employee campaign? What if it was an internal movement that, if we could make the internal piece so strong, that people who saw it from the outside would wanna be a part of it? Or they would see it from the outside, and it would inspire trust, and it would inspire innovation, and it would inspire healing. And so, we basically started this employee campaign asking two questions, and it was, “What are you passionate about?” And, “Would you consider making a gift of any amount there?” And it doesn't matter what it is. It can be one dollar. It can be a hundred dollars. It could be ten hours of paid time off. It could be, you know, a one-time gift. And so, we just made it so much less about the money and more about the story. And the more we heard each other's stories, the more we started to see each other in different lights, and it was completely, again, unfocus on the donor pyramid because if we were going to the base, then that meant we needed to talk a lot less to the C suite, and we need to talk a lot more to our frontline workers, to our janitors, to the men who work in the boiler rooms or the tech, you know, the respiratory tech. And all of a sudden, the way that we saw each other was flipped on its head. And we didn't see Ronnie. We saw a dad who had a premature baby who almost died, but if it wasn't for the NICU, then Ronnie wouldn't have been a father. That's way different than seeing Ronnie from IT. And … or not even knowing that Janice, who works in the burn center, has this very unique connection to transplants because her husband got her kidney. You know? And these stories, when it became about the story and about the human being, the financial part was just ancillary, but it ended up being a huge component. And so, we moved from about 300 donors, giving about $22,000 a year out of 10,000 employees, to now it's almost 4,000 donors a year, giving a million dollars back to this nonprofit, and it's nurses giving back. And it's, you know, it's a woman pushing, you know, a cleaning cart who's giving 10 dollars, you know, per pay period, which is a lot to her, because her mom passed away from cancer, and this is their family's legacy. And the thing that we weren't expecting was how it changed us as human beings and what we saw as a result of that. And so, as we're powering this thing, and it's a big machine to power―10,000 people trying to get those messages out, which, you know, you get the, the stress―here comes the stress and the anxiety. But the joy that comes on the back end of giving people agency to share that story and to allow it to inspire somebody else to come forward because that's their story, they just haven't breathed it out loud yet. And so, we noticed that it was culture shifting. People wanted to stay longer at the organization. They wanted to rep the brand everywhere they could. On their e-signature. They wanted to wear the T-shirts. So then, giving became a brand, and being a part of the movement became a brand. And we basically took a step back and said, we think we've stumbled on something. I don't think it's employee giving. We think it's bigger than that. What if we applied this to a gala. Sorry, we're from Oklahoma, so we call a gala, not Gala. We're hicks. And, what if we applied it to this, you know, 50-million-dollar campaign we have going on? And when we started to nestle values in there, we started to nestle story. We started to put the problem, the focus, the need and the solution in front of everybody, not just that top donor who could give it all. You know, I had a great donor one time that says, you can't take it when you die; you can't take any of it, you know, in a U-Haul trailer. Nothing. So, leave it all behind, and we just started giving that exercise to everyone. And the effect did have the effect that we wanted it to have. It was not just a movement internally. Then we turned it out to our board, and then we turned it on to our donors, then we turned it over into the community, and there was just a way for anyone to be able to plug in. And we just, kinda, cocked our eyebrow and said, okay, how do we get a model around this? How do we get a framework? How do we have more conversations about story, about thinking differently, about upending the way we've always been taught? And, P.S., like, taking care of ourselves, how do we have a bigger conversation about that? And Jon is such a serial entrepreneur and so wise, and he said, look, I think we could drop a podcast. No one's having this conversation and long form content and wrapping it in community. And if we did it 3 days a week, we could chart content and community so fast that after a while, no one could catch us―unless they were doing it 5 times a week, which he did try to talk me into. And I said no. So, we're doing what our producer, Julie, and I can handle. But he's right. And now we're three years in, four hundred and sixty something episodes. We actually just crossed half a million downloads on Friday. And it has turned into so much more than a media company. It's turned into more of a conversation. It is a movement and it's a group of people rising up saying, we think we can make a difference in the world. We're still ridiculous, idealist, but we wanna do it differently. We wanna do it together, and we wanna try some stuff. And we wanna have the freedom to try some stuff―which, that's our real technical phrase for innovation. So that's, kind of, the We Are For Good inception story.
Justin: It’s such a fascinating journey. It really is.
Becky: It’s so bizarre, isn’t it? It is.
Justin: It is, it is. Right? But that's, I think that's what's so joyful about people's stories is because everyone's story is a roller coaster. And that doesn't mean that there's always ups and downs. Sometimes it's that you spin around or that you find yourself upside down. Like, that's a part of the beauty of both the community but then also the content that you and Jon and Julie put out is that you're celebrating individuals and individual enlightenment, individual contributions. And it's refreshing to see a model, even though it's a lot. It's a lot on y'all in terms of recording 3 times a week and putting out stuff. But it's refreshing because it does celebrate people. It celebrates individuals. So, there's, there's two different places that my mind goes. I wanna come back to something that you said about trust as it relates to some of this stuff because we're obsessed with trust right now. So, I wanna come back to that. But before we get there, I want to have you share a little bit of the story, and the aspect of mental health within your story, because it's connected through all of these things, through the formation of the moment, through―which, by the way, for our audience, there's a fantastic episode that you can find where Becky goes through her story and talks about a mental health challenge and moment, or series of moments. And so, if you would be so kind as to share a snippet of that with us, we'd certainly appreciate it.
Becky: Justin, you're being so kind. Justin's, like, talking about my complete and total nervous breakdown, which was like a complete and mental collapse, and I'm so open about sharing it. I wanna thank you guys for holding space for it because when I was starting to feel sick, I didn't know anybody in my whole world, and I knew a lot of people in nonprofit, who had had some sort of a mental crisis while they were working in their mental health job. And so, I mean, my journey, you are most welcome to listen to it. I shared it on the We Are For Good Podcast as our first episode on our first ever mental health week, which is a week we take over the podcast, and we drop five episodes during the week all about how to care for yourself. Because we just believe mental wellness is somehow this thing that's in the trunk in nonprofit. We don't talk about it. We don't address it. We don't pull it out. And yet, it's the thing that, maybe the thing that holds us all together. It could be foundational in everything because when you have joy in your life, you wanna pour into creativity and people, into your work, into things that are important to you. And when you don't, it's hard to pour into anything. And so, I just was feeling very unwell in a season. This was 2018. Started out with my primary care physician. I wasn't sleeping well. My body didn't feel well. And, just for some context for your listeners, I mean, I had two young children at the time, 4- and 7-year-old daughters; I was a full-time working mom. And that means I’m at a 150% percent every day because I would give my job 100%, and then I would give my kids, try to give them, 100%. And, you know, the percentages wouldn't always work out. And I was just really tired. And I thought, like every single person who doesn't feel well, you know, that I had a tumor or something, so we ruled that out immediately. And I remember one time at one of my appointments, my doctor looked at me and said, “Are you feeling anxious?” Because the way I explained it to her was, I feel like when I lay down in bed at night, I have 50 Espresso's, like, charging through my body. And while I'm exhausted, I can't figure out why I feel so charged and amped up. And come to find out that was adrenaline. And it was just an inability to just turn anything off. And I just think, in this work, we care so much. There are so many people who are so dedicated to their nonprofit, to their mission, to their beneficiaries, to the people who are getting their services that they just cannot let go. And I think that this is the thing that is really bankrupting the sector in a way that's not financial, but it has very deep financial, you know, off-puttings from it. So, I ended up studying for the CFRE. And I was trying to get my CFRE, and while I was studying for it, I had that, whatever that snap is, that moment where I just snapped. And I was sitting on the couch, and I found myself staring about 5 inches from the wall, hysterically crying. And I had, and my heart was just racing. I didn't know at the time I was having a panic attack. And I'm not a big crier―another part of the problem, don't bury your feelings―and I just felt panicky. And the only way that I knew how to deal with stress at the time because I had to pass this exam; I felt so much pressure, like many people taking that exam, I needed to pass it, and I knew the pass rate was not high. And so, through my nervous breakdown, I picked up my binder, and I picked up my book, and I kept going. And it is still, today, the most insane thing I have ever done, that I would keep going and …
Justin: Just gotta grind through it.
Becky: Yes. Like, and what in our brain makes us feel like we have to grind through it? And finally, you know, I was having 18-hour-a-day panic attacks. Like, I would have them in my sleep, you know, which gives you stress dreams and these horrible things. And finally, my husband looked at me, and he's just the most wonderful man, and he was an attorney who was getting ready to go to court. And he said, do I have your permission to take over right now? And it was, like, the first time I let go, and I said, yes. And he canceled his trial date. He drove me to the doctor. I got 9 months' worth of trying to figure out the right psychotropic, you know, prescription medicine that I could take that would not drain my energy or not make me feel depressed and, you know, I was at the same time trying to finish out this 46-million-dollar campaign. And I had a 5-million-dollar burn endowment campaign I was also trying to fundraise for on the side as a major gift officer, and I was trying so hard to finish those things up at year end because I decided I was gonna take three months off, and I was gonna take short-term disability. And I did all the research on that. I was really lucky to work for a company that just let me go for three months. But the grind to get there set me back probably a month because I think for the first month that I was in that, that just sitting at home, I would just stare out the window, trying to quiet my mind, trying to just quiet my body and just go outside, walk the dog, maybe read a book, but mostly not do much. And it took a good month for me to unwind. Just the neuro trauma and just that constant being on and having what I call a mental rolodex of things that you need to do in your life just flitting all the time, even when you lay down. And so, it was really important for us to share that story out loud and say, am I the only one dealing with this? Because if I am, okay, that's a journey for me, but if I'm not, there are tenants to be learned here, and community was really the thing that got me out of it―finding a therapist, finding a psychiatrist, telling my friends, getting support at work―and I had been masking and masking my pain because I knew everybody else at work had stress and pain, and it was not the way. And so, it's been a real blessing for us to just to be able to hold space for nonprofit professionals to talk to us about that. And I would say, ever since that episode dropped, I get a story a week from somebody that I don't know who hits me up in a DM, an email, and just tells me their story, and basically whispers, “That’s me too.” And I think we're just now beginning to uncover how deep this is because no one's having this conversation.
Justin: Absolutely. It's very brave, by the way, for you to be willing to share it. And it's important for people to be able to, you know, honor that space and also allow for themselves to be able to share those things, whether or not you send it in a DM to Becky or you have the conversation with your partner, your spouse. And you're right, I think I was actually listening to, this weekend, Adam Grant―one of my go to weekend lessons―his episode with Jim Gaffigan, and Gaffigan's talking about the pandemic impact. But he's talking about the pandemic impact on his kids. And, and, you know, I've shared with you my wife being a principal in elementary school. Ronnie and I have kids about the same age as you, and you see the impact on them, and sometimes we don't even realize the last couple of years, the impact on ourselves. On top of what we see, you know, in other places. So …
Becky: Thank you for bringing that up because I have really lived this mental health journey out loud to my daughters. And one of them, in the pandemic, you know―and she's consented that I can share this with people on the podcast, you know, that she has an anxiety disorder―And I think we made changes in our life as a way to not grind it out, back to your point. I mean, both my kids get a mental health day every single year where they get to come to me and say, I don't wanna go to school. It's too much. I need a day off, and we go play that day. And at lunch, we talk about how we're doing. We have, you know, a check-in every single day on how our body is, and how it's feeling. We have a check-in every day to know what was the good point of our day, and what was the low point about our day? We make time to unwind and disconnect from tech. And so, I do think that having this conversation in a louder way is a good thing to model to our kids and to our coworkers too.
Justin: And it's the healthiest thing for ourselves. You know, like, it is. It's the healthiest thing for ourselves. And, you know, it's funny because you alluded to this, and it's something that's near and dear for us. And we wrapped it in a way that was, you know, part humor, but we also wanted to be approachable, and that's in so much of the stuff that we've been putting out over the last, you know, handful of months, when we talk about, you know, quitting bad fundraising, etc. And we talk specifically about a hamster on a wheel. And, and that’s not intended to be in any way belittling or reducing of those of us who are addicted to our work. The reality is, hamsters, they show signs of addiction, right? You get on the wheel because you think that that's what you're supposed to do. And you run and you run faster because that is what you're conditioning yourself to do. And that's where a lot of us find ourselves, right? And certainly, in the nonprofit space, we're faced with so many different pressures that sometimes the thing that we know that is a comfort is just to get on and keep running, even if it's not necessarily the best thing for us. Right? You just keep running. Keep running. Keep running. It has an impact over time. It really does.
Becky: Justin, you’re so right. I see it all the time, and how can we do all the things? Drink water, get outside, work out, eat healthy, have mental health breaks. Play with our kids. Do our work. I mean, empty the dishwasher ... The list is so long, and it's so unachievable. And I think it's very interesting for, like, Gen X, you know, specifically. I'm part of Gen X, and one of the things I've learned is that girls who grew up in the '80s, you know, had all the gender norms put on them. You know, this is what a mom looks like, but we were also told, you can do anything you wanna do. You can burst through the glass ceiling, but it's hard to do both concurrently. And I just think that spending some time in, in quiet and disconnecting is a way to ground ourselves again and give us agency over quiet, and ease and creativity. So, thanks for saying that. Yeah.
Justin: Okay. So, on the, on the idea of trust, as I mentioned, we're, increasingly we find ourselves focused on thinking about trust and, more so, thinking about what it looks like to be worthy of someone else's trust. I’m not saying, be trustworthy, because that's, like, this absentness that you can't quite achieve, but you can be worthy of someone else's trust. How does that idea play out in the work of We Are For Good?
Becky: Okay. Trust is one of the few things I think in life that you cannot fabricate right now. And in a time where we are so digitally connected and interdependent on our tech, we don't know who to trust online anymore. And I think that people are … if you look at, like, the Edelman trust barometer, I know you guys have seen that, like, even last year again, nonprofit, second straight year that trust has gone down. I mean, corporations are more trusted than nonprofits right now, which is absolutely shocking. And I have a lot of theories about why I think that is, but one, we're not telling our story well. We're not telling the story of what's happening well, and I don't mean, like, the Norman Rockwell version of what's happening that used to be sort of the MO. And believe me, I was a part of powering some of that communication back in the day because that is how it was framed to be. These are the great things about our organization. We don't wanna show you, you know, what's behind the curtain, but we gotta talk about what we need. We gotta talk about harm. And I think when you are more authentic, I think when you are more vulnerable, there is something that happens with trust there. And I just think we're watching what's happening with Twitter and X; we're watching what's happening with mainstream media, and people don't know what platforms are trusted. They don't know which influencers are trusted. So, if you can bake that in on the front end, if you can say, you know, this is who I am. These are the values I stand for, and I want you to hold me accountable to them. And we have eight values, We Are For good, and we talk about them all the time because we see them all the time in our content. And the most beautiful thing that happens is when the audience calls them out for us when they see them reflected. We see this all the time online, or sometimes our guest, you know, is a fan of the show, and they call them back out. Or sometimes we get called in, which is so great, you know, where somebody says, I saw on your website, it doesn't feel like it's supporting this, which has happened at least 3 times that I can think of in our work. And every single time we go back and say, thank you for feeling brave enough that you could tell us this. Thank you for telling us because you're right, and we're reexamining it. And by the way, like, you're forever gonna be one of our dear friends that we think is gonna tell us when we have broccoli in our teeth. And so, I just think it is the future. We're watching what's happening with trust-based philanthropy. I mean, what MacKenzie Scott has sort of ushered in. Trust-based leadership was one of our nine trends that we said, this is the future, at the beginning of the year. Of what we see. And we're seeing it play out in some really beautiful ways. I think―one example, we interviewed Mona Sinha, who is the chairwoman of the board for Women Moving Millions, and you have to have a million dollars to even get into this nonprofit. And they are moving the needle, these women, many, many of them on major equity issues. And she's saying, you know, trust has gotta be baked into everywhere. And it's gotta be, like, for her, she says, you know, you gotta switch the way you think about trust with your board. You know, we need to, the board needs to be depending on you rather than you depending on the board. How do we all believe so deeply in this vision that we're gonna be honest, that we're gonna hold each other accountable, that we're gonna be entirely transparent. We're gonna say when we messed up; we're going to own our behavior. Something just happens when you start leading like that. And we're watching cultures where the culture's getting so much healthier because the leader is being more transparent about their struggles and about what they're working through. They're spending more time listening to staff and not just top donors. And so, all of that has an effect in the way that you are represented and your brand's represented. It shows up in your content. It shows up in your photos. I think you wanna be, you know, you wanna commit to, like, ethical storytelling. People start to feel that, and they start to feel safe with you. And safety and trust are things I think we're all desperately looking for right now, post pandemic. And we really look at the world as BC and AC. Like, before COVID and, AC, after COVID. It was just, kind of like, how are we gonna move forward? And we didn't wanna be looking in the rearview mirror. We wanted to look at what's working right now. And being authentic, being curious, bringing other people along, and saying, I'm sorry when you mess up, it is one of the greatest currencies that you cannot fake ever. You can't buy it. You cannot fake it. And so, I think that is the future of what we're gonna see in media. And I think we're gonna start seeing what you said before, which is, like, a creator economy. It's gonna be less about what big media companies put out and more about what the one creator is gonna do and how do nonprofits think about that in a way that they are a creator. That we have a trust-based duty of care, not just to our donors. That would be the pyramid. We gotta duty of care to the people behind us who are powering us on staff. We've got a duty of care to these volunteers. To the guy keeping the light on for us. And all of a sudden, trust bakes into that, and we're seeing just some incredible organizations take off who've actually implemented this.
Ronnie: That's so true. I mean, trust is, it's absolutely the bedrock of every relationship we have, every interaction with anyone. And we found it, like Justin said, we've been obsessed with this idea of trust over the last, I don't know how many months. And so, we did, we did some research where we asked donors, what causes you to trust or not trust a nonprofit organization. And, you know, without getting into all the details of it, like, the two things that stood out were transparency and competence. So, tell me about what you're gonna do, and actually do it and report back on what you're doing. It seems so simple, but sometimes we just fail in that.
Okay. I wanna get to something before we wrap up. So, I wanna do a lightning round of questions here.
Becky: Hit me
Ronnie: Alright. What is the worst feedback you've ever received?
Becky: Becky has a pecking order. This was in a 360 evaluation I got when I was 26. Becky has a pecking order. If you are a good person and a good human, she gives you her attention, If you're a pain in the butt, you go to the bottom of her pack, and guess what? It was 100% true, and somebody called me out for it.
Justin: We have a friend who, I have given her that unsolicited 360 feedback, but we refer to it as “Janet Island.” That she puts them on an island that no one can reach― Oh, that person, they went to Janet Island. Yeah.
Becky: Yeah. Oh, that's hilarious. It reminds me of the island of Lost Boys in Pinocchio. Like, I don't wanna create that for people. Hilarious.
Ronnie: Banished. Alright. Okay. What's your ideal day? Work or not work, either way.
Becky: Oh, well, I definitely would not be working, but I would be interacting with people that I care about. So, I would probably be on a run. I would probably be on the mountains. I would definitely have coffee and chocolate at some point, and then I would probably have dogs around me, and my children and, yeah, just being untethered and unconnected to something sounds like a great day to me.
Ronnie: Sounds pretty good. Who are you learning from right now?
Becky: I'm on a really big Seth Godon kick right now. We were lucky enough to get to interview him for the launch of our season, and he's just been this great marketing oracle. For me, I found one of his books when I was 25. And he always just seemed like the soothsayer of saying the things that I was thinking in my head but I did not see anyone implementing in my world or in my life. And he's so kind, and we had this great conversation with him, and he was generous. And I want people to know this about him. But even when the cameras were off, he turned to us and said, I love what you're doing. I want it to keep going. How can I help your business? And then he gave us an hour of coaching into what was working, what wasn't working. And it, it just … and he, of course, there's so many brilliant ah-has that he would bring there, but his humanity and how true he is to himself and to what he believes. And this is a guy who was raised by people in the nonprofit, you know, sector professor. And I just think he's a humanitarian at heart. He gives me hope, so I'll say Seth. Right now. This is not lightning at all. I'm talking way too long.
Ronnie: Okay. Last one.
Becky: It's just, like, a short answer, like, Seth Godon.
Ronnie: No. It's gonna be some explanation. Right?
Justin: Yeah. Lightning and the next question. Why? Right? Lightning and thunder.
Becky: Great. Great. Thunder. Yeah. I mean, from Oklahoma City, I love the thunder. So, let's do that. Yeah.
Ronnie: There you go. Okay. Last one. We're gonna put you back in the podcast-host seat. So, is there anything you'd like to ask us?
Becky: Of course. This is my new favorite question: What was mealtime like for your family? Around the dinner table, both of you.
Ronnie: Okay. I'll go first. I'll go first. Mealtime. So, I have a younger brother, four and a half years younger. And so, mealtime was always all four of us sitting around the table, you know, not watching TV or anything, in the kitchen, and probably me kicking my brother under the table, or vice versa at some point, but it was definitely a focal point of our family to get together every evening and eat a meal together.
Becky: Love it. What about you, Justin?
Justin: First of all, sticking firstborns, kicking the baby.
Ronnie: And then pretending like you didn't do anything. Right?
Justin: Lording over us second borns. So, so I'm a second born. My sister's five years older. And, Ronnie, once every three weeks, that's what it looked like for me. My dad worked shift work his entire career. And so, he would be either asleep once every three weeks in the evenings or he would be at work. And so, we would have all four of us together one week out of three. And so, the norm was actually irregular. But when I think about whenever the four of us were sitting down together, it was a mostly forks and knives on plates, very quiet, small town, West Texas meal, probably included gravy. And then there was Justin, who was always doing a bit, like, I was always the, you know, trying to create something around the table. Either I’d tell a story, or I’d tell a joke, or … I wanted there to be noise. I wanted there to be activity. I wanted there to be energy, and my family are all introverts. And so, I think that that void, actually, I wanted it even more so because it wasn't there. And it just made for, like, great times. It's just, it's still that way, by the way, Thanksgiving. It's my sister's family. They're all pretty reserved. And then my family, we're all Tasmanian. So, yeah.
Becky: I come from a line of Tasmanians as well, like, clearly. But I love that question so much because I think you just get a glimpse into the things that people care about; you get to know their people. It's just lovely. Thanks for sharing, guys.
Ronnie: Yeah. No problem.
Justin: Thank you. Thanks for hanging out with us for a little bit today.
Becky: I enjoyed it. Thanks for having me, guys.
Justin: We appreciate it. We love so much the work that you and Jon and the We Are For Good team are doing. And, and so, there's not really anything more than we could say that Seth Goden didn't say already. But just know how much we appreciate y'all and how much we appreciate the way that you're lifting others up.
Becky: It’s our joy. And I know I feel like I started a little heavy on the front end saying it's a lot, but I have to say, it's the most rewarding thing I have ever done other than having my children. So, it is a beautiful journey that's unfolding. Thanks for giving space to talk about it.
Justin: Yeah. Right on.
Group thinkers is a production of RKD Group. For more information, including how you can partner with RKD to accelerate growth for your fundraising and nonprofit marketing needs, visit rkdgroup.com.