Subscribe to our blog

Subscribe to Email Updates

Featured Post

Recent Posts

Tying everything together: The Group Thinkers podcast season wrap-up

Throughout 2023, our Group Thinkers podcast episodes focused on leadership. In each episode, we chatted with key leaders across the nonprofit and commercial space to learn more about their careers and the unique journeys and perspectives that led them to where they are today.    

This is a special episode, hosts Justin McCord and Ronnie Richard revisit a few of this year’s impactful conversations and unwrap the themes that emerged.  

We start with the importance of authenticity and transparency. Our conversations with Ruth Rathblott, Rhodri Davies and Commissioner Kenneth Hodder focused on fostering trust and connection with those around us, and this is crucial for building strong relationships with donors.     

Ruth Rathblott
Rhodri Davies
Kenneth Hodder
Ruth Rathblott Rhodri Davies Commissioner Kenneth Hodder
Author of "Singlehandedly: Learning to Unhide and Embrace Connection" Founder and Director of Why Philanthropy Matter National Commander, Salvation Army

In order to build this trust, we need to get to know our donors more. Chris Pritcher, Ted Wagenaar and Roger Hiyama walk us through how important it is to deeply understand our donors' wants and needs from the organizations they choose to support.  

Chris Pritcher Ted Wagenaar-1 Roger Hiyama
Chris Pritcher Ted Wagenaar Roger Hiyama
CEO, RKD Group Author of the op-ed "Why I Stopped Donating to Your Organization" Executive Vice President, Solutions & Innovation at Wiland

The next step is to communicate effectively with our donors, and here’s where the power of storytelling comes in. Oftentimes, nonprofits will focus too much on themselves and leave the donors wondering what their personal impact was. Jeff Brooks, Rhea Wong and Meg LeFauve showcase the importance of quality storytelling and its ability to draw people in through vulnerability.                               

Jeff Brooks-1 Rhea Wong-3 Meg LeFauve-2
Jeff Brooks Rhea Wong Meg LeFauve
Fundraising Copywriter & Consultant Founder of Rhea Wong Consulting and author of "Get the Money, Honey" Co-writer of Pixar's "Inside Out"

Now, none of this is possible without taking care of yourself. The past few years have given us some new battles, like working remotely and trying to connect with each other from home. Ryan Ginard, Kelley Hecht and Becky Endicott emphasize the importance of putting your health and wellness first and navigating these unprecedented times we’re still living in. 

Ryan Ginard
Kelley HEcht
Becky Endicott
Ryan Ginard Kelley Hecht Becky Endicott
Author of "Future Philanthropy" and "Nonprofit Moneyball" Team Lead, Industry Advisor, Nonprofits, AWS Co-founder and Chief Storyteller of "We Are For Good"



Join us as we take a trip down memory lane to recap this year's guests and discuss:    

  • Transparency and authenticity (5:59)  
  • Thinking dimensionally (14:23)  
  • The impact of quality storytelling (24:42)  
  • Wellness in the fundraising space (32:04) 


Podcast transcript 

Justin: Well, Ronnie, we made it to here  

Ronnie: That we did.  

Justin: We, we made it to here, and today's fun. This is a special episode. Welcome to Group Thinkers for everyone. This is a special episode for us. I'm your host, Justin McCord. With me is Ronnie Richard, and it's a special episode on Group Thinkers because it's a special time of year. You know, we're in the last weeks of 2023. And, and it feels like, Ronnie, it's the last weeks of the year and the first time in a minute that we have had the last week of a year without, like, mass uncertainty, by the way. 

Ronnie: Yeah. Yeah. I would agree with that. You know, there's, like you said, there's something special about this time of year, and I think it's connected to our industry. But before we dig into that, I do wanna take a quick moment, really quick, to highlight something, and for our listeners, this is kind of fun because Justin really has no idea what I’m about to say here. So I get to surprise him. But I did just wanna mention that our host, Justin McCord, was recently named to the board of directors for the Direct Marketing Association of Washington, or DMAW as most of us know it. So just a quick congratulations to Justin. Well done … and a well-deserved honor. 

Justin: Thanks, bud. Thank you. It is, it is an honor. I think it's an incredible opportunity and one that I don't take lightly. And to have the chance to represent RKD Group in that capacity and to get to speak into things that happen in the industry from one of the foremost influences in the nonprofit marketing and fundraising industry is quite a hoot, as those in my small West Texas' town of origin might say. So, thank you. I appreciate that. You know, Ronnie, RKD, our mission is to amplify and champion the causes, the nonprofit causes, that we serve. And this is such a special time of year to get to do that because it's like it is full court for us.  

Ronnie: Go time.  

Justin: It is, it is giving season and, and it is like sprinting a marathon for so many in this space right now, but what a what a unique opportunity and time of year to get to champion causes when there is this spirit of giving that is, like, all around us more than any other time of the year. 

Ronnie: Yeah. I mean, what is it, about a third of charitable giving in the U.S. happens in December. So it's, it's wild, but it's exciting. And if you ask anyone on our team, it's a crazy time right now. 

Justin: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it's definitely, like, it's turned up to 11. And, and so for us inside the nonprofit marketing fundraising sector, it's like, super amplified. 

For outside, if you're on the receiving end, if folks are donors―and as I heard Clay Box say recently, the Venn diagram between donors and humans is 100% crossover―it's a time where people are more reflective. And I think there's a massive correlation between being reflective and why you see increases in giving this year. So, today's episode―and this is our last episode for 2023―this episode is about being reflective. Reflective for what we've heard this year. For the year of Group Thinkers, not just the guests, but the threads that connect the conversations.  

And I was thinking about this, Ronnie, there are really two ways that you can approach, anything that you do regularly, any type of content that you consume regularly. And one is that you are zoomed way in on the content that you consume. Right? And so, an individual episode, if you're watching the Sopranos―which nothing says the giving season like the Sopranos―if you're watching a single episode, you might be, like, way zoomed in on the dialogue or a plot twist, something unexpected, a decision that a character makes, right, within that single episode. And then there are also times where you zoom way out. And when you zoom way out, you see, you know, a red thread. And so, this episode today is about us zooming way out over the course of the past year and highlighting a few trends, a few red threads in the spirit of RKD that, that have stood out to us. 

Ronnie: Yep. Yep. And I'll, I mean, I'll get us started. The … right now, a major trend that we see in nonprofit marketing and fundraising is this idea of transparency. Everyone's kind of fixated on transparency and authenticity, and rightly so because we see throughout, you know, whether it's social media or the way companies present themselves, those who can be authentic are the ones who are getting people's attention versus that old way of being super polished and very corporate speak, it's … people don't wanna hear that anymore. 

And we did some research this summer. Our Solid Gold research found that donor trust was connected to transparency. It was one of the things that stood out as a key element of trust is being transparent. So, you know, we, we're thinking a little bit more about what does it mean to be transparent? 

Justin: Yeah. Yeah. Transparency and competency definitely are at the heart of building trust in relationships, including the relationship between donors and nonprofits. And, you know, I think one thing that we heard this year was from a handful of folks who are at the top of their game, on being themselves, and this is, like, a high dimension of critical thinking and comfortability in being yourself. So, it's like emotional intelligence and practical application rolled into one so that you can be your best, most authentic, and most intentionally transparent self. 

Ronnie: Yeah. So for our listeners, we're gonna play three clips from guests this year that we've related to this idea of being yourself and emotional intelligence, and the three people that stood out to us here were our guest Ruth Rathblott, who is the author of “Singlehandedly: Learning to Unhide and Embrace Connection”. Ruth was born with a limb difference, and she now encourages people to what she calls ‘unhide,’ the accepting of who you are, and, you know, stop trying to hide that thing that you're concerned about―Oh, what's everyone gonna think about this? So it's really powerful stuff.  

And then we also have Rhodri Davies, who's the founder and director of Why Philanthropy Matters over in the UK. So, he speaks on the importance of transparency and charitable giving, and he cut, you'll see, you'll hear that he takes a little bit different angle on transparency. 

And then our third one is Commissioner Kenneth Hodder of the Salvation Army. He's talking about his time serving in Africa and the importance that he learned about always being open to learning. 

Voice of Ruth: So, yeah. But I was sitting next to somebody, and they were … I, we're talking about what each other does. And all of a sudden, the person's head goes down when I talked about unhiding. And I said, what's going on? They said, I dropped out of high school, and I never talk about it because I'm so afraid. And they're now a successful business owner, etcetera. He said, I never talk about it because I'm so afraid someone will judge me or think I'm not smart enough or they'll reject my business plan because they will think I don't have the skills. Well, that's exhausting. He's like, all I wanna do when people bring up, “Isn’t college the best four years of your life?” “Where's your kid going to college?” He's like, I just wanna leave the room. 

And he's like, I often do. So those are the kind of things that people are hiding. And it's keeping us disconnected. It's keeping us having to think two or three steps ahead and not focused on the present, and that's how we even started this conversation. How do we focus on the present and connection with each other? 

Voice of Rhodri: You know, without transparency, there's not really an accountability. Without accountability, there's no legitimacy, and then the whole thing kind of falls apart. So, I think there's a lot more that can be done there. I guess part of the challenge―and I know this is more an issue at the moment in the U.S., but I suspect, you know, as tends to happen, we'll, we'll see the same thing in a few years in the UK―is that some of the trends in philanthropy are sort of pushing things in the other direction, so the more that people are using donor-advised funds, or the more that elite donors are starting to use limited liability companies, or LLCs, you know, that that's kind of dropping the levels of transparency and, kind of, required information ever lower. And, as you say, at a time when people are already, you know, levels of trust in nonprofits and in philanthropy are suffering, that seems to me to be problematic. 

Voice Commissioner Kenneth Hodder: I recall in my first few days in Nairobi, I was convinced, having read all the literature, that I knew exactly how the Salvation Army's work should develop in Kenya. And I got out a big map. And I said, alright, we're gonna go here, here, here, and here. 

And the people around me, who were all native to Kenya, said, "Internal, that will never work.” I said, why not? All the demographics say that we can go here, the finance capabilities are there. And they said, “You don't grow like a frog. You grow like red ants.” And I had no idea what they meant until they explained that a frog will jump from place to place but never remember where it's been. Whereas, by contrast, a red ant will go out, find a good place, come back and tell his friends, and it'll create a path to it, which creates another base from which to grow. 

Ronnie: So the takeaway from hearing Ruth and Rhodri and Commissioner Hodder, to me, is that there's something unique about leaders and thinkers who bring this high emotional intelligence, Justin, as you kinda referred to it, and the impact they have. And I, what I appreciated was that they each come at it from a little bit different way. For Ruth, that's, it's sort of tied to the heart. Rhodri approaches it in a very intellectual way with the mind, and then commissioner Hodder, it's more connected to the spirit. So it's like three different ways of coming out and you get this this more rounded look at that idea of transparency and emotional intelligence. 

Justin: Yeah. I think we're super interested over the course of this next year to see the shape that this takes, right, in terms of people continuing to remove veneers and work on being transparent. And there is a super deep connection between authenticity and transparency. And yeah, hearing Ruth and Rhodri and Commissioner Hodder reflect on those things definitely touched a nerve for us in a good way and a challenging way. As we move from that first theme into the second, you know, I'm just reminded of how powerful it is when you do zoom out, and you see that red thread. Because sometimes, you know, you could see it, and then it stops, and it's like, oh, here's this thread that goes through three episodes. But what if it doesn't? What if the thread actually continues? Then there's something to learn through all of the conversations that we had this year, Ronnie, and that's not something that we planned. That's not, like, this is a super unintentional happenstance. 

Ronnie: Yeah. No. It's, it's not it's not something we went into saying, Hey, we're gonna have these topics. We're gonna discuss it. These were more natural, more, kind of, organically happened around a lot of discussions about careers, fundraising, innovation in the industry and all the things that we discuss on the show, and this idea of a red thread and stepping back is actually itself kind of our second theme, like, people who are taking a step back in the industry and coming at it with some alternative thinking. So this next group of guest clips that we're gonna play, it's about the second area of elevated strategy and recognizing that the world's changed, donors have changed, and how can we as an industry be more proactive in taking steps to change what we're doing? 

Justin: Yeah. Yeah. So, if the first part of the red thread, if the first theme is around understanding your heart, mind and spirit and how those relate to your role, then the second is definitely thinking about how you're relating to your constituents. And so we've got, again, three folks who have embodied this, and personified this and articulated this well for us.  

Ronnie: Yep. So we'll start with Chris Pritcher, who's the CEO of RKD Group, I believe he was our first guest of the season. And he's, you know, in this clip, you'll hear him talk about how everything in, not just the nonprofit world, but in marketing and how companies communicate in general, changed with the pandemic, And that includes consumer and donor expectations, how they have changed. And then our second clip is interesting because it’s connected to Chris in a sense that Chris went on to write an op-ed piece for “The Nonprofit Times” on this idea of how we need to change as an industry. The very next day – and this is the next clip – Ted Wegenaar, who is a donor, he authored, we saw a piece an op-ed in the “Chronical of Philanthropy” called, “Why I stopped giving to your organization.” And he was talking really about the same thing, but from the donor's perspective, of how nonprofits need to learn more about their donors’ motivations, and communicate with them more and understand them more. And then our third clip will be Roger Hiyama of Wiland. He's Executive Vice President of Solutions and Innovation there, and you'll hear him discuss this changing nature of marketing today and the challenges of understanding what connects with donors and what doesn't. So, here are our three clips: 

Voice of Chris Pritcher: The constituents that we're dealing with are rapidly, rapidly changing, and their expectations are being influenced by these commercial entities, right? Before COVID, you expected to walk through a grocery store and find things over time, and look at prices and all that stuff. Now I expect to order my groceries by clicking around. I expect to drive to the parking lot, for them to know when I pulled up, right? And if they're five minutes late, you're like, come on, what's going on? And you lose context of, I just ordered groceries from my couch. Somebody else packed them up. I'm not saying everyone does that, but I mean, how much more do we do that than we used to? And I think you can see just the rising expectations. And I get excited about saying, their mission to build relationships they need to fill with constituents are going to have to, sort of, meet and exceed those expectations because we don’t get a pass that says, oh, they’re a nonprofit, but that’s OK. We’re just, we’re used to it now. Now we have to recognize that, even with our nonprofit, people have the expectation of being able to make the donation, sign up for the walk, learn about the organization in real time on any device and have you understand who they are while they're doing it.  

Voice of Ted Wagenaar: You can do a lot of research easily. I mean, Walmart, every time we go to Walmart, another store, they want a customer satisfaction survey. And they actually do use that information. Well, it's not that hard to set up a similar kind of arrangement with a donor. I mean, we wanna know why they picked our organization. We wanna know how we stack up with other organizations. We wanna know what the ultimate goal is for the donor. We wanna know how long they've been donating. We wanna know the categories of organizations that they donate to. We basically wanna know how and why they're thinking―of course, to increase their donations to our own organizations, but also to improve the overall process of philanthropic efforts in the country. 

Voice of Roger Hiyama: You know, as I look at the industry, there are more and more opportunities to spend your marketing dollars. I think one of the challenges is still that, from a measurement perspective, we're not great yet at attributing impact to the dollars that get spent. I think that's one of the things that's going to hold back marketers in the future is not being able to measure the impact of multi-channel touch versus a single touch. And there's always reluctance, I think, to make changes. So, many people will continue down the single, or spend most of their money on, a single channel when, in effect, if they had the ability to measure the impact, it would certainly split up their expenditure in more meaningful, more impactful ways and in an optimized fashion. And I think that's one of the challenges. 

Ronnie: Ok. So, our takeaway from Chris, Ted and Roger is that we’re no longer in a space where direct marketing can be this control-first mentality of, you know, let's compare how we, you know, here's a control, here's a test, and here's where we're gonna do this, and just kind of minor iterations on what's been done before. We really have to step back and dissect and inspect our theories and strategies because it's a whole new world out there. 

Justin: Yeah. Well, like a true honest assessment of, Wait, why are we doing this again? Like, an honest assessment of our strategy, and that's pertinent this year as we have emerged from the post pandemic fog and related challenges around the supply chain. And as we have navigated inflation's impact on giving and surges in pricing on some cost of goods that has increased our cost and marketing in many different ways. And, and, you know, it's the reality that, a lot of times, we see that marketing strategy is inadvertently put on maintenance mode. And so, what I love about the things that we just heard from Chris and from Ted and from Roger is that they’re about just really inspecting and interrogating the way that you're doing things. And even as this episode right now―this publishes in year end, it publishes in December, and everyone's gonna be on the heels of Giving Tuesday, working towards that last, you know, crush of a week, and monitoring caging results from their direct mail, and looking at their, you know, online results from various emails, and maybe you've got all sorts of matches that you're doing in there, like, in the midst of executing all of those pieces. January 1 is coming. And, you know, really, after December 31, you have a whole new crop of people that have invested in you or people that have chosen to invest in you again at this important time of year. And so, why not take a moment now to think about and inspect what you're going to do and how you're gonna do it differently as you get into 2024. So, great stuff. Really good stuff. 

Ronnie: Yeah. And I think it just comes naturally to us when, you know, we turn the page to a new calendar year, you know, we all we get reflective and introspective on certain things. Everyone has their new year’s resolutions that they stick to for about three or four weeks. But you still think about it, and you still focus on it, and companies are looking at, you know, new ways to do whatever it is they're doing. Everyone's reflective at this time of year. So it, if we connect the dots, like you did a little bit there between the themes of being yourself and thinking differently and coming at things differently, a big part of going into this next year is gonna be about how you tell your story and your organization's story.  

Justin: There's a skill in storytelling.  

Ronnie: Absolutely.  

Justin: It's a craft in and of itself. And, you know, there's a reason why when you, you know, if I reflect on, you know, as a child, there are certain family members that when they would start to speak, everyone leaned in and other family members when they would start to speak, you didn't just lean out. Like, you got up and left the room.  

Ronnie: Yeah.  

Justin: You weren't interested. It's because there's a craft to it.  

Ronnie: The eyes are darting for the exits.  

Justin: Yeah. Right. Right. And, and so, I think we're incredibly fortunate this past year to have a handful of guests who are just great at storytelling and understand not just the mechanics but also the delivery and the tonality of storytelling. 

Ronnie: Oh, for sure. Yeah. So, our three clips, we, you know, we'll start with Jeff Brooks. He's the founder of a well-known blog in our industry, “Future Fundraising Now,” and he's a copywriter and a consultant. So, you know, he's the guy who certainly knows how to tell a story. And in this clip, he discusses a problem that he sees among too many nonprofits is that they talk about themselves instead of giving the donors that they're trying to reach an emotional story to follow and to connect with. And our second clip, Rhea Wong is the author of the book “Get that Money, Honey,” and she talks here about how nonprofits need to be bold and take more chances and, you know, find ways to paint with more color. And then our final clip, you know, this, this one was a personal favorite for me, and I know for you too as well, Justin. Meg LeFauve, who is the co-writer of the Pixar movie “Inside Out,” joined us, and she talks in this clip about how she crafted the scene in the movie when Joy watches Goofball Island crumble away in a way that she draws the audience in through the vulnerability of the character, and, you know, it's just really cool to hear her tell how she crafted that story and that, that science behind that. So, here are three clips: 

Voice of Jeff Brooks: It's bragging about ourselves. It's about us, not about, well, you know, the reason donors give is to make the world a better place. They wanna take action. They wanna put their values into, you know, into the world. So, you need to talk to them about that. And I think good donors, really good donors, actually translate your bad fundraising into that story for themselves. 

Voice of Rhea Wong: By and large, the marketing is so boring. It's boring. And I think we think that people's attention spans have gone by the wayside. That may be true, but I also think that the bar has raised. Like, our standards for what we pay attention to has gotten higher. Right? Because look, no one is sitting there being, like, people aren't watching long-form Netflix shows. Obviously, they are. So you just have to be better. Like, you cannot recycle the same old crap. Like, I feel like in the nonprofit sector, we're so afraid to offend that we don't actually turn anybody on. And, like, I've never walked into a room and thought, you know, this beige is really great. Like, this beige color is really, it's really working for me. Right? But I think as a sector, we are all really comfortable in beige. 

Voice of Meg LeFauve: And if in the cut, or in the writing of storytelling, she watches it fall and then goes, don't worry, I know what to do, you're like, oh my god, I hate you. I just, wow. That's so bad. Right? And you don't even know why intellectually. It's just almost, like, an animal reaction to that because it's not connected to what emotionally just happened. So it's super important to have Joy take a beat of, oh, my gosh, I just lost a piece of my kid. Just to feel the overwhelm and vulnerability. Now I believe we connect through vulnerability. Which is why as a storyteller or an artist, you have to find some way to become comfortable with it. If not comfortable with it, at least allow it. On my podcast, sometimes we call it lava. You know, it can burn. It can feel like it will burn you up. But that’s the job of artistry and storytelling is to be the one to wade into the lava first. 

Justin: Okay. Hearing those again―and, yes, yes, hearing Meg again―takes me back to the conversation that we had with her and the muscles that she uses to tell a good story. And as you said, specifically, how crafting that scene of Joy watching Goofball Island crumble away. I don't know if you've seen some of the teasers for “Inside Out 2,” but they actually introduce a new character for anxiety. And, and I can't wait for that. Maybe we'll have to get Meg back on to talk through that.  

And, you know, the aspect of telling a good story, Ronnie, is it's partly to help cut through the clutter. Right? Because we're marketers, it's partly to help cut through the clutter. But I also think about one of my favorite moments in Dickens's classic, you know, “A Christmas Carol” when two fundraisers come to Ebenezer Scrooge. And you see the nobility of fundraising, and you actually see them appealing to him by attempting to tell a story and not doing it super well. And so, there's this, there's this need for us not just do it, just to cut through the clutter, but also so that we best represent the purpose, and the mission and the causes that we're working towards. And so, yeah, it's fascinating.  

So as we, as we get towards the final pieces/strands of the red thread that we've seen throughout this year— At the beginning of the year, Ronnie and I and our team talked about how we wanted Group Thinkers to take on a different tone. You know, this podcast launched in January of 2019. And this is in fact the 88th episode of Group Thinkers. And the podcast in itself has been somewhat like a thread of, you know, going through and threading the eye of many needles that we have seen since 2019. What started as, like, deep but informal coffee shop chats has become a mirror to reflect the best lessons in nonprofit marketing and of fundraising leaders. And what we've heard this year has definitely tied together people's paths into discussions on thinking critically and how you relate to people both internally and externally. 

Ronnie: Yeah. And you can't do those things well if you don't take care of yourself. And of your organization. And that's the final lesson that we have, the final trend here. And our three clips here are, first, we'll start with Ryan Ginard, who's the author of “Nonprofit Moneyball,” and he talks about the importance of building a strong organizational culture within your organization and how that can affect really everything you do. And our second clip, Kelley Hecht, is the Team Lead at nonprofits at AWS, and she brings a unique perspective because, as Justin was just talking about, we've had this trend that started in 2019, pre-pandemic. And now with so many people working from home, how has that changed, how we relate to each other and communicate with each other in the office and even outside of the office, and Kelly shares what she learned working remotely for years, for her starting before the pandemic, and how she's implemented that into her routine on a daily basis. And then finally, Becky Endicott, the co-founder of “We Are For Good,” takes us on her mental health journey, and what she's experienced and how she's learned from that. So without further ado, here are our three clips: 

Voice of Ryan Ginard: The most dangerous thing right now is leaning into the status quo of fundraising because it's not getting us the solutions we need. And, you know, we're just blaming each other, pretty much. You know, we're blaming the tools; we’ve got leadership blaming the fundraisers, and that's not what fundraising culture should look like. I mean, we're all fundraisers at the end of the day, and the sooner we can instill that into an organization the better. Always, always lean on, kind of, when JFK went to Houston. So, we're getting closer to Dallas. So, we've been in Austin and now Houston. When he went to NASA, right? And he asked one of the janitors there, “What's your role here?” And he said, “I help fly people to the moon.” That's just a powerful, kind of, you know, anecdote to everything we do. 

Voice of Kelley Hecht: I think it taught me a lot, much of which I find to be even more helpful today. I would say the first thing that it really showed me was that boundaries are super important and are yours to create. And I'm not sure that I … today, they think that's specific to remote working, but I think it's exaggerated with remote working. And I think in the world that we are in right this minute, where we all went remote and now some are back and some aren't, and it's sort of a little bit more diverse and complicated, boundaries are really healthy things you have, and to find and to share with people what your boundaries are so that they know. 

Voice of Becky Endicott: 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. 

Ronnie: So, my takeaway from hearing those three clips again is thinking about what Ryan and Kelley and Becky said: it's really about mindfulness and presence. It's about really being proactive in how you approach, like, building culture and in community and thinking―being really thoughtful about how you're interacting and communicating with other people. 

Justin: Yeah. No. You're right. Maybe not on the podcast, but a thing that we've talked about as a team a lot this year and worked to practice is to be present where our feet are. And, you know, it's, you can summarize it to, you know, being good to yourself so that you can be good to those around you, so that you can do good, you know, in whatever it is that you're doing. And, and so I love hearing again from Ryan and Kelley and Becky on the importance of mindfulness and presence. And so, that's how we think about this year. When we zoom out and trace this red thread, from the lessons that we have heard from our many guests, you know, there's this aspect of being transparent and how that relates to being authentic in how you tell stories internally and externally and in how you think about your mission and going deeper with your mission and, thinking critically to change your strategy. And then rounding it out, how you're taking care of yourself so that you can be your best self in doing those things. And it's, it's really given Ronnie and I and our team a chance to reflect on this red thread that is Group Thinkers. And we're thrilled to wrap up this year and have a nice little bow on the end of the thread and then tease ahead to what's next.  

And as we get into 2024, we're gonna see some red threads continue, in terms of the content and conversations that we have, continuing to use this format to have deep and reflective discussions with innovators, and people of influence and people who inspire us while also having a couple of new red threads, Ronnie, that help explore the day in, day out inner workings of the nonprofits that we have the honor and privilege to get to amplify and champion through nonprofits that we work with. So I'm very excited about 2024. I hope you are too.  

Ronnie: Absolutely, excited to see what we have in store. You know, don't wanna spoil it for our listeners, but, you know, we're planning some really fun stuff, some really interesting conversations. So, stay tuned is I guess all I can say. 

Justin: Yeah. Here's to, here's to wrapping up 2023 and how the thread continues in 2024. We'll see you guys then. 

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 


RKD Group

RKD Group is North America's leading fundraising and marketing services provider to hundreds of nonprofit organizations, including hospitals, social service, disease research, animal welfare, rescue missions, and faith-based charities. RKD Group’s omnichannel approach leverages technology, advanced data science and award-winning strategic and creative leadership to accelerate net revenue growth, build long-term donor relationships and drive online and offline engagements and donations. With a growing team of professionals, RKD Group creates breakthroughs never thought possible.

Solid Gold_Blog Ad


Leave a comment:

MidYear Benchmarks-Sidebar_SolidGold
Gen X eBook download