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April 25, 2024 23 mins
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iHeartMedia presents CEOs you should Know.Hi. I'm John Dinkele, former president
publisher of the Baltimore Business Journal andnow founder and CEO of Dankele Business Development.
This is iHeartRadio's CEOs you should Knowand I'm here today with Heather Iowa,
President and CEO of Maryland Nonprofits.Welcome Otheran, Thanks for being here.
Hi, Don, It's great tobe here. Yeah, looking forward

to our conversation. I thought maybewe'd start out with getting to know the
organization a little bit more and thenkind of get into some talk ab about
leadership. So for those who maynot be familiar, could you tell us
more about Maryland Nonprofits? Sure,Maryland Nonprofits is the statewide association for all
things nonprofits. There are more thanforty thousand nonprofits in the state of Maryland,

and they're a big driver of oureconomy. Nonprofits actually employed twelve point
nine percent of the state's workforce,and so you might want to think about
us like a chamber of commerce fornonprofits, where we're the central hub and
resourced as nonprofits that are making abig community impact every day and want to
connect with each other. They mayneed training and professional development conferences, and

we also serve as a collective voiceand convener in Annapolis and on Capitol Hill.
Fantastic, and I think a lotof our audience would be surprised to
hear that number. That forty thousandnonprofits. That's that's incredible and twelve point
nundercent of our workforce, which isquite a lot. Talk about like a

typical member. Yes, so probablymost of your audience are going to be
familiar with your local food bank,your homeless shelter, your museums, arts
and culture organizations. Those are allnonprofits. But we also think of main

street organizations. And I mentioned earlierthe Chamber of Commerce itself is a nonprofit
organization. So it's a wide anddiverse field that ranges from your very smallest
organization, so that your PTA atyour school, your local civic association,
your Kowanas clubs, those are allnonprofits and tend to be all volunteer,

all the way up to Maryland's largestemployer, which is of any business or
nonprofit or government. Maryland's largest employeris Johns Hopkins University's and hospital system.
They're also a nonprofit, so itreally runs the gamut and they're an important
part of the fabric of our communityas well as our economy. Definitely,

thank you, I appreciate you explainingthat. Could you talk about some of
the services and kind of programming thatyou provide to your membership and also I
guess as it relates to that,maybe even the business community. Yes,
we have the state's largest nonprofit focusedconsulting organization, and just like businesses,

nonprofits need help in leadership developmentstrategic planning, diversity, equity and inclusion. They
also may be working on a capitalcampaign, building a new building, fundraising,
those kinds of things, so weoffer those services. We like to
tailor as many of our programs andservices as we can to the very smallest

community based nonprofits that are engaging volunteersin locally driven, locally accountable efforts,
and so we do that with thehelp of philanthropy. They can be in
multi like incubator programs people might befamiliar with from the business community accelerator programs,

so we offer back office services andother ways to help them grow and
scale their impact. Got it.That's pretty neat and I imagine as a
kind of a chamber for nonprofits aroundthe state. You guys do a lot
of events probably, I imagine formembers and for members of the community.
Do you have any events coming upthat you'd like to talk about. Well,

yes, so, Well, ourflagship events throughout the year is in
October. That's our annual conference andwe hold that at the Maritime Center in
Lentenham Heights, which is not farfrom Baltimore and it's located in Anarunto County
and that usually attracts about five hundredleaders from across the state. And upcoming

I'm really excited next week we're offeringa program on neuro inclusive employee engagement,
creating workplaces where all types of brainscan thrive or people with all types of
brains can thrive, and board excellenceworkshops. We offer more than one hundred
and fifty programs throughout the year andthose are all on our website at Maryland

nonprofits dot org. That's great.That's great. And because you talked about
your how you're funded, is itis it similar to a nonprofit? Is
it a for profit? You know? I imagine obviously either are memberships and
opportunities for the business need to beinvolved. Could you talk about that a
little bit. Yes, so,most nonprofits have a mixture of different kinds

of revenue sources, and we atMaryland Nonprofits are no different. And let
me tell you about the broader landscape. So nonprofits operate primarily just like businesses
in the fee for service area.So we at Maryland nonprofits, like I
mentioned our consulting groups, so we'recharging a fee for that and that's part

of our revenue in a similar waythat a for profit consulting group would function.
And most nonprofits have some sort offee for service like they you might
be buying a ticket to go seea show and you're at a local theater,
or you might be paying a feeat a nonprofit school or daycare center.
So about thirty percent of most nonprofitsrevenue comes from fee for service.

Second would be grants and government grantsand philanthropy. Combining government grants and philanthropy,
that would probably be the number onesource. And then individuals are so
important to nonprofits. Individual donors aswell. So here at Maryland Nonprofits,
our members do pay dues annually tobe part of our association. So that's

a really important part of how wefund our work. We have state grants
and foundation grants as well. Asfee for service. That's great. Thank
you appreciate you explaining to that.So how can the business community support Maryland
nonprofits? We love working with localbusinesses in a variety of ways. And

one of the things local businesses cannot only support Maryland nonprofits, but they
can also benefit from engaging with Marylandnonprofits because nonprofits in Maryland where we are
convening, the organizations and people canbuild relationships with our members who are purchasing
in their local communities. You know, they're printing, they're building websites,

they're holding events and hiring caters andthings like that. And oftentimes businesses really
enjoy working with a nonprofit in aswap kind of arrangement. So we might
have a caterer donating for an eventand then they get the joy of giving

back and contributing to the community aswell as exposure for their company. And
so at Maryland Nonprofits we work witha number of businesses who provide grants to
support our work because they want togive back to the nonprofits working in their
communities as well as you know,coming and tabling at our conference and providing

services to our members. Great,thank you appreciate you going over that.
So switch scars a little bit.You know, I like to talk about
leadership on the show. How doyou describe your leadership style? I would
say number one is very collaborative.So we we have about thirty to thirty

five staff at Maryland nonprofits, andtheir voices in our strategic direction and the
decisions that we make are very importantto me as a leader, and I
think that you learn the best whenyou're listening, you know. As I
say, we've got two years inone mouth, and that's something that in

my leadership journey I wasn't always greatat when I first started, So that's
been something that I've really tried tocultivate. And I think decisions are better
made when you take into consideration theinput from your team. Yeah, that's
great. And with the threat ofthe pandemic, you know pretty much over
obviously it's going to probably stay withus forever. But what did you learn

at that time and the you know, the past few years about managing and
leadership, you know, and communicatingwith your team during that time? I
imagine you heard a lot lot fromyou know, your partners and members about
this and but you know, whatdid you what did you learn during that
time. One of the things thatreally stands out for me is early on

in the pandemic, everyone was hurting. So whether you knew someone who had
COVID at first, you know,eventually we all know people who have COVID,
and most of us know people whowho you know, had severe impacts
and even lost loved ones from COVID. But everyone was hurting from the from
the disruption, from the uncertainty,from the fear, and what what we

realized. We started actually at thebeginning of the pandemic, we convened our
members twice a week on Zoom tojust try to make sense of the very
very fast changing environment and how theyneeded to quickly pivot to me community needs
and very fast changing community needs inthat environment, as well as how they

could keep themselves afloat as nonprofits.And so our workload tripled overnight, while
some of our members' workloads went away, because you know, if you're a
museum, you have to close,what are you going to do? And
so there was just such a vastdifference in experience. But for me,

bringing the staff team together, wealso for a while we were meeting daily
on Zoom as a staff team,and I just realized that I needed to
attend to the emotional well being andmental health wellbeing of our team and I

wasn't as attuned to that before COVIDhappened and realized that that made all the
difference as a leader. Yeah,that's a great point, actually, and
I've heard that before. That timehas helped a lot of leaders, like
you said, attune themselves to theiremployees, you know, mental health needs,

and that has become like a bigthing, you know, the past
couple of years and the importance ofthat and being aware of that and offering
resources and support and things like thatbecause it was a very trying time for
a lot of employees. It reallywas so one of the things we offer

as an employee assistance program so thatemployers can offer you know, true twenty
four hour access to mental health servicesand other needs. But it went deeper
than that, I would say.The other thing that became really important,
and I think we've learned as anonprofit community but also as a community of

nonprofits, business, government and membersof the community, is we really were
forced to come together and work togetherand come up with solutions and collaborative ways.
You know, there were no moresilos during COVID. We really had
no choice but to deeply integrate withone another. And the Baltimore region is

facing, you know, the catastropheof the collapse of the Key Bridge,
and I can tell you we cametogether so quickly state government, city government,
the Baltimore County government, and thenonprofit service providers in the area,
responding to the grieving families, respondingto those losing their jobs. We were

able to convene more than three hundredpeople on a zoom call days after the
disaster, and there was no questionsabout turf for who's doing what. Like
we learned those lessons in the pandemic, we were able to apply them immediately.
So I think we've gotten better inthat regard. Yeah, and that's
interesting you say that about the communicationpiece. I think ultimately the workforce was

we were slowly getting there with zoomand teams and you know, more virtual
meetings and things like that, butyou know, the pandemic I ratcheted that
up and probably jumped us ahead,you know, maybe even a decade or
at least five, four or fiveyears into what we are now. And
I think if you were to lookback at some of the maybe the positives
that that that that did it.It was that's one of them, because

yeah, you look at that tragedythat happened with the key bridge. If
we had not all you know,worked through this or through COVID and learned
that technology and learn how to communicatethat way and all those things, how
maybe difficult would be to get threehundred people in a room or on a
phone call or like, I know, the technology was there, but people

weren't used to it as they arenow. So that's that's an interesting oppm.
It's so true. I'm kind oflaughing to myself because we had you
know, we used to conference callsall the time, right, and we
all remember the old conference call andit's like, oh, hi, this
is Heather, can I know,trying to try to get in on the

call. And we had Zoom actually, and I tried to do some committee
meetings on Zoom. We certainly hadwebinars there are you know, people were
offering webinars out there, and itwas like crickets. It was difficult,
and you know, people couldn't gettheir you know, tech to work.

And so you're right, you know, it's a big silver lining that we're
that we were now you know we'restill you know, talking on mute,
yes, four years later, butwe know, you know, even people
can access from their phones and soit's not only people with you know,
big resources in an office that canaccess that technology. So I think that

is a big silver lining. Yeah. Yeah, from the pandemic you mentioned
the keybird strategedy, I imagine youknow, Maryland Nonprofits has a key role
in that overall communication and helping toalign the services nonprofit services with the families
that were involved, to you know, businesses and that are being compromised all

those things that anything that you couldshare with us around that. One thing
that I will add that I hadn'tmentioned before about Maryland Nonprofits is we are
also the home of Maryland Latino's unidosand the fact that Maryland Latinos You need
Us was founded during the pandemic inresponse to the tremendous community need and the

lack of a statewide coordinated force toaddress the needs of twelve percent of Marylanders
who are Latinos. And we're goingto be forthcoming the controllers coming out with
a report that's going to show thatmore than twenty percent of Maryland's workforce actually
immigrants, so big important part ofour economy. All six of the individuals

who lost their lives on the KeyBridge were Latin American immigrants. I think
the community may not have been asready to respond to those needs with people
who speak Spanish, with ensuring thatresources that we're offering are not dependent on

citizenship status. I understand one ofthe people who actually survived the incident refused
medical care, likely because he wasuninsured. So it really highlights those needs
in the community and the immigrant communitythat I think about how often we all
I personally drive by, even inthe middle of the night, people filling

potholes and doing the work that keepsus safe, and how much we take
that for granted. And so Ithink that really drove that home from me.
Yeah, thanks that, I appreciatesharing that. So, if you're
to look at the future, likewhat excites you about the future of Maryland
nonprofits, what excites me the mostis I believe that the solution to every

problem you can turn around and seein our society and our economy, in
our neighborhoods and our communities, thereare nonprofits that have solutions and are implementing
solutions and are solving that problem.And what I ask myself every day,
you know, when I wake upin the morning, is how do we

scale that up so that those solutionsare present and available in every community that
needs them. And so I'm excitedabout a future that looks at a robust
nonprofit sector where the excellent programs andresources that may be offered in one community
are available everywhere because we've as acommunity said yes, these are important investments,

and we want to make sure thatevery kid has a recreation center to
go to and a mentor, andthat you know, our that we have
all the streams and rivers in thestate to have people who are caring after
the ecosystem around there. So justscaling up our impact makes a better quality

of life for all Marylanders. Yeah, that is exciting. And so conversely,
what keeps up at night, SoI worry about the tremendous barriers that
especially small and mid size nonprofits facethat are more likely to be led by
people of color, people with disabilities. Nonprofits in rural areas face huge obstacles

in accessing the resources that are importantfor them doing their mission. So a
lot of the funding that is availablefor nonprofits comes from the federal level,
also the state level, but alot of it originates from the federal level.
And they cap the amount of administrativecosts on any kind of federal grant

at ten or fifteen percent. Andunless you have a quote negotiated indirect cost
rate with the federal government, well, all of our largest nonprofits, the
multimillion dollar nonprofits, have that negotiatedrate, and for many of them it's
over fifty percent. I think oneof the top ones, they actually have

a negotiated rate of sixty three percent. You know, sixty three cents on
every dollar goes to their operations.And so they're the ones who are getting
the fast majority. Ninety five percentof all the resources are going to those
largest nonprofits. And so what keepsme up at night is how do we

change the system to make those fundsthat we really need closer to community and
organizations that are volunteer led and communitylad and community accountable. How do we
get those resources to them. Sothat's what I worry about the most.
That's interesting, and I didn't realizethat. And yeah, a lot of
that critical work is at the grassrootslevel and right in these smaller communities,

even within a couple of blocks likethose are the folks that are really impacting,
you know, not that the bigplaces are, they of course are.
At the same time, there areso many of those smaller organizations you
know, that you know, areaffecting you know, just your neighborhood or
a small area that yeah, don'tget as much funding. And that's interesting,

that's interesting. Yeah, I appreciateyou sharing that. Yeah, So
we try to address that on theadvocacy side. So when I said ten
to fifteen percent, it used toonly be ten percent. We've edged that
up to fifteen percent thanks to ourfust of advocacy. I think that requirement
should away. So just trying tohelp reduce the red tape, but we
also help nonprofit strengthen their capacity andinfrastructure to go after those funds. So

we offer you know, back officefinancial management and human resources and grant writing
services and other ways that we canhelp level the playing field so smaller nonprofits
can actually compete and grow to scale. Got it, got it great?
Thank you. So to wrap thingsup, is there anything else you'd like
our listeners to know about you andMaryland nonprofits? I would just say that,

give locally, get involved in yourlocal community. Learn who the nonprofits
are around you. You're most likelyall of our listeners today are receiving solicitations
in the mail from far away andit takes a huge operation to run effective

direct mail campaigns that probably your localnonprofit does not have the resources to do
that. So take the initiative,go on their website, make a donation,
get to know them, show upand volunteer in the community. It
makes a huge, huge difference,and it really is going to take all
of us in Maryland to get toa vision where we can all enjoy the

quality of life that we know aspossible with a strong environnt nonprofit and voluntary
sector. Yeah, thank you,and last week tell us how to find
more information about Maryland nonprofits. Youcan visit us at Maryland nonprofits dot org.
As I mentioned earlier, a reallystrong events calendar, all kinds of
trainings and convenings, networking events.We're going to be having our annual member

appreciation party and volunteer appreciation that isfree and open to the public on June
twelfth. And yeah, just loveto have you involved and engage. And
of course you can also make adonation on our website as well. Excellent.
Well, thank you so much,Hele. I really appreciate you taking
time and thank you for what youdo and what your organization does from Maryland

and all of our local community.So really appreciate your time and look forward
to seeing you in June. It'sbeen such a pleasure talking with you,
John, Thank you so much.This has been iHeartMedia CEOs. You should know
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