Before you start a nonprofit, there are a few things someone needs to know… one, you need to have primary knowledge about what it means to lead a nonprofit. It’s very necessary to at least have been a volunteer or on the board or have served with a nonprofit, because only if you have done this will you be able to understand what a nonprofit is all about.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Victoria M. Philips.
Founder of Nonprofit Daily News and Philips Nonprofit Consulting, Victoria M. Philips is a Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) with 10+ years of experience training over 10,000 nonprofit fundraisers, executives, and board members in strategy and operation. Victoria has a master’s degree in Nonprofit and Leadership Studies. Victoria genuinely cares about nonprofits and devotes her skills to boosting the growth of nonprofits in service of consulting, coaching, training, and facilitation, as well as planning services to help organizations in the areas of fundraising, board development, and marketing. Victoria has a reputation for transformational leadership through staffing and mission alignment, fundraising, expanding programming, and community partnerships.
Thank you so much for doing this with us. Before we begin our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”?
Thank you for the time. My name is Victoria Philips. Prior to starting Philips Nonprofit consulting, I served as the Chief Executive Officer for the International Association of Asylum Seekers and Refugees and as a Director of Philanthropy for many nonprofits in Asia, Africa, and the United States. Among my successes are increasing operational revenue from $750K to $1.5M, completing a $12M comprehensive capital campaign, establishing a $500K endowment, and 180 days in cash reserves in the third poorest county in the World. In addition to my CEO and Director of Philanthropy role experience, I have facilitated numerous workshops with hundreds of nonprofit professionals. I am certified as a Nonprofit Management Professional. I am an active community leader and volunteer on the International Affairs Board advising the Mayor and City Council of the city of San Diego, where I am based.
Can you tell us the story behind why you decided to start or join your non nonprofit?
I don’t have a nonprofit organization at the moment, but I’ve worked with nonprofit organizations since
2005. My passion lies in fundraising. I believe nonprofits do great things and need more money to do their amazing jobs.
I have helped nonprofits with great missions and people who are touching the heart of the community but fail with fundraising. Nonprofit organizations do great work and deserve to be able to raise the money they need to thrive. My approach is simple: we help nonprofits escape the donor treadmill by finding new donors, making more asks, and building fundraising systems that get results. Philips Nonprofit Consulting is skilled at creating fundraising systems to help nonprofits find new donors, cultivating them, asking them for gifts, and stewarding them so that they give for a lifetime. The fundraising systems we create are tailored to each nonprofit and based on data-driven best practices and state-of-the-art fundraising strategies. Nonprofit leaders are superheroes in my opinion. Our goal is to support them, share our expertise, and serve as their champions. This work is a joy and a privilege for me and my team.
Can you describe how you or your organization aims to make a significant social impact?
I am very connected with nonprofit organizations. During my studies at the University of San Diego, I worked with small nonprofits, as well as having a nonprofit of my own in Africa. I understand the needs and the significant impact that nonprofit organizations make in our society.
They help the government to really make life easy for everyone. Really, everyone in our society has been touched by a nonprofit, one nonprofit or another.
Nonprofits work in diverse ways to make life easy for everyone. Whether it’s old people aging, children, or cancer, nonprofits work in different fields helping governments to fill the critical need that the government cannot. They are essential in our community. My organization, Philips Nonprofit Consulting, works with nonprofit organizations to help them raise funds. Since nonprofits cannot make money themselves, they must use the money they raise to fulfill their mission.
I feel it is important to help nonprofit organizations systemize their fundraising effort. My organization teaches nonprofits how to systematically raise funds, and what it means to raise funds. This is the most difficult task for most nonprofits based on my experience. They often are confronted with, “how do we raise money?”, “how do we get money?”, “how do we get donors?”, or “how do you get prospects?” and because of that, I have different training approaches.
Last year, I hosted a boot camp for fundraising, with over 1200 attendees from nonprofit organizations from all over the world, so I have the training, and my organization has resources and extensive knowledge helping nonprofits build systems to raise funds.
Recently, I also noticed that for most nonprofit organizations, there is no access to news, no access to information. So, because of that, my server and my team, we created an artificial intelligence website called Nonprofit Daily News, nonprofitdaily.news.
This website helps based on what we’ve heard from nonprofit organizations that we have worked with, that they relied on news to be able to make informed decisions about what is happening. With this in mind, we created Nonprofit Daily News, to help nonprofits get access to information and news so that they can make informed decisions about their mission and objectives to move them forward.
Without saying any names, can you share a story about an individual who was helped by your idea so far?
Earlier, I mentioned that I work with nonprofit organizations. Most of my clients are small but mighty non-profit organizations, so let me tell you about one of my clients. Recently, I worked with a nonprofit in Las Vegas, and I won’t say the name, which worked with returning citizens, mostly the BIPOC community. Their mission is to help returning citizens get the training they need to qualify for livable wage employment and create revenue streams for themselves in the digital marketplace as social entrepreneurs. From their experience returning citizens lack access to livable wages, and since employment leads to housing and housing leads to family reunification, we started a capital campaign with a goal to raise $3 million last year to purchase land and build affordable housing for returning citizens. So far, we have been successful at raising the funds, now we need more buildings to start building the housing units for returning citizens.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
Nonprofits have a wide range of needs that the government can help with. Governments and society benefit from nonprofit organizations because they help make life easier. I think they need more resources, and in society, most people don’t like to work in the nonprofit field because they don’t get paid.
The salary skill for nonprofits is little, based on the fact that there are so many jobs in the nonprofit field and it takes a long time to get those jobs filled.
I think the government can help nonprofit organizations, especially the small ones. Many people don’t like to work in nonprofit fields because they don’t get paid like in other places. It’s based on their passion.
When you work with a nonprofit, you work on your feet, you multitask, and at the end of the day there are so many needs that have to be addressed and hats that must be worn with limited resources and the reward is not even your salary because the salary does is not much, but the reward is actually helping put a smile on people’s faces
We shouldn’t be in this situation. There should be a competitive salary rate for people that are working within nonprofits. The salary of people working in nonprofits cannot be compared to people working in other fields. Due to limited funding, due to limited grants, they don’t really have enough money to pay themselves. It’s not competitive like other fields.
If the government could step in and help nonprofit organizations with resources to help sustain staff and pay for overhead charges. People leave their nonprofit job because they don’t have enough means to sustain their families because they don’t get paid much.
Staff turnover occurs due to the lack of means to be able to retain talent. If the government could provide help in those ways, that would be critical for nonprofits, in the United States and all over the world. They spend time and resources looking for capable hands that can work within their fields, leading to a lot of wasted time and resources.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Most people believe that some leaders are born, when, in fact, to me, leaders are made.
Being a leader is not only about giving direction it is about giving guidance. It’s about looking at building culture and being strategic, it’s about knowing that there are responsibilities and also being able to build relationships and communication.
These are the core values that differentiate leaders from managers. Sometimes, working with nonprofit leaders and Executive Directors of nonprofits, most will try to manage the situation — creating a process and creating a management system — but a leader is someone who can successfully show, teach, and must be able to assist other people, especially people looking up to him or her. Again, a leader must be able to show, must be able to teach, and must be able to assist. In order to achieve their nonprofit’s lofty goals and vision, nonprofit leaders need high-level organization and technological vision. A leader’s style of operation, as well as the type of team he or she needs to be surrounded by, can help determine how they should manage their time and resources, how their style affects their nonprofit, and how they should nurture the next generation of leaders.
Based on your experience, what are the “5 things a person should know before they decide to start a nonprofit”. Please share a story or example for each.
That is an excellent question. Before you start a nonprofit, there are a few things someone needs to know… one, you need to have primary knowledge about what it means to lead a nonprofit. It’s very necessary to at least have been a volunteer or on the board or have served with a nonprofit, because only if you have done this will you be able to understand what a nonprofit is all about.
You must have at least two years of experience serving on a nonprofit board or volunteering for one of your favorite nonprofits.
I don’t think this is negotiable because I’ve seen so many nonprofits starting out… a year, two years… with a belief when they start a nonprofit people are going to fund them. They think “I’m going to get a donation” when the reality is that it’s not like that. They believe when they start a nonprofit that money is just going to fall into their lap.
It’s good to have that technical background. To either have volunteered with a local nonprofit or understand the internal systems needed to run a nonprofit.
The second thing is you need to have management skills and firsthand experience on how to manage situations. Starting a nonprofit means that you’re going to be managing donors, you’re going to be managing your staff, if you have them, along the way, and also consistency to the people that you serve. Whether it’s a service you provide or a service to the community, you must be able to know how to manage situations.
The third thing you need to know is you need to have fundraising skills. A great fundraiser is someone that can communicate. You must be able to communicate, to communicate your needs, to communicate your vision, your mission, to people about what you want to do.
Again, starting a nonprofit, you need to be passionate about it. What’s your passion about? You need to be able to appeal to people’s emotions based on your experience.
Maybe you have someone affected with cancer, or perhaps a situation around a hurricane, there must be a personal touch, a personal connection. There must be a story to tell.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world who you would like to talk to, to share the idea behind your nonprofit? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Of course, it is the nonprofit leaders, nonprofit funders, and nonprofit executives. They are the ones I really want to talk to. I think they need to be commended because it’s a lot of work to have a nonprofit. There’s always an option in this world for whatever career or part that you choose, but for someone to decide to fill a critical need, they are the ones I would like to talk to.
I want to especially commend nonprofit organization funders, who I work with mostly. It’s difficult now, post-Covid, to get funding. We still have quite a few nonprofits standing, despite Covid, still in the community. There are so many of them that are not recognized, they don’t receive pats on the backs for the good job they are doing. I wanted to say I see them. We see them.
I appreciate what they are doing. I commend their efforts. I commend the skills they bring to the table, and the sleepless nights they spend giving their time and resources — organizing events, organizing fundraising, planning end-of-the-year outreaches — and this is the end of the year, it’s the most important time for nonprofit organizations right now. Nonprofit organizations reaching out to past donors at this time of year get about 30% of their yearly budget. I want to commend them for their efforts and this final push to raise more money to advance their mission and to put themselves on the map in order to help out their communities, I just want to applaud them! Especially if they are reading this. Their work has been noticed.
Again, this is the time to reach out, when most doors are open, especially post-Covid when there are so many digital resources available, use their social media, as this is the most important time for nonprofits. This is the time they are pushing extra hard to close the books. I want to both commend and encourage them to go out there and try their best, even if they come across a closed door, there are so many others that are open, they only need to reach out and those doors will be open.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson” Quote? How is that relevant to you in your life?
As a woman, a migrant, a person of color, and a minority throughout my life, I have always been taught the importance of bringing your seat to the table. Women and minorities are not necessarily given a seat at the table. Having your voice heard requires you to bring your whole self, to unlearn some messages, and to embrace yourself as you are. As a result of this life lesson, I have learned the importance of being prepared for life opportunities and making myself indispensable. Ultimately, if you’re not invited to the table, create your own table. My goal has been to create that status quo, fit in, and be distinctive. I always teach nonprofit executives how to create their own strategies.
Designing a fundraising strategy and building a system that works is easy once you understand your mission. I have learned that you need not only a system fitting your needs, but one that is acceptable to society as well.
How can our readers follow you online?
I always organize a fundraiser boot camp. I have a link on my website, https://www.philipsconsult.com, and the best way to follow me is on Nonprofit Daily News, https://www.nonprofitdaily.news/, on Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/nonprofitsdaily, and on LinkedIn, https://www.linkedin.com/company/nonprofitdaily. I’m also on LinkedIn, https://www.linkedin.com/company/philipsnonprofitconsult/, and Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/iamvictoriaphilips.
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This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success in your mission.
Victoria Philips On The 5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Lead A Nonprofit Organization was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.