Tag Excitement to Non-Profit

Jasbina Ahluwalia

Thank you, Deepa. Let’s go to our next caller. Welcome, caller. Go ahead and ask Deepa your question.



Caller Three asks Deepa Iyer, former Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together, SAALT: Hi. Thanks, Jasbina. Hi, Deepa. My name is Ritu.

I’m President of NetIP North America. A lot of what you were talking about today has been really insightful and great information. I have a two-fold question.

I know this question has been touched upon earlier, about people expecting you to know it all. What steps have you taken to cement the areas that you did need more of a foundation in?

The other aspect is with fundraising and sponsorships. You touched upon how non-profits need to focus on this as well. It’s a very difficult thing to do.

You might be very excited for a cause, but how can you get other people, not only engaged in the cause, but willing to contribute to it?



Deepa Iyer

Those are really great questions. Thanks so much, Ritu.


Tag Excitement to Non-Profit: Know Blind Spots

The first one was around the fact that you don’t know it all.

How do you take steps to know more and cement that knowledge?

One is to understand where the blind spots are first.


Tag Excitement to Non-Profit: Blind Spots Example

For example, for me, they were around understanding finances, budgets and cash flow.

I was not as familiar with going through cash flow statements and making sense of them.

The way that I cemented that knowledge was that I built a relationship with our accountant. I made sure that I spent a lot of time with her to understand how I could, not just analyze the statements I had in front of me about SAALT’s finances, but that I could speak about them, whether it was to our board or foundations.

I could speak about them feeling confident.


Tag Excitement to Non-Profit: Learn

In addition to learning from someone else, which is one way that we can cement skill sets, I also took classes.

For those who are interested in non-profit work, there are many different organizations that offer these sorts of skills building classes in your own community.

Whether it is the Foundation Center, which offers a range of classes, or a consortium of non-profits in your own backyard, there are classes that you can take in order to build that knowledge.


Tag Excitement to Non-Profit: Accept Downfalls

I think it’s also important to be okay with not knowing it all.

I think that, in non-profits, often the executive director is expected to know everything. I think it’s important that we move away from that sort of leadership, which forces so much on one person’s shoulders.

This might be different for a CEO of a for-profit. In the non-profit sector, you don’t have as much support for an ED.

It’s important to move away from the thought of, “They do need to know everything,” and create support structures so that an executive director can lean on other people at the organization or the board who can fill in some of the knowledge gaps that they have.


Tag Excitement to Non-Profit: Passion

Your second question was around how to get people excited about your cause. I hear what you’re saying.

You might be excited, as you said, but how do you get other folks excited?

I’ve found a couple of ways to get people excited. You really have to speak to something that connects to them personally. I think that is the reason that people give.


Tag Excitement to Non-Profit: Make it Personal

When you think about who you give to, I’m sure that all of us give to organizations or causes where something about what that organization does touches our heart or reminds us of an experience that we’ve had.

For a lot of the time that I worked at SAALT, I would think about this. How do I turn a program that we work on and make it something that someone would say, “I totally understand why this is important. I’m going to give.”


Tag Excitement to Non-Profit: Example

I’ll give you a quick example.

One of the things that we started to do was to work on a leadership program for young people in the South Asian community to connect them to policy.

How can they, as they are thinking about the work that they want to do in the community or in their lives, make sure that they understand how policy works in Washington?

As we were trying to raise money for that, I thought about how I could talk about emerging leaders in the South Asian community and connect that with other people’s experiences.

As you were going through your leadership training, what would have helped you? Would it have helped you to be around a group of peers that you could have talked to? Would it have helped for you to get training on different ways that you could contribute?


Tag Excitement to Non-Profit: Recognize Individual Needs

Thinking about how you can connect to a person’s own individual experience and get them to understand why it’s important to give is very important.

A second reason that I think people give is because they know other people in their own network who are giving.

You can create a network of people and ambassadors who will say to their friends, “I’m giving to SAALT because of such-and-such reason. I’d like you to join me.”

You’re finding ambassadors who really believe in your cause and will go out and reach others. Those are two ideas that we’ve used in the past at SAALT that have worked.


Tell Us:

Have you been able to tag excitement to non-profit? Share your experiences with us below in the comments section.


The above is an excerpt from Jasbina’s interview with Deepa Iyer

The entire interview transcript is at: Deepa Iyer NetIP (Network of Indian Professionals) Interview – Leading & Working at Non-Profits

Listen to the entire interview on: Intersections Match Talk Radio – Jasbina’s Lifestyle Show

Listen to the entire interview on Blog Talk Radio: NetIP Spotlight- Live Your Potential: Leading & Working at Nonprofits

Listen to the entire interview on iTunes