Business & Finance

Joan Garry Presented Her Nonprofit Formula For Success

Margot Sage-EL and Arielle Eskstut

MONTCLAIR, NJ - On Monday March 6, 2017 listeners eager to learn filed into the Montclair Library auditorium. Everyone was greeted by Margot Sage-EL, Montclair’s literary ambassador and owner of Watchung Booksellers.

They were all there to be inspired by Joan Garry who, according to Arielle Eskstut, ‘the Book Doctor’, was an author with ‘the personality of someone you want to listen to.’

And listen and learn they did as Garry took them on a humorous, engaging overview of the two theories and four pieces of advice detailed in her book: Joan Garry’s Guide to Nonprofit Leadership. Because Nonprofits are Messy.

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“A great leader is a great storyteller. A great fundraiser is a great storyteller.” According to Garry, the great non-profits today are the ones that understand the power of media and storytelling

She instructed the audience to ‘bring the story to life and talk to me like I’m 10’ when explaining their non-profits to potential donors. She explained that in order to do this ‘your passion for your mission must be greater than your fear of telling your story and asking.’

Theory One:

Non Profits are Messy – It’s inherent in the formula of a 501(c)(3) and explained in detail in her book.

Theory Two:

A good non-profit is like a twin engine jet.  Engine #1 is the Board and #2 Engine is the staff and volunteers.

While most non-profits look for super heroes, Garry advised that instead they should look for Kermits. Yes, as in ‘the frog’. She explained that Kermit is ‘empathetic, diplomatic, humble, has his eye on the North Star, listens, values diversity and knows how to deal with the high maintenance “Miss Piggy”.

The presentation was also available via Facebook Live. Garry responded to a viewer’s question:  “The easiest chapter to write was ‘You’ve got to get me at hello’ which is Chapter 2. It includes information relating to mission statements, the pitch, and…storytelling.

Karen Brown Stovell, founding Executive Director Forward Ever Sustainable Business Alliance, said she came to Montclair for the presentation because she has been a follower of Garry’s since she started Forward Ever in 2012. Karen is a graduate of Prudential Foundation’s Nonprofit Executive Fellows Program at the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School.

Helen Archontou, Chief Executive Officer of YWCA Bergen County asked “How do you keep staff motivated in these challenging times?” Garry explained that people come to non-profits to have a voice and to be heard. Chapter 6 of her book is titled: Managing the Paid and the Unpaid (Or, I Came to Change the World Not Conduct Evaluations).

Jack Shannon Jr., Vice President for University Advancement, Montclair State University attended to ‘hone our message in order to further benefit the 1000s of students who are often the first in their families to attend college’. He said that the University’s annual scholarship dinner held March 4, 2017, raised a record breaking $800K+. At the event students from the John J. Cali School of Music and the Department of Theatre and Dance performed selections from their upcoming production of West Side Story.

Mollie Cutillo, Co-Chair for the Nutley Educational Foundation Research & Development Committee, said she was inspired by Joan Garry and eager to take back what she learned to her team.

As Mollie waited in line to buy Garry’s book, she said her greatest take-away from the presentation was ‘what separates the Good (non-profits) from the Greats is JOY’.


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