Today I am officially launching an interview series on this website called Talking GOOD, featuring up-and-comers (and some who are already established) from the exciting, sexy, and adventure-filled world of the 501(c)(3). This week’s interview is with the CEO of Maryland’s Better Business Bureau, Angie Barnett.
Broadly speaking, I find interviews with nonprofit professionals to be rather bland. Given the nature of their work and their passion for a cause, interviewees tend to focus on the organization itself — its mission, its impact, results measurement, funders and fundraising — but rarely do they talk about themselves (nor are they given the opportunity to do so). The conventional nonprofit interview lacks the verve, irreverence, and shock-value that you would expect to find in an interview with an entertainer or a business magnate for example.
Therefore, my goal with this weekly feature is not so much about promoting a nonprofit or a cause, but instead to shine the spotlight on individuals themselves. What makes them tick? What are their hopes and fears? Who would play them in a movie about their life, and why were they arrested back in college? These are the juicy tidbits that offer insight into an individual and make for enjoyable reading. The interviews will be short. Just ten questions. Initially, the questions will be the same from week to week. I selected them because they allow for insightful, unique, and candid responses.
Why did I decide to do this you ask? It’s a combination of reasons really. For one, I care a great deal about the nonprofit sector, particularly since I have consulted with many organizations and foundations over the last decade. Launching a weekly segment like this allows me to bring direct visibility to people who I believe warrant the attention. No longer do I have to convince someone else why they should write about this individual or nonprofit … I can just do it myself. It’s empowering and rewarding. Part of my reasoning stems from a blog post that I wrote back in January called 365 Days to do Something … Anything. Basically, I’ve wanted to do something fun like this for a while, but just never knew what to do. Thanks in part to a serendipitous January meeting with nonprofit “lifer” John Leonard, the kernel for this idea was planted and it slowly grew in the months that followed.
In addition, I’ve always wanted to create a mechanism for delivering interesting and original content to the Communicate Good website (beyond writing my own blog posts). I can’t promise that every interview will be a “page-turner” (a mouse-scroller???), but I do believe that the different perspectives will add needed layers of dimension to this site. Finally, I am hoping that through Talking GOOD, I can be a connector, and even a catalyst for new ideas in the nonprofit sphere.
Each week, in addition to my own promotion of the interview, featured interviewees will promote their spot to their own network of peers, which will in turn drive greater attention and interest in the segment itself. In this way, I expect to meet new people who will ultimately fill the pipeline for this weekly feature. To this end, I’ve created a NOMINATION FORM, where you can nominate yourself or others for Talking GOOD. I’d be lying if I said I have an air-tight system for selecting interviewees. Clearly, if demand for interviews grow, I will need to articulate a more scientific selection process. But in the short term, I’ll make the decision based on my gut and what I know about the person and his/her work. Amazingly, my pipeline of interviews is already filled through the middle of summer!!
So feel free to read any of the four interviews that are already live and sign up to “receive information” on the upper-right of this page, to be notified when new interviews go live. I’m looking forward to seeing where Talking GOOD takes us in the coming months and years. Thanks for reading!