Most of us dream of taking extended breaks or sabbaticals to balance work and personal life. While charities rarely offer sabbaticals to every staff member, sabbaticals for all might build the vim and vigor your staff and organization need.
We talk to Marvin Webb, Director of Finance and Administration at Funders for LGBTQ Issues in New York City. Marvin shares how his organization came to offer sabbaticals for all staff and how Funders for LGBTQ Issues structures sabbatical. As a bonus, Marvin also shares with us how to optimize strategic planning.
*****Time Stamped Highlights*****
(1:45) How Funders for LGBTQ came to offer sabbaticals for all staff members
(5:30) The frequency and conditions of using sabbaticals
(9:55) Why you must “champion” a good idea to get it approved
(15:45) The Jersey Shore: Marvin shares where he went on his sabbatical
(17:00) Going with the Flow: the attitude you should embrace on your sabbatical
(20:15) Returning to work when the sabbatical ends
(22:15) How to keep in contact with your job while on sabbatical
(23:45) How sabbaticals enhance and support succession planning
(25:00) Marvin’s side gig
(30:15) Complications your nonprofit may have with executing verbal commitments and strategic planning
(34:45) Marvin shares his life as a “power commuter”
Dolph Goldenburg: Welcome to the Successful Nonprofits™ Podcast. I’m your host Dolph Goldenburg with a conversation for any nonprofit professional who seeks a better work-life balance. This new year with New Year’s Day, just a couple of weeks away, you are probably thinking about your resolutions and for many taking time for yourself is an important resident resolution. So, today we will be speaking with Marvin Web, director of finance and administration at Funders for LGBTQ issues in New York City this year. He took time for himself by going on a sabbatical. We don’t often hear about nonprofits giving staff sabbaticals, and it is even more uncommon to learn about organizations that give anyone other than their executive director or CEO one. So, we were going to chat with him about how his organization came to offer sabbaticals to all of their staff, the way that Funders for LGBTQ issues structure Sabbaticals for staff, and how exactly he used his sabbatical. Let me also say that Marvin has been doubly generous with his time. We had a very unusual snafu that required that we record this conversation twice. So, I am incredibly grateful to him for coming back on and giving this one more shot.
Hey, thanks for joining us, Marvin.
Marvin Webb: Hey, Dolph. How are you?
Dolph Goldenburg: You know I am well, and I am hoping that we are going to view our conversation from a couple of months ago has practiced for this one. So, I think this one is going to be even better.
Marvin Webb: Fantastic.
Dolph Goldenburg: So, share with me a little bit how funders for LGTBQ issues came to offer sabbaticals to all staff.
Marvin Webb: My boss does from all back had said to me, um, we have yeah. Basically, policies for everything you could think of. I would say we’re a forward-thinking, small and Nimble Organization. And he said, Oh, you know, we probably need to think about a sabbatical for me. And I thought about it and it seen as I began writing the policy and your research on it, I came across a lot of resources from Harvard Business School Review and from Social Stanford Proven Innovation how the world is expanding. So, not only do directors take our executive directors take sabbaticals, but also staff. And then I began to get a sour taste in my mouth, and I thought, wait a minute. From a social justice standpoint, this isn’t really equal for all staff – equal for only the executive director and take it, why not off that?
And so, I actually came back with him with two versions of a sabbatical. I came back with his, which is more detailed because he’s an executive director. Then I came back with all the rest of the staff. And so when I presented it to him, he didn’t give me a double take. He said, this is interesting. He said, why? And I gave him my process, and he told him he was on board. And then he said, what might be the pushback from the board, you think? And I said, well, most of them won’t like this, and he said, “Why?” and I said, most people were still in the mindset of when they read a Harvard business school review article, they think it’s amazing, but in fact in actuality there are probably two to three years behind actually doing what the article is saying. Does that makes sense?
Dolph Goldenburg: It does.
Marvin Webb: I try to be in line with Harvard Business School Review as much as possible depending upon our budget and availability of processed and products. So, I said to my boss and to a couple of board members who we talked about this before, we delivered it to the full board. They were saying, Oh, you know, why would we give one to the, to the staff? And I said, well, I think about it this way. I said, are you, our mission has social justice, economic justice and racial justice in it. Are you going to do the mission on the inside as well as the outside or are you just doing the mission on the outside? Because if that’s the case, then I don’t think that’s on mission. To me, the mission of any organization should encompass and include the staff. If you are a hospital and you offer your staff employees from nurses and doctors to other healthcare professionals in that hospital, you’d be offered them the worst health care possible –
What does that say to the community that says, oh, we’ll treat the community route, serve the community as a hospital for the community, but we’re going to treat our staff like crap, I’d rather not do that. I’d rather say, “Hey, we’re doing hospital were so great that our employees have the best healthcare possible and we’re going to offer the community the best health care possible. That’s a different vision in my mind. So, when I said that every board was on board, they said,
Okay, staff gets it. Our structure is all staff after five years also full-time staff, get eight weeks fully paid, no questions asked, no document sign so you possibly could come back and leave. You know you could leave for eight weeks, find yourself and go away. It’s the FMLA version of an inch for an individual. So instead of having the baby, the baby is yourself because when you’re like, you know the first eight weeks of the baby, you get it. You know you’re nurturing, loving, relaxing. But all those things you probably need to do in a sabbatical too.
Dolph Goldenburg: Now the really the way the organization is structured it, do you get to take one every five years or was it just you get one in your time at the organization?
Marvin Webb: every five years.
Dolph Goldenburg: So, if someone’s there 15 years,
Marvin Webb: You’ve had three sabbaticals, yes.
Dolph Goldenburg: Now was there a huge waterfall as soon as it was passed, if people had already been there five years and said okay, I want to sign up for my sabbatical.
Marvin Webb: No, we have a newer staff. But then people started to plan out the people who were the third and fourth year are starting to plan out when they would take it. The project time off has to be approved. Like any time off, you can’t take it during a busy season. Probably philanthropy is, usually, quiet as in the summer, but usually they’ll take it into summer. But if someone has a child, like if this is an FMLA for an individual, then when we also have FMLA for all of that. So, if someone had a child being born, Trump’s a sabbatical taken. So, if you’re in, you’re in the same two people are in the same department and one has a baby, if the sabbatical is schedule, that person can’t take this sabbatical if that baby is born because the person needs to take the time off for their babies. That makes sense?
Dolph Goldenburg: It does. Can I ask some nuts and bolts questions about that?
Marvin Webb: Yeah.
Dolph Goldenburg: Let’s say that I’ve got my sabbatical approved, and I’m going to go down to Antarctica, and you know, I’ve already bought my ticket to Patagonia, and I’ve already bought my passage on ship to Antarctica. And then someone’s like, “Oh, I need FMLA to take care of a baby or to take care of a parent or whatever.” Will the organization reimburse me for my ticket to Patagonia, my ticket passage by ship?
Marvin Webb: We haven’t gotten to that structure yet. I’m assuming we are so forward-thinking that we would not blink an eye if that was to happen because we’re not take mine this summer the deal was because I deal with all things HR and finance, something were to go down that I would come back. It’s almost like a doctor who’s on vacation, but just sort of on call. I would come back, and I’m assuming that a company would pay for my trip to come back to take care of that.
Dolph Goldenburg: Now were you checking email then or would they just call your cell phone or like put a bat signal on this guy?
Marvin Webb: They would put it back single on the Scott. They would text me. We had a texting protocol. The only two people can text me if something went down. Yeah, my boss would text me, and then something happened to my boss, then my boss had to have a backup. If something happened to him for me, I had to come back, sat me. If there was a death in the staff, I would have to come back.
Dolph Goldenburg: So it sounds like when people take their sabbatical, they also understand like if there’s specific conditions or parameters around it,
Marvin Webb: It’s to kind of dependent upon their job. Like if a program person is our program person is on Sabbatical, the one program persons on FMLA we probably, because we only have three, we probably wouldn’t want them to do the same time off. So, we would stagger it. We would, we would have the FMLA, that person goes first, and the sabbatical person goes second. Alright. Even though sabbatical person may be in a busy time, we would structure it. So that’s just the luck of the draw and not so much for the sabbatical person before the FMLA person coming back. They have a cover for the sabbatical person, but in theory they were covered for, when they sit there, they took theirs definitely for that having a child with him. So, you’re covering why you can’t really complain because someone covered for you kind of thing. If push came to shove, we needed staff to help out, we would get some consultants to supplement. That hasn’t happened yet.
Dolph Goldenburg: I know you’d mentioned your board approving this plan. I don’t know who’s on your board, but my assumption is since you’re sort of almost like an association of funders, is it primarily foundation CEOs that are on your board or who’s on your board?
Marvin Webb: Primarily program officers and then CEO of the foundation.
Dolph Goldenburg: Have many of your board members taken that back to their foundation as a best practice or as a model?
Marvin Webb: Not that I know of. This is what I know of HR policies, like in any policy doesn’t have a champion either to write it to the top, and then the top will coach champion it and write it to the board. Then the policy won’t get passed like this. Is it positive but easily not have been pat had I not championed it, I chant it to my boss and my boss’ championed it to the board.
Dolph Goldenburg: So, it sounds like if a listener really wants to make this happen at their organization, they need to figure out how they can champion it to the top or if they’re already at the top, how they can champion it to the board.
Marvin Webb: If you’re a program officer, then you would champion this to your HR person, or you’re a director of finance administration. If they say, I don’t think it’s going to fly, and if you can’t find a way to champion it to them, if they haven’t, it’s kind of like when you see someone almost like Christmas, when you see a child’s eyes light up at the toy. You see that same look when someone has switched to become your champion. If they haven’t had that switch yet, and you can’t notice it, when you leave that office, they won’t be a champion for that at all. To me, that’s the relationship thing. If you can’t figure out who can be your champion for certain things. I don’t take all things to my boss cause I know that you can’t be a champion for all things.
I want to do it right. So, I pick and choose from my point of view what I think the organization needs to be, what I need to champion. We are one of the smaller organizations, and we have an employee engagement survey every year in switching to that three times a year because we really value our employees. We really value their opinion about the work we do and how we do the work and how we execute the work because my boss, he got the idea, he’s like, oh this is great idea. When I champion it to him, I said I want to have a team that hates to get sick. That’s me that they loved the work so much but I have to beg them to stop calling him cause you have the flu. I want that team, and we have to build that team and on the way to build it is to see what they’re feeling, see how they’re vibing, see where they want to go, but also within the realm of where my boss’s vision is and how do we supplement what they think is what he thinks and how do we go there together. We really take the time to get their opinions. They have input on the budget in pen on expenses and total revenue.
I would say instead of giving the organization relevancy, relevancy can only be found through the employee.
Dolph Goldenburg: You sound almost like Ricardo Semler, the Brazilian billionaire who has really built an international large, multibillion-dollar international corporation on full transparency with his staff.
Marvin Webb: I go to CFO conferences, and I tell people I’m doing it like I would never do that, but my staff, and I think that’s the norm. I would never do that with my staff, and I tried to operate outside the norm.
Dolph Goldenburg: Marvin, we’re going to take a short break, and when we come back, we’re going to talk about what you specifically did on your sabbatical
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Welcome back, Marvin. So, now that our listeners have heard how your organization created the sabbatical policy and how it’s structured and even how they can bring it to their own organization, I know a lot of people want to know specifically what you did on your sabbatical. So, you had eight weeks. What did you do with it?
Marvin Webb: We redid our kitchen. He did that. I deal with a lot of contractors and I had done my little research and I had noticed in researching, redoing your home and you know the kitchen, kind of the most important part of your home – either that or the, I think it’s kitchen, bathroom and the living room and a room and living room when you have the TV. I thought it’d be best that I would be here. I planned a contractor arriving with, I got in this bag, so I was here every day. I agreed with the contractors. I call them craftsmen. I agree with them every morning I had coffee for them. Every Friday, I had donuts.
Dolph Goldenburg: Oh my God, you’re the best boss ever. I want to come work for you!
Marvin Webb: I’m used to living in an apartment in Brooklyn, so they see something go to the studs, and I’m well-versed in law and order. So, I kept thinking they might find a dead body behind a wall they did not. We had a little pot of money in case I would happen. We had a little pot of money for asbestos. We did not find that. We didn’t change the floor plan but we added, we just replaced everything from the doors to the window to the wall, to the cabinet, to the floor, to the ceiling, the pot lights. I’ll share pictures with you. It’s really amazing.
Dolph Goldenburg: Thank you. I would love to post before and after photos.
You and I are also friends on Facebook cause you and I have known each other and a number of different capacities over the last decade or so. So, I think I also saw on Facebook that you took some trips during your sabbatical.
Marvin Webb: I went to visit my family in Colorado Springs where they’re living, and I was in this group caught Up with People like in 1989. It’s every, every five to 10 years they have to be new. And I went to that. And then in the middle of that, I did have a dear friend partner passed, and I had to jump on a plane and go around to Chicago, and then we’d have an annual trip, which happening during the kitchen renovation. We have an annual trip to the New Jersey Shore. My husband is a school teacher and so he likes to get away.
Dolph Goldenburg: I lived in Philly, so I have to ask you which shore town is your annual trip to?
Marvin Webb: We went to Bradley Beach, and we’re like four blocks from the ocean. We were in those rental units that are in the back of someone’s house. It’s a fully created new house that they just took to the stud and redid the whole house. Some of the kitchen ideas came from that house for our new kitchen. We got to the house. It’s almost like being in a new house, like from HGTV.
Dolph Goldenburg: about four years ago, a sabbatical as well. And I don’t know about you, but one of the things that I cherished about my sabbatical, and this is true, whether I was traveling or working on it because I, in my sabbatical, had three large trips planned, a couple of which were overseas, and I had a writing project that I wanted to work on. But what I, what I loved about being on sabbatical was every morning I would get up, and I would decide exactly what I was going to do that day, you know? And at no point in my adult life had I had an extended period of time when I was in full 100% control of my schedule, and it was glorious. Did you feel that way?
Marvin Webb: I’m a planner, so I tried to plan a sabbatical, and after two weeks I just said screw it because I always plan. Who would plan a sabbatical around building that kitchen? So, I thought let me not plan and let me just go with the flow. And I just hung out with friends. I will say it seemed odd. I love the process of watching the kitchen and fold. I was not a hoverer. I would go to lunch with friends to come back and see what the guys were doing. They would give me an update. They would tell him that they’re doing in the morning after the coffee and we would chat about their lives. And I would ask them like, oh, what’s this profit like? I would say, what’s this piece for? What’s that piece for? but learn the language of contracting and how they would put stuff together, and I said to things like to them, you know, “I realize the house is uneven.”
They explained that all houses are uneven, and I’m like, “Even the new ones?” They said, “Especially the new ones.” And I’m like who is in charge of this? I thought that this was all like some kind of perfect thing they were doing. Like, no, call me Marv. No, Barbara. Perfect. Like we just kind of like what I’m like, are you flipping kidding? But they did a grand job and even they are like, wow. We did it through Lowe’s because they had this great deal on a credit card that’d be finally paid off. We took it to Lowe’s, and they have a designer, and they have a contractor. And then what we did is we augmented several parts with different things that we wanted to keep up then tick in our 10th of mania style.
As we got those acts that are similar to them of that in the living room, we got the same crown molding in the living room as opposed to the molding. And they give you in the job. And because I was here every day, I was able to ask him, what is that on the floor? They said, “It’s the molding you requested.” I didn’t want that. So, I would arrange to get different molding and they put that up instead. And then that actually saved me money because had they did all the windows with the original molding, it would have been like a $2,000 change order to change the molding. And so I actually saved myself probably you say like $10,000 cause I was here before they go do stuff and finish it.
I wouldn’t check it. But I would say, Oh what’s that? That’s the morning. I’m like, but that’s not the morning I want, and I didn’t stop the job. I would actually have the money ready for them to continue. My husband didn’t want that mold either. So, we would figure out what molding to get, get it and have it here before they needed it so they can just do the molding, and it’s done. You know, we did a lot of stuff like that. I would never do a kitchen again because also we had to live without a kitchen.
Dolph Goldenburg: I’ve had a couple of kitchens ripped out. That is the way it works. Suddenly, you’re like, do I take dishes to the bathtub?
Marvin Webb: My husband’s said, “I’m not washing dishes in the bathroom sink ever.” I’m the one that had to do that.
Dolph Goldenburg: So I got to ask. So you had eight glorious weeks, you went back to work. I’m leaving a beautiful kitchen behind. You had several good trips. You were there for friends and family. What was reentry at work like?
Marvin Webb: Luckily, five of the eight were at a conference in New Orleans called the [Change Summit]. They were there when I started Monday. They were there Sunday through Thursday. I was not there, so I missed that. I was in the office seeing what was, what shenanigans I had been into. They didn’t do a lot of sanding is, but they did plenty. And then I had like three, four days to get back into it. The first week was easy. The second week was like, oh my God, this [is enough] sabbatical because I’m a mega commuter. And so, you know when you don’t commute for an hour and a half for eight weeks, you’re like, oh this is, I love this, this is great. This is really great. My partner’s a school teacher, and he hated it. He was like, you are home more than me.
Dolph Goldenburg: It’s funny, I totally get that sense. So, the way my sabbatical was structured, I’d be gone for a month, and I’d be back home for a month. I’d be gone for a month, and I’ll be back home for a month, and the month I was back home and like I said, I had a writing project and some other stuff, but there were points that I was like, I’m starting to feel like a house spouse.
Marvin Webb: I enjoyed being the house spouse because I could get stuff done. I wasn’t rushing around. I can take my time. I will say my husband’s like, you know, you don’t get anything done. And I’m like, look at him. You see that?
Dolph Goldenburg: Well, you know, it is funny, like about halfway through my sabbatical, I turned to the man who’s now my husband at the time. He and I had just been where we were long-term partners. We’ve been together about 10 years, but I turned to the man who’s now my husband one night at dinner and just like halfway through my sabbatical, and I said, “You know, I feel so busy, I don’t know how I ever had a full-time job.” And he looked at me, and he’s like, you know, you are going back to work.
So, the other question I have about reentry, did you have like 8,000 emails or, or w with someone else checking your email? Right.
Marvin Webb: I looked at email every Friday, but I never answered her an email. I worked with a lot of operational finance and HR partners, and I train them two months before I was leaving. Like our HR people, like health care professionals, I train them on who to contact when I’m not here, and I train my staff who to contact. So, instead of me emailing the people, it was a CC’ing of certain staff who were in charge of certain things. My boss had direct instead of me, contact in the bank contact, my boss was cc’d with the bank contact, and even though he knows who the bank contact is, but he’s not often cc’d when he needs to kind of back. So I kind of pre-trained all the people who I thought would often contact me about me or staff vice versa and me having to contact your vendor on their behalf. So, I didn’t have a lot of bows emails of like, Oh we have a question about, because either the staff could take care it, and all staff knew there was like my boss was an HR and finance contact for all staff to the outside world. So, if someone had a check question, they would ask my boss. And because we were quiet, a lot of things didn’t go down that needed any one’s intention.
Dolph Goldenburg: So, it sounds like impart offering you a sabbatical and offering other staff members a sabbatical also really helps with succession planning because you know, part of what I hear you saying is there now as this plan for how the agency would operate or how the organization would operate if you know the [inaudible] bus was rolling down Lafayette in Brooklyn.
Yeah, my boss said, “You should think about your succession planning [in line with your sabbatical structure]” Well, it’s kind of weird because of my sabbatical policy. Is it really how I structured it and I, I called it my exit plan – wasn’t really a succession plan? Because to me, a succession plan is twofold. There’s the instant version, and there’s the sabbatical policy would be a leaning out policy leaving policy. It would be that policy but it wouldn’t be an instant. Even my boss and succession planning of an instant version, like one where he is a good hit by bus or wins the lottery. And then there’s one where he’s deciding to leave and two months to a year time that he’s leaving. There’s that version. So, my version would be that, but it wouldn’t be an instance. Birds expecting office session politics needs to have both versions. That makes sense.
Dolph Goldenburg: Let me transition. There are two things I want to talk with you about. One is I understand you have a side Gig.
Marvin Webb: Um, my side Gig is I do operation mainly through finance, HR and IT, and I advise clients and usually smaller nonprofits and for-profits and startups on how to organize their offices so they’re efficient so they can do their work, whatever that work is and be focused on that and be felt it’s less [on] The administrative duties, sending up human resources, having a policy, all that stuff. And then there are stages that smaller, baby organizations go get to [be] smaller. But I was talking to a client the other day and this person has possible implications where they will be getting four to $5 million there. It’s the like quarter of a million dollar now, but they will be at four to $5 million in two years. So, in that two-year span, how did they set themselves up to easily navigate that type of level of revenue? Do they still need to do the work to support that revenue? Right. And then there’s the question for the staff, who are international and foreign currency exchange and human resources policies in different countries and different languages?
Dolph Goldenburg: And it’s interesting because your side gigs have unique specialty and that, you know, most of us who do this kind of work, we say, okay, I specialize in nonprofits or I specialize in for profits. You specialize in operations, whether that crosses nonprofit or the for-profit sector? I’m also, by the way, really impressed because when I asked you, Hey, do you have a URL that you want us to promote for your side gigs? You said it all just happens by word of mouth, and that’s really impressive that you have developed this practice solely based on word of mouth.
Marvin Webb: It’s hard because if you love your job then the reasoning for going out on your own.. for me there is this gray area of the extreme is if you go from left to right, you love your job on the left hand, and on the right hand, you love helping people and organizations thrive, then can you live between the two, or do you have to choose right or left hand? And right now I’m living between the two with more focus on the job. There could be a future where I am like, “No, the job isn’t that great, so let me focus fully into that.” But I think that for me I’m happy with the job because also I’m at a job where my boss allows me to play, and I so love to play. When I said to him, I want to do like three employee engagement surveys of year,
He’s like, “Why would we do that? That’s crazy.” And I showed it to him. He’s like, “Oh crap, this is a great idea.” Because of my play, I was able to bring that to him and show them what the benefit of this, no, to our employee engagement surveys, the three of them, one’s a long one and two are short and the two that are short, really ask more questions from the previous long one where we were low and note that our employee engagement surveys range from 70 plus percentage points when the average survey of American companies as a 30 percentage point. For me, I’m all into the game of keeping that percentage points in the 70s because that relates out, and I know that some companies when I talked to these ideas with them, they’re really into, “Oh my God, that’s great. We can get 70% off.” And I’m like, well yeah, it gives somebody a different output. If you’re now currently at 30% it’s not that you can’t get that junk, you just starting to 30 so for us, we built it at 72, and it was great, did vastly different. So, for the side gig, I would say, right now I’m navigating more towards the job. I get to play a lot. If something happens and I get more opportunities to play with corporations and nonprofits. But it’s hard because a lot of nonprofits and for-profits talk about doing the work, but as far as when it comes to the work, it’s really just like for example, wanting a new kitchen and investing the time and energy and doing the kitchen, Very different.
We had to save money, not go out, not have that extra glass of wine, but that might away. And then when we had the money for the kitchen, we had the money for the kitchen, and we did it right. How does that play out in the business world and the nonprofit world? Usually, the nonprofit worlds may maybe three to five years after behind the for-profit world and then we catch up and I’m like, Oh my God, we’ve been doing like, you know the for-profit world is just beginning to have the compensation of moving out of doing a strategic plan because the world moves so fast. But it’s starting to have the conversation of the nonprofit sector like, “Oh our strategic plan isn’t needed anymore. What does that mean?” I chuckle, and I’m like, “It’s okay, you’ll catch up.”
Dolph Goldenburg: Part of it though, and I think this is one of the reasons why it’s a little bit slower in the nonprofit sector is because it’s often funder-driven. If funders say, “Okay, give us a copy of our strategic plan.” Well you know, you need to have a good strategic plan. If a funder says, what are your board policies around whatever attendance, fundraising, giving, they have a certain expectation, and if you don’t meet that expectation, regardless of where the for-profit world is tracking, you’re not going to get funded.
Marvin Webb: You can tell a funder, no, we don’t do this, we do x because of this. [inaudible] Any and every funder can have an Aha moment if you sell them the right sale, but you have to believe in what you’re selling. I love employee engagement. Like it’s pancakes and me and 20 days it, it’s like pancakes, warm pancakes, whatever topping you want your choice. But to me, it’s all about employee engagement and warm pancakes. But for some people, first he said you plans their pancakes and if they can sell it, but I haven’t been around long enough to seize your teaching plans change.
And I know that foundations want to see, they probably want to see the teacher plays. They wanted to see the long-term vision and how that long-term vision aligns with foundation. But sometimes they shouldn’t actually changed their vision. So in the end, does it matter if the work had the strategic plan but the work could have a long-term vision and the long-term vision could be based on something other than a strategic plan or they can have, because I know usually strategic plans as a year of planning and designing and then they have three to five years to feed your plan and to have an evaluation period. But because the world shifts and the needs are shifting so quickly, especially with these organizations who were on the ground, like to have them go through this whole process, especially like a smaller, it’s strange to me that a smaller $500,000 organization who delivers on the ground services, we need a strategic planning. I understand the idea of a strategic plan. But like if you’re like a $14 million organization, maybe you should have a strategically, right. But I dunno if you’re a $500,000 organization, do you need to have a strategic plan?
Dolph Goldenburg: Well see its funny cause kind of feel like it depends on what your long-term goal is. So, you know, so, so if you’re currently $500,000 organization, but you know you believe there’s an opportunity to dramatically increase services and really be a $5 million organization in four years, you better plan for that. But if you’re a long-term vision is to be doing what you’re doing in three years, be doing the same thing but maybe be doing it 5% better or 10% better, you may not need, you know, an in-depth plan to do that.
Marvin Webb: If you want to go from $500,000 to $5 million, totally doable. Totally respectable, I’ll honor it. If the reason for increasing for $500,000 to $5 million, is that to also more services or is there a bigger shift you’re able to do with those services? If you’re providing homeless shelter, so you do 500 beds, but that by $100,000 as a homeless shelter, are you able to, if you go from $500,000 to 5 million, are you able to actually get 400 of those people then to two to five years an actual home by building that $500 million structure, then that’s a great feat. But if you’re going from $500,000 to 5 million just by adding more homeless shelters, I don’t know if that’s a bigger feat.
Dolph Goldenburg: Yeah, see it. And it’s interesting. I think you and I are on the same page about that because you know what I kind of look at is, what’s your big bold goal? So, is it every homeless child in your city having a medical home? That’s a big bold goal, you know, if you’re doing healthcare for homeless kids or you know, or is it an admittedly, and I’m really proud of the mayor of Atlanta who actually kind of launched this, this big bold goal this year, which is um, for 75% of Atlanta citizens to be within one mile of a real grocery store. For the city of Atlanta, that’s a big bold goal. Yeah. You know, you’re probably going to have to do some dramatic growth somewhere or some amazing partnerships somewhere in order to make those goals happen.
Well, Marvin, our loyal listeners of the podcast know that I always like to ask an Off-the-Map question and I’ve got a question for you then I think you have a unique perspective on, and most of us do not because most of us have never been a power commuter. You’ve got like a 90-minute or two-hour bus ride into the city every day. So, what is it like?
Marvin Webb: Um, I want to first say that I’m not alone. In my small town in Bethlehem, there are four, three other towns prior to me that the bus gets to. So by the time the bus gets to me, it’s like 80% full, but a lot of MTA workers who live in Pennsylvania and people who work for Wall Street. We a different crowd, meaning the bus driver will often say to people who are not commuters, who are going to New York City just for days, like see a Broadway show, he will say, “Please keep your voices down.” So, it’s a very respectable kind of atmosphere. I have learned to utilize my time effectively and efficiently. Usually, on the trip home in the morning, I take the 540 bus, and I’m at work by 7:30 AM because of traffic. I probably will sleep in the morning.
I’m excited to get ready for the morning meeting, but nobody’s, nobody’s having a morning meeting at seven 30 is fine. Um, especially 7:30 AM. And then on the way home, I usually reserve my time on the bus, either for a an iPhone movie that I haven’t seen that I can get for $5 or I’ll read something either for school, from getting my master’s again or to do homework for school or to read something that I received, like a pdf that I want to glance through from a partner or a member that I’m interested in sharing the staff or somebody from Harvard Business Review or social innovation like it’s something that’s something that I’ve saved that I want to either reread or read. I tried to also answer simple emails. Instead of answering that at my desk with two monitors, I answer in-depth emails, but if I see like, oh, this person’s needs a yes, I will mark it as unread [and answer it on] the bus, I wouldn’t be read, especially older emails and I’ll say, yes, no, we don’t want that yet.
[inaudible] I do those emails and then sometimes because I have this fabulous iPhone, I’ve done payroll on the bus, I’ve canceled Payroll on the bus. I have added email to a new staff member on the bus. I have sent foundation members invoices. I can create an invoice in the word, save it on Dropbox, make a pdf of it and then send it as an attachment. It’s crazy, and I’ve gotten so good at it that I will often, if I can’t figure out how to do something, I’ll just email apple care, our email Dropbox support and they’ll say, “Oh yeah, you can do it like this.” And they’ll just answer like, “Oh yeah, we do this.” Because there’s a way like you can actually, so when you have an email, if you go to print it, if you take your two fingers, but in the middle of screens open it wide, it will open up into like a little more, a different view and it will allow you to save it as a pdf somewhere. So, if you have a Dropbox account or box account or even on your file accounts for your Gmail, it will allow you to save it there, and you could say that anywhere within you can navigate your files and your files. So, if I want to say like, oh, we’re getting a grant from x foundation, and I want to save the documentation for the auditor, I’ll just print that, open that, save that our Dropbox account and it’s there. And then I go to and we have salesforce and I document it on Salesforce and have the attachment.
That’s impressive. I do that kind of stuff on the laptop, but I’ve never tried to do it on my phone. So really impressive that you’re able to do that as a power commuter.
Dolph Goldenburg: Marvin, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. I am hoping that you have inspired organizations to begin offering sabbaticals to their staff. I’m also hoping that you’ve encouraged some staff to try to find champions within their own organization to go and ask for sabbaticals across the board.
Now, if folks want to reach out to you, if it’s for your side gig, I’ll post a link to your LinkedIn page, and if it’s regarding what you do at funders for LGBTQ issues, um, we will post a link to your organization which is www.LGBTfunders.org. Hey Marvin, thanks again. We are super grateful that you have done this interview twice.
Marvin Webb: My pleasure.
Dolph Goldenburg: If you are a board chair or CEO, this is the perfect time to start a conversation with your board about offering sabbaticals to staff. And if you are not the board chair or CEO, this is a great time to start looking for champions within your own organization. Your organization will end up with staff that has more vim and vigor to pursue your mission if you can make sabbaticals happen across the board.
Now, we’re just a week or so away from some holidays, and my holiday gift list is very simple this year. All I want for Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza are a few more podcasts reviews. So, please head over to iTunes, Stitcher, or your streaming app of choice to rate the podcast and write a review. Additionally, there are some easy-to-find links that will enable you to review the podcast at our website www.successfulnonprofits.com. Now, the podcast is a collaborative effort, so grateful thanks to Marvin web for being on the podcast today and to Brianna Ohonba for editing this episode. That’s our show for this week. I hope you have gained some insight that will help your nonprofit thrive in a competitive environment.