There is a pervasive scarcity mindset that plagues the nonprofit sector. The fear that there is "never enough" - never enough money, power, influence, time, people, talent, board members, you name it.
But, what if we are looking at it all wrong? What if there IS enough to go around? That's what my guest Nell Edgington wants to show us.
Nell has spent her 25-year career innovating in the social change sector. As president of Social Velocity, she helps create more strategic, financially savvy, and confident nonprofit and philanthropic leaders and organizations. Nell is a popular writer, speaker, and blogger, and author of Reinventing Social Change: Embrace Abundance to Create a Healthier and More Equitable World. She is a member of the national Leap Ambassadors Community, a network of more than 250 social change thought leaders. Nell holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
I got some free coaching from Nell in this episode, and what she had to say about abundance mindset, how to create a culture of abundance, imposter syndrome, and more was incredibly relatable. Here are some of the topics we discussed:
A Nell Edgington quotable: “If you change your questions, you change your life.”
Do me a favor? Rate, Review, & Follow on Apple Podcasts (or your podcast player of choice) - it helps this podcast get seen by more people that would enjoy it!
About Julia Campbell, the host of the Nonprofit Nation podcast:
Named as a top thought leader by Forbes and BizTech Magazine, Julia Campbell (she/hers) is an author, coach, and speaker on a mission to make the digital world a better place.
She wrote her book, Storytelling in the Digital Age: A Guide for Nonprofits, as a roadmap for social change agents who want to build movements using engaging digital storytelling techniques. Her second book, How to Build and Mobilize a Social Media Community for Your Nonprofit, was published in 2020 as a call-to-arms for mission-driven organizations to use the power of social media to build movements. Julia’s online courses, webinars, and talks have helped hundreds of nonprofits make the shift to digital thinking and raise more money online.
Clients include GoFundMe Charity, Meals on Wheels America, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Hello, and welcome to nonprofit nation. I'm your host, Julia Campbell. And I'm going to sit down with nonprofit industry experts, fundraisers, marketers, and everyone in between to get real and discuss what it takes to build that movement that you've been dreaming of. I created the nonprofit nation podcast to share practical wisdom and strategies to help you confidently find your voice. definitively grow your audience and effectively build your movement. If you're a nonprofit newbie, or an experienced professional, who's looking to get more visibility, reach more people and create even more impact, then you're in the right place. Let's get started. All right, everyone. Welcome to another episode of nonprofit nation. I'm so excited to be here with you today. We have a very special guest. Nell Edgington, who I have been shocked to realize that I don't think that we had met before. Maybe we've crossed paths before. But I'm feel very fortunate to have her on the podcast. So now has spent her 25 year career innovating in the social change sector. As President of social velocity, she helps create more strategic, financially savvy and confident nonprofit and philanthropic leaders and organizations. She's also a popular writer, speaker and blogger and author of a book that absolutely everyone is raving about. And I don't just say that reinventing social change, embrace abundance to create a healthier and more equitable world. Nell is also a member of the National leap ambassadors community, a network of more than 250, social change thought leaders, and she holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. So welcome now.Nell Edgington:
Thank you so much for having me, Julia. I'm delighted to be here. Yay. All right. Well, let's begin with your story. how you got involved with nonprofits social change agent work? Yeah. So I have been in the sector my whole career. Since I graduated from college, I've worked for all kinds of different nonprofit organizations, literacy, Arts, Media, kind of all across the gamut. And I started social velocity 13 years ago, because honestly, I got frustrated with what I saw as a lot of hurdles and, and impediments to true social change work. I saw nonprofit and philanthropic leaders continually hampered in their work to try and create a healthier and more equitable world. And so I started social velocity to help organizations become more confident, more strategic, more financially abundant so that they could realize their social change goals.Julia Campbell:
Well, that gets us into your latest book, reinventing social change. And I'm not kidding you. I've heard everyone raving about this from Pam grow to Jeff Brooks, to all of the people that you have that blurbed your book. I mean, it's really it's definitely worth a read. But tell me about how it came about. Tell me about what happened after the 2016 election, which I think a lot of us will be able to relate to. It was bad, right? It was traumatic was bad. I didn't get out of bed for like two days. My kids wondered what was wrong with me.Nell Edgington:
Oh, I know, man. Yeah, so the 2016 election was a blow I think, honestly, to you know, so many social change leaders. And I don't mean it from a political standpoint. I'm not a huge political zealot or anything like that, I just honestly believe that we should, you know, take care of each other. Yeah, we should move forward, we should take care of each other, we should take care of the planet. We're all in this together, you know, just some basic things. And to me, it felt like the 2016 election was sort of shoving a lot of that to the side. And sort of a lot of social change goals. And a lot of social change work felt like it suddenly had huge hurdles in its way. And so to me, I had to take a big step back because I was so devastated by that. I didn't understand how my work as a social change leader because I consider myself a social change leader as well. I didn't understand how I could work in a world like that anymore in an environment like that anymore. Yep. So because I at least knew enough that I was not going to be abused to anyone if I was that lost myself. I took a four month sabbatical, still working with clients, but I stopped writing my blog. I stopped speaking I just needed to kind of go inward and figure out you know, what the world What this all meant. And through that process, I also got myself a coach, a leadership coach, I think, coaches, the coaches, that's what you wrote in your book. I love that. Absolutely. And through that process of over, you know, really honestly, it was a couple of years, it wasn't just my four month sabbatical, it was a couple of years of just searching and reading and walking and writing, that I came to this path that worked for me to move from scarcity thinking, which is honestly what I was stuck in after the 2016 election, this thought that there isn't enough, the world's a dark place, I don't know what's happening, I don't fit in to a path of abundance to where I am now where I'm, I'm honestly, so optimistic about the future, which I know is a crazy thing to think right in the midst of a pan global pandemic. And, you know, just everyone, you know that the new york times our news languishing, right, everyone's languishing, I get that I sawJulia Campbell:
I read that article, too. Yeah,Nell Edgington:
I get that. But I don't, that's, that's not for me, I see a really powerful, optimistic, hopeful path forward, I honestly believe the human race is gonna figure this out, we're gonna get there, it's gonna be hard, and it's gonna be rough. But I think we're gonna emerge so much better. And that excites me.Julia Campbell:
I love that. And what really resonated with me when I read that is, you're right. When people hear about our experience of the election, they immediately go to this partisan place, and this political place. And while I am very, very personally, I'm very partisan, a very political, they have been my whole life. I do know that for the majority of people, it really wasn't about republican democrat, it was about the values that America holds dear, and the work that we're doing, and we're trying to move the world forward. And like you said, care for each other care for people of different races, different economic status, people that speak different languages, you know, caring for people that have, you know, different economic status, caring for the planet. So I think that's, I think that's really an important, you know, I really like that you started your book that you were kind of shuck with the world as it was, and that it led you to writing this book, which is all about how to change the mindset of the entire sector, which I absolutely think we have to do. So that leads us into some of the themes of the book. So you know, I've read the first chapter, like I said, I didn't get the full book from Amazon yet I should have, I should go to my local bookstore and get it. But what I want to hear more about is the scarcity mindset. So I hear a lot about this in business circles. But what is operating from a scarcity mindset mean for nonprofits?Nell Edgington:
So a scarcity mindset is simply the belief that there's not enough. So there's not enough money. I think that's the biggest one in the social change sector. People are constantly both on the philanthropy side and the nonprofit side talking about there's just not enough money, there's not enough money. But it's beyond that there's not enough money, there's not enough power, there's not enough influence. There's not enough time, they're not enough people not afford members, right? It's just this constant drone of not enough. And that that mindset, because it is it's just a belief, it's just a set of beliefs. That ultimately, I think, is what's holding true social change back.Julia Campbell:
Wow. So on the flip side, what does an abundance mindset look like?Nell Edgington:
So an abundance mindset is, ultimately, it's reclaiming your power. It's saying that there actually is enough. There's plenty of money out there. And you know, just as a single data point, right, there's so much talk during the pandemic, that there's not enough money for, you know, nonprofits are scrambling for money, there's, you know, governments scrambling for money. Meanwhile, billionaires have gotten significantly richer during the pandemic, right? So the money's out there. It's not that there's not enough money, it's that money is not flowing, the way we want it to flow to social stage. Yes, that's a problem we can fix. And so the idea behind abundance is to recognize the issues I'm not at all suggesting a Pollyanna approach, but you recognize where you are lacking something or needing something, and then you create a bridge to Okay, well, let's figure out how to get there. Let's figure out how to move money from the billionaires to social change. Let's figure out how to flow money more effectively. So to me, all of those things are possible in an abundance mindset simply opens the door to something beyond scarcity.Julia Campbell:
Yes, and I love what you wrote in the book, and I'm going to quote it in the introduction. It's not just about money, you also want to connect to the many more people who are poised to help you achieve your social change vision. A massive team of people, both inside and outside your organization, have the connections, influence ideas and drive to help you. They simply await your direction. mobilizing this amazing team for good is up to you. So I love that. Can you talk more about how we can mobilize this amazing team of people?Nell Edgington:
Yeah, so step one is just realizing they're out there in the first place. I think so often nonprofit leaders feel so burdened by all the lack that they feel that they're experiencing, that they they sort of isolate themselves, they take everything on their own shoulders. And so there's this silo effect that happens, or this sort of, you know, narrowing down your aperture that happens. And so the idea is to open that up to first of all, say, it's not all up to me, and to start to ask for help. So to start to ask your board, your staff to stop sort of taking on the martyr approach, which I think happens a lot in the nonprofit sector, you know, again, it's all it's all up to me, only I can do it, no one else can do it as well as I can, I'm the only one that understands start to think about your board, your staff, people outside your organization, other people that other people in organizations that are working on similar social issues, policymakers, influencers, all of that takes a level of confidence to say, you know, what I have to offer the world, the social value I'm trying to create has real merit, and I want to offer people the opportunity to help me in this work. That's a cop more confident, abundant approach to the more sort of typical approach, which is, oh, this is really hard work. It's all up to me, no one's gonna really want to help me, I hate to ask for help. So it's flipping that switch, and really seeing the folks outside your walls and even those inside your walls, as you know, able to and willing to help you.Julia Campbell:
I love that. You also say in the book, if you change your questions, you change your life. So tell me more about this. So I think I can use this personally as well.Nell Edgington:
So I'm a huge believer in questions. I've always been someone that's just constantly asking why why is it like that? Why, why can't we do that. And again, as you think about, you know, the things that are weighing you down, instead of just sort of being in that soup of lack, start to ask why? Why is it like this? Or why do we feel like it's so hard to get money? Or why do we feel like our board is immobilized? or, or, you know, why do we think this is a really difficult time to move things forward? When you start to ask those questions, you can begin to build a bridge, a bridge to something out something different than where you exist right now. And so questioning can be a way a way to do that.Julia Campbell:
I love that I love the idea of building a bridge. So I mean, for me, I think the biggest challenge that I think my audience might have. And the clients that I'm currently working with might have is how do we get buy in so we are fully on board with this. We read this book, we get all charged up, we're highlighting it we're shouting from the rooftops. We're like snapping. We're like we love it. Love it, love it. But I am a development director, right? And I just feel like I'm hitting my head against a wall every single day. How can I get buy in? either from probably from everyone from staff members from my EDI from the board? Do you have tips on how people can get can build, buy and build an abundance culture?Nell Edgington:
Uh huh. So I think first of all, we move too quickly to other people. I think we moved too quickly to say, Oh, I get it. No, I'm, I'm totally on board with this. My problem is all these people out here. Oh, my God, Love it. Love it. So that's step one is to just truly absorb it in yourself and begin to recognize when you're starting to think in terms of scarcity, again, because I think what you just talked about there, and I get it, I mean, I felt that way. But when you start to say there's not enough other people like me out there that maybe that'sJulia Campbell:
part of scarcity mindset, it is it's exactlyNell Edgington:
part of scarcity mindset. So you really have to do the work on your own first to really truly believe it and catch yourself when you start to say so as a development director. You know, I totally get this abundance thing, but it's just so hard out there to raise money like my funders don't get it. Again, bring it back. Do you truly believe that there is enough money out there? Do you truly believe that funders can be brought along with what you're trying to do? start to work on that as you work on that. It'd be good To grow, focus less on the lack of, you know, abundance out there focus more on what you want to see, and it starts to grow. So you start if you believe funders are totally going to get this funders are going to love this, they're gonna, you know, you're just starting to light up because you're so excited about this, that energy continues to grow in whatever room you find yourself, whether it's a staff room, a boardroom, a donors house, whatever it is, the energy and the abundance you bring to it itself grows it for other people. Wow,Julia Campbell:
I really have to think on that. Because I am doing a lot of work with a group that I'm involved with as a volunteer, I'm not their consultant on diversity, equity and inclusion. And that's the very first step. It's just like you said, instead of pointing fingers, instead of accusing everyone else, instead of saying, No, I've got this, I'm not racist, I have no biases. You have to do the internal work first, and model it before you bring it to other people live. It's really wonderful that right? Like, yeah, you have to live it. You have to live it and be it. Hey, there, I'm interrupting this episode to share an absolutely free training that I created that's getting nonprofits of all sizes, big results. Sure, you've been spending hours on social media, but what can you actually show for it? With all this posting and instagramming? and tick talking? Does it really translate into action? In my free training, I'll show you exactly how to take people from passive fans to passionate supporters. And I'll give you specific steps to create social media content that actually converts head on over to nonprofits, that convert.com. Again, that's nonprofits that convert calm, and start building a thriving social media community, for your nonprofit right now, without a big team, lots of tech overwhelm or getting stuck on the question. What do I do next? Let me show you how it's done. I can't wait to see what you create. So, to me, I mean, it seems like this is just sort of like steering a cruise ship, like what can we do if we're fully on board? We're doing our internal work. But how can we encourage other people in the sector? How can we encourage other thought leaders, other influencers? Because I hear so much about donor fatigue? And I do a lot of work in Marketing Communications. I hear so much about Oh, email. I don't I don't read my email. I don't go on social media. I don't answer my phone. I don't. I don't want communications from nonprofits. I don't, you know, I'm so tapped out. I don't have any money left to give. I hear that from people. So I think that development directors and marketing directors are hearing that. So how do we like how can I help just combat this narrative? What are some strategies that we can use?Nell Edgington:
Well, so again, you know, I would start internally, so in turn, or, you know, if you're hearing folks saying, you know, I'm just sick of hearing from nonprofits, it's not meaningful for me, I just need a break or whatever. Then again, think about, okay, well, what are the communications that we're doing? Are they sort of tired and exhausted and scarcity focused as well? Are we over here having a party because we're just so excited about the work that we're doing, and we want to tell everybody about it, and your communications are coming from that energy, that's the energy that's going to get people's attention and get them to say, hey, I want to be part of that, or they may not. And that's their choice to, you're not going to appeal to everybody. But what you want to do is have your own party over here about you know, the great work, you're doing the the transformation that's happening with your organization, how excited you are about the future, you know, what's happening, those that want to be part of that are going to be sort of magnetized to that energy.Julia Campbell:
I love that the energy you put out is energy you get back. And actually when I talked to Rhea Wong, our mutual podcasting friend, she had said something similar where you're inviting people and you're not trying to knock on their door and you know, pull their teeth and browbeat them to participate.Nell Edgington:
She never happens that way. Right changes ever, no one has ever brought kicking and screaming to change. They're invited. And you know, change is so exciting and so enticing that they want to come over there.Julia Campbell:
So tell me about how you define social change agent and who is a social change agent.Nell Edgington:
To me, it's anyone that's moving people And or money to positive social change to a world that is more inclusive, healthier, you know, we're we're taking care of people on the planet in in more effective ways. And so that's who have anyone. So it could be, you know, a corporate sponsorship person or it could be a government agency decision maker, it could be a foundation leader, it could be a nonprofit development director. To me, it's anyone that is trying to move people or money towards positive social change.Julia Campbell:
What do you say to those executive directors or nonprofit staff that don't consider themselves social change agents, they just consider themselves you know, we're just putting my head down. I'm not political. It's not, I don't want to talk about current events. I don't want to tie anything that I do to current events. I don't want to offend anybody, I don't want to step on toes, I just want to go raise my money. Because I I'm always looking for things to say to those that you know, because I think it's a very big struggle with a lot of people who aren't as forthwith maybe as we are about how we're feeling about current events, and how do they get more comfortable being a social change agent, like being a leader?Nell Edgington:
So first of all, I would say, you know, to anyone, it's your choice, it's your choice, how much you want to get into the ring? And how much you don't want to? Yes, but you need to ask yourself, if you are trying to lead a mission, right? So if you're in the nonprofit space, you're in the philanthropy space, your organization has some sort of a mission, right? It has some sort of a social mission. If you truly believe in that mission, and you want to see it move forward. You owe yourself and you owe that mission, a questioning about Am I doing everything I absolutely can to move that forward. Because I think a lot of times because of all the baggage that comes historically with the nonprofit sector and how we we so strangle the nonprofit sector, we often as leaders in that space, feel like oh, we're not good enough. Or we should just kind of stay small or 100 rosters in July denied, right? But what the world needs now is social change leaders stepping up in really big ways. And really stepping into their power. We need it like nobody's business, right? We are in this mess. Yeah. Because so many of us and I include myself in playing it small, playing it small, staying silent, when we see something that we know is wrong. And yes, no, we have something to say about that. We have to let our voices free. And we have to really step into that power. So again, ultimately, it's your choice. But if you look inside, and you say what I see out there is not right. And I have something to say about it. If you are holding yourself back and you're hiding, then you're doing yourself and the world a huge disservice.Julia Campbell:
Yes, yes, I love that. I love that. And I, I try all the time to talk to my clients to talk to my audience say exactly that you have something to say. And we also have a responsibility as leaders to call things out as we see them. And you know, it's so interesting to me, I just connected the dots here. The reason why I think a lot of leaders and people in the sector don't call it out is because of the scarcity mindset, they feel like we're gonna lose a donor. That's where we're gonna offend this major donor. Yep.Nell Edgington:
But if instead you realize, yeah, I may lose this donor, but there's 10 other donors out there. If you truly believe that, then you can speak with integrity, you can align with your own integrity so much more often. And the truth is, when you do that, it feels so good. And you start to light up, that again, that magnet effect happens, right? If you're over here in your integrity, feeling good, you know, lit up, money is going to be attracted to that.Julia Campbell:
And people want to be involved with organizations that stand in their integrity. Absolutely. They want to invest in organizations that are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in and kind of draw a line in the sand. I mean, we saw it I think there's an example of a Girl Scout troop. I think it was Minnesota, that there was a ruling where trans girls and women could participate in the Girl Scouts. And they came and they stood out against it. And the whole Girl Scouts administration nationally, came and said, This is not what we believe in. We believe we are an organization for all girls and people that identify as girls, and they probably alienated a heck of a lot of people. But they attracted millions of people that were so excited that they took a stand and they stood up for what they believed in and they actually you know, they stood in their integrity. So I think things like, I think that's so important, and it's so hard to give nonprofit leaders the confidence to do that. So it is hard again, you know, I'm speaking from it's hard.Nell Edgington:
It's hard to speak up. It's hard when you recognize something that's wrong. It's so because we're social beings, right? Humans are social beings. We want to fit in, want to get along, we want harmony. I think that's especially true in the nonprofit sector. Right? It's a consensus based. So we want to get along, but you know, we also have to speak our truth. But the world is demanding that of us right now.Julia Campbell:
Oh, I love that. I hope you're doing speaking again. I am. Yes, virtually. Great. Awesome. Where are you speaking?Nell Edgington:
I'm doing training. Actually, I'm, I'm doing a whole free training series with my audience on themes related to the book. So just kind of helping folks step into their power and, you know, attract abundance and all that good stuff. SoJulia Campbell:
I love that. Well, tell me about your business. Tell me about social velocity. How can people work with you?Nell Edgington:
So social velocity is a consulting firm for nonprofit and philanthropic leaders. So I help organizations and the leaders within those organizations do all the things I'm talking about. So Reclaim Your power, attract financial abundance, mobilize your networks, you know, all of the things that are going to help organizations achieve the social change they seek.Julia Campbell:
Oh, I love that. I love that so much. So how else can people connect with you? Where are you online? Where do you spend your time? I know you took a sabbatical, but you're back.Nell Edgington:
I did. And I also I have to I have to be totally transparent with you. I deleted my Facebook and Twitter accounts about a month ago. I'm still on LinkedIn. IJulia Campbell:
love it. I love that so much. Actually, I want to hear more about that. Okay, so you're on LinkedIn. So I definitely want to hear more about thatNell Edgington:
decision. Yeah, so I'm still on LinkedIn, because I really feel like that's a great way to just have real conversations and sort of, you know, find find kindred spirits, and that sort of thing. But also my website, social velocity dotnet. And I have a robust email list and free training series and all that good stuff.Julia Campbell:
Well, tell me more about because I have a feeling it goes into scarcity mindset. It does. So why did you decide to delete your accounts, because I'm sure all of us are very envious of that.Nell Edgington:
Well, so first of all, again, I have to say, you know, for everyone, they have to make their own choice. And so when I, when I made this decision, I was very transparent with my audience about why I did it. And the reason is, because for me, and again, this is just for me on those two platforms, Facebook and Twitter, it felt very scarcity based, it felt like a divisive environment. And I didn't feel like they were honest, and transparent conversations, again, in the places where I found myself. And so it just felt like a weight that was draining me every time I went to those platforms, I just felt sort of de energized and just depleted. And I didn't feel that way on LinkedIn. And so you know, I just decided it was scary. It absolutely was scary. Because my scarcity mindset was, well, you know, what, if I'm missing out on things, or what have third conversations, there are people, I need to know that I'm just, you know, I'm not going to be part of any more. But it has been absolutely transformative. I haven't missed either of those platforms for a second. And it's encouraged me to spend more time and energy on places where I do feel energized. So that's been great. I love that.Julia Campbell:
I mean, you've given me so many things to think about. But scarcity mindset, to me, what I'm hearing is, it's so much more than just knowing that there's abundance out there, it's actually being active and eliminating things that are depleting that abundance. So that just kind of blew my mind a little bit.Nell Edgington:
So thank you, it's taking your power back, right? So ultimately have the power to choose, do I want to be here? Or do I want to be there? Do I want to spend my time doing this? Or do I want to spend my time doing that, and that it's transformative when you realize and then take advantage of that power.Julia Campbell:
I always forget that I have that power. And it's always it's just really affirming to hear that. So thank you. I encourage everyone to check out Nels website, social velocity dotnet. She has a free training series and it says learn how to reclaim your power, kiss scarcity, goodbye, attract all the money you need, and mobilize your networks in this free training series. So that looks amazing. Check it out social velocity.net. It's right on the front page. And I really encourage all of you to check out the book, check out the free training connect with now on LinkedIn. So thanks so much now for being here.Nell Edgington:
Thank you so much for having me, Julia. Love the conversations. Great.Julia Campbell:
Well, hey there. I wanted to say thank you for tuning in to my show, and for listening all the way to the end. If you really enjoyed today's conversation, make sure to subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast app. And you'll get new episodes downloaded as soon as they come out. I would love if you left me a rating or review because this tells other people that my podcast is worth listening to. And then me and my guests can reach even more earbuds and create even more impact. So that's pretty much it. I'll be back soon with a brand new episode. But until then, you can find me on Instagram at Julia Campbell seven, seven. keep changing the world. Nonprofit unicorn