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The 5 Nonprofit Leaders You Should Follow Immediately


When you have spent as much time as I have in the nonprofit space, you bump into people who light your passion back on fire when you get a little more than frustrated by the thought you’re not doing enough.



Sometimes you need a good ol’ fashioned list of amazing humans to follow, read, listen to and interact with to remind yourself that doing good is hard, sometimes unacknowledged, and most importantly…important.


Whether it is sharing the stage, microphone or words on a blog, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some of the coolest humans doing the most incredible things while helping nonprofit organizations find their footing and filling them up with rocket fuel.


So this week, I’d love to introduce to you a few of my favorite voices and leaders in the nonprofit space you should follow immediately!


Five of them to be exact!



Vu Le – Nonprofit AF


It’s no secret I am a Vu superfan.


Ok. I’m borderline obsessed.


And though we may not agree on 100% of all the things he is the first and foremost voice I seek out on topics ranging from charitable giving to video games. He’s compassionate, irreverent, hilarious and dead serious on making the nonprofit realm better – as one of the best writers in the industry.


After spending countless years as an executive director of an impossibly amazing nonprofit in Seattle, he took a sabbatical and has found his voice, rhythm, and character to share selflessly with the sector.


His blog Nonproft AF is a must read for fundraisers, board members and elected officials to get the pulse on what big conversations are being had in the nonprofit space. There’s not a topic that Vu shies away from, and has hot takes on nearly everything from climate to childcare. His brain works wonders when taking complicated issues and making it into digestible conversations.


He also thrives in starting *#&$.


When speaking across the country – whether on Zoom or in person – he regularly calls out donors to be less needy in their accolades and more proactive to give away their wealth, and decries the donor-centric approach to fundraising which leads to, and I’m not kidding, heckling by grown ass adults who are “professionals” in the industry. Some of the best internet popcorn eating moments I have had has been watching Vu eviscerate clearly racist old-guard trolls for the betterment of community centric fundraising, mental wellness and being a better human.


As entertaining as he is, Vu has a serious message of empowering the nonprofit sector. I’m fortunate enough to call him a friend AND mentor.


Follow him and you’ll find out very quickly why he’s regarded as highly as he is.



Jessica Campbell – Out In the Boons


There might not be a bigger cheerleader, uplifter, or connector than Jessica in the nonprofit space. Rarely do I feel less adequate as a human who is


enthusiastic or positive, but when I’m even near the same space that Jessica is, she pushes me to be superhuman when it comes to the encouragement of others.


As someone who lives in flyover country Fargo, North Dakota, the fact she named her consulting firm Out In the Boons was an instant attraction. But nearly immediately after fawning over her company’s name, her resources, connections and overwhelming want for all in the nonprofit realm to be equipped with everything they need to be successful became something I have tried to emulate ever since.


Read through her LinkedIn posts and you’ll see 95% of them are about someone else and what they do amazing in this world. She’s a fantastic celebrator.


Scroll through her Instagram, and you’ll be inspired to raise millions or run through walls trying with her uplifting messages and wicked sense of humor.


I really do believe that the world would be a better place with more Jessicas.


Fortunately for you, there are a bunch of ways you can follow her, learn from her, and engage with her to get the same good vibes I get and am inspired by.


One of the freaking best out there.



Tim Sarrantonio – Neon One


I’m attracted to nonprofit nerds of all kids. So when I tell you I’m challenged to find an equal among all influencers when it comes to nerdy data, D&D and fundraising tactics when it comes to doing good work - I tell you Tim stands taller than most.


He’s the wonderkid & marketing genius over at NeonOne, and has quickly become one of my favorite humans to read, listen to, and engage with in the nonprofit space. His hot takes on analytics and what CRM systems can (and cannot!) do are unmatched, and he creates beautiful abundant reports and webinars about everything you didn’t think you needed to know about open rates, donor attitudes and the reason most fundraisers suck at engagement.


One listen to Tim’s many podcast episodes or shows he co-hosts, and you are immediately engaged with how passionate he is, how lightning quick his brain is, and just how dorky (in the BEST kinda way) a person can be when it comes to educating nonprofit leaders to what he has researched, developed or curated from the thousands of conversations he has had with other brilliant minds.


Best thing I’ve found from my interactions with Tim?


His unwavering belief that this sector can change the world for the better.


With his brain and fingers on some of the coolest technology available? I sure as hell believe him.



Rhea Wong – Nonprofit Lowdown


I like myself as a person. I’ve worked really hard to feel comfortable with who I am, and what I do. But if there was a magic wand that allowed me instantly trade places with to soak up as many cool vibes as I could before being forced back to my real life – I would choose to be Rhea.


Not only does she host one of the most influential podcasts in the nonprofit space, she has the unique ability to make to want to be a better fundraiser with the swagger of someone who deserves to be at the table with any and all humans.


Based out of New York, you might assume (coming from an “aw shucks Midwestern”) she might not be interested in your small but mighty nonprofit. And you’d be dead ass wrong.


Rhea might be the MOST approachable, most respected, and most badass female voice in the space. And that’s saying something to a space that boasts heroes of mine like Joan Garry and Shanna Adamic.


Her recent book “Get That Money Honey” was one of the rare nonprofit publications I read last year, and her wit and practicality speak to everyone at every level to inspire even the most frustrated or seasoned do-gooder.


Every interview I’ve had with her, every random phone call to check in has always left me feeling freaking pumped to conquer whatever mountain I have to climb that week.


You’ll feel the same, I promise.



Nneka Allen – The Empathy Agency



A direct descendant of the Underground railroad and an Ojibwe of Anderdon Nation, Nneka has such a unique perspective on activism, culture and actionable ways to look at how we work at being better humans. I was hooked from the first 20 words we spoke together, and think of her often when confronted with issues of race and culture more than anyone else.


She has countless individuals who share in her vision of a better world, and her writings, interviews, keynotes and webinars will open up rabbit holes of leaders you never knew you needed to follow and listen to. It was one of my favorite and most revealing interviews I’ve ever had on my podcast and one I revisit, link or send whenever anyone suggests a fantastic voice in the equity space.


You know what sucks about a list like this? There are hundreds of more names that could be added.



I’d love to add them to the collection of amazing humans I listen to as well!


But first? Go follow these 5!


-Patrick


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