A missions-driven talent management and culture pioneer you need to know
Social Responsibility is Not Optional in Today’s Economy
In my consulting days as CEO for Brandbuilder, I worked with many business owners to create nonprofits and foundations for their businesses. This was one way for them to concentrate their social responsibility efforts without diverting from their business objectives. If your company is in growth-mode, and you are seeking to increase brand recognition in your industry, then observing big brands such as J.P. Morgan Chase, Amazon, Starbucks, Ben & Jerry’s, and other conglomerates will show you that there is plenty of room for your company to support social causes as well.
Have a special place in your heart for nonprofits? Meet Social Sector Workforce Influencer, Lisa Brown Alexander, CEO for Nonprofit HR. I guarantee you that Alexander’s love for the social sector trumps yours! Canadian-born, Alexander came to America with Jamaican roots and has made great strides across the continent and globe. She thinks at a 30,000-foot level on a daily basis, and operates at that level as well, considering the boards she serves on and the many groups she advises. Alexander has spent her entire career supporting the talent needs of nonprofits and mission-driven organizations, so much so that she named her firm Nonprofit HR (nonprofithr.com)! Almost 20 years in, and the firm sits on the busy corner of 14th and I Streets NW, in downtown Washington, D.C. They also have offices in Chicago, IL. Nonprofit HR is a powerful force, spearheading talent research and workforce initiatives across the nation through its more than 40 employees, most of whom are credentialed HR experts.
Nonprofit HR staff work with the most prominent organizations around the nation to find, develop, and retain new talent. They have several practice areas; all focused on building solutions that will maximize, augment, or outsource their human resources (HR) function. And they offer recruitment services, short and long-term talent acquisition services, and direct hire recruitment support as well. Nonprofit HR provides executive search services to nonprofits seeking new C-suite leadership in addition to special projects’ support through their consulting practice. Alexander, at the helm of it all, travels internationally, speaking to large and mid-sized groups about talent priorities for the social sector. In fact, Nonprofit HR recently released the results of its 2019 Talent Management Priorities survey, which showcases what organizations are prioritizing regarding their human resources management practices for the year.
There truly are not enough great words to express what Nonprofit HR does for the social sector, as it is a nationwide firm that provides full life-cycle human resources and talent management support. This simply means that they help brands that focus on the greater good accomplish their mission through their people. When missions have HR law compliance issues or performance management challenges, need an HR audit or workforce planning expertise, they call Nonprofit HR. And, with a consulting or outsourcing solution (on-site or virtual), they respond with services. The company also offers knowledge resources including a full suite of research-based publications and webinar recordings. Recently, they concluded a free webinar series on the various aspects of talent sustainability. The firm has ramped up its virtual learning capability to respond to the needs of nonprofits across the country.
Some of their clients include the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington, Center for Economic Progress, the Kennedy Center, and dozens more. The missions they serve span animal welfare, arts and culture, education, foundations, human services, research, women’s issues and many others.
Recently, I sat down with Alexander to learn more about her company and her mission.
Q: Why the social sector?
Alexander: It was an underserved yet deserving market in need of quality HR services. No one was paying attention to the sector’s people needs 20 years ago.
Q: Who do you want to impact most?
Alexander: We’re most impactful with those organizations that recognize the value of their greatest assets, which are people. With these nonprofits, we are able to improve policies, processes, and practices, which allow them to maximize their return on investment for every people dollar spent.
Q: What can the private sector learn from the social sector?
Alexander: The private sector can learn about creativity, resiliency, and resourcefulness. Many nonprofits are resource constrained yet they accomplish significant amounts of work on behalf of the communities that they serve.
Q: What can the social sector learn from the private sector?
Alexander: The social sector can learn about the connection between talent and impact. Many leading brands have learned that their unique selling proposition is the talent that they hire, develop, and retain. These organizations invest in bringing in and keeping top talent. In turn, they see their profits and brand value increase. Nonprofit organizations have the potential to realize the same and can with intention and planning.
Q: How do you keep your brands separate, but also leverage each when appropriate?
Alexander: Wow, that’s a good question. I’m an HR consultant, an owner of a luxury retreat destination, depression-survivor and author. Interestingly enough, the thread that weaves through each of these seemingly disparate profiles is determination, hard work, and perseverance.
Q: What can you share with our readers who may be considering launching a nonprofit or foundation to support their for-profit firm?
Alexander: Before you consider starting a nonprofit, do your research to determine if there is already an organization established that is doing that same thing. If there is, consider donating funds to run a program that supports both that existing mission and the cause or issue that you are advocating for. America has over 1 million nonprofit organizations. Chances are, there is already one doing what it is you want to do.
In addition to Nonprofit HR, Alexander owns several other businesses. Her most recent is an exclusive bed and breakfast, Wellspring Manor and Spa (located in Prince Georges County, Maryland), which she runs with her husband, Kevin. See more at wellspringmanor.com.
She has also served as associate producer for the Lake Arbor Jazz Festival, which presents traditional and contemporary jazz artists from across the country; and authored Strong on the Outside, Dying on the Inside, a book about her bout with clinical depression.
One would never know that Alexander owns Nonprofit HR, as she maintains great humility. She has managed to stay behind the brand, working in the trenches with her team in order to grow the firm’s impact. Currently in growth mode, Nonprofit HR had a record year in 2018 and is slated for continued growth leading up to 2020. Alexander and Nonprofit HR has been featured in many publications, including Forbes, CNBC, and Huffington Post. The Washington Business Journal named her one of Washington, D.C.’s Top 25 Minority Business Leaders and SmartCEO Magazinerecognized her with a Brava award. She was also named to the list of Power50 Women by the Walker’s Foundation. And that’s the short list of her accomplishments. Alexander is a highly sought-after keynote speaker and presents on topics ranging from talent management to coping with life and has spoken to audiences as far away as Auckland, New Zealand and Melbourne, Australia.
Take a page or two from Alexander’s book on how to build a brand that helps the world. Review your list of charities and determine how you can help them play bigger. She has found a way to do so through talent management. What services can you offer the social sector so that it may be empowered as well?