The following is a conversation between Kevin Brown, the Co-Founder and CEO of Mighty Ally, and Denver Frederick, the Host of The Business of Giving.

Kevin Brown, Co-Founder and CEO of Mighty Ally

Denver: Many of the world’s most significant social problems remain unsolved: one-quarter of all humans live without electricity; 750 million people lack access to clean drinking water; and preventable diseases like diarrhea take the lives of two million children each year.  

Do these problems seem to be more significant than what website you’re going to click on to book your next hotel stay? Well, the organizations that are working on these problems above certainly do not have the level of expertise or support in marketing or strategy that big global brands do.

My next guest thought he would do something to address that. He is Kevin Brown, the co-founder and CEO of Mighty Ally. 

Welcome to the Business of Giving, Kevin!

Kevin: Hey, I’m thankful Denver. Given the record poverty and injustice around the world today, here in South Africa, our former home in Uganda, and even the States, it’s a privilege, honestly, to allow me to speak with you today. 

Denver: Great to have you here. Tell us more about the inspiration for Mighty Ally and how it came to be. 

Kevin: So, personally, I was an entrepreneur at an early age. My first four private sector gigs helped companies scale to acquisition, including one that I co-founded. It was a masterclass, honestly, about building businesses and brands. 

But in 2014, everything changed for me personally. I became a new father in China to a beautiful but struggling baby girl and witnessed human suffering all around us when we visited her orphanage. And it’s that classic scene of rows and rows of babies in cribs, but they were completely silent because they had learned crying was futile.

So, Mark Twain has a quote. He says the two most important days of your life are the day you’re born and the day you find out why. And I think for me, that was the moment I realized both my privilege and responsibility. And so, my wife and I looked at each other, and we devoted the rest of our lives to fighting this injustice. And at the same time, our co-founder, Kathleen in the States was also thinking about what was next. 

Two years later, we moved to Uganda, saw a lot of these challenges you mentioned at the outset of the call and saw it firsthand, and realized for us personally, the orphan crisis was just a symptom of deeper inequalities. But there were also amazing changemakers on the ground doing some of the world’s most important work, but they–like you said in your lead– they lack some of the business and support skills needed to build their organizations.

So that was the impetus for Mighty Ally. The three of us started it, and we’ve been at it for about four years now. 

Denver: I didn’t mention orphans, but there are about 140 million orphans still in the world, correct?

Kevin: It certainly was our personal “why,” my wife and me, and again, it’s one of those problems that just seems so complex in so many ways, and it’s just deep-rooted inequalities and education systems and colonialism. There’s just so much that has led to a problem that on the surface, you just think – Well, is this not solvable? But it’s just so deep. 

Denver: Let’s talk a little bit about your business model. You’re a hybrid between a nonprofit and a Certified B Corporation. Tell us a little bit about that business model and how you generate revenue.

Kevin: On the consulting side, which is a B Corp, like you said, we take on clients essentially one at a time for a few months in time. And we go pretty deep with them, and we help them clarify their messaging position, their brands; reach new audiences; hopefully, ultimately drive more income, raise money from funders and customers. And so, that’s a more traditional consulting model. 

And then we also have our nonprofit side. It’s called Mighty Ally Institute. It’s run by our East African co-founder. She’s based in Uganda. And it’s more of a training model. So, we develop the expertise and the tools through the consulting model, and then we scale it through our training arm. And that’s done through workshops, tools, and coaching. And we partner with funders and accelerators and incubators who might have a portfolio or a cohort of social ventures that need that sort of brand training. So that’s the nonprofit side of our work. 

Denver: You have a pretty discouraging statistic right on the front of your home page, which says only one in 1,000 social ventures will scale. Why is that the case, Kevin?

Kevin: That is probably the beginning of our own theory of change. Just like many of our clients, we have this impetus for doing this work. So that statistic comes from The Bridgespan Group. They did a study over a 40-year period, and they looked at how many nonprofits started and got to $ 50 million in size. $ 50 million seems like a lot to many organizations, but it’s actually still a small business in many terms. 

And they found that truly only about 200 even got to that mark, and we have a few theories for why that’s the case. You look at the number of first-time CEOs in the social sector. And you’ve got a lot of nonprofits and social enterprises that are started by people with passionate hearts. And they might be experts in their products or programs. Like they might be a doctor that started a clinic, or they might be an educator that started a nonprofit around education. But many times, they just lack the business and brand skills that sometimes in the private sector we take for granted. 

And so, one of our theories is that it’s largely about first-time CEOs and executive directors and the fact that there’s so much funding that comes from foundations and high-net-worth individuals, but it all has to go to the products and programs. It doesn’t go to the organizational strengthening and the leadership development that accompany that. It’s that post-investment support or capacity building, so to speak. We think those two things are major problems. 

Denver: That is so strange. Sometimes when you think about the way we would invest in a company down on Wall Street, we would never look at the projects or what they were doing. We would take a look at their track record. We’d take a look at the management team and we would invest in, give them the money to do what they want. But in our sector, it’s – “Oh, I want it over here for this purpose. And where’s the report?” 

Well, you just mentioned brand. Speak about brand and the problems that social sector organizations have with their brand.

Kevin: So, we think about brand pretty holistically. Brand issues create internal problems and external problems. And so interestingly, a lot of organizations come to us– so a nonprofit or a social enterprise will come to us and say, “We can’t drive enough donations,” or “Our messaging isn’t clear,” or “Funders won’t listen to us,” or “Our sales are down.” There are a lot of external problems. These are really just symptoms, which we find. 

And so normally, that means that they have a brand challenge, which typically means all the way back to their impact model or their theory of change. They don’t quite know exactly the problem they’re solving or the people they’re serving or their unique mission or twist on their mission. Their vision maybe isn’t clear. Maybe their positioning isn’t clear, and they don’t know their exact audiences and what makes them unique.

And so they have a lot of strategic challenges that manifest itself in some sort of brand challenge. And then internally, the staff might not be aligned. They’re not creating efficiencies. There might be mission drift. There aren’t clear priorities and rhythms and data inside the organization around that brand. And so, I think the problems are numerous, but we really wrap it all up in this concept of a holistic brand. 

Denver: And you were so right. When organizations come to you, they want the last link of the chain, which is: Why doesn’t my donor give me money?” And you say, actually, it’s not really just a fundraising challenge. It’s a bit more rudimentary than that, and we need to go back.

Well, you have dissected NGOs and nonprofits organizations to come up with the anatomy of a social sector brand, and you have a framework for it. It’s called the Four A’s and maybe you can walk us through each of them. Why don’t we start with the first A, which is Ambition? 

Kevin: So, we’ve developed this model just to take some of the mystery around brand and communications and messaging and just demystify it a bit.

And so again, the first step, like you have said, is ambition. We called that your impact model. You could call that your theory of change. And it’s essentially: Why are you doing what you’re doing in the first place? What is the need around your work? What is the work you’re doing? What are the results you’re trying to achieve? Understanding that and putting it into a clear document, like a theory of change, is such a critical step in any sort of brand work. 

Denver: I think sometimes, too, that purpose-driven organizations can get lazy because they have a purpose and they think that’s enough, but you have to do things to reinforce that, and, as you say, really develop a clear vision. How do organizations get that clear vision that excites people and inspires people?

Kevin: I think you’re right. There are so many purpose-driven organizations, and there are just a lot of great visions and missions. I think the challenge becomes: What is unique in your impact model? What is your unique twist on your theory of change? 

There are countless organizations building schools or training teachers, or again, opening clinics. But what makes you unique and uniquely qualified? And when you go pitch a funder for whether it’s $10,000 or $100,000 or $1 million, why should they give it to you and not someone else? I think that’s part of the challenge – is being able to articulate that unique twist, and then also being able to back it up. 

So, it’s one thing to set a vision. We talk about a vision being your mountain top, and a lot of people have great visions. They know the mountain top. They know that pinnacle, but they don’t really know how to get there. And I think that’s where a lot of funders or donors, maybe quite frankly, just don’t trust organizations. We know you’ve got this purpose. We know you’ve got this reason for being. That’s great. We know you’ve got this vision, but what about those interim steps to get there? What’s the path? Again, how are you going to accomplish it? I think that’s where things start to fall down..

Denver: And that unique and different twist you were talking about, that is the second A in many respects. That would be Approach, correct? 

Kevin: Exactly. So we call it positioning. So, positioning strategy is a few things: 1) Who are you targeting with your brand? Like who are your priority audiences? 2) What makes you unique again, not just your model, but: what are those unique value propositions that you can bring to your audiences? 

Getting into your audiences and understanding what makes them click and tick. And there’s persona development and all these tools you can use in trying to think about a way to communicate your strategy and your model in a way that speaks to their pains and gains and make it less about you and more about your audiences. Looking at your landscape – that’s a key piece of the positioning work. 

Again, there are, I think by some statistics, 10 million different nonprofits and social enterprises in the world. It’s hard to break through the noise. And so where are the gaps? Where’s the noise? And again, how do you position yourself relative to others?

Sometimes people don’t like to talk about competition in the social sector, but there’s competition for money, competition for volunteers, competition for mind share. So, you’ve got to look out there and just see where you fit and how do you tell that story in a unique way.

Denver: What’s your niche? 

The third A, and this is one where you say a lot of organizations stumble, Kevin, is Amplification. Talk to us about that.

Kevin: So that’s marketing and communications, Marcom, so to speak. And that’s honestly where, again, most organizations stumble. Most organizations come to us with some sort of Marcom challenge. We do take those first two A’s and those first two steps before we get into marcom.

And then once you do that upfront strategy, marcom becomes so much easier. So whether it’s redeveloping a visual identity, or launching a new website, or determining your marketing channels or even corporate partnerships, that’s a great, often missed way of activating and amplifying your brand. All of these different Marcom and messaging tactics and tools and strategies become so much easier once you’ve gone through that upfront work.

Again, it’s one thing to say, “This is our mission and our vision, and here’s what we’re going to do.” It’s another thing to drive money, and it’s yet a third thing to actually put that strategy and that brand into action.

Denver: And the final A and one that’s often overlooked is Alignment. 

Kevin: You could call that organization design. At the centerpiece of organization design is strategic planning. The whole idea there is: Look, you’ve built a strategy. You’ve told the world about it. Hopefully, you’re driving increased funding and sales, and things are ticking. You have to align the brand internally as well. 

So back to this first-time CEO statistic, again, our findings are that 80% of nonprofits and social enterprises at our stage are run by first-time CEOs. And so how do you build a leadership team around them? How do you get the right people in the right seats? How do you establish those priorities and rhythms and data and that strategic planning and that internal communications?  How do you bring that brand to life? 

Again, it’s one thing to say, “This is our mission and our vision, and here’s what we’re going to do.” It’s another thing to drive money, and it’s yet a third thing to actually put that strategy and that brand into action.

Denver: I was delighted to see your focus on organization design because it does seem that we rush to corporate culture and workplace culture, and that sort of becomes the be-all and end-all. And so much has been written about it, and I spent a lot of time on it. But the framework that organization design is really critical to leading to the organizational health that organizations seek. Talk a little bit about organizational design and some of the key elements of it.

Kevin: So, if you’re interested in this concept and haven’t Googled it before, you can also type in “organizational health.” There are just countless great business books out there. There was an author called Patrick Lencioni. He’s written a few books about organizational health. A great one is called The Advantage. McKinsey, McKinsey and Company. I think the world’s largest consulting firm has an entire practice around organizational health. 

And if you look at these business studies and this business literature, it’s just proven over and over again that org health and org design is actually one of those keys to performance that you might not otherwise realize. And so there are a few components. There are a lot of different tools and models out there. We’ve tried to simplify it, and we would say there are five key pieces to organization design. 

Number one is, again, leadership, getting a quality leadership team around that leader. It’s one thing to be a passionate and vibrant CEO or Executive Director. It’s another thing to have a leadership team around you. Number two, it’s the people. So outside of the leadership team, it’s the staff on the ground– getting the right people in the right seats. Number three, it’s the priorities that you set as an organization. So that’s taking that big vision and bringing it down to life in terms of a strategic plan in three years, one year, quarterly, even weekly.

Number four, it’s rhythms. So how do you communicate internally? How do you meet as a team? How do you solve problems? There’s just a lot of nuances to how to run an organization. And then number five, the fifth piece of organization design is data. What KPIs, what key performance indicators are you tracking to make sure that you’re on track as a brand and as an organization? So those are the five pillars. We have a blog post about it on our website. We’re happy to share more. 

Denver: Well, let me pick up on one of them because: rhythms, I really liked. And talk a little bit about those kinds of rhythms because rhythms get back to what you said a few moments ago, Kevin – it’s the ability to deliver on that aspiration, on that vision. Talk some about the rhythms and how an organization can get those kinds of rhythms that make sure that the work gets done, and the promise to the customer is actually delivered.

Kevin: So, rhythms involves a few things. It gets pretty geeky pretty quick. And this is sometimes the stuff that leaders don’t want to think about, they don’t want to talk about. They want to be innovating on the next product or program. They want to be raising money, and that’s the fun, sexy stuff.

But the internal stuff of literally: How do you meet as a team? It’s boring to talk about meetings, but you have to think about it. How do we meet as a leadership team? How do we communicate these decisions and plans to our staff? How do we solve issues? How do we track problems? There are all these little internal rhythms that, again, to your point, the private sector just takes for granted.

We certainly have done a study where it shows the average private sector entrepreneur is typically 40 years old when launching his or her first startup. More interestingly, the highest performing private sector firms are 45. And in our study, we found that most of these organizations in the social sector are run by folks that are in their 20s or maybe early 30s. And so they just haven’t had that experience maybe in the corporate world or maybe in private sector firms where this type of rhythm and organization design work is just common. 

So, again, it becomes pretty geeky pretty quick, but I think if there’s a social sector leader banging their head against the wall and they’re doing good things, but they can’t just get things to tick and click internally, spending some time on organization design, organization health, it could really unlock some of those strategies and the vision that they’re setting in the world.

Focus. Do something well. Grow your organization to the point where you do have that extra space to innovate and then start to build on the business from there. But until you get stable, until you get consistent funding streams coming in, do one thing and do it better than anyone else.

Denver: I speak to a lot of social sector leaders and they sometimes wish those 20-somethings and early 30-somethings would put their great talents to an existing organization, as opposed to starting up another organization, because there’s so much work to be done there, and we can get into a replication. But there’s almost a branding, I think, sometimes on young people that they need to start a nonprofit or a social enterprise.

Kevin, so often it seems that every good idea that comes along is going to help serve the mission of the nonprofit organization. Or maybe there’s something really meaningful that a donor wants to do.  And although it’s not really part of your strategy, it stays somewhat connected to it. The result of this is going to be a lack of focus. What have you seen in the work that you’ve done, Kevin, around this and how do organizations successfully retain the needed focus to have impact? 

Kevin: Great question, Denver. So we did a study recently about focus and the social sector. And we hear from clients all the time: they have this product to program here, and they want to launch that there, and they feel like they can do it all. And there’s some… a little bit of lack of humility, maybe from all of us, either in the social sector or beyond just thinking, “OK. We can do it all.” 

And I think we also compare ourselves sometimes to big brands. Everyone looks at Apple and sees – well, they’ve got computers here and iPods and iPhones there and iTunes. You look at big brands like McDonald’s, and they sell a lot of different foods. So why did we have to focus? 

But in our study, we found that most of these big brands… even Virgin, Virgin started on the record store. That was a record store first. Richard Branson was a Maverick, and then he bought one airplane. He launched the airlines with one airplane, flew it for two years, and then bought another airplane. And then from there started the fitness studio and everything else. So I think even the Richard Bransons of the world… they focused at first, and that’s our advice to nonprofits and social enterprises.

Focus. Do something well. Grow your organization to the point where you do have that extra space to innovate, and then start to build on the business from there. But until you get stable, until you get consistent funding streams coming in, do one thing, and do it better than anyone else. It’s like Orville Redenbacher, the popcorn king. He spent 80 years perfecting popcorn, and he said, “Do one thing and do it better than anyone else.”

I think one of the greatest things that comes out of developing countries and lower income countries is that focus on local leadership and community-driven solutions…And so, the solutions are better. They’re more just. They’re often cheaper. They have more longevity rights. I think there’s just so much that we in the West and the Global North can learn about proximity.

Denver: That is great advice. And I think I remember Steve Jobs said that the key to innovation was saying: no. And he always had such pride in being able to get all the products of Apple on a coffee table. They were all there and he could see them. And that does take some discipline. 

Kevin, there are a lot of nonprofits working in Africa, particularly around Uganda and East Africa. What are some of their practices that would be beneficial to many US-based social sector organizations– reverse innovation, if you will?

Kevin: I think one of the greatest trends that’s happening in the social sector over the last few years is the focus on local leadership, the focus on proximity, the focus on community-driven solutions.

 I think it’s something that those of us from the West can especially be maybe guilty of as thinking – Look. We’re Americans. We’re from the Global North. We have all these great ideas. Let’s scale them to the world. Let’s bring them to the world. And look, I was certainly guilty of it myself. So we saw the orphan crisis, and we had some of that white savior mentality going on and thinking we can go do something about this. Let’s adopt some children. Let’s start an organization. 

And we quickly realized that – Look. We do have some skills and experiences that we can bring to bear on some of the world’s biggest problems, but there are a whole lot of people in communities and local leaders that know problems much better than we could ever know. And they’re developing innovative solutions. And what’s really crummy about the current landscape is that there’s so much wealth held by the Global North… and so much wealth that’s still going to expat leaders and not going to these local leaders in these community-led solutions. 

And so, I think one of the greatest things that comes out of developing countries and lower-income countries is that, again, focus on local leadership and community-driven solutions. You don’t have people in Kampala typically trying to develop a solution and then take it to Austin, Texas, so to speak. You have people in Kampala trying to develop and deliver solutions for their community in Kampala. And so, the solutions are better. They’re more just. They’re often cheaper. They have more longevity rights. I think there’s just so much that we in the West and the Global North can learn about proximity.

Denver: I learned a new word about that. I think it was called bricolage, which is essentially the thing that proximate leaders can bring that outside leaders can’t. They can see patterns and make connections that unless you’re part of that community, you have no capacity. You can’t go to a school long enough to be able to do it. And they make something out of nothing time and time again. 

Well, let’s try to tie a lot of this together by maybe having you share with us a case study… and why don’t we take Justice Defenders because you’ve done some wonderful work with them. Tell us about them and what you’ve done.

Kevin: So, one of our most fascinating and just pleasurable clients of all time, it was an organization previously called African Prisons Project. They were just doing tremendous work in prisons across Uganda and Kenya, about 40 different prisons. They were training paralegals and lawyers to represent themselves in court, and then also turn around and help other prisoners represent themselves. And it was basically at scale doing what Nelson Mandela did for himself here in South Africa.

So African Prisons Project was just one of the millions of fascinating, compelling, impactful organizations around the world that just couldn’t bring in enough revenue to grow. And so when we met them, they were already doing incredible work. Their model was effective. That wasn’t the problem. It was letting the world know about it.

What’s fascinating about them is… we wrote about in a case study… they had a high-net-worth individual that just flat out told them, “Look. Your work is incredible, but your brand is shit. You act like a small charity. And I would give you more money if you stopped acting and communicating in this way.” And so the founder of Justice Defenders in all his wisdom said, “All right. Well, then will you pay for us to get better in this area?” And that’s how they met Might Ally. 

So, in terms of a case study, just a really perfect example of how, if you’ve got impactful products and programs, you take a couple of steps back, figure out that theory of change and what makes you unique, figure out your positioning in terms of who you’re targeting with your brand, and what makes your communications unique in terms of value propositions. Then you can start to get into the marketing and communications work. 

So for them, it was everything from renaming the organization to developing, of course, a new visual identity system and website, marketing channels, messaging platforms so that we knew how to tell their story. And right about this time we were picking up momentum, and they were invited to be on 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper. 

So Anderson Cooper came out to Kenya, met the founder, saw the work, became a huge advocate of the organization. And so just last year, late last year, Justice Defenders was featured on 60 Minutes and through all of our work and their work, we were able to just truly drive record levels of income. 

So statistics that almost sound fake, like 2,100% more online donations and doing more in a few-week period than they had done in years combined. And I think that just showed the power of good branding, of good communications, but again, it all started with strategy.

We even got in the room with the board and made some critical decisions. Are you working just in prisons or not? Are you working just in Africa or not? Are you just doing justice? Are you doing all these other efforts around it? And so if you can get some of that strategy done, like I said, early on, it becomes so much easier to externally amplify the brand.

Denver: And part of that strategy is getting to focus. So you sorted through all that and said, “This is who we are, and this is what we’re going to do.” And clearly, you have found yourself a diamond in the rough and you have elevated it to the big stage. Congratulations. 

I’ve spoken to a lot of CEOs, Kevin, over the last year or so, and they said they’ve had to make more difficult decisions in this past year than the past 15 years combined. What would you say was the most difficult decision that you had to make during this global crisis, which is a multifaceted crisis? And how do you go about making those tough decisions? 

Kevin: Really great question. I think for us, back to our privilege, in many ways, our work didn’t suffer as much as others. If you were on the ground or you were running schools, or you were delivering programs in slum communities, let’s say the lockdown certainly affected a lot of the on-the-ground implementers much more than consultants like us. 

But I think one of the toughest decisions we had to make last year when the pandemic started was to put down some of our on-the-ground immersion work. And so, because of the proximity that we talked about earlier, because of our Western biases and a lot of the issues we discussed, something that’s critical to our model is before we take on any new client– getting on the ground, seeing the work ourselves, making sure we’re fully immersed and letting the voices of the community lead our work, versus us sitting back on our computers and trying to build a brand.

And so we knew that with COVID, we wouldn’t be able to travel. We knew that we wouldn’t be able to meet those in the community like we used to. For instance, with Justice Defenders, I spent a few weeks in eight different prisons in Uganda and Kenya, meeting with death row inmates, letting them tell their stories. And there’s just no way to replace that kind of proximity and immersion. 

But we decided – Look. Our work needs to go on. We think there are other ways we can immerse ourselves in these communities without having to be there in person. And so it was a tough decision. I think ultimately it has worked out. But happy to say, as of today, our co-founder is traveling for the first time in a year and a half. Going to meet with a new client in Lebanon, a Syrian refugee organization. And so it feels nice to be back and working in that way. But again, that’s a small problem relative to so many in the world today. 

And I think the crisis has taught a lot of organizations and a lot of leaders that you cannot rest on your laurels. You cannot just rely on those two or three high-net-worth individuals in those two or three foundations, and the one holiday campaign to sustain. 

Denver: Well, let’s hope it holds, you know what I mean? It’s never over till it’s over. I think we’re all a little concerned. 

Have you seen the nature of leadership change at all? You work with so many social enterprise leaders. It’s a different world. I think there are new expectations of leaders. Have you been able to detect any difference in terms of the way leaders have gone about their work? Maybe how they’ve been informed by this crisis? 

Kevin: There’s an old saying, something about never wasting a crisis. And I know that can feel cliché. I do think a lot of social ventures, especially at the stage we work with… which is growth stage. So these are not major NGOs like Oxfam or Habitat for Humanity. These are also not startups. These are growth-stage ventures that typically have between $ 500,000 and $5 million in annual turnover. 

I think there can be sometimes at that stage, a little bit of, not negligence but comfortability in terms of, OK, they’ve got these high-net-worth… Then they do their donor events every year and they just sustain, so to speak. And I think the crisis has taught a lot of organizations and a lot of leaders that you cannot rest on your laurels. You cannot just rely on those two or three high-net-worth individuals and those two or three foundations, and the one holiday campaign to sustain. 

I think sadly, I think some statistics have shown that over a third of social ventures have had to go out of business. And so it really has caused, I think, a lot of organizations and leaders to innovate, to double down on what they do well, and to our work, really figure out: what does make them unique? And how do we come out of this crisis and communicate our work in a way that makes any high net worth or a foundation or individual donor want to support us?

Denver: And finally, Kevin, let’s go back to the beginning of the interview where you mentioned the Mighty Ally Institute. I think you just launched that this past spring. Tell us a little bit about it and what’s involved. 

Kevin: So we’re super excited about it. We actually have had a nonprofit for years, but never wanted to launch it until we had a co-founder, given the proximity issues and the fact that we, as three other white American co-founders, just couldn’t bring that type of work to the communities that we wanted to. We had an idea, but we never fully launched it until we met this incredible East African co-founder, and she joined us just a few months ago that fully got it off the ground.

And again, the whole idea there is: Look, we can do some deep consulting with a lot of organizations that do have some budget, or they have some high net worth to pay our bills. But there are just so many fascinating, impactful local leaders and African-led social ventures that might not have budgets to hire a consultancy like us, but they still need and want some of the brand and communications work that we do.

So we’re excited to be able to scale our work through this institute. And again, it’s all about workshops and tools and coaching. So instead of going really deep with one organization or a few organizations at a time, we’re able to enter into a cohort or a portfolio… maybe a family foundation has a few hundred organizations they’re working with in Sub-Saharan Africa, and they bring us in to teach a few workshops, to be able to share our curriculum and our tools…work on their business in those workshops. And then also that ongoing coaching is something that we’re just big believers in because it’s one thing to hear about something in a workshop; it’s another thing to put it into practice over the course of many weeks.

So we’ve had a number of clients already and just signed a partnership with a large family foundation based out of Texas to work in their international portfolio. And again, it’s a piece of our work we’re really excited about. I think, sadly, a lot of our clients on the consulting side are the expat-led organizations that have been privileged enough to grow. And sometimes we feel like: Look, this work deserves to be done with and for organizations of all sizes. And so we feel good about the justice in that model to be able to bring this work to a really small startup organization as well.

Denver: What a wonderful way to leverage your intellectual capital. That’s good stuff. Tell us about the Might Ally website and the kind of information that visitors will find if they stopped by.

Kevin: I think the thing that’s maybe most interesting is our insights page. We publish blogs quite often monthly, or if not monthly, every other month. And we try to give away as much as we can.

We give away templates and tools, and you can download strategic planning templates and Marcom Excel sheets. And we just did a talk a couple of weeks ago we’ll be posting to our blog. We did a talk at the Acumen Academy… We gave away an impact modeling template. 

And so the insights page, I think, it’s part of our theory of change… is not only do we need to do this work for those who pay us, but we want to try to spread our tools as widely as possible because the truth is… we don’t own… A lot of this work. I feel like we’re developing it with and for our clients. 

And so the further we can scale it, the more we can give it away. I think that will just hopefully help the sector grow and learn to adopt brand and communications as a critical piece of impact, not an afterthought. Because I think communications is part of the work. It’s not just something you do after you develop products and programs. It is part of your work as well. 

Denver: That is so true. Anytime you build an organization, you have to build it to scale on the very first day. And often what happens is you try to do it after the fact, and it’s almost too late, and that certainly holds true for communications and brands. 

Well, thanks, Kevin, for being here today. It was such a pleasure to have you on the program. 

Kevin: Appreciate it, Denver.

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