December 22, 2021

New Year

Despite all the tumult of these past 12 months, this year (as in the previous tumultuous years), Fund the People’s team energetically pursued our mission: To maximize investment in America's nonprofit workforce. With nonprofit workers more essential than ever, our mission is more essential than ever.

I'm excited to share highlights from our year below. If you believe in our mission and wish to see our momentum continue and grow, I invite you to join me in supporting our work by making an end-of-year donation today. Thank you! - Rusty

Praise for Fund the People's Work in 2021

“The resources, tools, podcasts, and Rusty have all been incredibly helpful as we are expanding our professional development funding opportunities for nonprofit partners.”

“I found Fund the People when trying to justify pay equity and transparency at my org. The free resources from Fund the People were critical in helping me frame my argument in such a way that our ED and our major funder saw the value. I have staved-off turnover, raised wages substantially, and transformed our org structure thanks in part to the resources I found here.”

“As a capacity building organization, I’ve shared some of your research/info to our members and funders.”

“I have used the information that has been shared by Fund the People in funding proposals and when connecting to funders about the need to fund capacity building for professionals [in our nonprofit field of work].” 

“It’s useful for conversation and referrals to other organizations, and even some funders when we talk about our organization’s focus on investing in our people. For us, it backs up practices that we already had.”

“Brings to light so many important conversations we need to have about supporting the nonprofit workforce.”

“Finally a podcast about one of the most critical drivers of nonprofit success that most people have not thought much about. Not to worry. Rusty will help get you caught up.”

Our work in 2021 focused in three areas: content, consulting, and championing! So here are key highlights in each area.


We delivered ideas, media, writing, research, tools, and learning resources that empowered funders, nonprofits, and intermediaries to integrate talent-investing into their work.

  • Podcasting: In order to create an ongoing learning resource about talent-investing, in September 2020 we launched Fund the People: A Podcast with Rusty Stahl. In 2021, we completed seasons one and two of the show, with a total of 28 episodes featuring 29 guests -- funders, nonprofit leaders, book authors, bloggers, and crucial intermediaries. Season one focused on the problem -- a chronic, crippling lack of investment in America's nonprofit workforce. Season two explores our proposed solution talent-investing -- the intentional deployment of capital to support and develop nonprofit leaders and workers. Throughout the show, we explore themes of equity, effectiveness, and endurance.  You can find the show here on our website via our main menu, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Click here to hear my top take-aways from season two (our most recent episode). This month we launched a new feature of the show: Podcast Collections, episode playlists based on categories of guest and themes, available on our website and Spotify.
  • Presenting in California and China: Since 2014, Fund the People has shared our research and ideas with funders, nonprofits, and intermediaries through keynotes, workshops, funder briefings, etc. While we were not on the road in 2021 like in the past, we shared our vision of talent-investing with some key audiences. Of particular note: I (Rusty) was honored to serve on a panel about Nonprofit Compensation and Public Policy. The panel, which was part of CalNonprofits's 2021 Policy Convention. We were proud to bring Fund the People to CalNonprofits, which offers crucial resources to the Golden State's nonprofit workforce, including their Nonprofit Overhead Project and Nonprofit Student Debt Project. Another highlight: I gave a keynote interview at a conference of philanthropic funders and nonprofits across China. That Spark, a new Chinese nonprofit professional development initiative, partnered with the China Foundation Forum to put on the event. Click here then scroll down this blog post for a video of the full interview. Fund the People will continue to focus on America's nonprofit workforce, and we recognize that our perspective is specific to this country, but we are happy to share with colleagues who may e able to benefit in some way from our work for other contexts.
  • Creating our Online Course: We have been hard at work this year creating our premier online course, Funding That Works: The Fundamentals of Talent-Investing. This unique class will fuel your work with the Talent-Investing Framework, a transformative new approach to grantmaking and fundraising that has been developed by Fund the People and its founder, Rusty Stahl, who serves as the core faculty of the course. Whether you’re on a staff or board member of a grantmaking entity, nonprofit, or intermediary, Funding That Works will offer you the ideas, practices, and support you’ll need to make sure nonprofits have funding that works for the people who do the work. Coming in 2022!


Since 2014, Fund the People has provided limited advisory services to select colleagues in the funding community. This year, we provided consulting services to the Ford Foundation and several other influential funders.

  • The Ford Foundation engaged us to create and facilitate a 9-month peer-learning cohort about investing in nonprofit staff and people-systems to equity, effectiveness, and endurance during a really challenging time. Geared toward nonprofit COOs and Deputy Directors, the cohort was available to grantees of the Ford Foundation's grantee capacity-building initiative, which is called BUILD. It was co-designed and co-facilitated by Mary Morten of the national, Chicago-based search firm and consultancy Morten Group, and Rusty Stahl of Fund the People. The cohort was organized in collaboration with People's Action, one of the BUILD grantees. About 50 organizations participated in the cohort, which included monthly live sessions, peer-support, guest presenters, resources, and more.

  • Other prominent funders engaged us in a consulting capacity to help them determine the need and opportunity for investing in the nonprofit workforce in the place-based communities they support, with a focus on racial equity in the nonprofit workforce.  This work has included sharing our Talent-Investing Framework with funders and grantees; in-depth interviews of key stakeholders; focus groups with nonprofit leaders; and an analysis of the local sector. We will share more about one of these engagements, which is not yet public, when possible in the new year. 


During the public health, social justice, and political crises that are rocking society, we need our government to support and develop the 12 million people who work in America’s nonprofits. Unfortunately, too many policymakers are unaware of the nonprofit workforce. We work to end this blindspot and improve how government policies and procedures, grant and contracts all impact nonprofit leaders.

  • The Nonprofit Infrastructure Investment Advocacy Group: This year we joined a new coalition, the Nonprofit Infrastructure Investment Advocacy Group (“NIAAG”), which has been co-convened by Independent Sector and Kaboom to ensure that nonprofits are treated as part of America’s “infrastructure” in the Biden-Harris policymaking era. As part of NIIAG, we signed-on to a letter to the Secretary of Labor to encourage the Bureau of Labor Statistics to begin publishing data on nonprofit employment on a quarterly basis (as is done for every other “industry”). Through the coalition, we’ve also participated in (virtual) dialogues with top Bide Administration officials and legislators about how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, Build Back Better, and other legislation may impact nonprofits.
  • Advocating to Ensuring that Government Funding Provides Living Wages to Nonprofit Workers: Independent Sector and other NIAAG participants worked with the White House and Congress to draft a proposed Presidential Executive Order and a parallel bill in the House of Representatives (drafted but not yet introduced) that would, taken together, create a permanent White House Office on the Nonprofit Sector. Fund the People used our seat at the table to ensure language in the draft Executive Order (which has also made it into the draft House bill) that would ensure that the proposed White House Office on the Nonprofit Sector would include in its mandate an examination of how federal grants and contracts could ensure living wages and professional development for the staff of recipient organizations. In 2022, we are excited to work with all of you in the Fund the People community to campaign for this executive and legislative agenda, so that our federal government sets the example for state and local government, as well as philanthropic foundations, in terms of how funding should not burnout nonprofit people, but should instead #FundThePeople.

In addition to all this program work, we are in the final stages of a planning process that we call our "strategy refresh." 

We will fundamentally maintain our mission: to maximize investment in the nonprofit workforce. And we are working with consultants at The Giving Practice to dramatically enhance how our programmatic and organizational models advance that mission. I’m looking forward to a bold transformation in 2022!

We wish to acknowledge our primary institutional funders for their stalwart and meaningful support of our work this past year: Barr Foundation, Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, Kresge Foundation, and Ford Foundation. Thank you! 

And thank YOU, dear reader, for your support of Fund the People! Here’s hoping for a restful and safe holiday season. I look forward to connecting with you to advance #TalentInvesting and #TalentJustice in 2022.

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