Sabrina Walker Hernandez – Certified Nonprofit Consultant

Sabrina Walker, Certified Nonprofit Consultant on the Thriving Solopreneur Podcast with Janine Bolon

To Learn More about Sabrina Walker, [click here] to view her Media Kit.

Janine Bolon: Hello and welcome to this episode of The Thriving Solopreneur Show. I am your host Janine Bolon and with me today, epic person. I have Sabrina Walker Hernandez, who is the President and CEO of a non-profit, and it’s called Supporting World Hope. She is a wonderful business owner in the sense that she is a non-profit specialist. I may have said that backwards, but she’ll correct me, we’ll get over that. For her, over the past 25 years, she has so much experience in the non-profit sector such as fundraising and leadership. She provides consulting and coaching services. She helps people build development programs and manage those capital campaigns as well as gift fundraising, board development, marketing, fundraising efforts on an annual basis, not to mention the ever-important public relations. Sabrina has a reputation for transformational leadership, not only with the staff, but also keeping the staff mission alignment, and how to go about expanding the programming you already have while building those ever-important community partnerships. Prior to starting her own group, Supporting World Hope, Sabrina served as a Chief Executive Officer for the Boys and Girls Club of Edinburg RGV. Among her successes is the fact that she increased their operating revenue from 750,000 to 2.5 million. She completed a 12 million-dollar comprehensive capital campaign and established a $500,000 endowment along with having a 180 days and cash reserves in the third poorest County in the United States.

This is a CEO that you might want to sit up and take notice of. She has the chutzpah to be able to build you and help you go where you want to go according to your non-profit sector. You may say, “Well, Janine, I’m part of The Thriving Solopreneur. I really don’t have people that are just throwing money our way. Guess what? It’s all about relationships and Sabrina’s here to talk to you about this whole thing called relationship marketing.”

Sabrina, thank you so much for being with us today.

Sabrina Walker Hernandez: Thank you for having me. I’m so excited to be here to talk about this. One of the first things I’m going to say is with the non-profit world, people hear non-profit and they immediately take off their business hat. Well, let me just say this because I have your audience and I know it’s vast. The more I can say this, the better it would be.

Non-profit is just a tax designation. It is not the business model; it is still a business. Business works on building relationships. That’s what it’s all about, whether you are a for-profit or a non-profit. I tell people all the time, “The only difference between a for-profit and a non-profit is, where does your proceeds or your profit go? If you’re a for-profit, it goes back to the stakeholders or the business owner. If you are a non-profit, it goes back to services for the client.” The whole goal is to still have a profit. It is just how are you going to repurpose that profit?

Janine: Well said. I think that needed to be said because it’s ever so important. I have done coaching for-profit corporations, I’ve done coaching for non-profit, and when I walk into the non-profit sector, the first thing I do is I have a raise of hands. I’ll turn to the staff and go, “How many of you have issues regarding money and making it?” Eighty percent of the room raises their hand. I’m like, “You need to be in some place other than where you are because you are in a business, and if you’re not making money, you cannot serve. [crosstalk] You cannot do what the mission is.”

Talk to us a little bit about, you have a heart, and a lot of solopreneurs, this is their, “Why?” The reason they even got into business was because they had a passionate drive to do something. Talk a little bit, if you don’t mind, about sometimes the disconnect, the road that sometimes they get into speed bumps and they trip themselves up because they’re so focused on serving and then they forget they need to make a profit. Otherwise, you can’t keep in business. You want to talk a little bit about some of the things you’ve been able to help people with?

Sabrina: Yeah, it’s just like I said, it’s a business model. If you were a for-profit company, I told non-profits all the time, “You are for-profit company.” The one thing that they do that really trips them up is they are always trying to get new investors, which would be their donors. They are not really into stewarding the current donors that they have. Just think about this, put that business hat on. If you were always chasing new clients instead of ensuring that the clients that you have or satisfied and getting repeat customers, people will look at you a little bit strange because that’s what you do in business. You want your customers to come to your store, cafe, or whatever it is, buy your product again and again. Sometimes, non-profits don’t think about it that way when they’re dealing with their donors. They will get a donor and get that one-time gift, and then they won’t thank you, engage that donor, or recognize them. They’ll go out and do it all over again.

That’s costing them a lot of money, instead of focusing on your customer, your customer is your donor, and making sure that customer has a great customer experience. You don’t have to go out and do cold calls, and rebuild relationships year after year. The whole goal is to get them in, steward them, share the impact, and have them be not just one-time customers or donors, but be repeat customers or donors. It’s the same principles that you apply to business, that’s why I say there’s no separation of the two. That’s part of my mantra that a non-profit is a business and should be run as such.

Janine: I love the fact that you and I are in this sector because what I do for my primary job is I help people with debt-free living. One of those elements is philanthropy. If you want more money in your life, you’ve got to give it away. You have to be able to give it away to a quality program so I have a soft spot in my heart for philanthropy.

One of the things that always cracks me up is I have places that I go that I donate to every year and I am a raging fan. That’s what I tell people, “You want people donating to you,” and this also means for our solopreneurs, “You want people buying from you, year after year.” Why? Because they’re raging fans of what you do. They may not like everything that you do, but they still support you because they want you to continue to create, build, or have that next product or future.

Now that we have that foundation laid of, “Hello, there’s no difference whether you’re non-profit or for-profit, you’re still a business owner. You’re still a steward of the resources under your domain. There is an impact you want to give to your community.”

Let’s talk a little bit about this new thing coming out. It’s actually a very old thing, but it’s been rebranded, reworded, this relationship marketing. You and I both have very similar viewpoints on the fact of, “Look, it’s all about relationships.” Let’s tear apart this relationship marketing and talk to us a little bit about your perspective on that, and what you think of relationship marketing.

Sabrina: I always say that relationship building and relationship marketing is my superpower. I’m good at it. I even have this concept around it and it’s called “build”. When I talk about it, for me, the “build” is the strategy one, brand yourself. A good business reputation goes hand-in-hand with maintaining a good relationship. A business will have a difficult time connecting with other businesses if they have a bad reputation. We know that. When you are networking and you’re out there, you automatically become the face of your company and your brand. You are effectively representing your company. You want to make a good, favorable, impression. When you’re doing that, you want to make sure that when you’re branding yourself, you’re building trust. One of the things I say is, “You’re showing interest in others. You don’t want it always to be about me.” You want people to say, “You work hard.” People want to invest in someone who provides results, so you want to produce results. You want to focus on giving. When you’re building that relationship, it’s not just about me. Sometimes, you have to come to the table with something that will benefit others. When people think of you, they think of, “Oh, yeah. She helped me with that, without even having a question around me.”

The other thing that I say when you’re building a brand is, you want to make sure that you are consistent. I think that throws people a lot when I talk about consistency. When I think of consistency, it’s more around treating everyone the same. You don’t want to be that person and we all know those people. You don’t want to be that person that, for lack of a better word, categorized people, that say, “Oh, that person is the owner of such and such.” You’re totally nice to them, or you’re just falling all over them. You move down the road and you meet someone else at the same mixer or event, and you do a little aloofness because you feel like, “Well, they can’t provide me with anything.” So I say, “Treat everybody the same.”

The other things around branding yourself is being reliable. If you say you’re gonna do something, do it. Oftentimes, I say, “Over deliver on what you say you’re going to do, because that will help solidify your brand.” One of the big ones, too, is just admitting your mistakes. If you made a mistake, just say, “I made a mistake.” The best phrase that my former boss ever taught me was not “I apologize,” but “Yes, I own up to it. I made that mistake. Thank you for letting me know and from this point on, it will not happen again.” Own up to it and recognize that you did make a mistake and then put every measure in place not to do it again. People appreciate that you’re human, you’re going to make mistakes, but the whole goal is to move forward and try not to do it again, at least with the same person is what I say, and surrounding yourself with people that you trust. Don’t surround yourself with untrustworthy people. Make sure that you remember what your mama said that, “You are judged by the company that you keep.” My mom used to say it and I’m sure everybody’s mom used to say this, “I see your friends and I know who you are.” Make sure you surround yourself with people that are trustworthy. That’s my strategy number one in the build process, brand yourself.

Janine: Well, thank you so much because this really does lead into where I wanted to take you and your expertise in your superpower. When you treat everyone the same, a low piece of advice I’d like to give to folks is, if you’re getting ready to hire somebody, I would always take them out to eat. What I was looking for was how do they treat me versus how do they treat the waitress or the waiter. That was one of my key things. If they treated the waiter or waitress in any way different than they treated me, I could not have them on my staff because I used to be a waitress. I am now a very successful businesswoman and financially secure, only because I worked as a waitress. I know how to treat people. I love that you said that. I wanted to share that part of, how do people treat others around them?

Let’s talk a little bit about this, when you’re human, you make a mistake.

Sabrina: Yes.

Janine: When you’re human, you make a mistake. Own up to it. I’m very quick to let people know I’m exceedingly human. This is why I hire people around me who are big, obsessive to detail-type people.

Sabrina: Yes.

Janine: Because I have a tendency to be a visionary and so because- [crosstalk].

Sabrina: I’m a forest person, not a tree person.

Janine: Right? I’m very much a forest person. I’m going to make sure we tend the forest and I let other people worry about each, individual tree. However, I care about each tree because I know each tree needs to be a part of the forest. That is wonderful. Please listen to what Sabrina has to say about, “Oh, I made that mistake. It won’t happen again. Moving on.” It put you in a great place, you can move on, you’re open, receptive, and willing, and then, of course, put systems in place where it doesn’t happen again.

For the third thing, though, you were talking about friends and who you surround yourself with. Let’s talk a little bit about this relationship management that we are involved in as business owners. Let’s talk about the quality of the people that we attract. What kind of clients do we want to work with? This is just as important. Don’t be so desperate that you’ll take on any client. Let’s talk about the client that tried to become one of yours over this last week and you were telling me about her. We’re not busting on her because we’re grateful for her, because she is giving us this beautiful opportunity, exactly to define what we don’t want. If you don’t mind, share that story with us.

Sabrina: You get clients and it’s very nice to be in a position to say, “I don’t want to deal with that.” That’s not the energy that I want to bring into my circle. At some point, whether you are on a trajectory to make a certain amount, or bring in a certain amount of revenue, you still need to make those decisions.

I had a potential client reach out to me this weekend. The energy was all over the place. I kept getting texts and I was like, “Okay, I’ll respond to you. It’s on my list.” I’m very direct. “It’s on my list. I’ll respond to you by Monday. No problem.” Kept getting texts and I was like, “Okay”. Finally, I said, “It’s the weekend. I’ll respond to you by Monday.” It was like, “Okay, okay.” Monday gets around and I send in the information. I start getting bombarded with all of these questions, which I don’t mind answering questions. That’s fine, but it was repeat questions of what I had already sent. It almost seemed they were trying to get me to change my price structure, or throw in something. The energy was just off. I sat there and thought, “Oh my God, I hope she does not decide to move forward with me. I don’t want this person as a client.” I have to be able to say that. If they decide they want to move forward with me, I’m 99.9% sure I’m going to say, “At this time, I’m booked and I cannot take you on as a client,” because I have a choice.

I started this business, Supporting World Hope, after I was diagnosed with not one cancer, but two cancers. Those cancers were bought on by stress. I created this business, one, to help create an environment for me that was less stressful, and two, to support other non-profit CEOs who are going through the stress of things and have a resource library and be able to coach them and all that things. Why would I create an environment for myself that will be stressful by taking on a client who does not have my best interest at heart, and nor should they? I should have my best interest at heart. I’m going to exercise that.

Janine: I think it all comes back to, be confident in who you are and what you’re offering. If somebody needs to be handheld, is that the business model that you really want? Do you want the person who, when you are giving yourself as authentically as you know how, and they will not respect your boundaries, such as, I would never text a fellow business owner over the weekend unless I wanted to build on our relationship as friends. I find it very difficult, sometimes my clients become my friends. Even though they’re no longer accepting my services or not paying for my services, I still stay in touch with them. I might text them over the weekend, “Hey, how you doing? How’s life?” I wouldn’t go to them or someone like yourself on a business question unless it was Monday morning. This is something that has caused me, actually, to get two phones, because I had so many people that had my cell phone that became my business zone. I don’t look at that phone unless it is 9 a.m. on Monday morning through 5 p.m. That’s my time, my zone. I’m in the Mountain Time Zone. I don’t care if people start work at 9 a.m. on the Eastern Time Zone. I have not sat down at my desk yet. I won’t force them to move past that.

Talk to us a little bit about setting up those, some people call them boundaries. I don’t call them boundaries. I call it self-care.

Sabrina: Yeah, it is.

Janine: I’m a solopreneur. As a solopreneur or an executive of a big corporation, you have to really care for yourself because you’re leading; you’re out front. If you don’t mind, share with us some of the things you’ve learned through your own life experience, because you’ve dealt with stress at a very high level. You came out of that stronger than ever. Share with us some of those tips that you made for yourself.

Sabrina: I’m going to share the tips that guy make the type-A personalities roll their eyes, because trust me, I was there. I want to acknowledge that, but it is a tip. It is not only a tip; it is the truth. You have to take care of yourself. You have to make time for yourself. I would get up in the morning and get to work by 9 a.m., which doesn’t seem early for a lot of people, but I will stay ’til 9, 10 o’clock at night, every night almost. It’s just not healthy. You have to be able to disconnect. You need to set some boundaries around what time you’re going to leave, what time you’re going to stop working. Even in starting my own company and being a solopreneur, I had to actually examine myself because at some point, I was creating the same atmosphere, the same environment that I was creating when I got up and went to an office, went to go work as a CEO on a non-profit organization. I started out putting those same types of pressures on myself, in my solopreneurship. You got to self-analyze and ask, “Why are you creating these dynamics? What is driving to create these dynamics?” Make sure that you know yourself, one, and know your strengths and weaknesses. If you recognize that, “I’m just type-A and I like to get things done. That’s what I am,” you have to set hard boundaries for yourself. You have to hold yourself accountable, before you can hold a client accountable.

Holding the client accountable, I do have a welcome packet that I clearly tell them, “My office hours are from 8 to 5, Monday through Friday,” set up and automate those communications so that they understand that. If they reach out to me via text, lesson learned this weekend, I’m probably going to respond with, “You can reach me in the office on Monday from this time to this time.” Instead of like, “Let me answer the question really quick,” and be nice. That’s what I’m thinking. That probably is not going to be the best strategy to go with. I need to have that standard response. Although I was saying, “I’ll respond to you by Monday,” I was still answering the question that they had. What I should have just said is, “By Monday, you’ll have the full information,” and not engage in any other way.

Janine: That’s one of those beautiful things of lessons learned, right? We all make those sorts of mistakes as we’re walking our entrepreneurial journey, no matter what it is. It takes time to hammer these things out, but please learn from people like Sabrina, who really do know what they’re talking about. She and I are what we call, “recovering type-A personalities”. I still work 12 to 15-hour days, however, there are hours in that day that are just for me that I didn’t used to take it as I was working.

Sabrina: Right.

Janine: I still have that same engagement, but I’ve taken better care of myself.

Let’s talk a little bit about in the attitude of self-care, really taking care of who you choose to engage with, not only as clients, but vendors. That sort of thing. Talk to us a little bit about that because that is your superpower.

Sabrina: Oh, yes. I love engaging with people and building those relationships. That’s actually the you in build. I actually call that my strategy two, which is, “unleash your potential”.

Again, we’re all busy people. We always say that. We are busy. Everybody in our lives are busy, but we should make time to build those relationships. I tell people to, “Identify 25 people that will help you move your business forward,” really look at those people that will help you move your business forward, that you jive with very well, and then block off some time on your calendar to reach out to them, whether they are vendors, suppliers, clients, staff, because you have to invest time into staff, and just set up some time when you talk to them. When I say 25, people get, “Oh my God, 25,” but I say, “Look, anything that you do, break it down.” I say, “If you do 20, you do 5 a quarter.” That means you’re going to connect with 5 people in a quarter. That’s 4 quarters in a year, and so that would get you to your 20. You just break it down and make it manageable and measurable. That’s going to help you move your business forward.

It could be connecting with them with the e-mail. I love picking up the phone. I think that technology sometimes hinders the relationship building. I love to pick up the phone and just do that unexpected call to say, “Hey, my mind’s out on you and I’m just checking in with you,” and saying how life is going, how things are going, and doing those kinds of things. I make those calls almost weekly, like, “I’m just checking in on you, just seeing how things are going.” You don’t want to be calling people when you need something. You want to have a relationship when they see your name flash up on the phone, they’ll be like, “Oh, God, what do they need?” I don’t want to be that person. You want to be that person where it is unexpected. When I call, it could be anything. It could be just checking on you. It could be, “I need something,” or “Can I get some advice from you?”

That’s the other thing that I’ve learned, that where advice is given, money will soon follow. People love to give their advice. I quite often called people to say, “Hey, I’m wrestling through this issue. I know you have a background in it. How would you recommend that I handle this?” That’s a part of building a relationship because people love to give their advice. That’s why I call it Unleash Your Potential. Twenty people, that’s 5 per quarter, and invest in the people.

The other thing is not just going to move your business forward, but also invest in a people that have invested in you. I don’t want to fail to say that, vendors that have worked with you. When I was in my organization, simple things like just changing the schedule when something is delivered, “Hey, can you do me a favor? Can you adjust the scheduling because of this,” vendors who are willing to work with you on that, staff or members that are willing to come in and help you with the project, suppliers that say, “You know what, we have an extra pair of whatever and we thought to give it to you.” Those are the people that you want to invest your time in, because again, we’re all busy. You have a finite amount of time and who you invest that time in should be people that can move your business forward and see potential in you and have invested in you in some way.

Janine: Thank you, Sabrina. I knew you’d be able to talk to us in a beautifully, practical way, on how you go about doing that. One of the things that I wanted to share is that, when it comes to asking for advice, if you are asking someone for their advice that is in their bailiwick, always offer to pay them. Nine times out of ten, they will decline. That’s one of the things Sabrina and I probably do it just out of habit. We’re like, “Hey, and I’ll be glad to pay you because I know this is in your bailiwick.” People are like, “Janine, if it’s one question and the phone call is under 15 minutes, I have no problem.” Like Sabrina, she and I are very clear about what the problem is. “This our current challenge, [inaudible] need, what do you got?”

Sabrina: Yeah.

Janine I have had people waive their 400, 500, 700 dollar fees because I only ask one question and then I would refer people to them.

Talk to us a little bit about, “Okay, so I have a needy client,” like your sweet person that contacted you this weekend. Thank goodness, she did. She gave us something to talk about today. Thank you.

Sabrina: Right.

Janine: Right? We love those people. It’s like, “Okay, so I don’t want this person. This is why a referral network is so important because I have people that charge less than I do, they’re just getting started. They don’t mind the needy people because they’re just trying to get cash flow going.” Talk to us a little bit about building those referral partners.

Sabrina: Yes. That is critical in this process of having those referral partners, but you also want to have referral partners that you have built a relationship with. At the end of the day, you don’t want to refer to someone that you don’t know or you haven’t built a relationship with, because you’re still, at the end, you want to help someone, whether you are the right fit or not. I always say take the time to get to know those that are in the same industry as you. I’m always surprised when people have that different mentality around that. They see others as competitors. I don’t necessarily look at it like that. We might be in the same industry or even talking about the same thing. I do fundraising, consulting, and coaching, but I bring people to my stage all the time that does what I do because of that. There’s many people out here that do the same thing that we all do. Everybody brings a different perspective to the table. Sometimes, their experience or perspective might work better for a client, or the situation they’re in like you said, they might be just starting out and they are willing to take on that client, and they have time to do the hand-holding that you may not do. I will caution. I don’t refer unless I have a relationship with you because again, it’s about branding myself. I want to make sure that I surround myself with people of quality and are trustworthy. The moment I refer someone and it goes bad, remember, it’s about surrounding yourself with people that are trustworthy. I really vet those relationships, and I have to really feel comfortable referring someone over. That’s my take on those referral processes.

Janine: Thank you, because my business is almost always referral. People know me, trust me. I’m dealing with folks’ money. I’m guiding them into a debt-free living lifestyle. They’re not just going to hand off anybody to that.

Help us out here as we close out our time together. Anything else you care to share with us that we haven’t yet covered? You have such a wealth of information between your ears. Help us out. What would you like to share with us today?

Sabrina: I’m just going to briefly go into strategy 3. I came up with this whole build and I only told you to be in the you. I’m going to tell you what the I is without going into detail, and the L and D, and you won’t need details.

I is “Inspire those around you”. We all know that. You want to make sure that when people reach out for help, that you’re helping, being inspirational.

The D is “discover their story”. Learn about the people that you’re building a relationship with. It is critical to learn their story, what they’re about, and you want to learn what they’re about, even beyond the work environment. You want to learn about their hobbies and their families without seeming to be nosy, but you’re trying to really establish a genuine relationship with people.

I went out of order; I forgot the L. The L is really “leverage your connections”. I’ll leave it with this. John Maxwell says, “Your network is your net worth.” Leveraging your connections is critical.

Janine: There you go. Ladies and gentlemen, that is Sabrina Walker Hernandez, coming live from Edinburg, Texas. She is the CEO of Supporting World Hope. She specializes in non-profit organizations, helps them with their capital campaigns, as well as their endowment funds, and assists them with their revenue processes, their operating revenue, increasing it, as well as decreasing their expenses. So, definitely somebody. If you have a passion, and you want to build a non-profit, this is the lady you go to.

Thank you so much for being with us today, Sabrina.

Sabrina: Thank you for having me. Again, don’t forget to go out there and build those relationships.

Janine: That is the key. This is Janine Bolon with this episode of The Thriving Solopreneur. I do hope that you learned a few gold nuggets. Just remember, while you’re digging for those gold nuggets, don’t forget to keep that eye fixed on your stars that guide you each day. Have a great one.

See Sabrina’s website here.