How to Conduct Meaningful Conversations for Effective Nonprofit Strategic Planning with Julie Platts

Yes, meaningful conversations are a must if you want effective solutions for your nonprofit strategies.

I know. It’s easier for many nonprofit leaders to just ask, “Can you just make me a fundraising content calendar within the hour?”

But what if that fundraiser isn’t really what your nonprofit needs to grow?

I know it can feel taxing to try and fit in a conversation about why you even want the fundraiser in the first place (because we always have one) or what the real outcome you want that fundraiser to have for your nonprofit (er, money?). But the immediate answers aren’t always the right ones.

In this week’s episode, Nonprofit Strategist Julie Platts guides me through how she goes deep with nonprofit clients to ask some of these specific questions. After all, she is a nonprofit strategist for a reason.

What you hear might surprise you. But chances are, it will also inspire you to slow down for a few shakes so you can speed up with efficiency with your strategies. There are a lot of ‘a-ha!’ moments in this episode. Believe me.

Plus, since Julie is also a consultant, she also shares with me some consultancy wisdom. We go deep on this too! I love how she talks about how she organizes her time and selects ideal clients.

Need I say more? Just listen. Believe me, you’ll thank me ;)

What we discuss:

  • How to have those meaningful conversations with nonprofit leaders
  • What questions to ask nonprofits when prepping for strategic planning
  • Why services usually need to change during these deep dives
  • Why it’s okay that these services change ;)
  • How to select ideal clients by using a ‘warm’ technique
  • Other amazing stuff that you just need to tune-in and listen to!

About Julie Platts

Julie Platts is an “accidental entrepreneur” serving social impact leaders across the US.
As a Nonprofit Strategy Consultant, Julie uses her 15 years of nonprofit leadership and
research experience to help leaders make informed, supported decisions and amplify
impact. She specializes in communications, income generation, program development,
and relationship building.

Julie is known for creating safe spaces for teams to develop authentic and trusting
relationships so they can move forward with agile and adaptive strategies. Bringing
heart, humor, wisdom, and expertise to each strategy session and coaching call, Julie
helps leaders walk away with clarity, confidence, and renewed invigoration for their

Julie is on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee for The Lucy Project, a
start-up nonprofit that spends its days working with some of the smartest kids in
Miami who just so happen to have reading-based learning differences like dyslexia.
Julie has her Master’s degree in Women, Violence, and Conflict from the University of
York in the UK where she researched Amnesty International’s “Rape. Weapon of War.”
campaign. She has her Bachelor’s degree from UNCC where she collaborated on
research for Habitat for Humanity’s multi-family housing initiatives. Julie has her
certification in Nonprofit Management from the Florida Association of Nonprofits and
Nova Southeastern University.

Julie lives in Delray Beach, FL, and is often found frolicking through South Florida’s
wetlands and woodlands with her husband and their 3-year-old and 18-month-old

My Freelancing Journey (so far) – Julie Platts

I didn’t mean to start a freelance business. It was an accident. An accident that has turned into a beautiful adventure. It started as a thought, a fun hobby after my daughter turned one. And then it grew legs of its own. I’ve been sprinting to keep up with it ever since.

By my daughter’s first birthday, I had already been away from the nonprofit sector in a leadership capacity for three years. I left to revel in new motherhood when my son was born. I have always been a compulsive volunteer, so that was still a part of my life, but I had a desire to go back to philanthropy writing. Communications, deep storytelling, and relationship-building had always been my passion.

It seems like the second I breathed that intention into a conversation with friends, the ball started rolling on its own. Nonprofit leaders started reaching out to me for support. They wanted web content writing, messaging advice, campaign writing, strategy consulting, and grant writing. I had a successful track record with grant writing in the past but always wanted to learn more about it, so I took Holly Rustick’s Grant Writing Master Class and began writing funding proposals.

I started out trying to help everyone for free. I was still a full-time, stay-at-home parent, so I was squeezing in content writing and consulting during my kids’ nap times. I was staying up until midnight writing grants and eating popcorn and M&Ms and peanut butter straight out of the jar. When my mom or husband had the kids, I would work in my car just to have some quiet as grant deadlines barreled towards me.

I have worked long enough in the nonprofit sector to know what survival mode, stress, and overwhelm look like. And I was full-on in that state. I thought, “What do I tell the nonprofit leaders I work with to do when I see them stuck in survival mode?” I say, “Let’s step back. Take a deep breath. Remember the big
picture. Find the “why.” Find someone outside of the problem to support you. Create an intentional strategy and next best actions that bring you closer to your vision. Ask someone to keep you accountable. Move steadily and at a pace that is kind to yourself.”

So I did just that. I set out to build my own capacity. I began charging, I moved my work into a co-working space, I found a soulful business strategy coach to support me, I resolved to drop the services that didn’t make me feel energized, joyful, and fulfilled. I owed that to my family…and myself. I had to do what all organizations need to do: know the vision, remember the mission, evaluate impact, and iterate constantly to offer something truly special and transformative to the world…and become radically self-aware and courageous in the process. It is an ongoing, ever-evolving exercise – and it’s exhilarating.

I have begun building a network around me of talented grant writers, marketers, web designers, nonprofit attorneys, accountants, and other nonprofit consultants to take on work that is not in my zone of genius. I evaluate weekly whether I am choosing work that awakens a deep “Hell, yes!” in me and makes me excited for the day. When I sense I am doing something because I feel I “should” or because I don’t want to disappoint someone, I complete the project with a high level of integrity and then I create a strategy to choose again. To decide to either drop that service altogether or outsource it to someone who
loves doing it.

So, now. I spend my days joyfully working with progressive leaders and teams to develop agile, adaptive, next-best-step strategies that help them step out of survival mode and into their zones of genius. Then, I step back and watch them knock it out of the park. And I wake up in the morning buzzing with excitement about the work I get to do. It’s pretty damn magical…and always evolving to where it wants to go next.

Contact Julie Platts

Links In or Related to This Episode:

  • The Online Grant Writing Master Course: Click here.
  • Website:
  • #164: How to Get Rid of Boring SWOT Analysis and Revive Your Strategic Planning. Click here
  • #158: Tactics You Didn’t Know to Become a Nonprofit Executive Director Ninja. Click here
  • #155: 5-Step Process to Know How & When Your Nonprofit or Business Should Publicly Support a Movement. Click here
  • #159: 7 Myths That You Need To Know About Grants & Freelance Grant Writing. Click here