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Kate Barr is the Executive Director of the Nonprofits Assistance Fund. 

She makes finance accessible through the magic of her nontraditional staff. To hire exceptional talent, she has done away with the job description. To Kate, your resume means very little. That you love nonprofits means everything. 


ILLUSTRATIONS BY EVAN PALMER & EMMA TRITHART

 

You must bring your whole self to the office. Not just the professional details that fit on one sheet of paper.

Kate’s lessons in hiring a talented staff come from her own career path.

This is her story.

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She thought she’d work at the bank for two years. Finish her business degree. Go back to working in arts administration. BUT Dave talked her out of it. At 25 years old, she would begin a career in banking.

KATE’S FIRST LESSON
WHEN IT COMES TO HIRING:

Technical skills can be taught and learned.
See people’s capacity to learn.

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 “Every time I see a job description that says must know QuickBooks or must know Raiser’s Edge, my response is, ‘Huh? Why would you ever need that?’ When I hire, I start out with must be smart and resourceful. I want someone with whom others want to work.”

 

 

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KATE’S SECOND LESSON
WHEN IT COMES TO HIRING:

EMBRACE EMPATHY

“In banking, my male colleagues exuded a false confidence and certainty. Such as, ‘That’s no good. That’s a bad deal. This is what will work.’ There’s a bravado that’s required. There’s a certainty with which I don’t agree. Empathy gives you access to being open to the fact that it might not work out this way, but that we’ll figure it out anyway.”

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KATE’S THIRD LESSON
WHEN IT COMES TO HIRING:

Always have another question.

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“Ask the same thing in multiple ways. I’m often known to say, “You know, I just have one more question. When I interview people I try and figure out what activities they do. Not necessarily work experience, but all of the surrounding stuff. Skills come from things other than jobs or taking classes.”

 

One thing that isn’t required at NAF is lending experience. It’s completely unnecessary. If you want to work at NAF, you should probably know what it’s like to be a client. And to be a client with financial troubles. To work at NAF, a love for nonprofits is a MUST. Without it, new hires can’t stick it out. You have to care about the success of every single client. Whether it’s a $3 million social service agency or a $65,000 start-up nonprofit. Empathy, people skills, and financial smarts matter, but those come in all shapes and size. Technical skills can be taught.  

Here are just a few…

Lu Hang: Loan Officer/Financial Specialist

First a banker and then the executive director of MN Hmong Chamber of Commerce, he understands what it is like to help a nonprofit.

Stephanie Jacobs: Program Director

Energetic and adaptable, she loves the sector. With a nonfinancial background, she better serves NAF clients, because she can empathize with that audience.

Curt Klotz: Finance Director

Sure he is a qualified accountant, but he also loves nonprofits and brings a unique charisma to finance training that combats fear of finance.

Allison Wagstrom: Loan Officer/Financial Specialist

Not only does she have a past in mortgage banking, she is incredibly hardworking. If she has a free hour she’ll read a finance text box.

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Contributors

Evan Palmer
Evan is an illustrator and cartoonist living in Minneapolis, MN. By day Evan is a web and animation producer at PUNY while by night he is a freelance illustrator, storyboard and concept artist, and self publishes his own comics about robots, wizards, and cooking. He has worked on such titles as Yo Gabba Gabba!, Scott Pilgrim, Vertigo's Fables and for clients such as Cartoon Network and BOOM! Studios.
Emma Trithart
Emma grew up in Michigan, only moving to pursue a degree in Illustration from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. After many wonderful years in Minnesota, in 2014 she waved goodbye to the snow and drove across the country to Los Angeles, where she lives today. Her favorite things in life are blankets, drawing flowers, drinking coffee and eating good cheese on a cracker with some pepper jelly. Previous clients include Anthology, BUST magazine, and Caribou Coffee.