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Podcasts undoubtedly are a component of the upper echelons of the Interwebs—one of the aspects of digital content that actually help us be more knowledgeable, interesting people. Unlike cute animal videos on Reddit, the time suck that is Twitter scrolling, or the easily enabled spending sprees on Amazon Prime, podcasts open our eyes to stories that capture our minds. They give us tidbits to discuss with our dinner companions, can help us forget we’re cleaning the house, and make driving through the long swaths of nothing-but-cornfields in the Midwest that much more manageable. Podcasts give us a chance to enrich and enhance our personal and professional lives in an accessible way.

A major sector of my practice is dedicated to working with nonprofits and the donors who support them. Be it writing and filing organizing documents, offering valuable training for nonprofit boards and staff members, handling compliance issues, or coordinating complex charitable gifts, I love working with Iowa nonprofits. In order to do my best work in the intersection between nonprofit operations and law, I try to stay on top of news and best practices in the industry. One way to do that? Podcasts—they’re like free professional development. If you work for a nonprofit, serve on a board, or are simply an interested donor, here are four top-notch podcasts related to nonprofits.

Business of Giving

Business of Giving

Hosted by Denver Frederick, who can boast 40 years of valuable experience “in the world of philanthropy and social good,” the Business of Giving explores topics and solutions to complicated social issues. In the past, the program has explored topics such as affordable housing, education, access to clean water, and global poverty. Based out of New York City, a new episode is released on Sundays, 6-7 p.m. The best place to listen is on Soundcloud. Recent episodes of the show (of the over 300 tracks available to listen to) include interviews with Dan Cardinali, President and CEO of The Independent Sector, Megan O’Neil, Staff Writer for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and Adarsh Alphons, Founder and Executive Director of ProjectArt.

Nonprofit Leadership Podcast: Making Your World Better

Nonprofit Leadership Podcast

This is a great listen for nonprofit leaders (like the name of the show says) as each episode covers opportunities, trends, and problems applicable to leadership in the sector. First hand advice from other leaders can be invaluable in helping others apply the same practices in their own respective organizations. Dr. Rob Harter hosts the show and brings with him more than two decades of work in “leading and building non-profit organizations, leveraging resources, communication and personal development.” The episodes (available in iTunes) give advice and tell stories to help you ultimately be more efficient and effective in your leadership. I liked one of the recent episodes from June that featured the “Fundraising Coach,” AKA Marc A. Pitman, on how to lead with less stress.

Tiny Spark

Tiny Spark Podcast

Not only does Tiny Spark have a cool owl logo, it also has pretty fantastic episodes that dig in deep on “philanthropy, nonprofits and international aid.” Founder and managing editor, Amy Costello, is a rock star reporter who has an impressive reporting resume including PBS, BBC, and NPR; she was nominated for an Emmy Award on her reporting on Dafur, Sudan. Subscribe on iTunes for episodes such as the recent ones on “The Rise of Philanthropy’s ‘Shadow Giving System’,” and “Why Big Philanthropy Needs Scrutiny Not Gratitude.”

Nonprofit Ally

NonProfit Ally

The Nonprofit Ally podcast wraps essential topics like “social media strategies, capacity building, board of director development, fundraising and budgeting,” into conversations with nonprofit leaders. Episodes are under an hour and after tangible advice you can with you into your nonprofit role, such as how to have better board meetings with Roberts Rules, how to fundraise over email, and tips of the trade from a professional grant writer. The podcast is hosted by Steve Vick of the podcast’s associated website, nonprofitally.com. You can listen on the website or subscribe on Android and Apple platforms.


What nonprofit-related podcasts would you add to my listening library? Share below in the comments. (On a related note, I also wrote about how the podcast S-Town made a strong case for the need and power of estate planning.)

If you want to discuss the issues your nonprofit is facing, don’t hesitate to reach out via email or phone, at 515-371-6077. I’m more than happy to offer a free consultation.

s-town theme

Let’s be honest, the topic of estate planning can be a little, well, dry. Every lawyer, financial advisor, real estate agent, and the like will encourage you to have a quality estate plan professionally drafted, but it tends to be one of those things you’ll get to eventually. Life happens, work piles up, your to-do list grows longer and deciding what you want done with your remains after you die seems like a worry for another day. But, once in a great while a story comes up where the topic of estate planning is so necessary and uniquely integrated that it’s hard to ignore—cue the buzz-worthy podcast, S-Town. The podcast broke a record with 10 million downloads in four days, so don’t just take my word for it.

S-Town header

Caution: A few spoilers ahead

If you haven’t listened to S-Town and don’t want to know ANY details of what unfolds, stop reading now. Go listen and then come back to read how S-Town exemplifies some of the key reasons you need a will ASAP.

The highly bingeable story from Serial Productions (masterminded by the producers at This American Life and Serial), takes place in a small town in Alabama. As This American Life producer Brian Reed dives into what appears to be a true crime story, in line with the first season of Serial, the tale takes an unexpected twist following an unanticipated death.

Brian Reed

Brian Reed, S-Town

The person who passed away didn’t have an estate plan. At first this may not seem like a big deal, but without a last will and testament, the individual’s death left a wake of conflict and confusion. Without an estate plan, a mother with dementia is left without defined care and guardianship; 13 dogs are left without a pet trust to declare who will care for them; property is fought over; a felony charge is issued; a religious funeral is held despite the deceased’s atheism; a house and land are sold, likely against the wishes of the individual if they had been alive; an immaculate, amazing garden maze will be destroyed; and because the deceased was “unbanked” there were no cash assets to pay for a funeral and other important costs. This person had verbally told some people what he wanted them to have in terms of property and monetary assets, but there was no written record, and such hearsay doesn’t hold up in a probate court.

S-Town maze

S-Town is not only an example of excellent storytelling, but also a real world example of what can happen when someone dies without putting in place clear directions and wishes for property, cash and non-cash assets, pets, health care, and final disposition. You don’t want your family and friends to fight, press charges, and dig up your property in search of gold when you die. So, there’s no day like today to have your estate plan drawn up.

A good place to start is with my obligation-free Estate Plan Questionnaire.

Already have an estate plan? Good. It’s probably time you reviewed and updated it.

Feel free to contact me any time to discuss further how to start an estate plan. I offer a one-hour free consultation, without any obligation. I can be reached any time at my email, gordon@gordonfischerlawfirm.com, or on my cell, 515-371-6077.