What’s new in nonprofit transformation?

With Julia Fitzgerald, from American Lung Association, and Ryan Hatcher, from Leukemia and Lymphoma Society


On June 3rd, Celerity hosted a LinkedIn LIVE Health + Life Sciences panel discussion, Evolving Organizations, Responsive Enterprise. These talks are always fun, but this one was especially important to me. How often do you get to talk with leaders whose healthcare associations touch millions of people impacted by blood cancer or lung problems? I can’t overstate how grateful I am for organizations like The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and The American Lung Association and for the impact they have on patients, families, researchers, and fundraisers globally. My family, possibly like yours, has been impacted by cancer, and I hope that someday nonprofits like these are not required, but for now, take a listen to how they are transforming.

My guests included Ryan Hatcher, VP of Strategy & Innovation at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. He and his team are working on overall organizational strategy and innovation across the organization. What a year to be responsible for innovation! Joining Ryan was Julia Fitzgerald, the CMO of The American Lung Association and she brought a lot of private industry experience to her impactful role at ALA. Both LLS and ALA have broad missions and were significantly impacted, especially in terms of digital strategy and member engagement, by the global pandemic. Their nonprofit transformations can be an inspiration to us all.

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How did your organization change last year?

Celerity’s clients have all had to revise their digital strategy in small, medium and large ways over the last year and I asked LLS and ALA how their organizations had to pivot and change over the last year. Listen in to their responses. Both healthcare associations deal with particularly vulnerable populations and had to transform classes into virtual services. This broadened their reach and lessened the risk to patients. As organizations, many nonprofits have been able to reach more constituents because of virtual delivery, but it required a lot of creativity in order to scale their services.

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What are some lessons learned?

Some of the lessons that Ryan outlined was LLS’ focus on diversity, equity and inclusion as they seek a more equitable world. In their nonprofit transformation, they are investing in a more people-centric strategy as they build the organization of the future. Julia and ALA are also focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion and how those initiatives are integrated through the life of the organization. Communication has increased as the nonprofits had to change so rapidly, which underscores one of the important lessons around managing change: it requires communication from leaders as the organization pivots and responds.

In order for teams to “swing big”, it requires a lot of trust and psychological safety. We talked about culture creation and flexible workplaces that allow employees to care for others, so innovation extends beyond fundraising and into better ways to solve problems within the organization. Ryan described how LLS has focused on building community in the workplace, instead of a transactional approach. Back-to-back Zooms can lead to dehumanization and it’s great to hear leaders working with empathy for their teams.

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Media recommendations

Finally, I learned that I need to watch Ted Lasso and that I should have a Celerity logo quarter-zip sweater since I aspire to be more like Ryan and Julia. I’ve included links to the high points of our discussion on nonprofit transformation and digital strategy below.

Watch the full episode

Tune in to the full interview below to hear more from Julia and Ryan about their organizations’ ongoing digital transformation. And don’t forget to follow Celerity’s LinkedIn page to find out about upcoming LinkedIn LIVE interviews.

Are you ready for the next normal?

Interested in learning more about how to build business resilience to thrive in the next normal? Reach out today. And make sure to find out about future episodes in the series by following Celerity on LinkedIn.