WHAT THE FUNDRAISING
EPISODE 13: How to Build Capacity for Your Organization by Building Capacity Within Yourself with Lisa Fabrega
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“If you try to take a gallon-sized problem and apply a gallon-sized strategy with pint-size capacity, that’s why the strategy isn’t working.”
– LISA FABREGA
In this episode of What the Fundraising Podcast…
I talk to Lisa Fabrega, founder, CEO, and coach at Capacity Shift. After working for years with highly ambitious and successful people, she developed The Capacity Framework. A model to understand and grow your ability to hold, handle and receive every next level of your impact.
Her work is based on the idea that it’s not about the strategies that you are applying, but about the capacity that you have to face your own growth. How are you going to face gallon-sized success with a pint-sized capacity, right?
In this episode, Lisa walks us through some of the six areas that come in conflict with capacity: money, visibility, purpose, embodiment, structure, and boundaries. Plus she tells us how scarcity mindset and transactional relationships are keeping us from achieving more.
No joke, Lisa could be a fundraising coach! Her views on growth and development are super helpful for the nonprofit world and very aligned with my own framework. You really don’t want to miss this conversation on expanding our capacity.
Lisa Fabrega is the founder, CEO, and coach at Capacity Shift where she teaches the Capacity Framework, a model to understand and grow your ability to hold, handle and receive every next level of your impact.
Lisa’s work is based on the idea that when nothing seems to be working, it’s not really about the strategies, it’s about our own capacity. I swear she could be a fundraising coach! Her realistic and practical ideas around growth are a breath of fresh air in the nonprofit world.
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Mallory: Thank you so much for joining me today. I’m so excited to be here with Lisa Fabrega, and she is going to be talking to us about her amazing capacity work. So let’s start. I’m familiar with your work from following you on Instagram and just being a fan, but why don’t we start with a little bit of just letting folks know who you are and what it is that you do, and what has brought you here?
Lisa: Yeah, thank you for having me. I’m glad to be here to talk about this as well because I think that capacity is something that very few people are educated on and it’s something that we sometimes tend to put to the side without even realizing it. And it’s actually one of the most important things.
For any of us that have big goals that we want to achieve, if we don’t address this is when we usually find ourselves coming up against a challenge that we are plateauing at, or we can’t figure a way out of it, or we’re feeling frustrated or burned out. So what I basically do and have been doing for the last 12 years, and taught to almost over 74,000 people at this point is something I developed called The Capacity Framework.
And what I mean, when I talk about capacity, I define capacity as your ability to hold, handle, and receive every next level of your impact. As we grow things change and we’re not necessarily always prepared for the next level, we think we are and then we hit a challenge that we’ve never experienced before, and we don’t know how to handle it.
Or we grow to the next level and then we start burning out our relationships, start breaking down, stuff that’s never come up for us, starts to come up and we don’t know how to deal with it. And the reason I even came into this work is that when I started my coaching business, I actually started as a nutrition coach, and I noticed that I was working with a lot of very ambitious, successful people.
And after two sessions, we weren’t talking about food anymore, we were talking about this. And at the time, I didn’t know to call it capacity, and like it is with our purpose, it evolves and as we grow, we start getting clearer and clearer. And I started to realize that there was six areas that people who have big goals, who are very ambitious and are here to make a big impact in the world that they tend to struggle with they are: money, visibility, purpose, embodiment, which I was more like your inner leadership, your emotional, mental, spiritual, physical capacity. And then structural capacity which is like the foundations and the systems and the teams that hold you up and then your boundary capacity.
And I just learned this from working with so many people and you see the patterns repeat and you see the walls that people hit and you see the things that come up for people. And I realized we have been taught that when we come up against a problem within ourselves or externally to go seek a strategy, to go do a five-step system, to apply meditation or a mantra or whatever.
And there’s nothing wrong with those things, they’re very helpful. But what happens when those things aren’t working for you anymore? What happens when the self-care practice, no matter how many times you do it, is not curing your burnout? There’s something deeper going on.
I realized it’s our capacity because when we start our work in our careers, let’s say we’re at a point, right? Our capacity as a pint, but as we start impacting more people and more people are relying on us and there are more people looking at us and there are bigger goals we’re achieving, that pin can’t just keep being the same size, It’s got to grow to a gallon and you’re going to be dealing with problems that are gallon sized problems.
You can’t deal with those with the pint-size container. That’s the metaphor I like to use. And so I started to realize that’s why when you take a strategy and if you try to take a gallon size problem and apply a gallon-sized strategy with pint-size capacity, that’s why the strategy isn’t working.
And so that is how I came into my work. And so it’s now evolved into this entire framework that I’ve created and that I walk all of my clients through to increase their capacity. And I have seen it help people breakthrough years-long plateaus, weird health issues that nobody could figure out what was going on because of the burnout, team problems that persisted for years, all of that stuff that people could not figure out how to solve I see a lot of it being solved and helped through building capacity.
Mallory: Okay. So can we maybe define capacity even a little bit? I feel like something that you’re talking about here might even be outside of our realm of understanding in terms is our capacity infinite? Can we keep growing it?
Lisa: Okay. It is infinite.
So what I said about capacity earlier is that the definition of capacity is your ability to hold, to handle, and receive every next level. So hold means, if I’m in a team meeting, or if I’m in a meeting with a bunch of leaders or people who are trying to achieve the same goal as I am, and I’m the one overseeing everything and there’s a blow-up between two people or someone comes and attacks me and loses their temper, right?
Can I hold the container so that we can steer it back to where it needs to go, show up in my values as a leader, and solve the conflict? That’s an example of having capacity. Some people will have that experience and be so stressed out and be sick to their stomachs they don’t want to go back to work, whatever, that’s a lack of capacity.
That doesn’t mean staying in a toxic situation, obviously, because then you need the capacity to set boundaries and get yourself out of it. That’s a real-life example of capacity. So that’s holding then handling. Can you handle the stuff that’s going to come up? What happens when someone tries to sue you?
I had a situation where in the middle of a huge business launch that I was doing, which we could not stop, one of my family members was murdered and I had to finish the launch and still lead my team. And go to the funeral and do my grieving and my mourning at the same time, because there are times in life where we don’t have the option of shutting something down, we have to do two to four things at once. And so that’s an example of handling, right?
And then receiving, the receiving portion of it is what happens when you notice that lottery winners will win a bunch of money, and then two years later they’re broke. That’s a capacity problem because they still had the money capacity of wherever they were before they won the lottery. They didn’t know how to receive that much money. They didn’t know how to hold it. They didn’t know how to handle it. And so they just spend back down to their pint-size capacity, their original financial baseline.
And that’s a great example of what happens when we don’t have capacity.
Mallory: Wow. There are so many areas of this that I want to go into.
I wonder if first let’s pick boundary capacity. Can we go there? Can you talk to me a little bit about what would it look like for someone? Because all six of those are so relevant for nonprofit leaders and fundraisers in so many different ways. Everyone is probably wondering why I’m not saying money as the first one, but I’m specifically picking boundaries because so many folks come to the nonprofit sector really rooted in wanting to help, wanting to serve, wanting to partner, and really uncomfortable with boundaries. It is probably one of the biggest issues I see in my work with folks.
So talk to me a little bit about the boundary capacity.
Lisa: I think this is a huge issue for so many people, no matter what sector you’re in because we want to be liked. We don’t want people to be upset with us. We don’t want people to think badly of us. And so a lot of times that means that we make ourselves doormats without even realizing it, or we put other people’s needs before our own. The way I define boundary capacity is making sure that you are clear to everybody around you and the universe at large what you are and are not available for, period.
And it’s not just that though. There’s an interesting thing about boundaries that very few people talk about because we tend to think of boundaries as walls. And so those of us who really care and want to help, we don’t feel comfortable with a boundary if we think it’s like a wall that’s unhealthy and an unfeeling and cold. That’s how people tend to view a boundary, especially if you’re a person who cares and wants to help.
But that’s not how I view boundaries. Boundaries can be helpful structures and containers that keep everybody safe. Cause have you ever been around a person who has no boundaries? How do you feel about it? I feel really uneasy. I feel like I’m walking on eggshells because they’d have not stated any boundaries to me at all. I don’t know what might offend them. I don’t know if I can joke around, I don’t know what I can do with that person because there were zero boundaries.
When parents don’t have any boundaries or rules for children, they’re miserable too. They don’t feel safe, there is no containment. So that’s one way to think of boundaries that I think is really important. The other thing that very few people think about with boundaries is that it’s also almost like you’re making a specific request to the universe about what you do want when you are saying no to the things you don’t want.
If we’re thinking about things like manifesting, for example, or not even just manifesting, but people observing your behavior. If you keep saying yes to things that you don’t want to do or that you don’t want to be involved in, or you’re just a yes person, nobody ever knows what to really give you. Nobody ever really knows what you really want because setting a boundary and saying no to something, makes it clear to somebody what you are.
And then the last thing about boundaries that a lot of people don’t talk about is that boundaries are not just with other people. Boundaries are with ourselves too and we forget that we have to set boundaries with our own selves and our own minds and our own actions that we make on a daily basis.
So when we have those things lined up and on point for the level where we are we have what’s known as boundary capacity. And that means that I can set a boundary and sure, I’m not going to say that you’re never going to feel a little nervous about setting a boundary, of course you are, but you can handle the nervousness and you don’t allow the nervousness to make you say yes to something that you’re a no to.
Signs that you have boundary capacity issues are obviously you have trouble saying no. A very interesting sign that a lot of people are shocked to discover is that you’re having burnout and health issues, or you’re starting to feel resentful of your work or the people you work with.
I’m working with somebody right now who was really miserable in her job and she notices that she literally goes into work and she’s just nitpicking everything to death. And sure the workplace could improve and she has to set better boundaries. And now she’s so resentful because she hasn’t had those boundaries. She’s just looking for stuff now to be upset about.
Also it really can affect our performance. It can affect our thinking. Because if we don’t have any boundaries, we don’t have any time for self-care, we don’t have any time for nourishing our own selves so that we can show up at our best in our jobs. And so those are all interesting little signs of boundary capacity issues.
Another sign is you’re constantly attracting people who are boundary pushers. If you’re always like, “Geez, why are all these people always like giving them a finger and taking an arm”.
If that’s happening to you a lot and I’m not saying that everything that happens to you, you attract cause I don’t believe in that, but sometimes it’s because that’s what you’re putting out there, and you’re just basically saying I’m a doormat. And then the people who trample on you because you told them you’re a doormat by not having boundaries start referring other people to you who are going to treat you the same way. So those are all boundary capacity issues.
Mallory: Okay. I love it, I think that’s so helpful to think about. And one of the things I’m curious about, and I’m sure this is true for other sectors, but there’s a really high turnover rate with fundraisers. And because of burnout, many of them are leaving the sector as a whole, but a lot of them are jumping from organization to organization believing that something’s going to be different somewhere else.
I was definitely guilty of this earlier in my career before I discovered some of the limitations on my own capacity, through a different framework, but really aligned with what you’re talking about.
And I think this boundary piece is actually what’s happening. And so a lot of times when I am dealing with a client who wants to leave because their work isn’t respecting their boundaries, there’s so much emphasis put on the structure around them and not enough ownership on how they are, how can they show up, where’s their capacity there.
I’m just curious about your thoughts on that and how you see that play out.
Lisa: I’d say that started with you before the interview process. It’s not necessarily the fault of the company or of the organization. It can be. You’ll see how it’s all like a circular thing that happens. because here’s the other thing, people who are not used to, or feel nervous about setting boundaries, they don’t know what their boundaries really are.
So if you don’t really know what your boundaries are, then you’re going to go… As an example, the moment you start looking for a job in any organization that you want to work for, because you’re not clear on your boundaries, you won’t be filtering out job positions that are very clearly going against your job description.
So you’ll just take a bunch of different job interviews, for example, and then you’ll go to the job interview and you will fail to notice signs that our boundaries would not be respected there. And then you, because of that because you are not clear on your boundaries. Both from an energetic perspective and from an actual tangible speaking them, embodying them perspective, you’ll send the message to them that you’re cool with those boundaries not being in place at that organization. Or you forget to ask questions that clarify if your boundaries would be respected. And then you get into the organization and even there, you’re not speaking your boundaries.
I’m working with a woman who has something similar happening to her. In order to impress people when she first started, she was just saying yes to everything and now they just all expect her to do all of this stuff and she’s had to start saying no and just leaving it to other people.
And so I would say sure, there are many organizations that don’t respect the boundaries of their workers or employees, whatever it is that you do with the organization. But I would say that started from the very beginning because your picker is off because you have not gotten comfortable with getting clear on what your boundaries are.
And a little side note to that, that I have to add because it’s really important. When we set boundaries, we tend to set boundaries for where we are right now, but just like all human beings, or growth oriented human beings, which I know everybody listening to this is, if you’re a growth-oriented human being you’re changing, which means your boundaries are changing.
So many years ago on certain things my boundaries had to be a little bit more rigid because I was still developing a feeling of safety around those areas in my life. Now my boundaries can move and shift and they’re more responsive to the moment because I’ve grown and I’ve gotten the mastery over boundaries to a certain degree.
But what happens is we’ll set a boundary based on where we are now or who we think we were five years ago and we forget where I’m going. let’s say a year from now, is where I’m going right now. I’ve got to set the boundaries of that person. I got to start setting that in place now because the act of even setting the boundaries of my future self starts to make me become the future itself. And then it makes it so that when I get there, my boundaries are good and I’m not having energy leaked from a million different places.
And that’s a whole other conversation. All of the little ways that we leak and drain energy that we’re not even aware of. So that’s my answer to your question.
Mallory: Okay. I love that. And I want to go to the leaking energy, but I also just want to ask you how much is this related to our beliefs about our own self-worth?
When you’re talking about those boundaries and setting them and I think about my own growth in this area, going into organizations and feeling like when I was younger that I couldn’t. Now I get that it was like a limiting belief in myself, now in hindsight, but I felt like I might not get the job if I set that boundary and that other person doesn’t set the boundary there.
Whereas when I went into my last job running an organization, I knew that the board chair worked all hours of the night and was texting people. And so when they were deciding whether to hire me or not, I said, “I will be getting a company phone and it will only be on from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM and I will be unreachable after”.
It was hard and it was scary a little bit, and I did not have the capacity to do that seven, 10 years earlier. And for me, a lot of that had to deal with “If that doesn’t work for them. Okay. I’ll find another job”. I had enough self-worth and self-knowing to set that boundary.
So how is that all related? Is that too big of a question?
Lisa: No, it’s not. That’s a scarcity thing. Because when you think about this for a moment, if this was any other kind of relationship and somebody wanted you to do something that really went against your values and they didn’t care that it did, they just still wanted you to do it. What would you think about that person? They don’t care about you.
I’m a huge fan of Oprah, she was a role model my whole life. And she had this awesome story about boundaries that she told that I love using an example. She said the way she does her boundaries is if somebody asks for something one time and she says, no, and then they come back to her a second time and ask, she’s okay, I get it, you want to try one more time, but it’s still a no.
If they come back and ask a third time after her second no, she’s like “They don’t care about me and I don’t want to do business with that person”. And the idea that if you say, if you don’t say yes to this, I might not get the job is scarcity thinking because it implies that the only job that you could possibly get, and I don’t care, even if you’re looking online every day and you just don’t see jobs, I promise you that is not the only job that you can get.
And I know this from personal experience because I’ve worked with tons of people who are afraid to say no, because they’re afraid of losing an opportunity. They’re afraid that it’s never going to come back around again. To that, I say, then that wasn’t the opportunity for you, because what’s meant for you is meant for you.
And it will always come to you period. If it doesn’t come back, it was not meant to be number two. There are so many possibilities that are outside of our realm of thinking. And when we keep limiting ourselves to, “I have to say yes to these less than ideal options”, we don’t force our brain to start looking outside the box and thinking differently.
And we’re also from an energetic perspective, not communicating energetically that we’re open to other opportunities landing in our lap. So that’s the part of the boundary piece that I was saying that it’s you communicating to the universe, what you are available for and making a specific request when there is no clear direction, because you’re saying yes to everything, how do I know what to send you?
A great example is one month, many years ago in my business where we were very tight on cash flow and I was trying to figure out the usual avenues of bringing in cash and nothing was working. And I just let go and I said, 2okay, I’m just going to let it go. And just open up to possibilities”.
And literally the next day. We all own random domains that we bought like 10 years ago. So anyway, I had this domain and somebody offered me $7,000 for it. And I needed that month. I needed 10,000. So I negotiated back and I said, 11 and they accepted.
My cash that month came from a direction I never would have thought, let me turn around and sell this domain. So that’s an example of how there are so many possibilities and when we are not willing to stick to our values and our boundaries and say, I know that I might lose this opportunity, but if I lose it, it was not meant for me because if they don’t care enough about me as their worker to care about my wellbeing and make sure I’m being honored.
And number two, or it may just be that it’s an environment that’s just not a good fit. So don’t try to make yourself fit if you’re going to end up quitting anyway. Or it could be that you just need to say no so that you can start thinking outside of the box, because I promise you in all my years of working with people and it’s been a lot of people I’ve worked with, I have never seen someone without options.
Mallory: Yeah okay. There’s this really interesting synergy between our work that I want to highlight in a second, but I first want to ask, is scarcity the opposite of capacity? And I don’t really believe in black and white thinking so not maybe not a pure opposite, but is that on the other side of it?
Lisa: I wouldn’t say that. I think scarcity is more a symptom of a money capacity issue. I think the opposite of capacity is feeling disempowered and like you have no options. Feeling victimized by your situations? That to me is the opposite of capacity.
Mallory: Are you familiar at all with the energy leadership index? It maps so interestingly against what you’re talking about, there are these seven levels of energy and leadership, and they start in real catabolic energy, which is victim hood, martyrdom, tunnel, vision judgment, black and white thinking all the way up to level seven and anabolic energy, which is a prism of opportunity, connection, joy, mutual benefits.
So this is the coaching framework that I use. And so everything that you’re saying, I’m like, and you’re right. Yes, scarcity is in that catabolic state. I bet it’s deeply related to a lot of the capacity issues in the nonprofit sector because structurally like the money capacity issue is such an institutionalized sort of framework, or like mindset because of how the desperation and funding cycles are set up structurally for the sector. So it’s really interesting to me that you called that out.
And then the way that scarcity as an outcome of the money capacity in the sector, then actually creates all these other capacity issues. Like boundaries and like others, I’m sure.
Lisa: I don’t view one capacity as being the creator of all the others. For me, they’re all equal and they’re all very interwoven. I would say the capacity issue that underscores the most of the other capacity issues is actually your embodiment capacity, which is essentially navigating challenges with ease and confidence.And that includes mentally, spiritually, emotionally, most of all, emotionally, and physically.
So that’s what I consider embodiment capacity. And I think that’s where we find issues of self-worth that’s where you find issues of feeling, not worthy of something. That’s where you find issues of feeling like we don’t belong and so we automatically count ourselves out of things. That’s where we find this erroneous thing that we’re all taught that we’re somehow broken and need to be fixed. That’s where I find all those issues as in the embodiment capacity category.
And I think those things can very often underscore a scarcity issue, a money issue, a visibility issue. Whether or not I feel comfortable setting boundaries, whether or not I feel comfortable hiring the team that I need to support me to reach my goals.And when I say team, I don’t just mean you have to have your own team. Who’s helping you at home? Because there’s life teams too.
And I think that I want to speak to something else you said earlier, which is, there are ways of doing things in every industry and I’ve had clients come to me and say I want to charge more money, but no one in my industry charges more than this.
Like who cares what everybody in your industry is doing? That’s what we do. But that’s not what you do. And what’s interesting is when they start to feel confident enough to start doing things their own way, even though they may be in heavily structured industries.
Again, look at the ways we limit ourselves. We think that because it’s been done this way, it has to continue to be done this way. Amd I’m stuck like this cog in this machine. Actually, the people who are always successful in any industry did not do things the way everybody was doing them. They don’t, maybe they played the game a little bit, but they thought outside of the box and they saw many more opportunities available to them that weren’t necessarily put right in front of them through the structures they were in. And so even that we have to be careful of, because when we start thinking that we’re limited to the structure, we literally become limited to the structure.
And how do you think industry innovation happens? It is the people who dare to believe that maybe we can do this one differently.
Mallory: Which is the whole inspiration behind this project. Because I really hit a rock bottom moment where I was like, “Okay, I think I need to quit. I think I need to leave the sector.This is not working for me”.
And then I think it took maybe me like surrendering in that process to then be ready to absorb some other frameworks that at the time were not related to my fundraising, but they were this poach training and I got trained in behavior change and habit building and design thinking.I was in this place of openness, because I was like “what’s next for me?” And then I got to a point where actually what these things mean is that this can also be different and I’ve just been so siloed in this “either or-” world for so long that I thought that’s what the world looked like.
Really the idea of bringing experts like you into the non-profit audiences is to say, “You got this prism is so big, our opportunities are so big!” I’m just so grateful and inspired by your framework.
Lisa: Thank you. I also want to add to the embodiment piece in terms of asking for money because I don’t care what sector you’re in, whether you’re a nonprofit or you’re making sales for profit, you’re still asking for money. Still is asking for money. Marketing and sales is asking for money. That’s what you are doing and everybody knows that’s what you are doing.
I’m not posting on my Instagram cause I’m just having fun and I don’t need to work. So here’s the thing. Embodiment capacity is so important because how are you showing up to ask for the money? If you are showing up feeling like I’m just begging for money and I’m beneath you and you are gifting me this money.
How do you think you’re going to be treated? Because it’s power dynamics, right? And I talk about this a lot in embodiment capacity when I work with my clients. There’s power dynamics that are very outdated, very old school, toxic, patriarchal, supremacist and it’s the power dynamic one up one down.
That’s the world that our world has thrived off of. One up one down. And so what happens is we go to situations where we have to ask for money or in my industry, when I asked for a sale or I talked to someone and sell them something. If I come into that interaction like, “Oh, I’m so sorry to bother you, but like really, we should work together. And if you would like to sell me with your money, I could help you.”
Then that’s exactly how I’m going to be treated. I’m going to be treated like I am one down and that person is one up. I have now put myself beneath that person. If I show up to a sale or two asking for money confident in the value that this provides, whether it be something that’s not for profit or not, it doesn’t matter.
I know what I bring to the table. I know the possibilities of what this can do, and if you want to be a part of this, great, if you don’t, there are 20 other people for me to ask. If you show up with that energy now you’ve got my attention and you’re going to get treated very differently.
Mallory: You could lead fundraising training because a lot of the time what I do is model what you just did is say how different does this feel?
I have this incredible opportunity. I would love to include you in it if you’re open to it. I have fundraisers obviously coming to me all the time feeling guilty about asking, feeling small. That power dynamic that is rooted in history. So I also want to relieve people that that’s not your fault, that those are the things that you believe, we have all been taught those things. Women in particular around money after generations and generations of it being inappropriate for us to talk about money, we are overcoming these beliefs and barriers and all of those things.
I said to a client recently who was having a lot of feelings coming up around making the ask, which I don’t even usually say that to my clients. I talk about it as an opportunity. That’s like my sort of mantra, but I said to her, “Tell me about something you bought recently that you really love”. And she told me about this bracelet. And I was like, tell me about the process of buying that bracelet. And she was telling me, and I was like, “So that company who sold you, the bracelet or the advertisement that you saw, should they feel bad for having advertised that to you? Or should they have said sorry to bother you?” “We just thought maybe you’d like to know about this bracelet”. No! Never in a million years.
And so I love the way that you’re talking about that.
Lisa: And she was looking for that bracelet, she was looking for something. And that’s how you have to think of it. There are many people out there looking to give money to organizations like yours.
I was literally just on a coaching call talking about asks the person I wasn’t teaching this, one of my mentors was talking about it and she was saying, you have to just build the habit of getting used to asking, and so that asking has no emotional charge. Because here’s the beautiful part about asking.
And this is what came up for me when I heard that. Number one, if I ask, and you’re a jerk that’s information for me. Thank you for sending that information my way, because I know not to ask you again, and I know I don’t want to work with you in the future.I’ve been given a gift.
If I asked you and you pulled some “one up, one down” dynamic with me, that’s also information. It’s not personal. I’m just getting information through my asks. And it’s getting me clearer on who I want to work with and who I don’t want to work with. Because if you’re accepting money from someone, it is a working relationship even if you never talked to them again, because they’ve given something and now they expect to have some sort of input in some sort of way or some recognition or something.
That’s how I want you to view it for anybody listening, asking is not inconveniencing anyone. There are people out there waiting wanting to give to what you offer. And they don’t even know where to start or how to find that. And if you ask and it’s a match, they’re going to be thrilled, just like I’m thrilled I found this bracelet and I’m giving you my money. I don’t think this company is taking advantage of me because they had this beautiful bracelet and that floor window and it made me want to buy it.
I do this with clients all the time where they’re very sensitive to rejection or they start to feel demoralized over rejection. It’s not rejection, it’s just information that is made clearer about who you want to work with. And gosh, you’re being protected in many ways because how many times have we gotten into relationships with people, whether professional, personal, whatever, and things don’t get revealed until we’re far down the line.
I wish I had seen this. Guess what? Asking people for things reveals very quickly if you want to be in a relationship with them or not.
Mallory: And it’s a real gift. Inside my course, I do something called The Seven-Day No Challenge where I have folks cold calling and their goals are around getting a certain amount of nos.
But I’m curious about this last piece, because how related or do you believe it’s related to those feelings that we have around rejection? Do those correlate at all with our boundary capacity in terms of our own ability to say no.
If we have a much harder time saying no, does it likely mean we have a much harder time hearing no? Or are those not connected?
Lisa: I don’t necessarily think they would be connected. They could certainly be. But I think people are just such entire universes unto themselves with all nuances. I don’t think there’s any hard and fast way to say this connection is always there. I’ve had clients that were very sensitive to hearing nos and they had no problems saying no.
Mallory: Yeah it’s interesting. I’m bringing this up, and this might be a little bit outdated when this is released, this whole thing with Simone Biles just happened.
And a lot of the outrage that I feel I saw around her setting this boundary was from people that don’t have boundaries. And it was triggering a lot of people and it just felt very clear as day to me. There were a lot of components, all the stuff we talked about with patriarchy and supremacy, all of that interwoven as well.
But I also felt like I saw a real resentment around it because of people’s own lack of feeling like they can “do that”.
Lisa: Yes, I completely agree with you. This brings me back to something I thought of in the earlier conversation we were having, which is that a lot of us keep looking to the structure to save us. A lot of us look into this structure to give us direction as to how to think outside of the box, the structure doesn’t tell you how to think outside of the box, structure tells you how to think within the structure. What I love about what Simone Biles and people like Naomi Osaka have done is there actually pushing against the structures.
So Naomi was like, “I will not do press at the French Open for my own mental health”. She wasn’t being a brat. She was having a mental health issue, and she took that time for herself. Whereas before we’ve been raised on Nike, “just do it”, “push through”.
Yes, I do think we need the capacity to push through sometimes if that’s your journey, but for other people, their journey is to not push through and listen to their bodies. And that’s a great example, the system was not going to help them because they set up to have these press conferences that are extremely stressful for the athletes, and have these work hours that are extremely stressful.
The system is set up, speaking of Simone Biles, look at someone like Kerri Strug, who did her finish on that broken ankle and it was so celebrated. But guess what? The rest of her career was ruined because she still had issues from injuries from that event. How heroic was that moment? She actually sacrificed herself to fit into this ideal that you push through, even with the injury.
And so what you’re saying resonates a lot with me because you have to stop thinking that staying within the system is going to give you the answers for how to get outside of the system. You have to be willing to do things differently.
Mallory: Yes. And I think so much of what you’re talking about is tapping into what your values are and to feel a sense of conscious choice around them. I just think that’s like double clicking.
Lisa: I think all the people who get angry about that are the people who are also disenfranchised by the system and they’re angry that someone had the bravery to stand up when they didn’t. How dare you rebel against the system? Even though secretly I’m also bitter that I couldn’t rebel against the system.
Mallory: Yeah. And in total honesty, I can imagine myself maybe 10 years ago, having that feeling too, before I really did my own work around some of these issues. I felt so proud of her and I am so grateful my daughter gets to grow up in a world with role models like that.
But I can imagine that in the past I would have felt a little jealous almost, and I also understood, I think not understood in the like necessarily thinking it was appropriate, especially the public outcry, wildly inappropriate. But I could empathize, with the feelings of jealousy that I felt were underneath some of the reactions we were seeing. I could see that in there too.
And so I think the work that you’re doing and helping people, everyone feels this sense of conscious choice around these things is just so critical and so important. I want to make sure I’m conscious of time, but I want to make sure I’d love your thoughts on how the money capacity might show up for non-profit professionals and around fundraising, and then I’ll make sure we have time for you to share all the ways for folks to connect with you.
Lisa: I think I need to know what are some common complaints you get from people around money in the nonprofit sector.
Mallory: I’m not sure if this necessarily applies with the capacity piece, but maybe it does. A lot of it is about discomfort, talking about money.
A lot of what comes up is in major gifts, the old school methods of major gift fundraising, so large donations, is that it’s going to be this 12 to 18-month timeline where you’re cultivating donors. Where in fact, what you’re doing is building a semi superficial relationship with an end goal in mind that you’re not supposed to be super transparent about, but it’s underneath all of these pieces.
And it’s not what I teach at all around building relationships, but I think there’s some connection there.
Lisa: No, what you’re talking about is essentially what I talk about when I work with business owners who want to build better networks and connections. It’s the same thing. Capacity work is for everybody. I say this all the time. Doesn’t matter what career you have. Everybody needs more capacity. But what you’re essentially talking about is building transactional relationships.
And that’s really a leftover of this society that we have that is built on transactions. If you go all the way back to when people settled in the U.S, that was transactional. “This is mine, let me kick everybody who was here already out and pretend they’re the ones that shouldn’t be here and I get to take over this land. And even with slavery, like human beings being treated as objects to accomplish some work, and traded like a transaction. That’s leftover from all sorts of old colonial patriarchal ideals.
And then we have the industrial revolution, which teaches us that working hard and hustling until you drop is virtuous. Why? Because the people who benefit from that need to be able to teach these things so that they can continue to thrive. Even way back before all of this and like the feudal system, this whole idea that it’s more virtuous to be poor and not have any money. That was taught by the feudal Lords to the serves to keep them in line and make it romantic that they were working and never being able to pay off these debts.
To answer this question, I have to go far back in history. We have to understand how all these beliefs that we think are new are actually ways that we get taught to self-defeat and it gives power to people who benefit from those things. And transactional relationships come out of that because it’s all about what can I get from you? And what can you get from me? And in many cases, it’s often just about one person getting something, the other person getting less.
And one thing I always teach my clients that I learned myself is, is it all negotiations.Cause that’s what it is.A money transaction as a negotiation, it’s an exchange of energy and in an exchange of energy in many ways, we’ll talk about that in a moment. The whole point is that we get taught that to see people as not people. And I’m not saying you don’t, especially if you’re in the non-profit sector, you probably would protest and go “I see people as people!”
But we have to acknowledge that these things, these indoctrinations are all within us. And no matter how hard we try, it’s something we have to keep rooting out. When we have purely transactional relationships is when we end up making relationships with people that we don’t actually respect and that we actually wouldn’t really have an alignment of values, just because they’re going to give money. That enforces scarcity thinking because it enforces that there’s only money available that’s right then and there, versus what you’re talking about, which is win-win relationships and negotiations.
I’m all about what’s the win-win? Everybody has to give up a little to get what they want. And then everybody feels good walking away from that exchange. Same thing with building relationships, you don’t have to build an 18-month long relationship just because someone has money.
How about finding people who have money to give and that you really gel with? Because guess what? Now that isn’t just a one-time thing that can become a lifelong giving thing and you giving back and them giving back. Let me tell you something, there is a heck of a lot more wealth generation in those types of relationships, and they’re less exhausting over time because both people are now forming a true connection they both want to continue to contribute to.
So again, that’s all leftover thinking from structures that were set up to only benefit a few people and we forget that we have the power to build our own structures.
Mallory: I’m obsessed with what you just said. And, but I think what nonprofits would say is no, the 18-month thing is what doesn’t make it transactional.That’s what makes it a deeper relationship, right? Because that’s how they’ve been taught.
Lisa: Length of relationship does not indicate depth.
Mallory: Right? It’s honesty, transparency, and partnership. I have been really thinking about the word transactional because it is used as such a bad word in the nonprofit sector, but I think it is tied to the wrong actions or the wrong beliefs.
And so it’s so interesting because a transaction isn’t inherently bad. We make transactions all the time that feel great. We buy homes, right? The money movement is not this dirty thing that’s happening. It’s the ways in which we are doing it that makes it feel disconnected.
Lisa:Or compromising values because we need the money or not actually taking the time to do better research.
Even in those 18 months when it’s transactional, when it’s purely transactional, what happens is we’ll let red flags go by because we’re purely focused on getting the money. And then now we’re in a relationship with this person who’s given the money and all of these problems are cropping up.
When it’s not transactional and you’re focused on creating a genuine connection, you’re much more likely to notice if you actually even liked that person or that organization.
Mallory: Oh, my gosh. Okay. I could talk to you forever.
I want to make sure you tell folks all the different ways they can get in touch with you, how they can work with you. And then I like to invite every guest to end sharing a nonprofit that’s personally meaningful. And if folks could go check it out and give, if they can, that would be great.
Lisa: Yeah, you can always find me on my website lisafabrega.com. I highly encourage that you get on my email list because I talk about capacity all the time, every week on my emails, and you get to learn a little bit more.
Plus when you sign up, you also get an amazing video where you search to show you why the things you’re trying aren’t working like they used to. And I ask you three really good questions that I bet nobody has ever asked you before that are going to give you a lot of clarity on why things are not working for you.
So you can find me there on my website. I’m also very active over on Instagram, same name, Lisa Fabrega on Instagram. That’s where you can find me online. I’m on Facebook as well. I’m basically Lisa Fabrega across all platforms. Tick-tock Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, you name it. That’s where I am. Easy peasy.
Mallory: Thank you. And which non-profit would you like to add?
Lisa: One of my favorite nonprofits actually started by my friend, Zoe. She started a nonprofit called One Light Global. I’m a huge fan of the work they’re doing because they’re a smaller organization and the money really goes directly to the on the ground efforts. It’s really nice to see what happens with your money and like the joy that it creates when you give.
Every year I donate my birthday fundraiser to One Light Global. They’re doing a lot of work in South Sudan, because most of the people there are women and children because most of the men have been killed and they have suffered extreme trauma.
They’ve successfully built a beautiful little community there with a community center and put women in leadership positions and they’re supporting themselves and have skills and jobs. And now they’re doing some incredible work with the Hopi Nation here in the United States as well. So I’m a huge fan of their work and every time I give from our company, it goes straight to One Light Global.
Mallory: Amazing and we’ll make sure all of that information is below as well in all the notes. Thank you so much for joining me today and having this conversation. I’m so grateful.
Lisa: My pleasure. Thanks for the invitation.