How can you center community in your communications?

Farra Trompeter: Welcome to The Smart Communications Podcast. This is Farra Trompeter, co-director and member-owner at Big Duck. Today we’re going to ask the question, “How can you center community in your communications?” with a very special guest, Michelle Shireen Muri.

Michelle Shireen Muri Woo!

Farra Trompeter: I first met Michelle back in the fall of 2020 when the Community-Centric Fundraising movement was officially born, and she started her own podcast, The Ethical Rainmaker. We were sharing episodes throughout Big Duck, and I was really excited to hear her voice and her perspective, see if there might be ways that we could have someone from Big Duck on her show, have her on our podcast, and in fact, she was interviewed by Sarah in March 2021 on Episode 83, “Where is the community in your communications?” So this is part two. That was the where, this is the how. Since that time, Michelle has become one of my closest friends, and it is really exciting to officially podcast together.

Farra Trompeter: So, let me tell you a little bit about Michelle. Michelle Shireen Muri, she/her, is the host of The Ethical Rainmaker podcast and inaugural co-chair, and one of the founders of the Community-Centric Fundraising movement, which really seeks to evolve how fundraising is done in the nonprofit sector and explore how it can be done in ways that reduce harm and further social justice. Michelle is also the founder of Freedom Conspiracy, a small collective of consultants working with organizations in the nonprofit and philanthropy spaces who are committed to taking the next step in their growth. Like the Highlander Center, Edgar Villanueva and the Decolonizing Wealth Project, ACLU, as well as several small grassroots organizations. Michelle has developed resource-generation strategies for social justice movements for over 18 years. Her successes and tenure at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, now the largest immigrant rights organization in the nation, fostered a critical lens toward fundraising and a deep love of community solidarity. Michelle also shares an appreciation for culinary delights, including cardamom buns, macarons, and oysters, all of which we’ve shared. Michelle, welcome back to the show.

Michelle Shireen Muri: Thank you. I’m so happy to be here with you, Farra. Yes, our friendship has grown so much over the years and all of it is related to podcasting, which I love. We should also mention that, as friends, we’ve been on vacation together and spent a lot of time together. It’s so fun, even though we’re on different coasts of the US. I’m thrilled to be here. I’m also honored that you talk about the podcast being a critical part of what started to create change within your office.

Farra Trompeter: Yeah, definitely. It sparked lots of great conversations and continues to. So, for those who may not be familiar with the Community-Centric Fundraising movement, one of the best places to start is with CCF’s 10 Principles, and we’ll link to those in the show notes for those who are not familiar with them, but for the conversation today, we’re going to talk about a few of them. And I’m actually going to jump to Principle Four, which states, “All who engage in strengthening the community are equally valued, whether volunteer staff donor or board member.” Last year I spoke with Fatima Jones about why you should prioritize internal communications, and I want to first start talking about how nonprofits communicate and treat their staff. Principle Four also notes, “Our staff plays a critical role in building a strong and just community. We must compensate them fairly, invest in their growth, and appreciate them as much as we appreciate donors.” Let’s just start there. When we talk about community, I think people often think of donors or volunteers, maybe even program participants and clients, but I often don’t hear them talking about staff. Michelle, why don’t nonprofits recognize the contributions of staff and what they can do and respect and appreciate their colleagues?

Michelle Shireen Muri: Oh, honestly, this is so deep. It’s so, so, so deep. Where I’ll start is in the third sector, so many of us who are involved in nonprofit work came for a reason, right? Like, we saw a need, we came to help. And what that means in practice is that we’ve usually jumped into something. We jumped into the deep end of helping our community as much as we could. We’re often not coming in with a lot of grounding and analysis. We’re not coming in with a lot of contexts. We’re just there to help. Let’s do this, let’s get this done. Like, I myself started as a volunteer and jumped right in. Again, also without a lot of analysis about the systems, but so much in the third sector – and the third sector being, you know, nonprofit and philanthropic sectors together – so much of what we do is extractive, the system is set up that way, but so is the culture of white supremacy, and I’m going to break that down a little bit.

Michelle Shireen Muri: So, one reason is the Protestant Work Ethic in the United States, which is what made Western capitalism so big, so prominent, so productive. When it comes to accumulating profit, what could be more perfect, this is a quote from someone, “What could be more perfect than hard work, self-denial, plus the threat of eternal damnation for the lazy?” And you know, neither you nor I are Protestants, and when we look at the effect that Protestantism has had on the US’s culture in history, we can see the thread that it has in our work life today, which is, you know, “Let’s accumulate as much profit as possible. We’re not really worth anything unless we’re working so our productivity is paramount,” and that gets us into one of the reasons that we don’t recognize contributions of staff, we really take that for granted.

Michelle Shireen Muri: Two, we’re super into self-denial, but maybe not as a kink, but rather as a kind of like, “If you can’t have it,” like, “If you can’t have housing, then maybe I shouldn’t have all the things I have. If you can’t have food, then maybe I shouldn’t have the things that I need,” right? So, a lot of us who work in nonprofits see the struggles of our clients or our communities, and often we might belong to that community or we might not. Either way, we have a paying job, and it might be low paying, but we’re afraid to kind of want more. So many of us though, we can’t afford to buy groceries when we work at nonprofits and need food stamps. I’ve seen that at organizations, right? So many of us can’t retire when it gets to be that time. I mean, you wonder why so many folks are working in this sector, and for some of us it’s that we can’t leave because we can’t retire because we never made enough money to do that, right? Life is expensive. We often dedicate our lives to this work. Folks who dip into nonprofits often – what is this statistic? It’s like, “If you stay for more than three years, you’re more likely to stay for 10,” right? So, many of us who are in the nonprofit sector for more than a few years are in it for life, but that often means that we can’t retire.

Farra Trompeter: Yeah, and I would just add to that, too. I’ve always worked in the nonprofit sector, either on staff or as a consultant, and my first few years were as a nonprofit staff person coming out of college, and I was just, like, so excited to work in the nonprofit sector I didn’t care what I was getting paid, and that set me on a certain path with debt, with credit cards, with my student loans, which I’m almost 50 and I’m still paying off, although I’m hoping perhaps they will be forgiven depending on our friends of the Supreme Court. So, you know, I think that, like, what are we willing to sacrifice, and we feel we have to make this sacrifice of ourselves in order to do this work.

Michelle Shireen Muri: Right? And then, so, some of us do that. We have this self-denial or this self-sacrifice in order to do the good work that we want to do that both inspires us and serves the community. And then there are actually quite a few people who come from money. Either you have a partner with – I mean, this happens in Seattle where I live – you have a partner with a high-paid tech job so you can afford to take the low-paying no insurance job, right? Or you come from wealth, you come from money, or you made your money early – also a common story in Seattle, again because of the tech industry – and so you might come into a nonprofit and not require a lot of money, but this is definitely one of the factors that affects us.

Michelle Shireen Muri: And then there’s also this other factor of our fear to ask for more money, and that’s two things, right? One, we have a lot of emotional narratives around money. We carry our own emotional narratives that we grew up with. We are often not aware of them, and we then don’t develop an analysis of where we’re coming from. We just think that you know, “How I operate around money is how I operate around money. That’s just how things are,” versus, “Oh, it’s because I grew up with X, Y, and Z narrative, and I’m carrying this forward, whether or not it serves me.” So, a lot of us are afraid to ask for more money.

Michelle Shireen Muri: A lot of our organization or organizational leaders are afraid to ask a foundation for more money for compensating staff because, and this is the second, this is the other side of it, and it goes also back to self-denial, “How many people,” and, like, deserving versus undeserving, “How many people can we help with that money? If we don’t give you a raise, how many people can we help with that money?” And it’s part of the extractive justification that we use to kind of ring out as much energy as we can from our passionate, inspired nonprofit workers, which is harsh because it’s part of a system. So it’s never one person. It can feel like that for folks who work inside an organization, like, “It’s the man,” or, “It’s us versus them,” but what it really is, is that the system is set up like this and these factors, you know, the Protestant Work Ethic and valuing that type of white supremacy of “you’re only worth what you can produce” is one factor. Two, is the self-denial, especially around, you know, “Our clients don’t have it, so I feel guilty or bad, or I feel like I don’t deserve to have the thing that I really need.” And the third, this fear to ask for money, whether that fear is an emotional narrative or whether that fear is stemming from asking for more from our foundations. And also the flip side, which is, “How many more people could we serve if we weren’t trying to take this money just for ourselves and our groceries and our rent and you know, purchasing a house or a retirement?” So, in general, I think, in this sector, we just aren’t applying a lot of analysis. We feel all these big feelings, but don’t have an analysis to, you know, move forward with really treating one another how we deserve to be treated.

Farra Trompeter: Yeah, it makes me think, you know, I’m a big fan girl of your podcast.

Michelle Shireen Muri: Thank you.

Farra Trompeter: I believe it was a great podcast you had with Kishshana Palmer.

Michelle Shireen Muri: Yeah, she’s great.

Farra Trompeter: I think you had a really interesting conversation about money and the relationship we have to money so much informed by our family, our upbringing, and then of course, like what you’re talking about, kind of what has become the norms in the sector of what we’re “supposed to do” or how we’re supposed to act. And I was thinking as you were talking, you know, we can’t respect others if we’re not respecting ourselves, and we have to start by saying like, “I’m worth this. I deserve this.” And then maybe that starts getting other people to change.

Farra Trompeter: And I wanted to just bring it back a little bit to communications and fundraising. And I know you do a lot of communications and fundraising planning as well. When I say “Who are your most important audiences?” I think staff should be the number one audience when we do branding work, and I think the staff are an important audience even when we’re doing fundraising planning and donor communications planning because again – I think this comes up somewhere in the CCF Principles – you know, why, when there is a gala, we’re sending thank you notes out to the donors and maybe the people who donated the fancy things we had an auction for, but why aren’t we saying a thank you note to the staff person who worked 16-hour days for three weeks and made sure they got there early and stayed there late? So I’m just curious if you could talk specifically about that piece. Like, why aren’t we, you know, elevating staff when we think about who our audiences are for communications?

Michelle Shireen Muri: That’s a great question. I think it goes back to, and this is just, you know, my guess, right? I think it goes back to this extractive practice. We are nonprofit workers first before we’re members of the community. And that’s so wild, right? Because our staff, especially at service organizations, they’re having the most interfacing communications with the folks who are meant to be served by the work. And they generally have all of their heart and all of their, you know, life decisions and all of their whatever, like they generally have a huge passion for the work, have a lot of interface with clients, and are deep in it. So, if they’re not a member of the community, they’re usually deep in it with community, and if they are a member of the community, well they’re truly deep in it, right? But we’re considering folks as nonprofit workers first and not as community members as well, which is wild.

Michelle Shireen Muri: One of the things we’ve also done when we’re thinking about community is we’re either defining community as donors. That’s like a typical, traditional fundraising viewpoint, right? Like, our community is our donors because that’s who we need to please or communicate with in order to get that money in the door. We’ve also thought about community as only the people we serve and not also our donors. In the March 2021, Episode 83 podcast that I did with Sarah, we talked a lot about community mapping and what that looks like, and of course, your staff should be part of that community. And yeah, I agree with you, really part of all of that work.

Sponsored by Bloomerang: Support for this episode of the Smart Communications Podcast is brought to you by our friends at Bloomerang. Bloomerang offers donor management and online fundraising software that helps small to medium nonprofits like First Tee of Greater Akron, a nonprofit that empowers kids and teens through the game of golf. After just one year with Bloomerang, they doubled their unique donors, improved donor stewardship through actively engaging with their donors, and raised more funds. The Executive Director, Jeff O’Brien, described their experience. “We love Bloomerang. It saves time, it’s helped us raise more funds.” If you’d like to listen to the full interview with First Tee of Greater Akron, go to or click the link in the show notes. Now, back to my conversation with Michelle.

Farra Trompeter: So let’s move to a different principle. Principle Five says, “Time is valued equally as money.” Specifically, we must recognize and acknowledge when team members put in a lot more time than they’re getting paid for, which happens a lot in our sector and can lead to burnout. Another topic, I know, that you and I have talked about previously and we’ve talked about on the podcast. What are some of the ways that you’ve seen time undervalued in nonprofits, and how can organizations recognize if this is something they have to work on?

Michelle Shireen Muri: What are some of the ways I’ve seen time undervalued is, like, everywhere. Living in a capitalistic society, I think we are always valuing either money or productivity more. And when we take into account the other factors I was just talking about around self-sacrifice, either self-sacrifice out of guilt or self-sacrifice out of love, we tend to have a kind of martyrdom, and I think we apply that martyrdom to others. So, I guess we would call it, I don’t know, do we call that subjugation?

Michelle Shireen Muri: But yeah, I think it happens all the time. You used the example of galas and having development staff work. Well, I know that when I ran galas early on at Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, yes, I would put in tons and tons and tons of hours, but I would be there late, you know, til nine or 10 o’clock. But I was not the only one in the office, right? We also had attorneys doing their work, working on their caseload during a time where clients weren’t visiting after office hours and catching up on their work. So I wasn’t the only one. So does it feel fair, you know, to receive special compensation, right?

Michelle Shireen Muri: Or maybe there are organizations where you could take flex time. Like, I could have taken flex time, for example, but then who would do the work that I’m not there to do? And that’s another thing that happens is sure, maybe it can be recognized by colleagues or by whoever is leading the organization, but then what do you do about it, right? At a corporation, you would be paid for that time unless you’re salaried. At a unionized corporation, you would be paid extra for that time if it was unavoidable. But at nonprofits, we’re not even talking about it. It’s not a conversation we’re having. And if we’re able to have it, then we are often not finding a solution. So we just do a whole lot of work for free.

Farra Trompeter: Well, let’s talk about other members of your community for a second. We’ve talked, obviously, about staff as being a really important part of your community to not ignore. Obviously, the people who receive your services, they’re your volunteers. Let us have the conversation about donors as members of your community. I’ve talked with Rachel D’Souza-Siebert, who is a mutual friend and another CCF leader. Shout out to Rachel. So, Rachel’s been on the podcast before and we’ve talked about community-centric fundraising and donor-centric fundraising and how they are not in complete opposition to each other.

Michelle Shireen Muri: That’s right.

Farra Trompeter: And with Principle Seven, we get into the elements that I really, one of the ones I most appreciate about CCF, which is, “We foster a sense of belonging, not othering.” For decades, I know it’s been a common practice for nonprofits to reinforce the savior complex, make it all about “you” the donor, instead of “we” the staff, the clients, volunteers, and donors as one overall community. And I’m curious, how can organizations make this shift and create a sense of belonging in their fundraising efforts?

Michelle Shireen Muri: This question is such a good question, and I can’t think of a better example than Big Duck itself. In the beginning, when you and I first met, we met because you became a Patreon supporter of The Ethical Rainmaker, and you were the very first one and I was so impressed. And I’d listened to podcasts from Big Duck before so I reached out to you, and we started a conversation that became this great friendship that we’ve had. But one of the things that we did early in our relationship is you invited myself and other co-founders of Community-Centric Fundraising to come and sit in on a presentation from your staff who had done a lot of the work of analyzing and examining words that you’re using and stories that you’re telling, and the ways in which you intended to change it. So actually, I think you are the perfect person to tell that story. How do you?

Farra Trompeter: Well, yeah, I mean, I want to specifically shout out Hannah Thomas, who used to be our director of learning and innovation, and Ally Dommu, who used to lead our strategy team and still works with us as a senior strategist, who were very involved in that process. And what we did – I think Laura Fisher was on our team at that time too – we took a pause and we looked at different ways that Big Duck had been – either the work we’d done with clients and fundraising campaigns, literally trainings that I did a few years ago, including one that I look back at and I, like, cringe myself was called “Getting your donors to fall in love with you.” I thought it was so clever when I did that once on Valentine’s Day, and this is going back, I don’t know, almost 10 years ago. The CCF Content Hub is amazing.

Michelle Shireen Muri: Thanks.

Michelle Shireen Muri: And so, reading those posts, listening to your podcast, I think we all kind of had this, I especially as someone who’s been in the game for almost 30 years, like, wait a minute, this advice I’ve been putting out that I’ve been saying is “best practices,” a phrase, also, that CCF has taught me not really is one we should be using. “Whose best practices?” But anyway.

Michelle Shireen Muri: That’s right. I love it, I love it. All this learning,

Farra Trompeter: So really coming back and looking and saying, you know, what, “Is there another way we should be framing this work? Is there another way that this, you know, fundraising appeal for a year-end campaign should go out?” So what we did is we went back and looked at work that we did and just kind of highlighted it and just lifted up this question on our own journey, and it was a really powerful learning and reflection experience for us – to your point, analysis moments – because I think one of the things that I know I learned on the journey, I think it’s Barbara J. Love’s “Developing a Liberatory Consciousness.” She lays out, “You’ve got to start with awareness, then get into analysis, then action, then accountability, and allyship,” and I think so many people just jump to action. They don’t even stop to, like, maybe they became aware, then they moved to action, and they think that that’s – but they don’t take that step for analysis, and if you don’t take that step for analysis, which I know is at the heart of everything you do, then you’ll never make change.

Michelle Shireen Muri: Yeah.

Farra Trompeter: So you don’t understand why you’re making that change. You’re just doing it because you read, like, this is the checklist.

Michelle Shireen Muri: That’s right.

Farra Trompeter: So, I think the biggest thing I would say to people listening out there is, if this is something you’re wondering about, is to take that pause, take the past two years of year-end campaigns, direct mail pieces, GivingTuesday appeals, social media posts, whatever it is where you’ve been communicating with donors, annual reports, and just look at the story that’s being told, the pictures that are being shared, you know, who is at the heart of that? And it’s not that we can’t thank our donors, but I think when it’s just about the donors and we’re not acknowledging the staff and the community, that’s where it gets really harmful.

Michelle Shireen Muri: Right? And we’re telling stories from a white savior perspective, right? Which folks love, and a lot of people want to be a savior. Like, honestly, all of us have a part of us who wants to save someone else, right? And the way that we use language, the way that we use stories, who are we centering, how are we centering them, what is a best practice, and who made it? But I agree with you. I mean, I think that’s part of why I have so much respect for Big Duck and the work that you do is because that was the first time I’d heard of somebody, and you’re a communications, nonprofit communications firm, I’d heard a nonprofit communications firm or any communications firm really take these 10 principles and Community-Centric Fundraising ethos and apply it. Looking back a couple years, identify all the things. Like, you’re right now talking about 10 years ago, you know, what you were doing that’s cringeworthy to you now. And honestly, I think almost all of us have a lot to think about in the way that we’ve been doing traditional communications, traditional fundraising, and yeah, there’s a lot there to look at. And I agree with you, analysis is the first place to start.

Farra Trompeter: Now moving beyond donor communications, do you have any advice or tips for how nonprofits can center their community in their overall communications? Other stuff they’re putting out, their day-to-day work, whatever it might be?

Michelle Shireen Muri: I think that information is going to be very similar to overall advice for an organization. And we talk about that in Episode 83 too, “Where is the community in your communications?” Because what I think is that a lot of organizations are not actually figuring out what their communities wants and needs are. It’s kind of when you try to look at a 990 or you try to find information about someone and the last known thing is from three years ago. Well, a lot has changed in these last three years, hasn’t it? And yet, it’s not reflected in a lot of the, like, research we’re doing. So sometimes organizations are providing information or providing services based on really old information. For example, you know, taking into account what other nonprofits might exist now that are providing different services to the community, et cetera. We’re really not centering the community in a lot of the communications that we do because we’re really not aware of some of the things that are going on. We’re not listening, we’re not paying attention. We want to, but we feel like there’s not enough time, and that’s that white supremacy urgency characteristic coming up, or there’s not enough money, which is a scarcity thing, which is often true. And that means that a lot of us are working at nonprofits where the mission as it stands is maybe no longer relevant to the problem as it stands because the problem has changed so perhaps our mission should too. We should question whether our organizations are even relevant to the thing that’s happening.

Michelle Shireen Muri: So yeah, I went broader with that question, but I’ll bring it back to communications. I think understanding who your community is and what they’re looking for is key to centering the community in your communications. Because once you might do community mapping, for example, and understand, “Who are you speaking to, but who have you been leaving out? Who’s really in your community? Who cares a lot about your community that’s not in your community?” So you build out a community map, then you can kind of prioritize who you’re communicating with.

Michelle Shireen Muri: Receiving information from your community is also really important. So what are the mechanisms by which you’re able to hear back from your community? There are so many things that you can do to center the community in your overall communications, but a lot of it’s applicable to the whole organization.

Farra Trompeter: Yeah, and to that last point, is, you know, make it a conversation. So many times we’re thinking about what we broadcast out at the community and not looking for ways to listen to them, hear from them, reflect on what we’re hearing, and then potentially make changes.

Farra Trompeter: You know, you also were just talking a lot about missions, and I want to just wrap up with that in mind. So in our branding work, we sometimes will rewrite an organization’s mission statement just so that it’s reflective of the positioning and personality or brand strategy and really express it in a way that people can connect with the organization. And as we seek to help nonprofits use communications to achieve their mission, I wanted to touch on Principle Two, which says, “Individual organizational missions are not as important as the collective community,” and while I still think it’s important for your mission to be clear and speak to what you do, I really do love how this principle pushes organizations to see themselves as part of something bigger. If we really want to make change happen in the world, then we really do need to see how our missions are interrelated and how we are really part of something bigger, a larger ecosystem working collectively to build a just society. And I’m wondering, Michelle, if you can share an example of what it looks like when an organization actually applies this principle.

Michelle Shireen Muri: Yeah, I mean, we’re so often in competition with one another as nonprofits, and honestly, white supremacy and competitive culture that comes from that and individualistic culture are involved. There are a spectrum of places where organizations are starting to make this shift, though. For example, for an organization that maybe wants to be a bit more community-focused at the beginning of their journey, they might choose to map community resources, paying attention, again, to who’s tracking the needs, how are they tracking it, what decisions are being made, who’s providing what service? And just, you know, creating that map.

Michelle Shireen Muri: I have been working with Rainier Beach Action Coalition, a small local organization here in Seattle, and they presented to me as, you know, part of our document review, this beautiful community map of all the organizations that are intersectional with their mission and their services and their community. And it was vast. It was probably 40 organizations, and they kind of mapped them in a way that showed who was working on what. Now, they’re further along in their development than that, but that’s where you might start if you’re an organization who’s at the beginning of this journey and wants to understand like, “Well, who is involved here?”

Michelle Shireen Muri: I like to think about it as an ecosystem. You might also think of it as a solar system, right? Like what planets are having – I’m such a sci-fi nerd – what planets are having a gravitational pull on other planets, right? Like, who’s in your orbit? And I’m thinking about this, like, what other organizations are doing the same work? Let’s take immigrant rights work. What organizations are doing direct services, providing direct services, perhaps for people who are in the detention center? What organizations are helping folks who have just landed here get on their feet and get the resources that they need? What organizations are providing other legal services, you know, that are more complex or more sophisticated, more nuanced? What organizations are providing advocacy at the local level, the state level, and the national level? Like, who’s doing what in this one arena? Immigrant rights, for example, is just such a broad topic. What does that even mean? It can be about services, it can be about rights, and it can be about just access in general. It can be about language acquisition, or it can be about all kinds of things. So, who is in your solar system? What are they doing that’s similar or different? What resources are available to your clients? A lot of folks who work in direct service often know that. Just, thinking about tracking that would be helpful if you’re at the beginning.

Michelle Shireen Muri: When we think about, “What do we do for a little more advanced stage? Sure, we have that map of community resources. Now, what do we do?” Looking at what the need is and what’s underfunded, what’s duplicated, what is happening in your community, and what conversations need to happen in your community with your community members, or with other nonprofits that serve your community? And always assessing whether your mission is still valid and whether you’re actually hitting the mark on services.

Michelle Shireen Muri: Now, we know that for a lot of us, for example, organizations doing work around hunger, it’s like the never-ending crisis, right? And that’s, again, due to systemic issues and the way that we utilize capitalism. There are always going to be folks who are hungry if this is how we continue, right? So, there are a lot of organizations that are going to be underfunded. Some communities will be more affected than other communities. And right now, Oregon Food Bank, for example, out of Portland, Oregon, is really advanced in their journey. They’re looking at communications where they’re learning from their community about certain themes. For example, they have asked, you know, “What does love look like? Does your investment look like love? You know, what do you think about how hunger happens?” And what happened is that they received a lot of information back from folks about what their thoughts and ideas were around hunger, and they learned that their community – and they talk about this in an episode of my podcast that I recorded with them, they talk about how they learned that there was a theme.

Michelle Shireen Muri: People who were supporting this organization felt that you know, it was really important work, they were happy to support the mission, it felt like love when they were giving their donations to this organization, and they loved the communications they were receiving. When it comes down to the client base, they feel like folks who you know, have been living and working in Oregon are deserving of services, but immigrants were not. When they looked at the basis for hunger, where does hunger come from? They blamed immigrants for their own hunger, but that wasn’t the case for people who were not immigrants. So that’s really advanced work. Oregon Food Bank was able to take that and kind of understand that they wanted to do an educational journey for their donors so that their donors had more information about why people end up hungry. So, that’s a really great example of, like, an advanced conversation to be having with your community and other nonprofits, and then actually addressing some of the things that you find.

Farra Trompeter: Yeah, and I just want to give a shout-out to that episode that you did with them because I literally loved, as we know, I have all the love languages.

Michelle Shireen Muri: You are good at all the love languages. It’s true.

Farra Trompeter: And I loved how it was about measuring success using love and not just looking at the traditional metrics that we’re often forced to do. So that is a really great episode to tune into.

Michelle Shireen Muri: Thank you.

Farra Trompeter: Well, Michelle, you always give us lots to think about. Thank you. If you’re out there and you want to keep learning from Michelle, you can tune into her podcast on all of the major players or on her website at You can also follow @theethicalrainmaker on Instagram, and if you want to find out how you can collaborate with Michelle, you can connect with her at She’s also on LinkedIn at Michelle-Muri, or drop her a line at [email protected]. Michelle, before we wrap up, any last words of wisdom or anything else you’d like to share?

Michelle Shireen Muri: The majority of my work nowadays is actually helping organizations move from taking an idealistic principle and breaking it down to the action, but what is necessary for us to all be able to move along these journeys is really to develop that analysis. I didn’t have an analysis when I walked in and started volunteering at Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. I mean, my family is an immigrant family, I have a lot of lived experiences, and that didn’t actually mean anything to my level of analysis because I didn’t have all of the components in my grasp, right? So, I think developing that analysis, it’s never too late. It’s never too late to make changes either. But I would start, if you’re at the beginning of your journey, or even if you’re in the middle of your journey, I would start there. Building analysis is so important.

Farra Trompeter: Well, thanks again. Everyone, enjoy the rest of your day.

Michelle Shireen Muri: Thank you.

This podcast has been sponsored by Bloomerang