Ryan Marshall and Bill Tortorici are talented fundraisers from different parts of the country and in different roles in the sector who were laid off during the pandemic. Ryan is now Assistant Vice President of Development at Atrium Health Foundation and Bill is Chief Philanthropy Officer at Economic Literacy Colorado. It took them both several months of thorough job seeking, personal development, stamina, grit, and support from allies in the community.

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The impact of the pandemic on the nonprofit world

“What if everything you are going through is preparing you for exactly what you need and want? You have this big obstacle of job seeking in front of you. Have patience and line up how you're going to approach it. Just like you would for any… Click To Tweet

The 2020 Nonprofit Employment Report published by The Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies shows that during the first three months of the pandemic, around 1.64 million out of the 12.5 million nonprofit jobs were lost on the account of the crisis. An estimate of 7% of the nonprofit workforce was lost only in the first year after the COVID-19 outbreak.

Although the situation now seems to be bouncing back, there are still organizations re-arranging, shutting down, and activating layoffs. In February 2021 there was a small gain in jobs especially in the healthcare field, with 8,644 jobs added compared to January’s 37,000 lost positions. In a significant growth over January, all fields except educational institutions saw improvement in February as reported on the CCSS COVID-19 Jobs Update, February 2021. But despite the restored jobs, employment in the nonprofit sector continues to decline across all fields. 

I’m curious about the experience of job seekers – especially those “displaced” from the pandemic layoffs – from the inner journey to the external endeavors. What emotions did you experience? Is there anything you asked of your former employee? How did you network into your next job? Who helped? What was the biggest challenge?

Introducing two guests who both experienced layoffs and are here to share their journey: 

In this episode of Creating Community for Good podcast, I talked to Ryan Marshall and Bill Tortorici. Both are talented fundraisers from different parts of the country and in different roles in the sector who were laid off during the pandemic. And they were not the only ones who met this same fate: 926,045 nonprofit jobs were lost by the end of February 2021. With an average recovery of 39,520 jobs per month, it will take the sector around two years to return to its pre-covid level of employment, according to the March 2021 updated estimates following the procedures laid out on Candid’s December Report.

Thankfully, for these two – and the sector who will benefit from their contributions – both have landed well: Ryan is now Assistant Vice President of Development at Atrium Health Foundation and Bill is Chief Philanthropy Officer at Economic Literacy Colorado. It took them both several months of thorough job seeking, personal development, stamina, grit, and support from allies in the community. 

In this conversation, Bill and Ryan share not only professional but also personal experiences and feelings they had during this tough period having interviews and following extensive recruitment processes. Brenee Brown became famous with her TED talk about vulnerability.  Bravery is vulnerability. If you’re looking for further inspiration, watch her presentation on the topic.  I think Bill and Ryan will endear you with their vulnerability and humility. Although they had never met before, their common experience helped them build rapport quickly – and you’ll hear it in the show. 

I have to say, I left this conversation feeling uplifted and comforted by the humanity and integrity shared; I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did. Plus, I’ve left a section below with all the tips shared by Bill and Ryan on job seeking, including some extra documentation you might want to create to help lift yourself up on this journey! 

Key Takeaways: 

05:05 – Bills Tortorici’s story and how he went from working on TV production to building a successful fundraising career. 

10:17 – Ryan Marshall’s years as a consultant and how he fell in love with philanthropy.

15:34 – Searching for a new job in the middle of the pandemic: Personal reflections on getting laid off and the current state of the job market for fundraisers. 

20:19 – Prep and plan: How to humble yourself, be open, and activate your network by talking to people outside your comfort zone.  

23:36 – Understand your value without bragging: The art of human connection and some tips on commendation letters, brag books, and one-pagers descriptions of ourselves. 

30:40 – Where do you want to go? What’s your north star? How to take the meeting mentality and exercise your curiosity muscle to move forward. 

37:52 – Take care of your mind, body, and spirit: Bill’s and Ryan’s unemployment stories and some words of encouragement for those out there who are still looking.

49:38 – The hiring process is broken! — How can we improve the way we treat candidates and understand their hopes and dreams? 

57:45 – What does community mean to Bill and Ryan: Trust in people’s goodwill and also make an impact.

Notes and tips from this conversation

  • What’s your north star?
  • If you could build your own job description, what would it be?
  • Who might be willing to meet with me?
  • If I could only use one page to describe myself as a candidate, what would I put on it? How would I lead it? This is an FAQ you can give to friends and colleagues hoping to help you find your best role! 
  • What questions would you ask your hiring manager after the interview? What do you care about? What do you want to know? How did they innovate? How resilient were they?
  • What is your inspiration? Find that point of inspiration that will motivate you every day. 
  • Are you showing gratitude and stewarding your community? Send in a thank you note with meaningful and specific comments for every interview you have. 
  • Use the VALIDATE technique Ryan mentioned:
    • V- give Value to the situation
    • A – Ask questions 
    • L – Listen and reflect
    • I – Identify with others
    • D – Discuss emotions
    • A – Attend to non-verbals
    • T – Turn the mind toward acceptance
    • E – Encourage participation from others and yourself

Extra documentation:

  • Write a one-page description of your abilities: Do people know who I am and what I can do? 
  • Build a brag book: Keep your spirit up! Remind yourself (and even others) of all the great work you’ve done!

Connect with Ryan 

Through LinkedIn

Connect with Bill

Through LinkedIn

Episode Resources

Giving Hope | Campaign site

Economic Literacy Colorado

CCS Consulting

Amy J.C. Cuddy, Ph.D.

Brenee Brown – vulnerability and authenticity 

Home | Atrium Health Foundation Campaign

Covid-19 Jobs Update | February 2021

The 2020 Nonprofit Employment Report | John Hopkins Center for Civil Social Studies

Candid | Nonprofit sector lost over 7% of its workforce

Candid | Nonprofit job recovery rate drops to 1.9% in November

Brené Brown | The Power of Vulnerability TED

Ryan’s Bio:

Ryan has over fifteen years of experience in philanthropic strategy and leadership. His expertise includes campaign and major giving strategy, marketing and communications, and donor and community engagement. As Assistant Vice President, Development, Ryan oversees the daily management of the Giving Hope campaign. 

Before joining the Atrium Health Foundation, Ryan was System Philanthropy Director at OhioHealth, directing initiatives in donor relations and engagement, marketing and communications, grateful patient philanthropy, annual giving, and grants. Prior to his time at OhioHealth, he held a senior position at a national fundraising consulting firm.

Ryan received a BA from Walsh University and will complete his MBA with Ohio University in 2021.

Bill’s Bio:

Love of people and service is the foundation for Bill Tortorici’s nearly 20-year fundraising career, which include premier cultural institutions like Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and Denver Zoo. His work over the years has spanned the spectrum of giving from operating large membership bases to leading the public phase of capital campaigns and developing meaningful corporate partnerships. 

Over the last 5 years Bill has focused his professional and personal passions to serving his community through advocacy and education organizations, as well as volunteering his time with underserved youth. Bill has recently accepted the position of Chief Philanthropy Officer for Economic Literacy Colorado, which tackles the lack of personal finance and economic literacy in Colorado schools. He is a passionate father of two young boys and loves hiking with his dog Lucy.