#115 Sybil Speaks: Show Up as your Best Self with Giving Strategies to Support Indigenous Communities

Feb 06, 2023

In the month of February, Sybil talks about effective giving strategies for Indigenous communities. Sybil shares the five takeaways she learned from the interviews you will hear this month. 


Episode Highlights:

  • Overview for the month of February.
  • Top five takeaways 


Sybil Ackerman-Munson Bio:

With over 20 years of experience as a nonprofit professional and foundation advisor, I work with philanthropic institutions and foundations interested in successful, high-impact grant making, so you can make a true and lasting positive contribution to the world on your terms.




If you enjoyed this episode, listen to these as well:

#67 Sybil Speaks: Giving to Stay Inspired and Cut Through Extremism

#63 Innovations to Streamline Grantmaking with Ansley Fender, Founder & CEO, Atlas

#34 Sybil Speaks: Reach Your Best Fundraising Potential


Crack the Code: Sybil’s Successful Guide to Philanthropy

Become even better at what you do as Sybil teaches you the strategies as well as the tools, you’ll need to avoid mistakes and make a career out of philanthropy through my new course, Crack the Code!

In this new course, you'll gain access to beautifully animated and engaging videos, along with many other resources.


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Full Transcript

Hello everybody, I'm very happy to be here today. I am wanting to talk about… in the month of February, I want to talk about effective giving strategies for tribal, First Nations, and indigenous communities, and I want to do this because well, it's just really important to be able to show up as your best self and to not make the mistakes that others have made in the past so that you don't leave money on the table. You don't end up causing stress in the communities that you're actually seeking to support.

And I know you, I know my audience. I know you want to show up as your best self. And you want to give with sensitivity, and you want to give effectively. You're very strategic, so as a result, I had such an interesting time in our first season interviewing leaders from the indigenous communities that I just care about so much, and I respect these leaders very, very much. 

And so, what I did was I actually went back into those interviews, and for the month of February, I'm replaying some of the highlights and reducing my voice in those conversations, so that you can really hear straight from them about what they care about. 

And I'm not even going to have a Fred and Sybil discussion this month. Instead, I'm interviewing three leaders each week in the month of February, you're going to be able to hear from them. Now, because I still felt like I should do a Sybil speaks episode to highlight some of the themes I heard from them, But I'm very humble about this. I really want you to hear it straight from them. 

So, the people I interviewed this month were, well, interviewed last year, but the people I'm replaying and highlighting this month are Jim Enote, who's a Zuni member and executive director of the Colorado Plateau Foundation, and Eric Stegman, who's the Chief Operating Officer for Native Americans and Philanthropy. And Geneva Wiki who is a citizen of the Yurok Nation and the senior program manager of the California Endowment, and, gosh, their conversations are so inspirational. So I'm excited for you to hear about them. Hear all of those interviews this month. 

But let me tell you some of my top five takeaways that I heard as themes when I talked with them and what they wanted to emphasize. Now there's so much more. So please listen to all of the interviews and I can't wait to fill in the gaps, here are some of the top five takeaways. 

First, indigenous people are inventive and are working on their programs from a place of hope, inspiration, and with a million new ideas as Jim Enote stated in our interview. As such, be sure that you don't approach indigenous people by asking them about their problems, which then asks them to revisit trauma. Instead, ask about what inspires them to make a positive difference in the world, and you'll have such a great conversation. 

#2: Seek out expert philanthropists who are already knowledgeable about the indigenous communities that you want to support? And then, the indigenous nonprofits and the tribal leaders will really appreciate that, because they're really, really busy. And sometimes, if you go straight to the communities you want to serve without an intermediary, even though you might have the best of intentions, your questions could come off as very burdensome if not done with the requisite care. 

#3. Seek out opportunities to fund programs that support the priorities established and defined by the indigenous community itself. If you allow space for conversation, you'll be delighted by what you find, and it very likely won't even be what you expect, so that's super important. Check to see if you've sat back and said what Is needed and asked them for the answer rather than you are telling them, and you might say this is obvious, but you know, it's interesting how many folks I talk to say that this doesn't always happen. 

#4: Commit to the work over a long-time frame and be flexible with the outcome. And that's sort of an obvious one, #4, but I wanted to say it anyway because that's what I heard.

#5. Understand that anything you fund, be it ending the housing crisis, workforce development, environmental resource issues, education, or anything else, is often intertwined. In an indigenous community, you often have to break down your own silos and your own ideas of focus to allow support for the issues you may not already realize are connected. And for example, let's say you care about natural resource issues. You may also end up funding workforce development programs that train the next generation of indigenous leaders and cultural burning practices. If you care about forest policy and wildfire issues, it's not just about forest conservation; it's about the whole community. And Geneva Wiki, in her interview with me, really talks about this. 

These are the top five takeaways in general. But man, there's so much more. So please listen, as I said before, to my interviews, but overall, a recurring theme that's just the most important is to be sure that you listen first and have good communication skills. 

So, in keeping with my own recommendations, I'm going to keep this Sybil speaks quickly, and I'm going to speak with you as little as possible this month so that you can hear directly from the leaders, who have wonderful advice. So that we can all give effectively to indigenous communities in our community, have a wonderful day, and until next time, do your Good and be well.