Celebrating a Milestone!

“And will you succeed? Yes! You will indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.) KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!” ~Dr. Seuss “Oh the Place You’ll Go”

We’re 3! What an amazing journey so far. As we reflect on the last 36 months, we are so proud of the work we have done. But, more importantly, the people we have been blessed to work with and the people who have benefited from the ideas, programs, and fundraising that has taken place. What started out as one person working from Austin has quickly blossomed into a first-rate team of experts from all over the United States. I find myself inspired, thankful, and motivated as we head into the next year of Armbruster Consulting Group.

3 Thank You’s
1. Our clients – There is always something so special about that first phone call where we get to learn about a new cause, a new mission, a new group of wonderful passionate people trying to make a difference. Whether it’s sharing a great concept, discussing team dynamics, finding new opportunities…anything – it is always meaningful and very interesting. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your communities, teams, and visions.

2. Team Armbruster – Over the past two decades I have been able to work with some of the smartest and hardest working people on the planet. NOW…I get the pleasure of tapping into their expertise and ideas for our clients. Thank you for being a part of the company and for always being good stewards of our clients’ resources and making me laugh along the way. Special thanks to Angie Schlanger who has helped keep me focused, organized, and is always a great thought partner.

3. My family – When I decided to open Armbruster Consulting Group in 2009 the initial conversation with my husband took less than 2 minutes and went something like this:

Me: ‘I think it’s time to open my company.’
Brandon: ‘Great. Let’s go open a bank account and register at the Secretary of State over lunch.’

Over the past three years, my husband, kids, parents, siblings, in-laws, and my ‘sisters by another mother’ have been so uplifting, encouraging, and supportive of this company. Whether it’s brainstorming ideas, serving on committees, running overnight relays, or just listening to me talk through ideas – they are always there and none of this would be possible without their love and support.

3 Highlights
1. Running in the Run to the Sun Relay – There was something so cathartic about running in the dark and then seeing the sun rise over the horizon. This event symbolizes everything I love about my work. One person with a huge heart felt a need to help his friends who had a daughter with a devastating disease. He came up with an idea. A former colleague working for the nonprofit organization the family had started hired me to take that idea and make it a reality. Fast forward eight months and we had raised $250,000 and had 200 people running 100 miles, through the night all for that little girl and other kids dealing with Batten disease. It was made even more special by the fact that the run in the dark symbolized the first symptom of the disease which was blindness around age seven. The concept of celebrating at sunrise was to show people there is hope. As we head into year three of the relay, I know it will be just as inspiring and meaningful as that first run, and I can’t wait to get on the road.

2. Being an author and speaking at conferences and events – I love public speaking. I like sharing the knowledge that I have gained over the years. I like asking questions that make people think. There is something so exciting to think about how people might be inspired or what might come from the idea exchange. Publishing Banding Together For A Cause in 2011 has given me an opportunity to speak at more events recently, and I am addicted. Love it.

3. Receiving a donation from my son – Sometimes it is hard to explain exactly what I do to my children (ages 8 and 6). But, I knew I was onto something when I told Evan (6) about a new project. We were working on an international fundraising program for children’s charities and had created a three minute video to describe the campaign. After showing it to him, he went to his room, gathered up all of his money, put it in a baggie, and brought it to me. He said the kids in the video needed it more than he did. It is always hard to be away from your kids, and everyone second guesses themselves, but that moment filled me with such joy and pride. I get to do work that will make the world a better place for my kids and inspire them to take action and serve others. I think that is awesome.

3 Goals
1. Feedback – During our business planning meeting this past summer, Angie and I decided to make client feedback a priority. We have started conducting post-project feedback calls, and our clients have provided such great comments and thoughts. We are looking forward to more input and ideas in the coming months and years.

2. Research/Thought Leadership – I have a few questions and ideas swirling around in my head that I would love to dedicate time and energy to this coming year. They are not related to any specific client but have the potential to benefit segments of the NPO community.

3. Do great work – I want to keep doing work I am proud of and that will have an impact. There is no time for mediocrity – only excellence.

3 Lessons
1. Surround myself with people I love – I am detecting a theme here. Relationships are what this work and really life is all about. Our relationships with our clients, vendors and partners, and their relationships with their sponsors, donors, teams, and those they serve. Any time I have waivered on the idea of ‘loving’ the person I am dealing with, it has gone poorly. There is no room for error here. I need to follow Jim Collins Good to Great advice and make sure the people on the Armbruster Consulting Group bus are right and ready for the ride of their life!

2. Importance of setting boundaries – This is a work in progress but something I think we could all work on and benefit from.

3. Schedule your life and then work around it. Take time to make vacation plans, dedicate time with family, carve out time for yourself, and then work life instead of always doing it the other way around.

3 Recommendations
1. Be challenged, not overwhelmed. You feel overwhelmed when you feel threatened. Realize when you are being challenged and rise to the occasion. Take charge.

2. Learn how to tell your story. If Steven Spielberg were going to make a movie trailer of your life, what would he include? That’s your story. Do the same for the organization you represent.

3. Work Hard. Play Hard.

3 Books
1. Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

2. Nonprofit Sustainability by Jeanne Bell, Jan Masaoka, and Steve Zimmerman

3. Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

3 Predictions
1. I will still be doing this in three years and LOVING IT.

2. God will continue to point me in the right direction if I let Him.

3. I will have accomplished my goal of visiting all 50 states by the end of 2015. I have 10 states to go!

THANK YOU! Looking forward to the next three years with each of you!

In the News

I recently joined Megan Strand and Joe Waters on Cause Talk Radio to chat about my book, Banding Together for a Cause. We discussed the progression of a corporate partner from minor donor to major partner, common nonprofit missteps, and how nonprofits can create a celebrity brand – minus the celebrity. Click on the link below to check it out!


Jim Toscano from charitychannel.com reviews Banding Together for a Cause and gives it 5-stars! Thanks, Jim!