We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Payne and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Starting Mockingbird Analytics was risky enough, but starting a company that works with the smallest nonprofits was doubly risky because the failure rate for new nonprofits is high, not to mention that they rarely have much money. However, taking that risk meant that we were able to tap into a population of nonprofit founders who are vastly underserved because many consulting agencies will only work with organizations of a certain size. Though it’s been bumpy finding our way, it’s become incredibly clear over the past five years that founders getting into nonprofit and social justice work are providing important innovations to their field of practice, are advancing conversations and policy issues, and are hungry for more resources to help them navigate the very complex world of nonprofit and social good entrepreneurship. With this in mind, we followed up our consulting agency by creating a sister nonprofit organization that helps incubate nonprofits to get them ready to scale up their infrastructure. We took a significant risk on small nonprofits and whether they would be able to sustain our business model, and we’ve seen nothing but tremendous growth and some really exciting innovation by founders tied to the recent movements towards equity and greater social justice.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My consulting business Mockingbird Analytics specializes in helping new and emerging nonprofits build their organizational infrastructure and sets them up for scalable growth. Our work fits into 4 main areas: planning, fundraising, evaluating, and nonprofit technology. We are one of the few firms that specifically works with founders who are just getting started and our nonprofit Incubator program has been a huge driver of our success as an agency. We create close, long term relationships with our founders and clients to help make their dreams to change the world a reality. It’s been a long road to get to today and there were definitely times when I had to evaluate whether the sunk costs of time and money and energy were going to pay off. However, I was always encouraged by my partners and board members and clients, that what we were providing was unique and holistic and they saw the value in our work. The one thing I want for Mockingbird is that it is a place of solace and healing, not just by our clients and the founders we serve, who often come to us after years of struggle, frustration, or bad advice elsewhere. But it is also paramount to our mission that Mockingbird is a leader in progressive workplace policies that value our team for their humanity and in turn, creates its own type of social good. I think most people have had a job at some point that exposed them to cruelty, abuse or lacked just basic respect and kindness. It’s always been part of my mission to help our employees heal from that so when they move on they hopefully take some of that workplace policy and kindness and implement it in their next roles.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love a garden tour so definitely need to make a stop at Greystone Mansion. Also, Jitlada is the greatest Thai food experience in LA. Also, a Hollywood Blvd ghost tour is always on my list of recommendations. And last, for those not afraid of heights (me!), the Santa Monica Pier has an outdoor trapeze where you can swing with the greatest of ease right over the ocean. It’s spectacular. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The book I return to most frequently for solace and inspiration is Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit. Her writing about the long arc of social movements has been so valuable in helping me see the bigger picture of our work and our place within a movement toward a better world. Whenever I feel like I’ve lost my way among the numbers, and reports, and paperwork, or the nonprofit industrial complex feels heavy I re-read this book and refind my purpose.