Episode 158 | How to Create a Rich Nonprofit with Marissa Nehlsen, Part 1

I am joined today by Marissa Nehlsen, CEO of a 7-figure business, public speaker, coach, philanthropist, and an all-around incredible person.  Like me, she is originally from North Dakota which makes my heart happy! 

Tell us why the world needs us rich.

The world needs us rich in all areas and my team and I focus on four areas of poverty.  I coach and train on poverty mindset with practical steps and practical ideas to bring people out of poverty.  What it means to me to live life rich is about really bringing everything into alignment – spiritually, emotionally, financially, and in your relationships.  These things are all connected.  You can’t give yourself what you don’t have.  I’m a love warrior and a joy warrior.  I will storm the gates with water pistols because we’re not leaving people in poverty and in a poverty mindset.  I see very wealthy people and organizations that are struggling with mindset.  And then I see people who don’t have financial needs.  I believe that freedom comes from when we know who we are, who we serve, and where we’re going. 

What would say to a nonprofit leader who wants to end the poverty of running from one fundraiser to the next and really wants to create a rich nonprofit?

When the team first came together in my nonprofit, we decided right away that we did not want to be a donation-dependent ministry.  So, we decided to run it from a business standpoint because I believe in stewardship.  The first thing I would ask is if you can think about your nonprofit as a business, what are you producing? Let’s look at your inventory.  Is there something you can reproduce to make a business?  Sometimes, it doesn’t have anything to do with your nonprofit.  For example, I have a client who has a recycling center that runs their nonprofit.  They saw a need in the community but then used the profits from the recycling center to fund the ministry.  I look at it like this, there are three ways to grow money – you can invest in your business, you can invest in someone else’s business, or you can invest in real estate.  Now, the three ways you can grow your business; you can increase the price of the services you’re selling, you can get more clients, or you can get those clients to buy more often. 

What are the four elements to living a rich life?

Financially, is one of them, obviously. But in ministry work, it’s about spirituality.  When you really begin to listen to that voice, there is a spirit of “lack” in the world around us.  It’s almost like it says that you as a ministry or nonprofit leader cannot live a “rich” lifestyle because you’re taking away from someone else.  It doesn’t matter how well you’ve saved or what investments you’ve made, all “they” see is that you drive a nice car and live in a nicer house than them.  You really have to make a decision between you and your Creator, will I live in lack or want, or will I live in abundance.  We have not because we ask not.  It’s very clear, write your vision, be specific.  Every day I ask, “all that I have, all that I’m going to be, all that I ever will be, is yours so rain down.”  We are called to be stewards.  Good stewardship starts with making sure that you give back, but also that you take care of you and your family. 

Another area we talk about is in our emotional side.  There’s emotional poverty and this is the area where we think we’re being selfish if we do something different.  Again, I come back to you can’t give what you don’t have so you have to start with loving yourself first.  There’s a healing that comes along with that; healing the hurts of the past, forgiveness, gratefulness, boundaries.  Relationally, how we live out our relationships is the fourth area.  I don’t think we can save the whole world, but I think you can save the little part that you’ve been given access to.  Anything of significance starts with relationships. 

Connect with Marissa:


Live Life Rich Podcast

Connect with Mary:

Mary Valloni

Fundraising Freedom Academy

Fully Funded Academy



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