Sometimes the perfect strategy for an organization can’t be implemented without help from the outside. That’s where Finish Line, a firm founded a decade ago by Sarasota-based consultant Julie Henry, steps in to find a path forward. Henry spoke to leaders of the region’s nonprofit community at the July installment of SRQ’s SB2 series, where she spoke on “Transformative Philanthropy.” We talked with her after the event about how to propel any institution toward grander goals.

What first got you into strategic consulting?  JULIE HENRY: I was just ready to have an impact in a new way. At the end of the day, I’m passionate about environmental sustainability and thought if I can run my own business in an environmentally sustainable way, I can infiltrate other organizations who may not have that as their mission but still model good behavior. Strategic leadership and communication is my big umbrella because I believe everything can be intentional. Leadership is a learned skill, but particularly strategic leadership and the ability to communicate well, whether that’s giving good presentations or communicating effectively with your team. Those are the soft skills of leadership I find are often overlooked.

Is it harder to affect change inside of nonprofits?   Inspiring change in philanthropic organizations requires the attention paid and respect given to history even more so than in a typical corporate environment. Nonprofits get attached to the way they do things because they’ve been effective. Especially when you’re talking about an organization that’s trying to have an impact, changing may mean they change their impact and that’s scary. They need to think about innovating and doing it differently, especially volunteers, long-term board members or people that are really attached to it. 

How do you make sure people understand the value of perpetual evolution? If you don’t change, you’re going to go out of business and then you’re not having the impact you were created to have in the first place. Like it or not, things are going to move forward. Whether that’s the reason people are giving money, whether that’s the granting structure, whether that’s social media—you have to change in order to survive, Creating a culture that can not only be responsive to change but is also proactive with change is the key. That requires leaders who surround themselves with board members and top leadership and talent who are comfortable being uncomfortable.