Drew Reynolds is fairly new to the Atlanta nonprofit scene. He moved to Atlanta a year ago from Charlotte where he was an Assistant Professor in the UNC Charlotte School of Social Work. He started his consulting practice, Common Good Data, to engage in hands on work with health, education, and human service nonprofits. As a consultant, he works with nonprofit organizations using data to improve services, demonstrate impact, secure funding, and inspire change in the lives of the people and communities they serve.
Drew’s consulting work is data-driven, and he recognizes that it’s easy to get focused on numbers and spreadsheets and forget about the human element. However, what is most important for Drew is being in relationship. He believes that any work you want to do in a nonprofit requires great working relationships with colleagues, donors, and the people you are serving. These relationships are critical to the success of a nonprofit, and his advice to those starting a new position is to focus first on relationships, rather than getting too caught up in the day to day minutia.
Through his consulting work he spends a lot of time networking. That’s how he landed his current role at Childspring, an organization that raises funds for children around the world who need surgical care. As Program Director, Drew works with nonprofits to help connect the children they serve with doctors who can provide the medical care they need. To date, the program has served 4,112 children from over 52 countries.
While Drew doesn’t have a background in surgery or the medical field, he believes his role at Childspring is an incredible professional learning opportunity. He recommends that young professionals seek out roles where they can learn new skills and build relationships rather than being overly focused on one specific mission area. He believes there is often a temptation for nonprofit professionals to limit themselves to work in a particular issue area which can cause them to miss out on other opportunities for growth.
Drew’s thinks of networking as a positive opportunity to build relationships rather than a necessary evil in professional life. In Drew’s mind, “each time you meet someone you have an opportunity to share your passion and you never know where that will lead in the future.” When asked for networking tips, Drew said, it takes “time and practice” so don’t be afraid to reach out.
Building his consulting practice helped him realize how important it was to reach out and not be afraid of sending that first request for a meeting or coffee. Drew is also a proponent of what he calls “horizontal networking.” People often think of networking as meeting with established executives and those in roles you’d one day like to have. But he notes it can also mean meeting up with former classmates or peers who are in similar roles at different organizations. He even suggests networking with those who are earlier in their career than you are. Everyone has something to teach, so why limit relationship building to a small group of high-level contacts?
Written by S.E. Spencer