Nonprofit Coffee Break: Tondeé Lutterman
In the Nonprofit Coffee Break video series, Nonprofit Connect President & CEO Luann Feehan sits down with a different nonprofit leader each month to chat about leadership, learning, and life over a cup of coffee. Tune in to each episode to learn from these leaders' experiences and challenges and help us highlight our sector as an important and vibrant part of our city.
Nonprofit Coffee Break is presented by FROST Media Group.
This month, we sit down with Tondeé Lutterman, National Industry Partner, BKD CPAs & Advisors.
In one sentence, please describe who you are and what you do.
I'm the National Leader of BKD's nonprofit practice and I help nonprofit organizations with their accounting and financial management needs.
How did you get started working in the nonprofit sector?
Completely by luck. My first 7 years at BKD were spent primarily auditing hospitals, but in 2007, the Partner who led our nonprofit practice left the firm unexpectedly. I was only a Senior Manager at the time, but I saw this as an opportunity to fast track my path to partner so I convinced my Managing Partner to let me take over the practice. I really did look at this as purely a career boosting move, but what I soon realized is that it was exactly where I was meant to be. I fell in love with my clients and the nonprofit sector and discovered my innate ability to inspire and lead a team. Almost overnight, my work became meaningful.
On what day did you feel proudest of your work?
I'm not sure I can narrow it down to a day, but I am particularly proud of our Nonprofit Advisory Services team. In early 2019, a very small group of individuals at BKD decided to branch outside of audit and tax to launch new consulting services designed to help nonprofits with all of their accounting needs. We've hired about 15 individuals across the country over the past 2 years and I have no idea how this happened, but we somehow attracted the most passionate, collaborative and innovative nonprofit accountants (and some non-accountants) out there. This team sits in 8 different cities, but works more closely together than any team I've seen before. What is even more inspiring are the testimonials from our clients - this team is truly making a difference!
What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?
It can sometimes be challenging to convey to a nonprofit organizations the value of working with a quality nonprofit advisor versus a low cost bookkeeper. While we do offer basic accounting services, our specialty is helping organizations improve the financial reporting process by streamlining procedures, implementing new technology and transforming how financial information is communicated to the board. This requires investing in intuitive advisors with unique skillsets and deep industry expertise.
What is a trend you see in the nonprofit community that excites you, or concerns you, and why?
I actually love that this pandemic is forcing some nonprofits to innovate and embrace technology. There are a lot of organizations that have been plugging along, doing the same things for years with no incentive or motivation to advance. In this era of Uber, Alexa, and blockchain, you can't operate in the same manner as you did 20 years ago. COVID has forced organizations to step outside their comfort zones and consider new and better ways to achieve their mission.
What is your advice for a new nonprofit professional?
The key to success, happiness and fulfillment is developing a positive mindset. You create your reality with the beliefs you hold. Predominately negative thoughts will reflect negative experiences and circumstances in your life. A small shift in mindset can have a profound impact on your career and how you experience life in general.
What is your favorite place in Kansas City to grab a drink (coffee or cocktail)?
I'm really missing my wine "meetings" with Luann at Tannin Wine Bar!
What is your favorite Nonprofit Connect resource?
Right now it is the eLearning center. With the limitation of in-person events, online learning couldn't be more important. I also really like BoardLink - it's the perfect mechanism for nonprofit organizations to find qualified board members with specialized skills and/or diverse backgrounds.
What is your call to action for the viewers?
Find a way to practice gratitude every single day. We just completed the 31-Day Kindness Campaign with Dr. Michelle Robin and not only was it a wonderful daily reminder of ways to spread kindness, but also emphasized many reasons to be grateful. To sign up or learn more, check out https://www.smallchangesbigshifts.com/kindness/.
Connect with Tondeé
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