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LLC Member Spotlight: Byron Johnson of CompassPoint

We are excited to be profiling a man who has worn many hats with LLC, fund development coach, emergency succession planner, learning community member, now writer, neighbor, CompassPoint ambassador, friend, a ready source of energy and good cheer.... and oh yes, now the creative genius behind our restructuring.  When we decided to embark on our current venture of restructuring, aka transition planning, we knew that Byron was the guy for the job.  He is man of many talents, he gets what we do, we have good value alignment and well, Byron is cool!

Byron Johnson, CFRE is a Senior Project Director for CompassPoint Nonprofit Services. Byron consults on fund development and other areas of organizational capacity building, which include fundraising planning and coaching, strengthening foundation and individual donor development work, and donor solicitation training.


In 2007 Byron began working with Deborah and the Leadership Learning Community team on Emergency Succession Planning – The process was a little different with Leadership Learning Community, because the group already has some practice with shared leadership.  Since the group was already pulling together as a team it was just a matter of some juggling and reassignment to put together a plan in place so that Deborah could step out seamlessly to deal with some unplanned health issues...yeah, when are they ever planned?  That’s another story.

When we asked Byron about LLC’s Transition Planning process, he explained “We’re developing a Transition Plan that’s going to optimize your singular leadership roles, building on your strengths, managing challenges.  It’s a process in which we really want to recognize and develop existing talent. Basically ‘what does the bus look like- is everyone in the right seats?’ Part of our Theory of Change is building a pipeline of diverse leadership. It’s a throughline in our work in terms of our intended outcomes and in terms of executive transitions work. We want to diversify leadership. We’re guided by our shared values of Integrity, Relevance, Humor, Learning, Holistic, Social Equity and Multiculturalism.” He adds, “The Leadership Learning Community is doing great work, we are glad to be partnering with you again.”


Byron’s organization CompassPoint, has recently moved from San Francisco to Oakland just a couple of blocks from the LLC office. Regarding the move, Byron shares, “We’re excited about our move to the East Bay. This is an opportunity to build a regional hub for capacity building, a National laboratory for learning and discussion, for nonprofit management, strategy and leadership.”


In addition to the opportunities unfolding as part of the move, Byron elaborated on a few of CompassPoint’s current projects, “You can find initiatives we’re eager to share on the main page of our web site, particularly our publication: UnderDeveloped, a report which talks about building a culture of philanthropy. The study itself is of the challenges facing nonprofit fundraising. You can’t have leadership without sustainability. This is an area there has been a lot of discourse and dialogue over the years around the turnover and vacancies of development director positions throughout the sector, but the study reveals deeper issues that contribute to that instability. There’s a larger conversation around the challenges and how to build a culture of philanthropy so that our organizations are that much more sustainable, and healthier, - not only the organization but the people and the system. We also have a Multicultural Board Leadership Academy starting next month. It’s a series of workshops and trainings for people of color that live or work in Alameda or Contra Costa county and are new to board service or looking to join their first board. A cohort of 10 – 20 board fellows will attend 8 weekly sessions led and designed by CompassPoint experts that address some of the key elements of board service. I’ll be leading the workshop on Board fundraising.  In Week 7, cohort fellows will get a chance to meet nonprofits organizations interested in recruiting new board members. I’m also the lead trainer for the Fundraising Academy for Communities of Color which we’re doing in Southern California. We hope to bring it back to the Bay Area soon. The Next Generation Leaders of Color Program which works with organizations that are based in, serve, and are comprised primarily of people of color, is open for applications for the Fall cohort.”

Byron also told us about CompassPoint’s Nonprofit Budgeting Series, a great resource for organizations looking to revamp their budgeting process and tools. In closing, Byron shared on the shift in thinking about fundraising among nonprofits, “Increasingly it’s not thought of separately – it’s integral- it’s part of the program that’s interlinked with your regular programs as part of your mission. There is more intertwined thinking about fundraising, as it’s just one of your programs, not something separate on the side. This shift is toward building cultural philanthropy.”


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