Getting to a point in your career where there’s more demand for your services than you can handle is a dream come true, right? For many freelancers doing one-on-one work, it is.
But what happens when you want to focus on building something bigger than yourself and have to turn down high-paying clients to free up time? That can be scary for many of us!
Today, I’m talking to Sybil Ackerman-Munson of Do Your Good. She is massively successful in doing something I didn’t even know was a thing: Sybil works with philanthropists to help them figure out the most effective and legitimate ways to donate money. We’re talking millions of dollars!
But here’s the thing, Sybil’s expertise applies to donations of any size. She wants to take her business to the next level by creating resources for anybody looking to explore philanthropy. This means cutting back on client work and investing time and money into something that may or may not pan out.
Sybil wants to make the leap but needs help understanding what things could look like on the other end. In this coaching call, I share some strategies that can enable her to halve her one-on-one work without losing any income. I also give her a new perspective on the risks she’s taking on.
Often, these situations are not as frightening as we make them out to be in our heads. This is a valuable lesson for any entrepreneur!
Subscribe to my weekly newsletter, Unstuck, to get tips, tools, and my best advice for creating a thriving online business.
AP 1246: How Do I Make the Leap from One-On-One Work to Passive Income?
Pat Flynn: What's up everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to episode 1246 of AskPat 2.0. You're about to listen to a coaching call between myself and an entrepreneur just like you. And today we're talking with Sybil Ackerman-Munson, who is doing something that I didn't know was a thing. And I love the conversation we have, not just because of what she's doing.
What does she do? She actually helps philanthropists donate their money to the right spot, do the research for them, make sure the money's not being wasted, all this kinds of stuff. She helps people donate money. And I didn't even consider that this might be a thing, but it's so important because there are a lot of people out there who donate for various reasons and a lot of them just don't either have the time or the know-how to donate to the right places.
And so what Sybil does is she works with them, she consults with them, and she's helped people donate over 45 million. So philanthropists, has worked with non-profits, like it's just absolutely incredible. We have a great conversation today, about what she's doing to help spread the word even more. So you can find her DoYourGood.com, and that's where you can crack the code on a step-by-step guide to effective philanthropy.
And you can find her, she's very easily accessible on social media as well. DoYourGood.com, check her out. But let's listen in first and you'll hear more about what she's doing and what she specifically has come to me for some help for. So here she is,
Pat Flynn: Sybil, welcome to Ask Pat. Thank you so much for taking the time to join me today.
Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Thanks so much for having me, Pat. It's really a delight to be here. I have had so much fun listening to your podcast where you're talking to people about questions that like I have, so I just, I love this format. And that's why I was so hoping you'd have me on, so thanks for having me.
Pat Flynn: Oh, I appreciate you for saying that. I also know you're a podcaster now. I just wanna say thank you because I love interviewing other podcasters cuz you always sound amazing. And, so I know you have a podcast. Tell us about your business and sort of what you do and if you have a little background story about how you got there, I'd be happy to hear that as well.
Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Yeah, sure. So, so what I do is I have a business called Do Your Good and the business focuses on my expertise, which is in helping and supporting donors and philanthropists or anybody who has any extra money to give away, but wants to do good in the world, I support, I support donors in helping them give their money away to causes that they care about and to do it effectively.
It's not as easy as you think, and a lot of times people with the best of intentions can end up really wasting money, wasting time. And so I don't wanna see that happen to folks. And the reason that I do this, that I'm interested in, that I've created this business is that I have experience in it. So I spent over 20 years of my career working for philanthropists helping them give their money away.
So I've helped give away over $45 million in donations, both large and small. I also worked in the non-profit world as well, and so I know what it's like to be on the other side of it. And then at the same time, right now I get pitched by upwards of 150 to 200 non-profits a year who are trying to seek funds from the one on one clients I work for.
And I process that many, those many proposals. So I also am helping nonprofits hone their pitch so that they can raise more money. So it's, it's such a rewarding business. I, I love doing what I do every day. I talk to the most amazing people, doing the best stuff in the world, Pat. It's just makes me happy every day.
Pat Flynn: This is such an interesting, really cool thing to be doing like that. That's absolutely incredible. I would imagine though that there, that there's a lot to uncover there, right? Pressure, you know, you're, you're dealing with a lot of money. Yeah. And where it goes matters. And so, you know, and, and the fact that you're, I mean, you have a podcast, you let people know publicly that you do this.
Of course there's companies and organizations asking you to connect with these people who have money. So like. Let me ask you really quick, almost selfishly, how does one, maybe, you know, I don't have like tens of millions of dollars to offer, but I do philanthropy. I've worked with Pencils of Promise and a few others. A lot of people know that. But for anybody there who, who, who just wants to do the right due diligence before donating and, and, and offering money or, or anything to another organization, like what would be the one or two things that you would recommend somebody like us do?
Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Thanks, Pat, and I really appreciate you saying that you know, you don't have to have bazillions of dollars. You can make a difference no matter how much money you have, and you can also make a difference to make a difference no matter what cause you care about. And so what I like to do, the one or two things I like to talk to folks about is first, the most important thing is to think about what is it that you know a lot about?
No judgment. Like if you love something that you do every single day, bring your kid to school. Help your kid read. You run. Anything that gives you joy, there is a do good non-profit that's helping people that's connected to the thing you love to do. And so that's the number one thing that I always talk about is that if you're gonna give money away, give it away in an area that you already know about.
I see so many times people say to me, We have, I have extra money to give away, so I should give to the big heady issue that seems like, you know, I should be doing world peace or other things like that. Yes, those are important issues, but if you don't know anything about them, you're gonna end up wasting your money and wasting other folks' time.
And so that's the number one thing that I talk about with folks. And then the second thing, like I said before, you can make a difference no matter how much money you have to give away. If you are somebody who has sort of a smaller sum to give away, you can also pool your money with other like-minded folks.
There's some really cool tools and devices that you can reach out and look for. One example of that is a lot of local communities have, in Portland where I live, we have something called the Give Guide, where what they do is they say, give your smaller donations into a central place. And then we are gonna work with all the different non-profits in your community to talk about what they are gonna do with specific funding. And then we'll pool your money and put it into those particular causes. And you can say sort of what cause you care about or what issue you care about.
So then you're maximizing your dollar with others. So there's lots of cool tools that you can learn about and know about to be able to make a difference. So those are the kind of things I love talking about with folks and that's why I created Do Your Good because In Do Your Good. I'm doing podcasts and I have special courses that are online.
So I'm trying to become more accessible to more people and not just my one-on-one clients who I really adore and think are amazing. But I wanted to, like I sit in so many different meetings, right? I get pitched by so many different folks. I sort of felt like it was my responsibility to go out there, start talking about these tools and these ideas to more people than just the few clients I had, you know?
Pat Flynn: Yeah. Oh absolutely. And then, you know, when I ask you that question when you started answering, I could, like, we're not on video right now. I could feel the excitement, I could feel the smile on the other end.
I could tell that this is like a passion of yours. And so it sounds like you want to, like you said, not just work on the one-on-one client things, but you want to offer this information elsewhere. And a podcast is obviously great for that. And you had mentioned courses, like what else do you have in the mix that is is within in your business?
Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Well, yeah, so I'm creating a bunch of things. Right now, I'm in the creation phase and I'm spending a lot of money on the Do Your Good side. Taking a ton of time on my one-on-one client side to be able to finance that. So this is where my question is, and so I'll tell you about that in a second. But the things that I'm creating are, I'm creating something called a philanthropy accelerator where it's a special focused accelerator for people who are donors to help them really untangle a key question that they may have that may be standing in their way to giving effectively. And so the first one I'm doing this fall is gonna focus donors in on how to look at a nonprofit's finances. How do the finances tell a story? How do they explain the ABCs of the organization beyond just the numbers? So I'm gonna unpack all the different pieces of a budget, all the different pieces of the financial conversation that a nonprofit's gonna have with you and help you as a donor focus in on only the financial pieces you care about the most, and then really be able to read the finances so they can tell a story.
So that's the first philanthropy accelerate I'm doing, and then I'm creating a bunch more after that. And then on the nonprofit side to support nonprofits, I'm creating a special email sequence every week for six months where I'm gonna talk about and unpack a different kind of problem that I see a nonprofit having when they're trying to pitch a donor and then a solution to that problem for the nonprofit. So those are the things I'm working on right now that are more on the paid course or paid not, not a lot of money, but like just a little bit so that I can keep going on that side of my business and have it be sustainable because the one-on-one client stuff is going so well, Pat.
But I do want to over time have more of a balance where I have my online courses that are actually generating some income and at the same time keeping some of my favorite one-on-one clients, but have a little more of that balance, Pat. And that's what my question's all about is when do I know that I can make that shift and that kind of thing.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, I mean there's a few different ways to answer that, right? And a very common way to look at that is based on the finances and using a little bit of a, of a presale sort of period to launch into the more digital assets and the stuff that spreads out to more people and understanding, okay, well how many clients might I need after this goes well, if it does go well.
And so there's like a, there's like a little bit of a balance there. And sometimes people consider it sort of a, a chicken versus egg thing, cuz sometimes we need that time to then put into that to make it work. But we don't have that time right now, which is why we're building that thing.
Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Yeah, that's exactly where I'm at right now. So I have this, these wonderful one-on-one clients. It's booming that side of it. Right. And it's just so exciting. And then at the same time, the online courses are really exciting and I'm, when I'm, I'm spending so much extra time, you know, at nights and in the mornings and on the weekends, writing my courses and doing all those pieces, not getting paid for that part, right?
Because I'm just sort of, But I'm believing in my myself. I'm saying this is gonna be something people really want. Because when I talk to folks, they do want it. But I also know that there's gonna be a pivotal time where I really am gonna have to start saying no to one-on-one so that I can do and develop that online part of my business.
And there's gonna be this time where I'm not making that as much income from the online part of my business as I am with my one-on-one clients. And so, you know, I'm at that point where, you know, I've, I've, I actually have contracted experts in the marketing and then social media and in podcasting that are helping me promote my brand on that side.
But I've gotta start taking that extra time, and I'm a little nervous about losing the income from my one-on-one client's in order to make that jump. So, you know, I, I, anything, any additional advice you have for me on that would be really helpful cuz I am about to do that leap. But it's, it's scary.
Pat Flynn: It is totally scary, but I mean, that's where growth happens, right outside the comfort zone. It's when you make a change, that change happens. So here's a thought experiment. Imagine that you cut your clientele in half. So you, you're spending half as much time working on your client's stuff and that time is now being put, I mean, still same amount of amount of time overall.
It's just half is now with the client's stuff, half is now with the, the course stuff. But you charge, twice as much, so therefore you actually have the same amount of money. That is a scenario. It's not the one I'm recommending necessarily, but I'm just saying like, we can play around with these numbers in a way that still makes sense to get you time, but also not necessarily affect your finances.
A very common thing, and I'm not privy to how much you're charging your one-on-one clients. In my experience, 98% of people who do one-on-one client work are absolutely undercharging what their value is. And a very common way to start moving toward this, cuz this is a very common thing to go from, I wanna do one-on-one, cool, okay, now I realize I can only help so many people one-on-one. I wanna help more people, so I'm gonna create a course, but I don't have the time. A very common way to solve this problem is to start increasing your prices for your client work. And what that does is a few things.
Number one, obviously you're gonna get paid more. And yes, there's some nuances here. You might have you know, have clients that you've been working with for a long time. And, and there's, there's a way to choreograph that ask. But at the same time, what it does is you also, with new, you're gonna have less inquiries coming.
Because it's not as cheap as it once was, generally speaking. But secondly, you also get a better one-on-one client at the higher price point. So what I found with my one-on-one coaching is that the more that I charge, the easier it is to coach those people because they're at a level that they are beyond the sort of, beginner stages and they, they have like already overcome a lot of the challenges that make it very difficult to get them to take action.
And because of that, they take action sooner, they get results faster and they're even willing to pay more. So there's sort of that side of it. And then again, this thus now opens up more time for you to now put into the sort of more the things that are there for the masses. The second thing is you could also presale the core stuff that could allow you to have income coming in before the course is even created. And this kind of blew my mind when I heard about it at first because I was like, Wait, I'm asking people to pay for something that isn't even made yet. Like that doesn't make sense. However, you look at places like Kickstarter, that's exactly what their, their whole business model is, is asking people to pay for things for the idea of the thing.
And if it reaches a certain level, cool, let's go build a thing. Any sort of events or concerts, right, you're paying for the ticket because of the experience that's going to happen, you know, at, at a certain period of time. So you could, for example, say, Hey audience, I am gonna take my first round of course, students, 25 students, or 50, however many you, you imagine at this price point, it's gonna be limited, but you're gonna get a little bit of extra time with me because you're our founding students and I'm, I'm gonna be creating the course alongside with you. So the course does not exist yet. You're being very honest about that.
There was a point in time where I remember I was reading the Four Hour Work Week, and there was a chapter in there about Tim Ferris building a business, selling, you know, some sort of shirt online, but pretending like the shirt existed and then saying, Oh, sorry, we're outta stock just to see if people wanted it.
But this is more truthful. This is, Hey everybody, I'm building this course. Here's what the curriculum's gonna be like. I haven't made it. But I will create it for you week after week for four weeks. We're gonna work for four weeks together, and then after that you will have now this transformation that I'm promising.
So here's the checkout page, right? We start on this date, we meet twice a week. You go through the curriculum that I give you in the beginning of the week, and then on Thursday we have office hours to answer questions. The next week I expect you to turn certain things in or or report back, and then you get access to module two.
There's four total modules. By this date, you will be done and then guess what? By that date, you will also now have a completed course with students who have already gone through it and now be able to give you testimonials on it as well. It also gives you the opportunity to work with those as you're going through, because the hard thing is if you create this whole course and then sell it, you don't know if you actually were able to answer everybody's questions yet.
You might have missed some things or you might have over delivered, which is a very common problem.
Sybil Ackerman-Munson: I saw that Pat. I already tried one of the, a course I was doing. I, I already turned creating one and I didn't do all the correct requisite testing ahead of time. And I'm like, Oh, I spent all this time on this thing and it didn't, that one didn't work.
But now I'm doing a ton of testing and figuring out which are the things we, I think people are gonna care about and taking that next step's really helpful. And Pat, what you're saying though, is both of your recommendations. It feels like they both need to go hand in hand because when you're talking to me about co-creating my course, of course I'm, I don't know, you don't know me that well yet, but I'm, I'm pretty like, need to get stuff done.
Like I'm not gonna start a course without having anything written. So I've already written, like my whole philanthropy thing. But I really like the approach where you're saying, Okay, I might have already written it, but I should have my first group co-write it with me.
Right. So I have it. I have the work done, I have the expertise, but I will really, really listen to my founding group and they can help me. What that also tells me is I need a lot of time to devote to this, which means I'm gonna have to think about raising my rates so that I can afford the extra time, Pat, because now I am, you know, working a bazillion hours with my one-on one clients, also trying to do this at the same time, because I'm running a little scared, you know?
Pat Flynn: Or you pause the client work, and that then also gives you a deadline that will get your butt moving for all the work that you need to do, because now you've opened up time, but it's limited.
You're gonna work with those students again. For right now, the focus, you know, you pause half of your clients, Let's just use that as an example. You pause half of your clients, I'm sure several of them would understand so that you can get that time back to put into this other thing, and now you're not letting them go per se.
Sybil Ackerman-Munson: I love that. I hadn't thought of that because a lot of the clients I work for are full on foundations and so we have docket cycles and so I could pick a down time in the docket cycle to say, Hey, I'm gonna take this month off and do X, That kind of thing.
Pat Flynn: Oh, that's good. So it actually fits into, to the kind of seasonal things that go on.
Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Yeah, that's, that's really helpful. Thank you, Pat. It is sort of a, a, it's weird to say a scary time because I'm doing so well on the one-on-one client work, and this is sort of self-imposed too, Pat. Like, I could just keep going along doing my one-on-one client work the rest of my life and it'd be fine, but like, I don't know.
That wouldn't be that exciting in life, right?
Pat Flynn: Well, here, like, let's think of worst case scenario. When you do this, you, you, you do the course and it, and it fails. Are you forever, never, ever able to get a one-on-one client ever again?
Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Definitely that's not the case. Yeah, that, that's, that's not a problem. .
Pat Flynn: So maybe scared isn't the right word, but it's excited.
Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Yeah, good point, Pat. I like that.
Pat Flynn: Just some mental reframing, which is usually what we do here on the show. I know you've listened to it. And essentially every show is just a person asking for permission to do the thing that they probably knew they already needed to do, or just little guidance.
But anyway, this is really exciting, Sybil, like it sounds like we have some direction from here.
Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Yeah. And this whole conversation was so helpful, not only in talking about the problem I emailed you about, which was this transition question, but also even while I was talking to you about the philanthropy accelerator and the thing that I'm working on with really deciphering the non-profit's budget so that you can be a better grantor and donor.
You know, thinking about how do I talk about that? Even talking about that with you is helpful. So I just really appreciate your time, Pat.
Pat Flynn: Oh, my pleasure. You know, and when it comes to that topic, it's like, well what's the value of that to somebody to be able to better make those decisions. Right.
This has been amazing, Sybil, thank you so much. And it's just such a unique industry that is just so exciting and, and I've dabbled in that a little bit, but I'm sure that, you know, like what kind of pressure do you feel when it's like a person says, Hey, Sybil, I have a hundred million dollars, or, you know, a million dollars to offer and, and they're just like, Just, do they come to you and say, just like, Can you just tell me who, who to give it to?
Sybil Ackerman-Munson: My main one-on-one clients, they do that. They say, Sybil, I have X dollars. And in the beginning, It's, it's a real trusting relationship, right? So in the beginning, I spend a lot of time understanding who they are. So I do exactly what I teach and I say, Well, what are you interested in? You know, what do you care about?
What do you already know about? And I also have expertise in a particular area, which is environment and natural resource giving. And so sometimes someone will hire me because of that, right? And so I say, Okay, you are interested in climate change, or you're interested in forestry, or you're interested in water conservation.
And then they say, Yes, and I have, they'll have anywhere from 200,000 to a million to 2 million a year to give away. What we do together then is we plan out their focus issues and how they want to give their money away, and then we create these things called dockets. And the dockets are usually two or three times a year, and the donors then have themes and they'll go, and I'll help them go out into the community and find the nonprofits that will match their interests and then they'll give them money.
And so, yes, so that is actually how it works. People will say, I have X dollars to give away. Sybil, can you help me figure out a plan? And then a lot of times with these families, I will stay with them for years and years and years and years and help them with their giving strategies. And it's so rewarding because it's connecting these amazing non-profits with these wonderful people who wanna give their money.
So I just love it. I love that piece of it, and that's why I started telling you, Pat, like over so many years I started seeing some themes, some things that donors were doing, that they were doing well, and things that I thought could be improved. And I really felt like, Hmm, I have a course here. I have a couple courses and classes here, you know, how can I do this more than just that?
Yeah. I love that, that stuff.
Pat Flynn: Thank you for, for, for sharing that with me. If you could one more time remind people, you know, Do Your Good is the name of the brand. Tell us where to go and, and where to find all the goods.
Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Yeah, so just go on, on, on the web, I have a website and it's DoYourGood.com and you can also go on Instagram or Facebook and it's @DoYourGood. And you can find me there on Instagram or Facebook and yeah. And I'm really easy to reach.
You can just do [email protected] and, and that's my email. And I'd be happy to chat with anybody who has, is interested in this area of work.
Pat Flynn: So cool. And it's S Y B I L?
Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Yep. You got it. Perfect. Oh, and my podcast too. My Do Your Good Podcast. It's on all the streaming sites.
Pat Flynn: Yes, you're all listening to the podcast right now. Go, go and just, you know, subscribe to that one. So thank you Sybil this has been an absolute pleasure and, and, and super fun and I look forward to chatting with you in the future.
Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Thanks, Pat. I really appreciate your time and your help and your advice. I'm gonna use it.
Pat Flynn: All right. I hope you enjoy that conversation with Sybil.
Again, you can check her out at Do Your Good. She has a podcast and you can find her on social. Again, DoYourGood.com will take you to all those places. But thank you, Sybil. I appreciate you for what it is you're doing. It's actually one of those things that we just don't realize how important that is until you hear about it.
And so appreciate you so much. Hopefully you can help a lot more people through a lot of the things that we're talking about today. You know, that ripple effect that you're creating. You're such an important moment in that person's life and that career and the career and lives of those who these organizations help.
So thank you again, so, so much. And thank you the listener for listening all the way through. I appreciate you. If you wanna get some help, just like Sybil did today, head over to AskPat.com and you can submit your application to potentially get coach here just like Sybil did today. And we might reach out to you in the future to work with you.
So AskPat.com. Thank you so much and I look forward to serving you the nest one. Hit that subscribe button and we'll see you then. Cheers.
Thanks for listening to AskPat at AskPat.com. I'm your host Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sarah Jane Hess. Our series producer is David Grabowski. And our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. AskPat is a production of SPI Media. We'll catch you in the next session.