How Curiosity Leads to Massive Donations with Corinne Lebrun

You’re in the wrong group of people if you’re not congratulating each other on your victories or if you don’t think yours will be. We are all on a time crunch. Get in touch with those who can help you. Your nonprofit can start concentrating on raising awareness of unspoken social agreements in order to stimulate creative thinking.


  1. How Corinne got into the nonprofit world
  2. How non-profits would change if they used the Corinne method
  3. What is Corinne doing with her time
  4. How holding back and building boundaries can affect your nonprofit

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Notable Quotes

The first goal is to figure out a way to get your base staff paid so they can fully focus on the mission and vision.

Knowledge is potential power because it doesn't mean anything unless it's put into practice.

Everybody is creative and it's a habit to keep it up

I think having the right people around you, first of all, is important to reflect on having this circle of friends who can reflect on who you are. Then you can be yourself.

Corinne Lebrun Bio

Corinne is an author, scholar, educator, and business consultant. She is fascinated by the true human potential and mind-body science. Her academic studies focus on social psychology and how to become more aware of unconscious social agreements in order to inspire innovative thinking. She also studies how meditation can be used as a tool to become aware of unconscious cognitive constructs and bias, leading to greater human connection. She applies these themes in her work with organizations and individuals to inspire creativity and innovation. Corinne is working on her Ph.D. in Psychology at Walden University and is the author of A Handbook for Badass Spiritual Warriors.

Connect with Corinne:

Full Transcript

Hey, welcome back to the show. I’m here today with my guest, Corinne. Corinne, how are you today? 

I’m doing great. How are you, Travis? 

I’m fabulous as always, as you might expect, it’s the Monday after Father’s Day. I’m enjoying ice water. My wife got me these massive ice cube molds. Have you seen these for like cocktails or whatnot? This thing is enormous, yeah?  

I have, they’re fun.  

Yes, we watched a video online after she bought them. She got me four of these things. I watched the video, but this guy was not able to get it in his cup. All these different sized cups and we’re like we don’t even know if they’re going to work in our glasses 

Oh yeah.  

I lined up 6 glasses this morning. It only didn’t fit in one of them, so I just don’t think this other guy understands how physics and geometry work. 

But you know what I’ve done? Am I taking the little palms, and the cooking tongs, and then just holding them? It is under hot water. A little while until I see if it’s lost.  

You see, that’s one of the things I like about your career. You have unconventional approaches to solving conventional everyday problems. You’ve done some work as an executive director for the Alliance for Innovation and Science and Technology Information as CFO for the Verified Voting Foundation, and the Director for Mental Health Contractors associated. You’ve accomplished a lot, and you are unquestionably talented. The Renaissance woman you can find on your current projects at Live Creatively, Data, but tell us a little bit about how you got started in the nonprofit industry. 

Oh wow, yeah, that’s A great story. I was working with start-ups at the time and was looking for something more challenging, and I found an ad that talked about science and technology. I thought about digital information advancements in computers, and I thought I don’t understand this job description, but it sounds really interesting and like a puzzle, so I answered them with my resume. They were looking for a director at the time. An executive director. So, lo and behold, I got a callback and, through a series of interviews, the next thing I knew, I was the executive director of the Alliance for Innovation in Science and Technology Information, so that’s how it started. Through curiosity, going This looks interesting because it looks like a puzzle I want to solve. And I had never worked for a non-profit before that. 

That’s cool. Curiosity is what killed the cat and brought you into nonprofit work. That’s interesting.  

Yeah, and one of the reasons they hired me is because I actually had a business background and had helped start-ups before, and they were a very small nonprofit and wanted to grow. And they figured halftone with a business mind in there instead. To try something different.  

Oh absolutely. What grabs me with the story is that we were chatting when we first met and you were talking about the things that you had done in nonprofit work, and I feel like a lot of nonprofits suffer from the way that you were feeling. You don’t feel like you have contributed that much to the nonprofit world. In reality, you took the alliance for innovation in science and technology information from 40 grand a year up to $3 million and started an endowment. You did that in under three years. That’s astronomical. It’s insane, it’s a huge thing, and the fact that they didn’t make you feel loved and acknowledged and like you made an impact in their organization just blows my mind and just adds to the list of things that bother me about some nonprofits and the way they do business. How could they have not? kept you free for years and years and years and celebrated you and everything that you did through doing that. From $40,000 to $3,000,000, that’s insane. 

Oh well. You know, it was a group of libraries of science and technology libraries, you know, out of the national laboratories. Some of the universities in New Mexico and everyone from there came from an academic background, so it’s just a very different mindset of how to go about it. Developing a nonprofit and how to develop our business? So, it’s like different skill sets are valued differently. 

For example, the $40,000 was what they had for their membership dues. That’s what came from that, and then how I managed to scale. They had a project, they said. Oh well, we’d like to implement this, but we think it’s way too complicated. So, it was like something somebody had thought of but didn’t want to do so. I think that’s because I was able to just take it. 

So, please allow me to solve this puzzle. You know, I think that’s where that comes in. I mean, wow, hey now we get the puzzle-solving and I guess I should probably talk more about how that was done with a membership organization. 

Yeah, I think it’s really interesting that people talk about the knowledge being power, and there have been some different discussions in different schools of thought on this. This is not it. It’s not something that I came up with, but knowledge is potential power because it doesn’t mean anything unless it’s put into practice. All the people like me, I’m an idea guy. I’ve got a couple of dozen solid ideas every single day. I write some of them down. Some of them are fleeting thoughts that come into my world, but very few. On which one do I act? But I am a person that takes action, so I do take a few of these. I will really go down the rabbit hole and try to take action on some of these things, but the vast majority of people will have information and they will have the knowledge and they will just simply not put it into action, and the only difference is there’s no difference between someone that can’t read and someone that won’t read. They’re both still as uninformed as each other regardless. of their skill level So the fact that you were to take these ideas that were shelved and collect and implement these to create some additional programs and other reasons for people to get on board. 

That’s fantastic. I’m so glad that you did that.  

You know, and I think the reason I’m able to do things like that is that I’m going out of the box. Figure A & B. I’m not afraid to fail because I fail all the time, it’s like this. I try stuff. And it just doesn’t work. And then I try and like Oh my God, this works.

So, it’s being a natural implementer. Being able to see the forest and the trees and then just getting excited about the process of how I take this idea and I could see all the puzzle pieces of how to implement it, but with those puzzle pieces, for example with this project. Come see, I just need to backtrack for a second. So, what exactly was an information science library connected to special libraries?

The ones that they catered to the scientists are national laboratories and academic universities, and if you want information from the scientists, you have to pay the publishers for that. They have large publishers like Springer, Elsevier, and, oh gosh, they’re like so. So many more are out. Nowadays. And you have to pay for it. So, what this organization did is aggregate all of these institutions to purchase this information more cheaply and in a more cost-effective way. Because everybody has their budget. 

Then there was the Air Force Research Laboratory, which had a massive budget for what they needed. But the thing is, they paid a whole outside institution to organize every single one of these deals for them. And we thought, and I thought, well, I could do that instead of them paying this outside agency. 8%, they could just pay us 3%. So, I ended up on a multi-$1,000,000 contract as it could be a lot of money, so I ended up doing that. 

I had to figure out how to create a government contract for that. It was just talking to people, finding out, talking to their government, contracting office, figuring out how to fill out the forms, you know, then holding my hand negotiating with them. Do you know why? Go with this vendor instead of that vendor. So, he’s doing the whole 9 yards and that was the piece that was the most challenging puzzle to solve, plus the negotiations.

My thought is that it is something fun because I have done it before. Let’s call them risky things with fundraising where people can say no, but what the heck? So, I did. That’s how I was able to implement that basically as follow-through and then piggyback a bunch of other aggregate projects on top of that. That ended up being a lot of revenue for the organization and ended up generating. Quite a lot. Let’s say commissions, which is very unusual for a non-profit, but those commissions off those larger deals are what ended up fueling this entire endowment we had, which we then created grants to give the people to further the mission and vision of the organization. So yeah, that’s how that whole thing came about. 

You say it like it’s no big deal because you had curiosity, you thought it was a cool puzzle and it was fun to solve. How far do you think nonprofits could get if they changed the way they looked at what they were doing to involve your approach?  

One of the things I’ve wanted to put into nonprofits since then because that was my first real interaction with a nonprofit, is what I learned about nonprofits. Unfortunately, they have the mindset of meaning. Oh, we’re not allowed to make money, because if we make money, then it will no longer be a nonprofit. So, it’s an interesting conundrum that is simple. Then, if you’re trying to do good in the world, if you’re not making How can you do that? If you’re not making any money, another thing that holds a non-profit back is Oh well, people should only be volunteers and they should not get paid. And if that’s happening, then you have people who are not going to be able to. They dedicate themselves because they’re too busy trying to make a living, so they won’t be able to dedicate themselves to the mission and vision of the organization.

Truly one of them the first goal is to Figure out a way to get your base staff paid so they can fully focus on the mission and vision. And so, therefore, you need funds for that, and one of the biggest things I’ve always told anyone involved in the nonprofit is don’t think of it as a for-profit business. However, your profits are all going towards your mission and vision. Of course, you pay your employees based on what you now know they have. various suggested levels depending on your state or federal government the federal government Each state is different. World governments have their standards. 

There are no restrictions on pay. People forget that things like Delta dental and insurance Company is a 501C3, and that’s too you made $22 million a couple of years ago.  

That’s amazing, I did not even know so I guess they must have changed some of the rules.  

The NFL was a nonprofit through 2015. They’re talking about billions of dollars. People think of nonprofits, and they think of no profit. They think of charity. They think of all the ways that make them sad on the inside. And really, I just had an interview with someone that said we didn’t get rid of that word non-profit if we said 501C3 instead of the word nonprofit. It changes the dynamic of how we think about the organization that we’re part of, and I’m a huge fan of thinking that mindset in a way that we look at whatever the thing is, it changes exactly how we interact and show up. There’s no rule about how much someone could, should, or would make in a non-profit organization unless they’re only looking at it. From a gilt lens, if you can pay your fundraiser 2 million dollars a year and that guy can bring in $900 million a year, wouldn’t you believe the 2 million dollars a year is worth it? 

Absolutely. Yeah, I’m glad that they changed. The rules on that, I think, are a lot more social. Even more, good can be done when people can be paid well for their efforts, and then you have even more. isn’t really like a mindset of abundance, so then there’s even more money to go around to fund everything that the nonprofit wants to do. So yeah, but you’re You know, how can a nonprofit? Utilize the whole perspective of innovation and think outside the box. And looking at things as if you knew how to be able to… how are you going to make money? It’s like really looking at it that way, there are so many different ways to do it as a nonprofit. 

There are tons of ways. I’ve talked to people that have like Bruce Roth Rosenthal, who talks about how to co-brand a study related to the topic Cobranded with a bank and a non-profit. You have 50 participants. All those 50 participants now use that study and the results to promote your non- They’re using their marketing fund instead of their philanthropy fund, which is a lot larger. They’re using their marketing fund to promote that out there. 

We’ve got people like Will Black. It’s during the quarter that does credit card processing that allows you to take 40% of the back-end fee as a donation unrestricted. No rules are attached to it. donation to your nonprofit. There are so many different ways to raise money. We’ve got people in Oklahoma City, not your average Joe’s coffee. They’re running a done side by side with people with different disabilities, like Down syndrome, and they’re operating a coffee shop. Shop specifically to fund the work the nonprofit is doing. There are so many different ways to do this that we’ve got. 

I’ve got friends in Texas. I can’t think of the guys. I think Sergeant Ritter is the gin company, Jenner Vodka, is using that to fund his nonprofit Operation Phantom Support. There are so many different ways to fund it. With these things, we’ve got so many people with the hat in hand and the sad story, and they’re jiggling their cups hoping to get a couple of nickels. They’re not willing to figure out ways to bring in the real money, so I’m really glad that you were able to find a way to compete for a government contract. They got you 3% and saved them 5% of their budget too. Used towards what? They’re supposed to use it for you. Save them money. You accomplished your mission. And now this nonprofit doesn’t exist, right? Because they Accomplish that. 

Yes, the mission is so interesting, and I remember the exact words as it’s been a while, but it was to be able to digitize scientific information and allow scientists to have easy access to this information, and so we need to, you know, have some it’s on things like digital object identifiers. 

DOI is something we use now. When looking for a scientific paper, one of the first places people looked on Google was for that algorithm, which was developed by Los Alamos National Lab. You know, that was one of our member libraries that also had to do with this organization, so they did a lot of work behind the scenes. scenes as well. You know, developing search protocols, we see things like, you know, a JPEG is a JPEG, like. Why do you call it that? You know, like why what with the PNG file? So those different things were also being created? Behind the scenes, and let’s say more about the think tank aspect of the organization, but what ended up happening is that over time, well wow, we don’t need to aggregate this information anymore because now it’s all available online easily at more reasonable prices to member libraries. So yeah, then they asked, I forget how many years. But I see it in existence. They ended up saying yes, as we’ve fulfilled. Our mission, that’s it. 

See, I think more nonprofits 501(C3) non-profit organizations. Whatever we’re calling it today needs to be focused on actually accomplishing its mission and setting up the systems, programs, policies, and procedures. In a place, where that thing doesn’t happen again, there are organizations that we’ve interviewed like Community Solutions and Built for 0 where they’ve created a functional 0 for homelessness in 18 different cities.

In the US, functional 0 means there’s more housing available than there are people on the streets, but you can’t. For someone to get into a house when they’ve created a functional 0 in 18 communities is insane. It’s amazing how that works. They’re working to actively solve the problem. Combine it with other agencies that are working towards the same goal, trying to work themselves out of a job. I’ve got to ask you if you’re listening to this right now and you’re doing something that’s been worked on for decades, or if you or your organization is working to solve the problem. Or are they only working every year or raising more money to pay more people to continue not solving the problem next year? You’ve done so many other amazing things outside of the direct benefit. 

For the nonprofit world, I know you help people with the right pitch decks to get funding. I saw that you did this weekend. A fantastic photo shoot We were a model for Meraki’s allure. What are some of these other things that you’re spending your time doing, Corrine? 

So, I am an author as well. I have a book out called “A Handbook for Spiritual Warriors” and those are time-tested tools I’ve used over the years to stay connected to my full potential no matter what’s going on in the world. He knows everything through meditation. Prior, I call it “internal house cleaning” because we need to do that now and then in our lives, so that’s why I have that book. 

I have a second book that’s in the process as well, called Infinity. Within that, let’s say probably 80% have done that. I am also working on my Ph.D. part-time, and that is only because I’m a nerd and I’d like to research I stopped working on my Ph.D. for a while because I thought I didn’t need it, but then I missed the research, and it’s like I love digging into information and saying it’s true. You know, it’s like “Let me see if this factoid that I just heard was really and then pass on the information to people.”

 So that’s part of what I do with my workshop educational programs. And that’s another thing I’m doing with it. My life creatively My business is to help people learn how. To look at the world more innovatively and creatively. By tapping into that peace within themselves, and that’s, truly, you’re just tapping into your soul by figuring out what is your own. What are they? Things that I like. lights you up in the world. What makes you feel passionate? What gets you excited? What is that? What is it? What are the doorways to that creative energy? And then how do you consistently access that, so consistently accessing that are tools I’ve put together? That’s all based on scientific research and then some of the tools to maintain that and also really access your intuition. Like I have I’ve put together a whole system for people as well. So those are some of the activities that I enjoy doing. I’m doing it and also, it’s like I. I’m a belly dancer in season. I’m learning fire dancing and dabbling in painting. I’ve written stories like I have a screenplay that I’ve written, and the list goes on, not as I love being creative, and that’s something else. I love passing it on to people. 

But you’ve also acted in Hollywood used to have yours. SAG card, right?  

Yeah, I did have my psych artist was not active at the time. in a Isn’t there a TV show called Lazarus, who lived eons ago, was in one of their episodes. Then I did a lot of voiceover work. That’s how I earned my side card, and I was in a little short film at one. The point, but Ladeaux did love it. It was a spoof on French films. So far, so amusing. 

I don’t think that people in the US in this day and age give themselves away a lot of free time or the ability to just be themselves. It’s almost like they need to ask for permission to live their life and enjoy doing what they’re doing. I love meeting people, connecting with people, helping people understand you, knowing who they are, and transforming. even if it’s just for a moment or two to try to understand, like, what is happening, really to shift their perspective on what they’re looking at. Something we had a call about. You and I had a call this past week where you were kind of bellyaching about something. I was like Well, didn’t you tell me on the call before this that you were loving me? You were just hoping for feedback in this area. And we just all need to be reminded a little bit of all these little different things to help keep us on the right path.  

Oh yeah, exactly.  

It’s crazy to think that so many people are out there doing so many good things and just feel beat down by a society that they don’t feel they have the time, the ability, the energy, the effort to be themselves, that they have to get up every day and put this mask on. They show up in the world as who they’re supposed to be or who they should be, and when they finally realize What they’re able to do is based on who they are. That it’s no holds barred. It’s 10 X 20 X 100X what they could have done with the mask on because they’re finally. Living their true selves 

Now I finally allow myself to be creative because everybody is creative and it’s a habit to just keep it up. It’s like anything else. It’s like I believe that that’s the key to feeling more yourself. I know when I feel creative, I’m like I feel completely me and it’s like anybody else I know too has that feeling? It’s important, you know if it can’t be yourself and it’s like life is a bit challenging. 

Well, I mean, the people are scared, right? Because if you show up as yourself, then there’s going to be people that don’t agree with you. There are going to be people that you offend. There’s a kind of person that discovered that you guys were never friends, that you were Just placating them and just bending to their will, essentially following their rules, trying to make them feel happy. Regardless, you know the sacrifice of self. And when we rise as the people that we were designed and meant to be and are as human beings, not human doings, but human beings sort of living up to unapologetic Lee ourselves, we discover that we might not be in the right circle of people. We might not have the right group of friends. We might be in the wrong industry. We might be at the wrong level. Too many people that I know don’t matter how you describe them. Age, sex, religion, or whatever. However, you describe somebody, they’re holding back based on something that they think. Is there some boundary that they imagine to be true? How do you? I see this showing up in your world.  

I think having the right people around you, first of all, is important to reflect on having this circle of friends who can reflect on who you are because then you can be yourself. And that’s a gift to have something like that. Because otherwise, if you are in a situation where you’re going into a social situation where people expect you to, be a certain way. 

You don’t show up in the way that they expect you to, it’s like you become ostracized. And it’s like we don’t want that because, as human beings, we are wired for social connections. So, we are wired to socially adapt, and one of the things I found in my research that was fascinating was that when we experienced rejection from a social group, it registers in the brain as pain as physical pain. 

So, it’s really interesting because we are wired for social connection, so of course, we’re continuously around. group of people. That does not reflect who we are. I think we’re stifling ourselves, but we might adapt because we don’t want to be rejected, and it’s even on a subconscious level. So, it’s like becoming conscious of whether this circle of friends is really who I want to be. Is this true? Is this true? It makes me feel alive. 

You know, I think about that for myself, you know, it’s like they know a little bit before that. Like, was this social group that I’m in? Did it make me feel alive, or did I feel squashed? Sometimes you can be around people who don’t want you to be successful because it threatens them. Or it threatens their idea of who you are and your idea of who they are. They’re all present and correct. A lot can be said about that.  

Interestingly, what some people don’t understand about group dynamics is that if you hear something that describes you in the situation that you’re in, let’s just say that you’re in a group of people and you can get one or two people in the group to start doing what it is that you want to do. None of them have college degrees. They talk about people that have been to college, and you want to go to college, and you start doing it, and your kind of scared of how the group is going to take it. If you can convince one or two other people to start taking a college class with you, you are going to change the dynamic of the group and the rest of the group. As long as you get two or three, you know. One or two people with you, and you’re going to get the rest of the group to change into that new dynamic. 

The big fear for the group is that your change means they are going to lose you from the group. And if you can keep them engaged on the things that you are on the journey you want to go on, you can change the group and get them to come along with you. Now I say that I like it, so yeah, anyone can do it. It’s not easy, but if you can do it, if you can get a person or two to come along, you can change the group dynamic and the people that are not willing to move forward with their lives. take responsibility for what they’re doing. We become better people.

Do you want people that are not described that way in your group anyway? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know. I don’t think you would be listening to my show if that described you as a person. I don’t think if you thought everything was the way it should be and everything was going to go on the way it was, you would continue doing it and you’re going to go to work 40 hours a week and you’re going to do it again the next week. And if that’s OK for you, I don’t think you’d be listening to this show. I don’t think that would describe you. I think you would have weeded yourself out of listening to me. program over the weeks, months, and years that it spent on the air.

If that didn’t describe who you are, so if you’re in this situation and you want to do something different, if you can convince the people to go with you, great. If you can’t convince them to go along for the ride towards something new, something better, something, whatever it is, then you’ve got to find a new group of people. Otherwise, you’re just hurting yourself. Not that they’re a bad group of people, but if they’re not going where you’re going, they’re eventually either going to do a breakaway or they’re going to pull you back down into it. And then you have to lose 3 4 5 6 years? Not pursuing your dreams because of Some imagined social dynamics that you feel stuck in

Yeah, it’s true. Yeah, I found myself even in some groups not talking about my education at all. Because whenever I did, it would be entirely squashed, like it didn’t matter, it wasn’t anything to be proud of. It was looked at as oh, I’m just trying to make myself important. And it’s like “No, it’s like I just did to contribute to this conversation” I didn’t say that out loud, but I sure felt like it. 

But it’s that type of thing where if you find, I think you have to squash any part of yourself in a group and you’re finding that if you’re squashing the artistic side of yourself, the intellectual side of yourself, and the emotional piece of yourself, I mean that as well. It’s like anything. If you find you have to wear clothes that you’re not comfortable with because I’ve I had that too. You know, it’s just really not the right close circle of friends for you to flourish and grow and contribute to, and they feel like a community because that’s what we all want to feel like. We’re part of the community that Where people see us, and We can contribute to that. I feel a part of it. 

If you’re not celebrating each other’s wins, or you don’t feel that yours will be celebrated, you’re in the wrong group of people. Plain and simple, if I do something that I’ve been working on and I achieve it, or I’m on a further journey, I get to that next step and I tell my friends, “Hey, I just did the thing that I talked about doing.” If they’re not saying right on, keep going and they’ll love you, be proud of you, and keep going. My goodness, this is exciting. Why are you hanging around those people? Or if you hear later that they were talking about how crappy you are behind your back, burn the bridge, run away, stay as far away from those people as possible. Good Lord, what are we doing? We all have limited time. On this little blue rock, floating through space, and if you’re wasting moments of your precious time with people that don’t love, support, encourage, and help develop who you are as a person, as a spouse, as a parent, as a whatever you’re trying to be, Let’s stop wasting your time. Get around the people that can support you. People like Corrine or myself get around us or people like us or the people you’re trying to be like. And build that group of people. Corrine, I’ve enjoyed every second of this conversation. I love what you did for the Alliance for Innovation in Science and Technology. I love what you’ve done in all other areas of life. What are some parting comments you would have for our guest today? 

Oh, don’t be afraid to try something new. It’s like an actual Make a list of the 10 things that you’ve never done that you wanted to do, at least try it once. Try going to a new restaurant nearby or trying an exercise program. Or maybe it’s going somewhere but make a list of 10 things. And just try one of them, because just by doing anything different, It helps to rewire your brain. and it keeps you young as well. It just keeps giving you an incredible, wonderful perspective on life to always be doing new things. That is my voice, those are my words, and I seek wisdom. 

Hey, thank you so much, Corinne. If you want to hear more from Corinne, check her out on live creatively with love. Thank you so much for being my guest today, dropping knowledge bombs, and providing value to my audience. 

Thank you, Travis, as I see it. Will be great to be here today. We’ll catch you all next week. Every Tuesday we’re dropping a new episode of the nonprofit Architect Podcast. Thank you so much.  

You’ve been listening to the nonprofit architect to listen to all our past shows. Visit and be sure to subscribe. Rate and review our show. Thank you. 


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