We had the good fortune of connecting with Austin Pierce and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Austin, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I wish I could say I had this planned effort to start my own business. But, instead, it happened by accident! I had a former employer reach out to me and ask me for assistance with their data management and fundraising. From that point, I reasoned that I should put that work within the confines of an LLC, and suddenly, my business was now a ‘real’ thing. Ha!
Not long after, I found myself in multiple scenarios that highlighted significant gaps in the nonprofit consulting sector. There weren’t many consultants willing to help organizations organize and use their data to increase their impact and fundraising. Once I realized this, I knew I had found my niche, and I needed to grow this.
At the same time, I was relatively unchallenged and bored in my day job. So I thought that consulting would allow me to innovate and grow differently than I could at one organization. Thankfully, that belief has proven more accurate every day that I walk into my home office.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Growing up, I learned that I needed to choose one career path and focus on it. During the last 15 years, I struggled to see how my scattered interests would ever be helpful to any organization. I love design/art, business, nonprofit work, and to make it worse; I am a nerdy analyst who loves spreadsheets! Designers aren’t supposed to like spreadsheets!
My career was consistently in conflict: graphic design vs. digital marketing, nonprofit fundraising vs. operations, LGBTQ activism vs. Christian ministry (that one is for a different interview). Nothing in my “career” felt like it made sense! So I needed to pick one single thing and stick with it. At least that’s what I thought.
Hairpin Consulting was born when I realized that my seemingly random assortment of skills could help organizations execute and grow their impact. It turns out they weren’t random skills at all!
Without question, there are many consultants out there. However, Hairpin sets itself apart by understanding that organizations are 1) collecting tons of data and rarely using it in decision-making or 2) aren’t collecting the correct data to make decisions.
I worked with an organization that hoped a media spot on TV would increase their fundraising revenue. However, they were dismayed when they only saw $100 in donations from media exposure. Leadership assumed that the media exposure wasn’t bringing enough value to the organization. However, tones changed when they realized the organization had acquired 20 new donors from this media – many of whom could give much more than $5 each if somebody cultivated the donors well.
At Hairpin, I bring this nerdy, data-driven, business-educated, artistic-design skillset to help organizations grow.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh, my best friend is going to be exhausted. In the food department: The White Chocolate Grill is #1, then Culinary Dropout, The Burrito Shack in Mesa, and Pita Jungle. I don’t like the taste of alcohol *gasp*, but The Coffee Shop in Gilbert has my vote. Where to go? Tempe Town Lake, Saguaro Lake, Canyon Lake, and virtually anywhere in northern Arizona!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My goodness, there isn’t enough room to respond to this adequately! My partner and parents have been essential. They have challenged me and supported my movement into my consulting career – I literally couldn’t have started this without their encouragement and support. Professionally, I’d have to say Jacquelyn Ahrenberg of Resolute Nonprofit Consulting has been a mentor beyond mentors to me in this fundraising consulting world.