The Nonprofit Hero Factory: Episode 2

How Nonprofits Can Use Video to Build Community with Russ Johns

In this Episode:

Boris and guest Russ Johns talk about how nonprofits can use video to engage and grow their communities on—and generate content for—social media. Russ’s superpower is building communities through video, something he’s been doing for nearly 20 years. Today, as the host of the daily #PirateBroadcast, Russ knows a thing or two about showing up, talking and really listening to his audience. Learn about the tools and strategies that you can apply to your nonprofit’s engagement strategy on LinkedIn, Youtube and other social media channels.

Listen to this Episode

Boris Kievsky 0:15
Hi Everybody and Welcome to Episode Two of the nonprofit Hero Factory. It’s actually my very first live show. I recorded episode one earlier last week, and you guys are welcome to go and check it out. If you want to learn more about me and about this podcast and video series, what we’re all about what we’re going to be doing and delivering over the course of next week’s, month. Hopefully years. As long as you guys are interested, we’ll be here to provide the content.

Boris Kievsky 0:42
Today’s episode is going to be with a good friend of mine and an expert in the field of building communities and using video to do just that. His name is Russ Johns before I bring him on I just want to apologize in advance. As I said, this is our very first live streaming episode it is also the age of Coronavirus. So at the moment, there are a few kids in the house and a new dog in the house. So you might hear any of the above, making some noise in the background or even my kids yelling at the dog in the background. It’s just the world we live in and life goes on. Right. Without any further ado, I would love to bring on Mr. Russ Johns. Russ, can we get you in? There he is. Hey, Russ.

Russ Johns 1:28
Hey Boris. How you doing?

Boris Kievsky 1:32
I’m doing all right. I’m both excited. And as you well know, nervous about this as we’re starting a whole new thing. it’s a new chapter, right? I titled Episode One of this series, our story begins and this is that was really the prologue. As I’ll keep referring to storytelling throughout this whole series, that was the prologue and this is the beginning of chapter one. I don’t know yet where the story is going to take us. So it’s exciting to discover it and I’m really glad that you are my first victim or guest or however you want to see yourself today because I know you’re a pro at doing this. You’re the one who has gotten me into doing this in the first place. Russ, let me give you the floor for a minute go ahead and introduce yourself to everybody out here on the nonprofit Hero Factory. What do you all about? Yeah, what do you hope to share with us today?

Russ Johns 2:23
Yeah. First and foremost Boris I just have two hats off to you applaud the fact that you’re taking steps to help more people I know, the passion and the focus you have on the nonprofit space in general, and your kind heart and I know that you’re going to share some amazing stories and amazing information in value to your community. I just really appreciate the fact that you’re doing this and not because I’m biased and I’m your friend. However, I think right now more than any other time in history is an opportunity where we can actually work together to share good information to help more people. I think that’s what I’m passionate about. I really like the idea that you bringing on guests and having conversations around your storytelling and how important it is for the community, I think that’s going to be so incredibly valuable right now. I just want to take a moment to applaud you for for your efforts. Thank you so much for being here.

Boris Kievsky 3:32
Thanks, brother. I really appreciate that and appreciate you. So yeah, tell me I mean, I know a lot. tell our audience a little bit about what you’ve been doing over the past few years now that I’ve known you. You’ve been building communities I know, through LinkedIn, and through streaming, specifically, live streaming now. You’ve been creating tons of really great content that people really respond to over the years. So tell me a little bit about that. What drives you? What gets you going?

Russ Johns 4:02
Well, I’m super excited. I actually grew up in the advertising industry and as far back as 85. I’ve seen this whole process evolve. I was really excited A number of years ago when I was in Houston, and the opportunity, and I got involved in podcasting. Podcasting was the first arena that I got to play in and I actually started building out this organization that helped broadcast High School varsity games, using streaming media. We get individuals who are passionate about sports, which I know very little about, send them out to these games, and they would broadcast these games, and then we’d streaming back to the radio station. I was managing radio stations at the time. Then we would play these local varsity games on the radio station in Texas. As you can guess, is very passionate about their high school sports in their, and their kids and everything else. It was this is kind of like an open door to see what the possibilities could evolve into. I started an organization and started training people is called the future media Association. The whole premise was that you are the media, you have the opportunity to tell your story and share your gifts with the rest of the world. By using some technology and how it’s evolved is is the opportunity for us to share the stories. I think especially in the nonprofit space, it’s really important for people to understand what you do, how you help, and where you can take people and assist in their mission in your organization. With that, I’ve built a number of communities. I have a good community with broadcast on LinkedIn, and YouTube, I’m continuing to grow on my YouTube channel and Twitter and all the social media. It’s amazing to watch how you can actually communicate and engage your audience. I think when you have an opportunity to have a conversation, you can just share so much and deliver so much value.

Boris Kievsky 6:23
Yeah. That sounds a lot, as you know, very much in line with the types of things that I teach nonprofits and talk to nonprofits about being the master of your own media, about being your own Broadcasting Company, if you will. There are very few barriers these days. Of course, the nonprofit’s biggest barriers are resources, time, and money. Technology has really made it cheaper and cheaper, reducing those barriers to entry. So that the difference between any organization and ABC these days is very small, despite all the Disney money behind ABC. It’s absolutely critical that they get out there and they connect with their communities and tell their stories in the best ways possible. Oftentimes, like I said, nonprofits will struggle with the resources of it, though, whether they just feel like it’s too much to take on or a feeling like they can’t afford to do it. What should they be doing? What are you seeing out there, that’s working? What are you advising people to do just to even get started without spending a ton of money and just start building that kind of community?

Russ Johns 7:42
That’s a great question. I think the word that pops into my head right now is activation. The reason I’m so passionate about video is because it quickly allows an organization to either In US using a smartphone, they can actually take and record something about something that’s taking place, or communication that needs to be shared, or something that is available to the community to activate others around the community. Say, for instance, I’ll give you a perfect example is that I’m working with an organization that builds prosthetics for people that are in rural areas in third world countries, and they use technology to scan limbs so they can quickly process prosthetics. As a result of their video, they’ve been able to tell their story to more people. All of a sudden there’s an awareness in that video can actually be shared and you can see the lights In the eyes of these children, and you can see the parents and the opportunities that they have. The people that are involved and engaged are so motivated and emotional and passionate about what they’re doing. That’s not impossible to transfer to a written word or an image. However, the beauty of the video is that then the nonprofit can take that and share it again and again until the end well until they close the internet. It’ll be there. I think that’s the value is you can do it once and share multiple times. I think there’s a transfer of energy there that takes place.

Boris Kievsky 9:44
Yeah, video is definitely one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful tool today that we have. Arguably, video feeds into some even more powerful tools perhaps like VR and AR. The closer we get to that one to one experience Right. In terms of media, the closer we get to that one to one experience of being able to put ourselves in someone else’s world, really, and we can’t help it, right, we have these neuroreceptors and transmitters, and we release these chemicals in our brains like dopamine and oxytocin and what is the, there’s four that I normally talk about. That really creates empathy and connection to someone else. As soon as you do that, we’re genetically programmed to respond to it, and help it we start to trust we start to want to help someone who is in need. Absolutely video and that first-person storytelling as often as possible, right that’ll get you there the closest. The thing though, is I feel like what happens oftentimes, nonprofits and really not just nonprofits, most people in Organizations, they put out a video and they might even have it super produced and great shiny video. They’ll put it out and they’ll sort of wait for things to happen. You and I were talking earlier and I asked you what your superpower is. You said your superpower is building community. How do we use video? Not to just broadcast our message and be ABC, right, which has historically been one-directional, right? It one too many great for them. But one-directional, how do we and they’re still wrestling with this to create a two-way conversation so that it’s really building a community because the community is not, listening to someone speak and saying, Okay, sure. Community is dialogue.

Russ Johns 11:46

Boris Kievsky 11:47
What are you doing to really facilitate dialogue out there?

Russ Johns 11:52
That’s an excellent question. I’m glad you brought it up because a lot of people, We’ve had many discussions around this point, Boris is a lot of people think that social media is going to solve their problems. What I like to do is make sure that people understand that social media is just a tool for communication. The ability and the opportunity that we have is with social media is the opportunity to actually have a conversation with somebody and one of the tools that I shared with you, that I absolutely love right now. It’s not required. You can do this in many different ways. But is one of the tools that I use to actually create one to one communications, conversations with individuals, say a nonprofit. They have a list of donors, they have a list of people that have participated as volunteers. They have a list of people that are involved in the organization in some way, shape, or form. One of the things that I love to use on LinkedIn to engage in a direct message.

Russ Johns 13:08
LinkedIn allows you from your phone to leave a voicemail, it allows you to leave a video without any other additional software at all. It allows you to leave a text message. If you’re connected to these individuals, I encourage you to think about how you can quickly and simply just reach out and check in on people and open the dialogue that takes place and stay active in that process and make it part of your daily routine. To reach out to a few people set aside 10 15 minutes a day to actually engage in your community and allow them the opportunity to introduce you to new people that are in need of your nonprofit or actually can help Hope you’re nonprofit because people are inherently, in my history and my experience, inherently want to help people, if you’re asking for help, people are good to help if they know how they can help. Just communicating quick video on a LinkedIn phone or even in a messenger on Facebook, there’s, it’s very simple to produce. It’s very quick and easy to engage. It actually creates a lot of responses. I think that over time, that’s how I built up communities, multiple communities over time.

Boris Kievsky 14:40
Do you have a LinkedIn right now, Russ?

Russ Johns 14:43
I do have a LinkedIn. How many connections do you have there? I have, I don’t know. It’s almost 22,000 or so. connections.

Boris Kievsky 14:56
If you’re working is that a lot of people actually feel like they aren’t connected to you because you do do that you reach out to people you talk to people directly. It’s not just oh, I click the button. Yeah sure. Now I’m connected to somebody, you actually establish connections. Yeah, Dubb is a great tool for that. Dubb can also if you like, and there’s also another I don’t remember what it’s called right now, something video by type form. Also the video responses, a few tools now coming out to do that, which I think are awesome. One because it helps communicate in two directions, but also to help, for example, collect social proof, right, a video testimonial. I’m fascinated by behavior and behavioral change.

Boris Kievsky 15:41
One of the formulas that have really stuck in my head from a couple of different books that I’ve been reading lately is behavior equals motivation, plus ability Plus trigger or maybe it’s times ability to trigger and you talked about that trigger. if they see the video and if you ask for something right that’s the triggered ability these days technology like Dubb like type forms new tool and even just playing conversation Facebook Messenger will allow you to do this right? It makes it super fast and super easy to just open up your phone or open up your webcam and record a quick video and shoot it back. Now you’ve got this A: bidirectionality so you’re actually being social rather than preaching and B: your the motivation is in the is partly in the ask the trigger is right there, the call to action. The ability is super simple. You’ve now got a behavior change formula that is super simple to use.

Russ Johns 16:46
Yeah. To take the next step for us is with Dubb. I actually have been able to within Dubb, I can create a Dubb video and say, Boris, I really thank you for being on my show. I want to be able to explain to people your experience and kind of if you could share something, and then you can actually reply in the video. What that does is it allows the opportunity to be involved and engaged. If you could do that with your community in the nonprofit space, that is huge, because when you can offer ownership and it’s like, all of a sudden, that connection is like, Hey, I’m part of a bigger thing here. I’m part of a movement that’s helping individuals or helping animals or save the park or whatever it happens to be. There are so many opportunities that what happens is you collect and you acquire, and you start working on a mutual goal that everybody understands what they’re they’re part of the equation is, and there’s a lot of ways you can do this. I love Dubb, because of what it’s been able to do for me and the conversations that have started, and the conversations that I continue to have with that tool. Inherently it’s the ability and the opportunity to actually share this video and start a conversation. Because, starting the conversation, and continuing to stay engaged is is the key benefit here.

Boris Kievsky 18:33
I just want to reiterate that there are a few tools out there. I just looked it up, it’s Video Ask by type form, right? Dubb is great but it’s not the only thing out there. It’s what one of the things I’m constantly for lack of better word preaching is the best tool is the one that you have and can use right now. Whatever is most easily accessible I think is great. You also when we return Talking mentioned Stream Yard, which we’re actually using right now. Tell me, how do you think nonprofits should be using Stream Yard or similar live streaming tools like this?

Russ Johns 19:10
Well, the big platform that a lot of people have heard a lot about, I’ve been using the stay at home movement with pandemic going on is Zoom. It’s a video conferencing. I want to make sure that I explain this in a way that is easy for people to understand is that Zoom is based on and you can record Zoom sessions, but Zoom is based on multiple people getting into a room looks like imagine a conference room, it’s a virtual conference room, and you can come in and have a conversation and make comments and things like that.

Russ Johns 19:52
Whereas Stream Yard is actually a platform that allows you to stream to multiple locations, At the same time, and we can have guests in the room, and we can have multiple people in different looks and feels. It’s focused on streaming live video. We can actually take that moment, this conversation right now. Then we can take that and develop future content with it as part of the conversation, and we can repurpose that like I said until they close the Internet, and we’ll have this available, and then you can use it. Then we’ll take this audio file and create a podcast for you. Then we’ll go recreate some images, and then you can share it out again. Its Multi-Purpose benefit is that it? It’s shared multiple places by just doing it once.

Boris Kievsky 20:49
That’s exactly what we’re doing with this show. Right?

Russ Johns 20:51

Boris Kievsky 20:51
We’re doing it live. Right now. I think we’re just on Facebook and

Russ Johns 20:55

Boris Kievsky 20:56
On YouTube already and Periscope and then hopefully soon, we’ll get LinkedIn as well. People can interact. Also, that’s the other thing. Zoom, you can stream live, I think to Facebook and possibly even to YouTube, I don’t remember. The interactive portion Stream Yard is great at bringing in if anybody makes comments, they flow into the stream yard window as well. Then you can keep it up there, but you can also repurpose it right so we’re gonna take this and we’re going to set it up as opposed to the podcast, which people can hopefully subscribe to and download on whatever their favorite podcasting platform is. By the way, for those of you listening, watching all of these tools, whatever we mentioned in shows, we’re making it a point to put into the show notes for easy access. So if you go to or specifically for this one, it would be Episode Two, it will redirect you to the full show notes page. Where we’ll have links to all this stuff as well as more info on Russ and everything that we’re trying to do. As you know, I love this concept of taking content and sort of some people call it downsampling.

Russ Johns 22:14
I’m glad I kept my fax machine, right.

Boris Kievsky 22:15
It’s really down streaming it in several ways where you start with the big picture, I don’t even know where my hand is, at the moment, you start with the biggest object, which is the most the one that’s going to be most easy to repurpose for all sorts of other functions, which in this case, is a conversation with my friend, Russ Johns. Then you can repurpose it into all kinds of other media and other places on the web. Until the internet dies, which I don’t think it ever will. It’s gonna keep evolving. In a generation, it’ll probably look very different than it does today as all things do. The content will still be there. We don’t have to worry about going back now and Converting our old analog VHS and cassette, audio cassettes to digital.

Boris Kievsky 23:09
I just had a new internet service installed, I had files installed, and the guy tells me, Yeah, and if you have a fax machine, there’s jack right on the back is that I’m sorry. What? The first fax machine I remember was in 1987, I think and I thought it was exciting new technology. Today, if somebody says fax, I tune out. I can’t and I understand some people are still comfortable with that technology and good for them that it exists. We’ve moved past the analog age and now that we’re in the digital era, there’s no going back. Any content that’s currently created, can and will outlive all of us in so many different ways. The trick though, I think, and as you said, it’ll live on forever. You can keep using it. I think the trick is to keep repurposing it and reinfusing it with substance, right.

Boris Kievsky 24:08
So in a few years, maybe live streaming won’t be as important as it is right now. But parts of this conversation are still going to be relevant and can still be used, even just for archival purposes, but also the concepts that we’re talking about of communication of bi-directional communication, right? Those are going to even outlive the media. I think there are many ways, I think one term that I used to use for this upcycling, right, so we’re going to downsample this content, but we’re also going to upcycle it in the future, because we might be able to compile a series of things like I might ask a specific question throughout all of these and then have a bunch of people answering it right now it’s content around one specific subject, even though we talked about 15 different things during this episode.

Russ Johns 24:57
Yeah. Well Here’s the thing that the thread that pulls it all together Boris, This is what I know that you’re passionate about is helping nonprofits have a clear, concise story that everybody understands is key to their evolution, because whether you’re sharing it today, a year from now, or 10 years from now, as long as the story and the message are clear and concise, people will always understand and appreciate what you’re looking to accomplish. That’s what you bring to the table. That’s what I admire you for it, I’m all over the map, and I can ramble all day. However, you’ve always been a one that can relate back in and saying, Okay, how does that support the story? How does that and that’s the principles that you share with so many nonprofits right now is the ability and opportunity to help them craft that story. So whether it’s a year from now or 10 years from now That story is still relevant.

Boris Kievsky 26:03
The only thing I’m going to add to that recipe, thank you for that, but clear, concise. I’m going to add a third C just because we’re in C’s, and compelling, right?

Russ Johns 26:14
Yeah, absolutely

Boris Kievsky 26:16
It has to draw you in it has to call you to action, right? I love the hero’s journey, apparently, for these things in the Hollywood interpretation of the hero’s journey, if you will. So yeah, clear, concise, and compelling. It’s possible that your story will evolve over time. It should nothing should stay the same forever at any given point in time,

Russ Johns 26:38
People that have a guide to help them with those stories, too.

Boris Kievsky 26:42

Russ Johns 26:44
You’ve helped me many times. I really appreciate what you do and the talent that you have what

Boris Kievsky 26:50
I think I can attribute that partly to my own OCD, where if something doesn’t fully make sense in my brain, I will obsess over it until it does. Which is a great treat in some respects and very frustrating for some people in my life.

Russ Johns 27:04
We’re kind of on the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s like, hey, just make it happen. Everything works out.

Boris Kievsky 27:11
Yeah, yeah. Both are totally valid and that’s why I need someone like you in my life to help me kind of balanced that so I appreciate your buddy.

Russ Johns 27:21
Well, thank you so much for having me on the show. Boris, I know this adventure is going to be challenging at times. Amazing, and others. Regardless of where it ends up and how far it takes you. I know that you’ll have success and you’ll help many people in your future because that’s who you are. That’s what you do.

Boris Kievsky 27:46
Russ, I feel like you just made a toast at my bar mitzvah. Today, you’re a man, a streaming man.

Russ Johns 27:53
You’re a streaming man! You will stream forever!

Boris Kievsky 27:59
Thank you, brother. I appreciate you. I hope everyone will go and check out. The link to that is also, of course, going to be in the episode, show notes so that people can get to know more about what you’re doing, including helping people like me, get our own word out, and of course helping nonprofits get their word out. Thank you for being my very first guinea pig on the show, and I look forward to sharing so much more with you and with all the nonprofits out there that are listening.

Russ Johns 28:29
Love you brother. You take care!

Concepts and Takeaways:

  • Using Video for Communication is the way that we all need to look into
  • Podcasts and Live Broadcasts are going to become more popular in the future
  • Video will be around as long as the internet exists
  • Non-Profits can reach more donors and communicate with people they wouldn’t normally talk to through, Video-Podcasting, Live Broadcasting, and other social media platforms.

Action Steps: What Now?

  • Resource Spotlight

    In this episode, the following resources were mentioned:

    The resources mentioned in this episode:

    •   Convert Anywhere with Actionable Videos using Dubb
    •   VideoAsk the most effortless way to have asynchronous video conversations
    •   Streamyard is an easy way to live stream your videos and post them to your social media accounts
    •   Zoom is an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, chat, and webinars
  • Start implementing!

    Go to to learn more about Russ and how he uses video to foster communities.

    Catch the PirateBroadcast each weekday morning at 7 am Arizona Time PST on Linkedin, Facebook, YouTube, and at for the episodes that you missed.

About this week’s guest

Russ Johns

Russ Johns

Host of #PirateBroadcast


I’m passionate about connecting and developing relationships and want to help others that are passionate about doing the same thing.

I believe we all have gifts worth sharing.
Not everyone is ready to share the message benefiting those around us. I Believe YOU GOT THIS!

Connect with Russ Johns