EP24 - Michael Hoffman - Featured

Episode 24: How to Use Video to Engage Supporters, with Michael Hoffman

The Nonprofit Hero Factory: Episode 24

How to Use Video to Engage Supporters, with Michael Hoffman

In this Episode:

The worlds of online and even traditional media are crowded with information and misinformation. Competition for attention is at an all-time high and trust, arguably, at all-time lows. Creating genuine connections and convincing people to support your cause only gets harder every day. One of the most effective mediums for conveying stories that drive empathy and action today, is video. Once reserved for big-budget galas, video is increasingly accessible. In fact, most of us carry powerful video cameras in our pockets all the time.

This week’s Nonprofit Hero Factory guest, Michael Hoffman, is on a mission to make capturing a nonprofit’s communities’ stories through video as easy as visiting a website or pulling out your phone. Michael joins Boris to talk about why video works, best practices, and how to get the most out of your nonprofit’s stories to create more heroes for your cause.

[00:00:18.750] – Intro Video
Welcome to the Nonprofit Hero Factory, a weekly live video broadcast, and podcast. Where we’ll be helping nonprofit leaders and innovators create more heroes for their cause and a better word for all of us. Da-Ding!

[00:00:20.970] – Boris
Hi, everybody. Welcome back to the Nonprofit Hero Factory. Today, we’re going to talk about something that I’ve been passionate about for many years, even before I ever got into the world of nonprofits. As many of you know, if you’ve been following the show or anything that I’ve done, I talk a lot about Hollywood and filmmaking. And while the Hollywood storytelling formula can really be applied to most any type of communication. Video, specifically, of course, Hollywood focuses on more than all.

[00:00:46.770] – Boris
And there’s some reason for that, of course. And today we have a guest that has done a lot of things in the world of nonprofit, nonprofit consulting and marketing. But he is now focusing on video specifically. So I brought him on to talk about why he’s focusing on video. What is it that’s best practice, if you will, for nonprofits to be thinking about at this point. Let me tell you a little bit about Michael Hoffman.

[00:01:12.660] – Boris
He is the CEO and co-founder of Gather Voices, which is a technology that automates the creation, management, and publishing of video content. He is also the founder of C3 Communications, a digital marketing strategy for nonprofits and the founder of the DoGooder Video Awards, which honors the best social cause videos each year. Michael teaches marketing at the University of Chicago and is an internationally sought after speaker and trainer who is a trusted advisor to nonprofit leaders on engagement strategy, which coincidentally is what we’re going to talk to him today about.

[00:01:46.710] – Boris
When I asked him his superpower, Michael says it’s enabling nonprofits to tell powerful stories that put donors at the center. And when nonprofits become the mentor to the donor hero, powerful things happen. Which I completely agree with. So with that said, let’s bring Michael on to the show.

[00:02:05.280] – Michael Hoffman
Hi there.

[00:02:06.330] – Boris
Hey, Michael, thanks for joining me today. How are you doing?

[00:02:09.180] – Michael Hoffman
Thanks for having me. I’m doing great. I’m doing great. I’m glad to be here.

[00:02:12.600] – Boris
So as I just read to everybody, your bio, but as I always like to say, can you tell us your story?

[00:02:19.070] – Michael Hoffman
Sure. Yeah. Well, I love that the show—thank you for having me on—and I love that the show is called the Nonprofit Hero Factory, because we need to put the other people in—constituents in—that role of hero. Right? And not the organization and that… and create lots of heroes for the cause. So I just love that because it absolutely corresponds to my world view and the things that I work on and teach and all of that.

[00:02:47.040] – Michael Hoffman
So and all of that just briefly started… I was a nonprofit fundraiser for years in Washington, D.C. I then spent about six years doing venture capital Internet companies. I took that experience to start a digital marketing agency just working with nonprofits, social causes. So, C3 is still around doing great work. And I’ve spent a lot of time with organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association and Make a Wish and others helping them with everything from web, video, and strategy.

[00:03:19.590] – Michael Hoffman
And I’m doing what I’m doing now at Gather Voices because it became painfully obvious to me in the seat of a consultant that we just couldn’t scale video production the way that organizations really need in a world where video is so dominant. And so I and some other folks thought about what what could we do to help there? And we came up with technology instead of just services to be able to do that.

[00:03:49.380] – Boris
That’s awesome. I mean, I’m a huge advocate of technology and creating or implementing tools that already exist in order to augment an organization’s efforts so that they can create greater impact without utilizing relatively similar levels of resources that it would take if it was the hand-to-hand combat on the ground. So it’s great that you’re focused on this, but why video specifically?

[00:04:17.030] – Michael Hoffman
Yeah, one of the things that I did when I started C3 Communications, which was 15 years ago, was really focus on video production for nonprofits. And that was because at the time broadband had just become something that wiped out dial up Internet. And the Internet really changed from a service that just connected people and had a lot of text and email and other things to a distribution platform for video. And we knew that that was not only coming, but that would really come to dominate.

[00:04:55.440] – Michael Hoffman
And so when when I built the agency, we built it with a strong video production and storytelling at the core. In fact, my co-founder of C3 Communications is a guy named Danny Alpert, who is a top social issue documentary filmmaker in the country, making really important films for television and around social issues. And so we really thought, well, this is what organizations need and will need, even more so in the future. So I’ve always had video as a centerpiece of what I’ve been interested in, and we’ve only seen that become more prevalent. Right?

[00:05:32.160] – Michael Hoffman
And it’s, you know, a lot of it’s driven by these devices that we have in our pockets that we still call phones, but they’re really supercomputers with professional video cameras in them. And we, you know, people are getting really comfortable making and watching videos on their devices. And the question is, well, how do we leverage that for our causes?

[00:05:56.180] – Boris
So how do we leverage that for our cause? Why—and video is great and I love video for so many different reasons—but the same story can be told many different ways. Right? And you could use different media to tell a story. The technology that we have today, you’re absolutely right. We have all of these tools that are so readily available to us and that we’re increasingly comfortable using. The Internet can, of course, facilitate all of the different media that has pretty much ever existed in one way or another.

[00:06:28.810] – Boris
Of course not… not the same as, for example, going to a museum or seeing a live show. But why do you think video is the best place to focus when collecting stories versus just, say, a text form or some kind of written content?

[00:06:45.250] – Michael Hoffman
Right. I mean, I think it’s really starts from just the impact. We see that video gets 1200% more shares than images or text on social media. And we see that 88% more time is spent on websites that have—web pages that have video on them than web pages that don’t have video on them. Right? And we know that you can get 2 to 3 times the click throughs in your emails when you put a video thumbnail in that email, because people are much more likely to want to click to watch that video than to some other link where what they don’t know what they’re going to see.

[00:07:21.700] – Michael Hoffman
So that’s really the big driver, is that we need to engage people around our causes. And video is the kind of content that’s engaging people more. So that’s the one level. I think another level is that we’ve really seen a bunch of trends come together, one of which is the lack of trust in institutions and media and government. And so we’re in a world where the brands aren’t trusted the way that they used to be. And really people trust people and peers.

[00:08:00.010] – Michael Hoffman
And so I think it’s another thing that’s happening is we have to step out in front of our brand voices with real people and those real people, and the stories from real people that are authentic, that feel like they’re not manufactured by a marketing team are the things that work better as well.

[00:08:20.980] – Michael Hoffman
So if you sort of take the video working well and you take the authentic stories, part of real people working well and you put those things together, you know, that’s what we’re focused on because that’s where we see the impact.

[00:08:36.490] – Boris
Absolutely. I’m so glad you shared all those numbers and statistics on how much more effective video usage is in terms of creating heroes, in terms of creating engagement and connection. You know, aside from a one-to-one conversation in person, a one to one conversation over the Internet with video is probably the second best way to actually make a connection with a person. And watching someone is very different than just reading their story, because if their story’s well written, you can convey all the emotions and the imagination gets stimulated and it can be really, really powerful.

[00:09:14.500] – Boris
But seeing someone who has experienced something and seeing their facial expressions, hearing their emotion in their voice is just always a much more immediate driver of empathy. Releases that oxytocin like nothing else so that you trust—and that’s a huge thing that you just mentioned. Social proof and trust building factors are critical these days with so many people claiming so many different things or vying for attention. That connection that you could make through a good story well told is going to make all the difference every time.

[00:09:52.360] – Michael Hoffman
Yeah, and I think there’s another layer to it also, which is that everyone who’s affiliated with your organization or your cause filters that work through their own life experience and story. And so you sitting in a kind of a marketing fundraising communications seat, we are trying to think of what people might want to hear, what might move people. But when we simply give up on that and say, well, if we collect the stories from real people and let them tell their authentic journey that got them to care about this, that’s going to be unique for each person that we get that from.

[00:10:33.910] – Michael Hoffman
And that’s what’s going to resonate with different people. They’re going to say, I didn’t realize this was such a huge problem in the world and I didn’t realize I could do something about it. And then I found this organization and they helped me realize that I actually had a lot more power and influence and impact than I thought I could ever have. And that’s exactly that hero’s story which the Hero Factory is saying. I need you to look at yourself not as an ordinary person in the ordinary world, but someone who can actually do heroic things through the organization.

[00:11:14.980] – Michael Hoffman
And so the organization will help you reveal the power that you have, that you didn’t even realize you have. Right? And like getting the more people that can tell that story, the more proof points, the more trust that that has. And as you said with video, there’s a realness to it. People can feel whether that’s real or not, with video in a different way.

[00:11:40.270] – Michael Hoffman
And we’re so lucky as organizations today. We’re so lucky because when I started See3 years ago, everything had to be beautifully shot and expensively produced and all of that. We don’t have to do that. I mean, there’s good reasons to do that sometimes and to have a kind of pyramid where you have a few pieces of tentpole content during the year, let’s say. But you can do so much with the devices in your pocket, with the webcam that we’re both using, like that’s new and that’s really powerful.

[00:12:14.530] – Michael Hoffman
And that gives small organizations an edge. Because, you know, I always say this to organizations that I that I work with. You know, if Nike can tell a story that’s going to make you cry and they sell shoes and clothes, like think about what you can do with the real issues and real people and stuff that matters. You know, it’s it’s like we have such assets in this world of nonprofits in terms of storytelling, and we just have to let them out and be less worried and guarded about those real stories, because sometimes real stories are also a little bit messy.

[00:12:50.480] – Boris
Absolutely, there’s a few things that I’d love to touch on that you just spoke about. So one of the things that I teach organizations and help them figure out is their content source map, basically. So a lot of organizations have a small if even a dedicated marketing team. And they’re often overwhelmed trying to get all of the stories together, trying to create the stories, think of the stories, as you were just saying. And so I walk them through a process where I help them identify all the different types of people that they could possibly source stories from that are connected to their organization already, whether they’re donors or board members or volunteers or beneficiaries of their services and various points in between.

[00:13:35.330] – Boris
Those are all going to have, as you said, a different point of view. Right? In filmmaking, we have different angles and different POV shots. So everybody’s point of view is going to be slightly unique, at least slightly unique. And it’s going to have its own connection that people who are similar to them might resonate with. The other thing that you were talking about with the technology and whether we need professionally produced video… completely agree, again.

[00:14:03.420] – Boris
Yes, there’s that what you call tentpole content at maybe a gala. You want a professionally produced video that looks like you’re doing high-quality work. But oftentimes that level of production is counterproductive when it comes to a direct appeal. You want that raw kind of emotional energy, that unfiltered look, rather than something that’s smooth and polished because it’s harder to connect to something smooth and polished than it is to just a person talking on whatever device it is, not looking perfectly lit with a green screen like I’ve got in here. And it’s actually more effective for some campaigns.

[00:14:42.660] – Boris
So I want to touch on two things now that kind of spawned from that. The first is, we now have, I think, the opposite problem of what we had when you started to See3, like you were saying, where video was difficult to make and expensive to make. And everybody is now jumping on the video bandwagon and Facebook is flooded with video. They used to promote it more. I think they still do promote it more in the algorithm.

[00:15:09.810] – Boris
Instagram is all about the video. Obviously, TikTok is nothing but video. So now there is almost too much out there. How does an organization, first of all, prioritize which videos they put out and second of all, figure out where they could use those videos most effectively?

[00:15:30.930] – Michael Hoffman
Yeah, I mean, I think that’s the right question. We think the world, we see a world totally awash in video. Right? And you kind of go, well, ah, we had sort of peak video? And the answer to that, I think is no, that we’re not even there yet. And I say that because when I go and see a speaker’s page at a conference. Right, all the different sessions, session listing, mostly it’s just a bunch of text. And I’m not hearing from those people who are speaking or when I get emails from nonprofits. I’m on many email lists, so I can see what everyone’s doing. How often is it just a big block of text? And “most often” is the answer to that. And so there’s so much room to put video in the places that we’re trying to engage people.

[00:16:23.310] – Michael Hoffman
So I think on the one hand, don’t be scared away by the noise that there is. There is a lot of noise out there. And you also have to know who’s your audience. And and so you have to go where your audience is.

[00:16:38.490] – Michael Hoffman
You know, I’ve had so many organizations. I’m sure you’ve had this experience as well, where organizations like, you know, we want to be on TikTok. And you say, well, your average donor is a 70-year-old woman. Is this where you think you’re going to increase that market? And it’s like, “well, we want to have younger donors.” It’s like, great, let’s go for 50-year-old women this time. You know, I mean, you have to be strategic about these things and really say, well, who are we targeting and why and where do those people live online and what ways and what are the things that are going to connect to them.

[00:17:21.630] – Michael Hoffman
One of the things that we’re excited about in Gather Voices, where we have technology that can get lots of video from lots of people, is that, there’s no downside to getting as many people as possible to tell their story. Because a couple of things happen there. One is you get all this content. You don’t have to use all of it, but you get a lot of content regularly instead of chasing after content that you need in that moment.

[00:17:50.100] – Michael Hoffman
The other thing is simply asking someone to share their story strengthens the relationship that you have with that person. And I think this is a really important point. It’s like the content itself is useful because of how it could move others. But the asking for the content is powerful in saying you care about what these people’s experience are. You care about what they think, you care about who they are and you’re lifting that up. So I think the idea of building video collection into lots of touch points that you already have is a much better long-term strategy than let’s chase some people because we have this initiative coming up.

[00:18:34.230] – Michael Hoffman
And so when I say long term, I think of like, every donor… on a thank you page, it says click here to record a video and tell us why you care about this. You know why you care about this cause, like what brings you, right? Like just creating a culture of saying, we want to listen, we care what you think. You know, that can have real impact.

[00:18:55.470] – Boris
Absolutely. Though you have to be careful that when you say we care, we want to know what you think, that you can actually respond to that as well. There’s … the only thing worse, I think, than not asking people for their input and and helping them feel like a part of the movement, a part of the cause, a part of the community is to ask them and then ignore them.

[00:19:18.000] – Michael Hoffman
I totally agree with that. I totally agree. And I think, you know, that doesn’t mean that every video lands on your homepage. Right? There are lots of ways to make people feel and genuinely care of what they think. And the value of it is so powerful as well, just in terms of intelligence. Like to really understand what’s the intersection between these different people in their lives and in the organization that we care about.

[00:19:47.610] – Michael Hoffman
You know, I like what you were saying about thinking about all the different storytellers. It reminds me of work that I got to do with Make a Wish, where and the production quality issue, where you make a wish for many years had one story, which was this wish story where you have the wish kid getting their wish and everybody’s happy. And it’s like a really great story. But that was it. Like that’s all you ever saw about Make a Wish was like that big reveal moment of that which kept getting their story.

[00:20:18.390] – Michael Hoffman
And you know what the problem with that is? That resonates with some people. But mostly you look at that and you go, that’s great. You have it all figured out. What do you need us for? Right? Like, there’s no there’s no sense of need in there because the organization’s already done this thing that’s powerful and has impact. And I can watch from the sidelines and it’s fine. But it also doesn’t show my role. If I’m a volunteer or I’m a donor, what do I have to do with that?

[00:20:46.560] – Michael Hoffman
It doesn’t look like anything. It’s own contained thing. And so what we did with Make a Wish was really say to them, you have permission to tell other stories even though you want to be child centric, which was like, this weird child centric, kept them in that box because they’re like, oh, we can’t tell stories about anybody else. It’s like, no, that’s not what we mean by child centric. Child centric means it’s all on behalf of the kids.

[00:21:10.770] – Michael Hoffman
That doesn’t mean you can’t tell their stories. So a great example was once they once they really internalize this idea, they did the most incredible video and I will find it for the shownotes. It’s the most incredible video of a volunteer. Because Make a Wish, which is one of the few organizations where the real work gets done by volunteers, a lot of the real work gets done by volunteers. And so they had this volunteer and the guy at the beginning of video, he’s like, I get really weirded out by sick kids.

[00:21:40.230] – Michael Hoffman
Like, I don’t think I can be in a room with somebody who’s really sick, you know? And but then I went in and I met this kid, Noah and I, we fell in love. It was like the most incredible thing. And then he tells this whole story about how he did this, rebuilt this kid’s house so that the kid could get access to the outside with his wheelchair. Right? But they would have never thought that it was OK to have a volunteer go, “I don’t know about this being with the kids thing.” But what that ended up doing was giving voice to the same emotional journey that so many other people had, which is why “I don’t want to get involved, because I don’t think I can deal with it” and how he got through that and how he experienced it.

[00:22:28.000] – Michael Hoffman
And that led to more volunteers, right? That’s what they needed, volunteer recruitment. So you have to tell the stories of the people that you want to activate. Again, if you have a story and there’s no donor agency in that story, that doesn’t mean the whole story has to be about the donor. But if there’s no sense that it was the donor that made it possible. Then no donor is going to get activated by it, right? And if there’s no sense of the volunteer, the volunteers are going to activated by it. So I don’t know. Tell me if that’s in line with your experience.

[00:23:00.320] – Boris
Oh, that’s absolutely my experience. That’s absolutely what I teach day in, day out. You know, people will respond to other people who are more like them, who are in a similar position to them, who feel the way that they do. And you need to definitely empower them and make it seem like you can become a hero. And we are not the heroes.

[00:23:22.880] – Boris
The nonprofit is not the hero. And I think that’s how it was coming off on that Make a Wish video that you’re talking about before you guys came in. That the nonprofit is the hero. “Look at the great work we do and oh, you should help us.” Rather than, “our volunteers are heroes who make these wishes come true. And you can also be volunteer even if before you may have thought that, oh, it’s really difficult to be in a room with sick children.” You reminded me of that Sally Struthers campaign so many years ago that said, for the price of a cup of coffee a day, you could feed every child.

[00:23:58.970] – Boris
And it was very effective, I’m sure. But at the same time, it turned a lot of people off. When that commercial would come on, it was so sad and so manipulative that people would change the channel. And that’s not necessary. You don’t have to just, in that case, it really was exploit the beneficiaries, exploit the people who are having the problem in order to say there is a problem and you can help.

[00:24:25.640] – Michael Hoffman
The other piece about that. I think that doesn’t work is that the ask has to be commensurate with the challenge. If I say to you, millions of kids are dying in Africa of hunger and you can give me the price of a cup of coffee, there’s a mismatch there. It’s like, yeah, I don’t think I’m going to really have a big impact on that problem, you know? And so I think that’s another piece of it. But I love what you just said about about Make a Wish and that because that was actually the first thing that we did with them was their mission statement said, Make a Wish, grants the wishes of children.

[00:24:59.960] – Michael Hoffman
And we were like, no, make a wish, doesn’t it? Thousands, tens of thousands of volunteers and donors grant the wishes of children. That’s who does it. It’s Make a Wish that makes it possible. But it’s the heroes are not it’s not the organization, because then you put your donor as the sidekick and nobody wants to be a sidekick. Nobody wants to be Robin, sorry.

[00:25:21.560] – Boris
That’s true. That’s true. Although I was just randomly reading an article that Matt Damon did want to be Robin and kept auditioning and they kept turning him down. And in the end, it’s really a good thing because the guys who did play Robin never actually went too far in their careers. Sorry, total side note. Let’s come back to…

[00:25:43.570] – Boris
All right, video is powerful. Appeals from and in stories from people on all different levels within the organization are vital and can be used super effectively. What makes a good video story? What are the elements that a story on video specifically? And I mean, I could talk for days about this stuff… from your perspective and what’s been working for you guys, what’s necessary in there for it to be effective?

[00:26:11.810] – Michael Hoffman
Yeah, I mean, I think there’s a couple of levels of that. I would say. Let me just start with production side of things. You know, people we don’t need fancy produced video, but we need good sound. So I would say if you’re going to focus on anything, you know, it’s sound and light and sound, especially. That people will watch bad video with good sound. They will not watch good video, bad sounds, it’s too frustrating.

[00:26:35.570] – Michael Hoffman
So just simply having quiet places, an external microphone, that’s very inexpensive, other ways to get good sound. So I would say that just as a production note. Go ahead.

[00:26:47.540] – Boris
Let me pause you right there, because absolutely. And I learned this in Hollywood so many years ago that’s number one thing. Do you advise organizations to send out external microphones for things because not everybody has one?

[00:26:59.480] – Michael Hoffman
Not necessarily. I mean, I think it depends on the circumstance. So I think if you’re recording at an event, you better have a setup that will deal with the surrounding noise and things like that. One of the things we’ve done in our software actually is we have when you when we get people to record themselves using their own phones, we have a frame of their face in the middle. And people are like, oh, so that they put their face there.

[00:27:25.610] – Michael Hoffman
And I was like, yeah, but really. So that they size it right, so it’s close enough to get the good sound. And so I think, I think there’s ways to get good sound, but it’s definitely something to make people aware of. And if you can, you know, the other thing we’ve built into the software is also a warning that says it seems loud in there. Maybe you want to move to a quiet place.

[00:27:46.670] – Michael Hoffman
So I think again. Depending on the use of the of the things, it sometimes makes sense to send equipment out to people not always necessary if you give them the right framework to do it.

[00:27:58.570] – Boris
OK, so we’ve got sound. We need great sound. Absolutely. What else?

[00:28:02.470] – Michael Hoffman
Yeah. I mean, the other thing is just a compelling personal story with no fluff. I think there’s a there’s a tendency in people who fancy themselves video makers to have like intros, and things that take some time to get into it. And that’s nice if you’re sitting down to watch Game of Thrones or something. But in our world, online mostly get right to it, like jump right in to whatever that piece is, and cut your story so that, you know, that you that you grab people in the first few seconds because you can lose people so fast online.

[00:28:40.440] – Michael Hoffman
You know that’s that’s an example. So, so that’s really I mean those are the big things I would say. I think when you let people tell their own authentic stories, you get a mix of things. But that’s 99% of the time better than the story you’re going to try to manipulate or craft.

[00:28:58.810] – Boris
Interesting. I worked with an organization here in the New York metro area where we were trying to find videos and video stories, basically soliciting stories. And what I found helpful in that case, and I don’t know if you guys do this… Before they ever actually turned on the camera, we had them write out answers to certain questions that would trigger a storytelling formula. First of all, a beginning, middle and end, if you will, with that conflict or not conflict, but challenges, whatever they might be, and also get them really thinking about those elements before they start.

[00:29:35.540] – Michael Hoffman
Yeah, I love that idea. I think that’s a great idea. And another way to do that is also and that creates some ease’s is more in the social proof vein, which is showing other people’s stories. And so people go, oh, that person did a video, I can do a video. That person tell a story. I see how they told the story about how long it is. So, again, modeling that behavior that you want from them.

[00:29:57.760] – Boris
That’s an awesome idea. I actually hadn’t thought of that. I use templates and other things, but why not give somebody a model to say, hey, here’s a sample video of the kind of testimonial that we’re looking for, the kind of story that we’re looking for right now. It’s about the right length. Here are some questions that you can think about, and now go.

[00:30:15.400] – Michael Hoffman
What’s your version of this? Because I think that’s what holds people back. A lot is going in their minds, “I’m not sure what Boris wants from me.”

[00:30:24.250] – Boris
A blank canvas.

[00:30:25.720] – Michael Hoffman
And so the more you can make people feel at ease with that, the better.

[00:30:30.510] – Boris
Really cool. So if organizations haven’t started doing this and right now, as we all know, the pandemic is surging again, so it’s difficult to get out and go video record somebody. And there are plenty of tools like Gather Voices being one of the best ones that I’ve seen personally. I enjoyed playing with your platform. Where should they get started? How should an organization get started in collecting these stories?

[00:30:57.810] – Michael Hoffman
I mean, I think the first piece is just a leadership, an organization-wide belief that it’s important to do it. So number one is like a commitment. We’re going to do it like that’s gotta—that’s where it starts. And then there’s no excuse whether you have technology or not. There’s no excuse because everybody has these devices, the shoot powerful stories. So the idea of asking people, starting with your closest circle, starting with your board members, starting with your long-term donors, starting with your, you know, the staff. It’s like just start where it’s easiest to start and work your way out from there.

[00:31:38.080] – Boris
Awesome. So I ask everybody if there are any tools that they recommend nonprofits check out, is there anything that you think would help them in this vein?

[00:31:50.470] – Michael Hoffman
Yeah, I mean, I think one, I will just say we give a lot of free content away at Gather Voice on these subjects. So there’s just a ton of content on our blog and things like that and on LinkedIn and other places where we publish, really just trying to take what’s working that we see working and sharing that. So I think that’s one piece. And then I think that there’s a bigger—so that’s around video. I think in just in terms of organizational development and growth mindset, I’m really at this moment, I’m really into this book called Scaling Up by Verne Harnish.

[00:32:30.700] – Michael Hoffman
It’s really a management book, but it’s really all about just being organized and how you think about growth. And I think so many nonprofits have a scarcity mindset. And if they really take some pieces of what quick growing businesses do, they can think differently about it. And that puts some of these tactics like getting more video from people at the forefront, because you really have to start thinking about how do we get our story out there more aggressively? How do we grow? What does that mean? You know, what are we trying to accomplish and what’s the path to get there and being more organized about it? So, yeah, there’s there’s there’s a lot of great tools out there.

[00:33:16.120] – Boris
Awesome. We’ll make sure to link to all of those in the show notes, as well as the video that you said you were going to send us that you guys helped create for Make a Wish. When folks are done watching this, besides, of course, subscribing to my newsletter and leaving a great review for this podcast, what should they do to follow up with you?

[00:33:34.240] – Michael Hoffman
Yeah, so I’d love to hear what you all think and what you’re doing. I mean, I think you see this also Boris, we learn as much from the practitioners out there as we do doing the work that we do. So follow me on or connect with me on LinkedIn—so you can just look up Michael Hoffman and Gather Voices there. Also, you know, that’s really the best way. And I’m just michael@gathervoices.co, and so send me an email.

[00:34:03.460] – Boris
And if people want to check out Gather Voices, do you guys do some sort of a trial or how do you do that?

[00:34:10.060] – Michael Hoffman
We have a ton of content on our website that shows how it works, how other people are using it, what what it all is. And then you can get a demo really easily. So you can do that right from the website. It’s gathervoices.co

[00:34:24.430] – Boris
Cool. Thanks so much, Michael, and thank you all for joining us today for the Nonprofit Hero Factory. I hope you got some great tips and things to think about when it comes to gathering your stories on video or however you prefer to get them all together. They’re crucial to activating more heroes for your cause. Thank you, everybody. We’ll see you next week on the Nonprofit Hero Factory.

[00:35:04.640] – Outro Video
Thank you all for watching and listening to the Nonprofit Hero Factory, we hope this episode has given you some ideas and strategies for creating more heroes for your cause and a better world for all of us. Please be sure to subscribe to this show on YouTube, Facebook, iTunes, Spotify, or your favorite podcast platform and let us know what you think, by leaving a review.

Concepts and Takeaways:

  • People are increasingly comfortable with video, whether watching or appearing on camera. The question is, how do we leverage that for your organization’s cause? (5:43)
  • Video gets 1200% more shares, 88% more engagement and 2-3x the click-throughs. (6:46)
  • Video is better at sharing an authentic journey, building empathy and trust than most other types of content online. (9:02)
  • Your goal is to inspire more people to believe they can be heroes by sharing the stories of how your organization has helped others become heroes. (10:45)
  • If Nike commercials can make you cry, imagine what real stories about real issues can do. (12:14)
  • Although it might feel like there’s a lot of video today, there are still a lot more opportunities to incorporate video into communications, as long as you know your audience. (15:18)
  • Simply asking someone to share their story strengthens your relationship with that person. (17:50)
  • The Make-A-Wish Problem: Touching stories are not enough. Narratives have to empower the would-be supporter. (23:22)
  • In video, sound quality is more important than video quality. Audiences prefer to watch a poor quality video with good sound, over a great-looking video with poor sound. (26:11)
  • Fancy video techniques are no substitute for compelling personal stories—and sometimes distract from them. (28:02)
  • Give people an idea of what to say in your video with examples and templates to follow. (29:35)

Action Steps: What Now?

  • Resource Spotlight

    In this episode, the following resources were mentioned:

  • Start implementing!

    • Get started: There’s no real question of whether you have the technology or not anymore. It’s just about your organization’s commitment to start asking for stories from your closest circles and working out to your broadest ones.
    • Connect with Michael: You can connect with Michael Hoffman on LinkedIn or send him an email.

About this week’s guest

Michael Hoffman

Michael Hoffman

CEO, Gather Voices

Michael Hoffman is the co-founder and CEO of Gather Voices, a technology company that automates the creation, management and publishing of video content. He is also the founder of See3 Communications, a digital marketing agency for nonprofits and founder of the DoGooder Video Awards which honors the best social cause video each year. Hoffman teaches marketing at the University of Chicago and is an internationally sought-after speaker and trainer who is a trusted advisor to nonprofit leaders on engagement strategy.

Connect with Michael Hoffman

Ep 12 - Michael Panas - Featured

Episode 12: How a CRM Can Work for Your Nonprofit (and Not Vice-Versa) with Michael Panas

The Nonprofit Hero Factory: Episode 12

How a CRM Can Work for Your Nonprofit (and Not Vice-Versa) with Michael Panas

In this Episode:

From donor acquisition to management and reporting, how you manage your data can make all the difference. How do you choose a Constituent Relationship Management system and when should you build your own? And how do you make the most out of the new tools?

Introduction 0:03
Welcome to the nonprofit Hero Factory, our weekly live video, broadcast, and Podcast, where we’ll be helping nonprofit leaders and innovators create more heroes and a better world for all.

Boris Kievsky 0:20
Morning, everybody, and thank you so much for joining us for Episode 12 of the nonprofit Hero Factory. We’re going to be talking about how a CRM can work for your nonprofit and not vice versa with Michael Panas. I’ve known Mike for several years now, we first worked together at a national nonprofit about seven years ago, he can correct me and for a couple of years starting seven years ago. So now Mike serves on the feed the children executive team as their chief information officer, their CIO. Talk to him a little bit about what that means and why some organizations need one and whether you do or not. He recently managed the organization’s conversion to a new CRM solution. And as a technology professional, he’s worked for NCR Corp, US West bank holding companies, large health organizations. For the past 12 years, he’s provided technology social change leadership to several national cause initiatives established and chaired his own nonprofits and served on several nonprofit boards. Mike describes his superpower as guiding strategic initiatives to success, anxious to ask him what that means and to get more of his story and talk to him about CRMs and making them work for you. So without any further ado, let’s bring Mike onto the show.

Mike Panas 1:43
Hi, Boris.

Boris Kievsky 1:44
Hi, Mike. Thanks, my friend.

Mike Panas 1:51
Yeah, I’m happy to join. Appreciate the opportunity.

Boris Kievsky 1:55
So tell me a little bit. I mean, I know a lot but tell. Tell our viewers a little bit about yourself. Story, how you got to where you are today?

Mike Panas 2:04
Sure, sure. Well, I started off as an IT person, a technology person. That’s what I was trained in college for and worked for large organizations. And I guess it was about 12 years ago, 12 or 13 years ago, a friend of mine who is a mayor of a city asked me to work on some social change programs. And during that time, as you can imagine, when an organization like a mayor’s office as community leaders to become involved in a change, you know, you pretty much want to support the mayor. And as I did that, I learned a lot more about nonprofits and social change and the importance of certain things out there. So, I kind of set me on a path to migrate my career from a for-profit environment to a nonprofit. And that’s where we met. I came on board to work with an organization founded that started out national All International, I guess, nonprofit and met you and then I’ve moved on, I actually went from there to this position to Feed the Children.

Boris Kievsky 3:11
Cool. So you described your superpowers guiding strategic initiatives to success. What does that mean, Mike?

Mike Panas 3:18
Yeah, so, you know, I guess you can tell I’m not that young necessarily. I’m only 39. But, but in any event, you know, over years of experience of major projects and limitation projects, owning my own company, you know, I think my superpower for nonprofits is literally taking corporate initiatives, whatever that might be, mostly, obviously technology-oriented, and guiding those through a process, to success. You know, a lot of times I teach people and project managers will tend to view a project as a project and you know, I’m a PMP, or I’m this and we have to follow these guidelines and rules. Well, a lot of times, it’s just it’s the guiding leads to success. I mean, you still use, milestones and you still set dates and you still set timelines. But I think if a lot of us and it would look to view things as we’re a guidepost, or we’re helping guide things, it kind of gives you a little different perspective. So that’s kind of why I use the word guiding.

Boris Kievsky 4:29
Gotcha. So tell me, what are you seeing these days? What’s happening in the nonprofit sector? And certainly, from your perspective of Feed the Children, which is a pretty large, national organization, in terms of data storage, and data usage, what are you seeing out there?

Mike Panas 4:48
Yeah, so there are a few things that are significantly impacting, says the industry, the nonprofit industry, of course, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. So there are issues there. A lot of nonprofits are dealing with. And it seems like there’s, almost a situation where some nonprofits who provide services to the needy, have almost been forgotten in the pandemic, and that there are other organizations that had kind of stepped up, and their services are more needed. But what all that means is change. It means a change to the donor profiles, which means a change to your services, which means a change to your partnerships that you have out there. And successful CRM implementation, or if you have one in place, really can help you manage and navigate those waters. So I think in today’s world, I think some nonprofits that maybe haven’t implemented a CRM strategy, or an application or service or cloud product, wherever the case may be, are could potentially find themselves in today’s world wishing they had that now to kind of manage the Change that they’re going through, communicate better with donors, and especially volunteers in today’s nonprofit world, given the pandemic, um, how do you volunteer? And what does that changing? Like? How does that in electronic communications and working from home and just really key? So that’s one thing about the CRM world The other thing that impacts the nonprofit’s not that it doesn’t impact profit for-profit organizations, but, you know, we have new challenges related to especially internationally related to you know, purchase personally identifiable information, how we report breaches, rules, regulations, potential fines, you know, internationally if we don’t do something, right. So, having full control or management or access or understanding of how you’re doing managing data. It could be very powerful if you had a CRM system. So I think some organizations are looking to CRM systems to solve some law or regulatory, or data protection type issues that they might be dealing with or that they, their executive team knows I have to manage it’s kind of it’s very tough out there. And then the last thing I’d say is that many of us in the nonprofit world, have common partners. We have common people we serve. Sometimes our business models are our CRM is full of names of those we serve. Some nonprofits have no names of the people that are served by their, by their caught by what they do. So it just varies. But what we find is, CRM can allow you to serve who you serve better and to communicate with your potential donors or the people that want to help you better. So I think the reality is setting in that no matter how big or large your nonprofit, that people are out there serving, maybe the same communities might have an advantage in their success. So that’s another key thing. That is kind of real now. And of course, that means that our products, you know, SAS cloud-based solutions and that sort of thing, that maybe weren’t there a few years ago are there now.

Boris Kievsky 8:31
So that’s all awesome stuff to share and to understand. And I want to dive into a few of those things. It occurs to me though, that so far, you and I’ve been talking, we’ve been talking about CRMs. But we haven’t actually defined or explained for anyone who doesn’t necessarily know because I’m sure some younger nonprofits, people who are kind of doing grassroots work, haven’t even thought about it yet, or they have didn’t realize. So a CRM is in nonprofit terms a Constituent Relationship Management application, right? In the for-profit world, it’s customer relationship management. But nonprofits have a different need. Because as you said, we’re also working with volunteers with partners. And so those are all our constituents, our stakeholders in the CRM becomes the central digital hub for that information, both incoming and outgoing. So if you collect information about people that you’re serving, or that you’re working with, and then you use that information, and usually again, through the CRM, if you’re able to optimize it well, to then communicate back out to them depending on their interests, their interactions, and keep the cycle, the loop closed and repeating. Right.

Mike Panas 9:47
Yeah, you summed that up really good. Yes, that’s correct.

Boris Kievsky 9:52
So you obviously work for a large and well well funded Not that every no nonprofit is ever not worried about funding organization. Do smaller organizations need to be looking to adopting a CRM? When is it time for nonprofit to look for one?

Mike Panas 10:14
Well, I think even startup nonprofits should consider the utilization of technology. I think your size there, there are good solutions out there that would fit into the small nonprofit in a small foundation into a small school Foundation if you will. So I think it’s very important to consider that no matter how large you are, where you’re at in your lifecycle, we’re 41 years old, but the organization that’s two years old, and expect to grow, should really consider that. So if you were to consider there are two reasons for that. One is that there’s potential for a solution to help you grow right? To help you do what you want to do better, serve the good or do the good if you will. But the other thing is if the founders, even a small organization or the executive team on a larger organization, follow kind of a systematic approach of considering a CRM, you will uncover things just by that process that could help your business. So the the the the ethical, analytical side strategic conversations about really constituent management, which is all the things you explain, these are all of our different types of constituents. That’s the first thing an organization should look at, you know, whether you’re considering a CRM or not, you need to identify your constituent profiles. And then you need to identify so that’s number one, and have a strategy for all of those constituents. What are we expecting to do with volunteers? What are we expecting to do with people that come to events? What are we expecting to do? And in today’s world, not like I mean, technology is everywhere, but then you take the next step and say, What data elements do I need to manage those? Those constituents? I’ll call them profiles are different types of constituents in the world because they will vary just like you said, you know, what is the path for those constituents? A lot of times we think about donors, but sometimes an event participant, sometimes a volunteer, sometimes a board member, is also potentially a great donor. And having that data and communicating with them easily, whether your smaller largest, I think, just critical. So and that’s the power of the CRM, where you could potentially harness that power for your organization.

Boris Kievsky 12:48
And in terms of the types of CRM that are out there, like you said, there are ones that are accessible to organizations of just about any size, the only limitation really being your resource of man-hours or woman hours to actually be able to manage it and look into it, but at least collecting data in the first place so that hopefully, at some point someone comes along and can help you with that, I think is key. There’s a lot of people use, for example, MailChimp for their email communications. In a way, MailChimp is a very kind of low key CRM, actually, they’re doing a lot on the E-Commerce site to become a more full-fledged system for them. But even for nonprofits, a lot of my clients will categorize them, right. So you have one list, hopefully. And then you have categories for people that are your board members, or people who have attended a certain event, or people who have done specific things donated in maybe even in certain brackets, and then you could customize communications to them. So at a very low, low adoption threshold, low friction level, you’re already collecting data just by using something like that rather than say, emailing directly out of your Gmail or something like that.

Mike Panas 14:03
Oh, yeah, definitely. And that’s it in this in the nonprofit world, that’s called basically list management. So you know how to effectively market if you will, or build your relationship and move your relationship along with that, that path if you will to, maximize your relationship. And I think, you know, the leap of faith sometimes is, a lot of times donors or people you have relationships with are looking for more opportunities to work with you. It’s just we don’t get the message to them. But it was like MailChimp, which I call an ancillary package, if you will, that would bolt on nicely. And we actually use MailChimp in one instance here for that exact same reason. We have a child sponsorship program, but we like to use MailChimp to work with people that sponsor children around the world for us, and we do, we’ve had that it’s kind of a legacy application. But when we looked at our CRM implementation, we view that as an ancillary product that would work with our package.

Boris Kievsky 15:15
I’m agreeing with you completely. And it’s interesting you view it as an ancillary product, but for a lot of organizations might be their, their initially, their primary. Good news is that as long as you have the data, whether you stick with MailChimp once you have a more robust CRM, or you move to something else, some CRMs will have a list management built-in MailChimp being one of the biggest ones and we’re saying it so often I feel like they should be sponsoring us. But being one of the biggest players in the field, they’ll work with a lot of different third party or standalone CRMs like the sales forces and all the others out there.

Mike Panas 15:53
And they have to, to survive. Yeah, no, that’s their business strategy. And, and really, we’re kind of talking about buy versus business. A little bit. I mean, at least it comes to mind. Right?

Boris Kievsky 16:03
Yeah, definitely want to get to that. So great transition. Let’s talk about when is it time to build your own CRM versus just buying one off the shelf? What do you need to look at and decide to do that?

Mike Panas 16:18
Yeah. So I mean, looking at the hundred thousand foot level, generally speaking, if we look at buy versus build, I think for nonprofits, and again, this doesn’t apply to all but maybe the 80/20 rule, you want to you really want to look at a buy for a CRM versus a build, generally speaking, and what a CRM can do for you and the enhancements that are made in the management of that. We talked about laws and regulations. And if you have a SaaS product, the cloud product, you know, you put the responsibility on them to protect your data, whether they’re a processor or a controller whatever the case may be, there’s going to be some fundamental things that are a byproduct of them, selling you a subscription cloud subscription that you put on them. You know, we can’t afford to hire seven PhDs and know all about protecting data. I mean, it’s just not feasible. So there’s a trade-off there. But generally speaking, I think a CRM, a core CRM platform, is probably I would focus more on a buy decision versus a build. Building has, if you look at laws, regulations, the changing landscape out there, and the fact that many, many, many organizations are saying I’m going to offer SAS cloud services to nonprofits based upon their size and their industry. In a per-user basis, it could be a very cost-effective way to do things versus building in today’s market, but that’s for the core solution that’s for the base core CRM, then you have the option to look at building or using other products, we have a two-core system. Well, two ancillary systems that work with CRM that we built internally because we just couldn’t find those out there and our CRM system, we could never pay enough money to modify it to do what we want it to. So I think the strategy when you’re looking at buying versus build is not to ignore the ancillary systems, whether that’s MailChimp something you’ve developed your own website, not using the website that may be provided by your CRM, because CRM solutions, try and grow also the vendors trying and have these other bolt-on packages. And you know, especially in the nonprofit industry, you’ll hear about, this CRM vendor purchase this package to bolt on to theirs, and you know, and it’s littered with failures and successes, right? So, you know, don’t necessarily look at throwing away what you’re doing with what I call ancillary systems. Those may be a very good long term solution for you, and then you’re just then you can evaluate the core CRM, and their ability to provide a good SDK or API model for you. And that includes business analytics and warehousing type stuff. So, to me, that’s where the build versus buy where it lands, I would be my recommendation of people called me I wouldn’t necessarily volunteer to be the project manager, if you will, for a large build direction for a large nonprofit. I mean, that has, I mean, you can talk to nonprofits, or midsize to larger and the end and the landscapes littered with CRM failures are trying to build your own application.

Boris Kievsky 19:47
Yeah, it’s very similar in so many different aspects of digital life in general, but in just about anything, there are professionals out there experts out there who already do it and they devote all their time and their staff to maintaining it, making sure that it’s running up to legal codes up to, you know, standards, web standards and information standards that are out there, to do something and build it yourself. You have to have a full time dedicated team to just keep up. On the other hand, when it’s actually I think when you’re a small enough nonprofit, something simple that you could build together, literally, with Google applications. If you only need a certain amount of data, and there are certain interactions, you could build on pretty quickly, and it’ll work just fine for you. But as soon as you can, it’s easier to offload that responsibility to a third party, assuming that they can do the things you want them to do. And going back to you’re talking about CRMs that are now also doing ancillary services and products. My experience has been, that rarely works well, if they try to become all things to all people, and that just makes them not the best at any one thing. So I personally look for, whether it’s the website platform that you’re building on, or the CRM that you’re using, I want the ones that are going to be most interoperable and most flexible and be the best at the thing they do, rather than the one that will do just everything for me, because as soon as you hit any limitation, you’re now stuck. And I’m working with a client right now who was using a CRM, which shall not be named right now. And the CRM had promised certain ancillary features that would interact with their website, and a few years ago, just stopped, stopped developing those so they’re no longer even supported. And now they’re stuck. Now they’re looking at actually going to a whole new CRM, just to get the features that they need.

Mike Panas 21:56
Yeah. And I think everything you’re saying is right, and then if you take that mindset, and then you apply it to the org, whether you’re smaller, large organizations, you know, constituent profile strategy, if you will, that tells you, you know, if your focus is, maybe you’re a nonprofit, and you’re small and your focus is and I’m a found person, you know, a private foundation and you have specific people you want to serve in your, in your data for the first two years is only going to be made up those people you serve, and that’s easily managed through lists and MailChimp. for that period of time, that’s great. But if you look at strategically, where you’re going to go, where you might, you know, is your strategy too, to maybe moving from a foundational approach to a nonprofit approach, maybe you have to do that for tax reasons, who knows, but if he at least is talking about the potential constituents in your world long term, that kind of also allows you to develop strategies and start tracking data and use data, right? So if you ever do convert to a CRM package or things like that, you know, you understand how your data is being used and what you’re collecting and how you’re managing it. A lot of times, you know, people get into trouble and they go, man, if we would have just done these things for the last two years, this is us embracing the CRM package, it gives us all these other things would have been much easier. And so I think that’s an important strategy. It all goes back to me for our CRM is, like you said, it’s a constituent relationship management system. To define your constituents to find the profiles of them and where you’re going short term and long term. And if it’s all about donations, and it’s all about donations, and you may want a CRM to help you properly take credit card transactions and report certain information about that and protect their personal information and make sure you have tokens versus, you know, encrypted credit card numbers and things like that, because you can I think one of the things you let you didn’t say, but I heard you say is you’re forced to if you have a problem, you’re forced to operationally fix it, which means your own internal manpower. So if these two pieces of the solution don’t work together, there’s a gap. And that gap is usually filled with manpower. It’s reentry. It’s checking, it’s balancing and see sort of thing. So, yes. describing all that and having an architecture for that with ancillary products is just very, very important. Because you will plug those holes and unfortunately, it’s with manpower.Unless then you want to do is that staff when you go to a CRM system,

Boris Kievsky 24:46
So in terms of the types of information that you want to be tracking in your CRM and things that you want to be considered, considering as you’re setting this up, certain things obviously, lend themselves more easily to integrating with a CRM, like digital acquisition versus other what I call legacy media, but they’re still very effective certainly for nonprofits. Can you talk to me a little bit about donor acquisition models and which ones are going to work easiest and what you have to look forward to depending on in a CRM, depending on what you’re currently doing?

Mike Panas 25:25
yeah. So, so I think when people, you know, mentioned, you know, what’s our donor acquisition strategies, or, you know, how are we gonna, you know, what’s our plan, if you will, and, you know, usually led by, a chief marketing officer or chief development officer in the nonprofit world. It’s really donor acquisition and then retention. So I think he has, you know, the word to the wise is, you know, we sometimes we focus more on the acquisition strategies if that makes sense than we do on the retention of who we already have. So I think that’s kind of the first thing is to create a donor acquisition strategy that includes not only the acquisition but the strategy, the nurturing

Boris Kievsky 26:18
Yeah, to get them to keep being a donor and hopefully leading them up the chain to become greater and greater supporters. Right.

Mike Panas 26:26
Yeah. And you know, sometimes we say supporters, right of the organization or things like that But I think that’s just an important thing to look at now. Each nonprofit, has different strategies for donor acquisition, right. And it depends on who you’re serving. And then what your, donor what do you need donations for? Is it cash, is it gifting kind Things like that. So, to me, it’s kind of a, I live in Oklahoma in Oklahoma, although I’ve never worked for a gas company. You know, the talk here is when you’re talking to oil and gas professionals, you know, you hear this word upstream and downstream right. And the movement of oil and all this was very similar in the nonprofit world, I think and we refer to upstream individual donors, upstream corporate cash donors, individual support and then also corporate GIK Gift in Kind in our world we receive a large volume of food from our upstream gift-in-kind partners. Those are all you know, those are donors I mean, those are people we have relationships with. So, I think if an organization from a donor acquisition model can the employee one thing is to look at your entire process, if you will, your upstream or downstream who you’re serving, we actually have zero people in our database, who are in need of food, children who are needing food. From a domestic perspective, we have that internationally. Because we have a program we execute programs internationally for children across 10 countries. But domestically, our database has zero information about that, because we have downstream partners who execute that. So what’s important is understanding from a donor acquisition perspective is understanding what you’re doing, who you’re serving, and then turn that into strategies to allow you to acquire relationships with donors out there supporters out there and grow that from a communication. So sometimes it’s information that comes back to a pure pipeline if you will. And that has to be part of your strategy for acquiring doctors and retention of those doctors. And if you don’t, if you don’t, and that’s one of our ancillary packages, by the way, where we have the corporate part I’m sorry, we have. We have partners, sometimes or corporations, but we have partners downstream regional food banks, pantries, churches, Meals on Wheels programs, and those sorts of things where we provide donations to them. And they execute on that. Well, that collaboration communication for us is a strategic initiative to increase our capabilities in that area, which we’ve elected to have that as an ancillary solution to our CRM, our CRM package. So donor acquisition looks have to look at your entire pipeline if you will use an oil and gas term of how you do business as well.

Boris Kievsky 29:53
So depending on your donor acquisition and constituent acquisition strategies, I guess you’re going to need to consider different elements of what a CRM can and cannot do for you. And sometimes I’m thinking on a smaller nonprofit scale, it might be some data entry, right? Some manual labor to get people who are, for example, donating still by mail by check, that’s not automatically going to go into a digital platform. Although, if you start out with the digital platform for the mailings in the first place, then they already have account records. But you got to go back in and you got to, you know, add in some data, in order to keep that relationship going and tracking the performance over time that way

Mike Panas 30:41
And we have a large, you know, direct mail effort in our company, and we had a and of course, that’s a donor acquisition model. We have that and we’re 41 years old, so you can imagine that’s where it started, along with, you know, television and that sort of thing, but we had a very long conversation about the analytics and the data flow between our new CRM system and providing those analytics to do the best job we can. Not only donor retention, but new donor acquisition, and lapsed donors. Of course, those people who haven’t heard from us we lost contact with them. And like you mentioned earlier, sometimes your CRM solution provider can also provide other analytic tools, but they also have access to other data analytic tools. I shouldn’t say data analytic tools, where they mined and gather and provide you with data about your donors that you don’t know about. Because that’s that’s a value add right from them. And then that goes downstream into our mailing or donor acquisition and then the success or maybe not success of a particular mail income back upstream. And then so that’s a critical component of your, of your CRM integration.

Boris Kievsky 32:07
Yeah, as long as those, uh, those ancillary sources of information about your donors is still up to code, because those codes are changing very quickly too. And a lot of organizations are scrambling a lot of information providers are scrambling to figure out, oh, all of a sudden, we can’t work in California anymore. Sorry, we can’t get you that information. Or in Europe, certain aspects can no longer be gathered and collected without explicit permission and management of privacy rights management, all of those different layers of personal protection that’s not put in which is another reason why it’s great to have something that SAS product outsource versus building something yourself and tracking it all yourself.

Mike Panas 32:50
Yeah, well, I think you bring up a good point. You know, not knowing where all this is going to go we typically in the nonprofit world, we work and assist and share information with organizations of like mine with us. at no cost to them, you know, we’re not trying, we don’t sell a data list. We don’t market something, you know, we don’t do what Amazon does, necessarily. We don’t, we don’t work like that. And typically in the nonprofit world, that’s what you see, hopefully, knock on with us, which see all the time. But having said that, it doesn’t matter. If the California laws say this, just because you’re doing good, it doesn’t mean you know, you’re not burdened with the same thing. So yes, we typically work together with other nonprofit organizations to share how we can do good better if you will, but that doesn’t matter to, you know, to the European laws and regulations and we still have to manage the data. So which all boils down to, you know, what are your ancillary packages doing a What’s your relationship? What’s your agreement, who has the risk of if we’re giving our data to a third party to help us do something with their systems, we get data back. If you take California, for example, we have to know what you’ve been doing with that data. We have to know where you’re storing now, right now, nonprofits are excluded from some of those things from the California laws. And we’re trying to keep it that way. But it’s going to happen. I think, the moral of the story and what you bring up, which I think is a great point, is that we need to be managing that now and having a good understanding if you have an outsourced or a SaaS product, or even if it’s in house, but it’s a software vendor. You need to be in tune with what they’re doing, and where your data stored and you know, is on a boat in the sea somewhere in a data center or is it in you know, Sweden somewhere or whatever, because even where the data is located now is something we have to know. And it’s just it’s a burden that, nonprofits like most people have to deal are going to have to deal with.

Boris Kievsky 35:17
Like, this is all really important stuff to know and to discuss. We’re past our half-hour that I asked you to promise me today. So I really appreciate all your time. I asked you for a couple of resources to spotlight you’d suggested people check out and 10 and nonprofit quarterly. Why are those organizations?

Mike Panas 35:41
Well, I like their approach to communications. I mean, it’s very MPR like, if you will, I think, which is great. The other thing is, you know, ask vendors. I mean, vendors are a free resource, whether it’s, you know, pick any CRM system or whatever and They like to talk about what they do. They like to talk about their solutions or product, their approach. And they can help educate especially a new organization, looking for a CRM system, invite those vendors, now it’s, it’s all going to be over zoom or whatever. So it’s easy to have those meetings. it’s cost-effective for them, it’s cost-effective for you and just hear what they have to say, let them present their solution, how it can value your company. And there, they’re an endless resource for you.

Boris Kievsky 36:28
Yeah, I’m sure they’ll talk to you as long as you want is fantastic. We’ll put that in the show notes today, along with that antenne nonprofit quarterly as an action step that nonprofits can take is reach out to vendors of CRMs to see what they offer, actually realized earlier today that there’s an article I have from a couple of years ago on the site, about how to pick a CRM, what things to be looking for and looking out for. So we’ll link to that as well. Before we wrap up, Mike, what should nonprofits do? If someone listening to this show wants to follow up with you, or keep up with the work that you’re doing, what do you advise?

Mike Panas 37:07
Yeah. You connect me on LinkedIn is probably the easiest way. If not search for, you know feedthechildren.org. It’s easy Mike.panas, but I’m on the leadership team on the website, but just, you know, find our number you can call our 800 number, they’ll connect you to me. But LinkedIn is always a good connection point. Just search for me I’m under Michael Panas on Linkedin. So, yeah, I’m happy to talk. I talk with a lot of nonprofits who’ve been looking at CRM, and, you know, we want to help people out there that are in the nonprofit world doing good. I mean, you know, and if I can help them save money or reduce risk or whatever, it just helps them do what they do better, and use those monies for what they do downstream to the people that serve so just give me a ring connect on LinkedIn. I appreciate it.

Boris Kievsky 37:55
We’ll have your LinkedIn profile already linked on the episode show notes as well. listening to the show, it is NP Hero Factory.com/EP12 as in episode 12. We will redirect you to the show notes for this entire episode. Everything that Mike had to say with the transcript with the audio of the video, we package it all to make it as easy as possible. Mike, thank you again so much for your time and all the valuable information and for offering to talk to more people out there that are facing these types of questions and challenges.

Mike Panas 38:40
Well, glad to help and appreciate the time. Thanks, Boris.

Boris Kievsky 38:43
Thank you. Bye Bye, everybody. Take care.

Exit 38:48
Thank you all for watching and listening to the nonprofit Hero Factory. We hope this episode has given you some ideas and strategies for creating war heroes for your cause and a better world for all of us. Please be sure to subscribe to this show and YouTube, Facebook, iTunes, Spotify or your favorite podcast platform and let us know what you think by leaving a review

Concepts and Takeaways:

  • A CRM, in nonprofits terms, refers to a Constituent Relationship Management system. They are used by nonprofits to manage relationships with any and all stakeholders involved in furthering your mission—including donors, volunteers and partners.
  • Collecting and tracking information about your constituents improves your ability to communicate with them as unique individuals, rather than anonymous groups. A successful CRM implementation helps store and manage details that routinely get forgotten.
  • Even nonprofits that don’t have a CRM are likely already using software that either acts like a CRM or interacts with one, including email platforms like MailChimp or donation systems.
  • Nonprofits of any size can make good use of a CRM, and there are options to fit nearly any budget. Although they may add to your operating costs, the value generally outweighs the price as they help you retain donors, attract new ones, and grow your outreach.
  • When deciding if you should “build or buy,” consider the amount of resources your organization would need to keep up with the latest regulations and best practices. This is why an external platform is often the best option, because they have entire teams devoted to all of the legal and practical nuances.
  • Many CRMs offer the ability to expand functionality through ancillary products through integrations, APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and SDKs (Software Development Kits).

Action Steps: What Now?

About this week’s guest

Michael Panas

Michael Panas

Chief Information Officer, Feed the Children

Mike serves on the Feed the Children executive team as the corporation’s Chief Information Officer and recently managed the organization’s conversion to a new CRM solution. As a technology professional, he has worked for NCR Corporation, US West, bank holding companies, and large health organizations. For the past 12 years he has provided technology social change leadership to several national cause initiatives, established and chaired non-profits, and served on several non-profit boards.

Connect with Michael Panas

Ep 7 - Boris Kievsky - Featured

Episode 7: Digital Tools and Strategies for Affecting Change with Boris Kievsky

The Nonprofit Hero Factory: Episode 7

Digital Tools and Strategies for Affecting Change with Boris Kievsky

In this Episode:

Boris hosts a special episode devoted to how nonprofits can and should use storytelling and technology to enact change in the world.

Introduction 0:02
Welcome to the nonprofit Hero Factory, our weekly live video, broadcast and Podcast, where we’ll be helping nonprofit leaders and innovators create more Heroes for their cause. And a better word for all of us.

Boris Kievsky 0:19
Hi, everybody. Welcome to a special episode of the nonprofit Hero Factory. This is going to be a solo episode. Normally I do have guests on and I will have guests next week again. But today I wanted to take a few minutes and give you a short episode talking about something that’s really important to me. And I think to millions of other people in the world right now. And that is the injustice is going on and what nonprofits can and I believe should be doing to help address them. So this episode seven is titled digital tools and strategies for effecting change. And I want to focus on social advocacy and change making tools for non profits

Boris Kievsky 1:01
I just published a new blog post on the dotorgstrategy blog outlining a lot of the tools and strategies and there will be links to that in the show notes. But today, I just want to talk about the need for us to stand up and take action.

Boris Kievsky 1:18
There are people in this country who are both literally and figuratively taking to the streets right now to demand justice, to demand a better America and a better world for all of us. And I know that that is at the heart of what a lot of nonprofits are doing. If you’re not out to make the world a better place, then I’m not sure what you’re doing as a nonprofit, what else your mission might possibly have to say. And I think these causes, whether it’s what’s happening right now with Black Lives Matter and demanding justice for George Floyd and to many other African Americans in this country that are unjustly being murdered in the streets and in their homes, or it’s fighting pandemics.

Boris Kievsky 1:59
Like COVID-19 and misinformation around the issues that are going on out thereare literally dozens, if not hundreds of other issues that may not be at the forefront right now, but are critical to our nation’s future and our world’s future, you must be fighting for one of those, you must be looking to make a difference in one of those areas. And while I believe that most are doing their best and have great programming, that they’re trying to get out to as many people as possible, I think we can be doing more and I think we have to be doing more in terms of social activism, driving change through political and other activist measures. So with that, I wanted to talk about why this time is different, and what we can actually do. We’ve been here before, right? We’ve had protests, we’ve had riots for all manner of issues, whether it’s race, whether it’s other rights, basic human rights, women’s rights.

Boris Kievsky 3:00
Whether it’s just the way that our government interacts with other countries and people in other places in the world, or the economy, whatever it might be, we’ve had these types of protests before. So why is to borrow a question from Passover? Why is this night different from every other night? Why is today and this particular moment in time different from all the others? I believe it is because of technology, and the ability of technology to deliver more powerful stories to everyone out there today. Everyone is a broadcaster, every single person on on the street who has a smartphone is capable of starting a broadcast of sharing a video and of sparking a movement, like the one on the streets of the United States and around the world today. story is, as I always say, the most powerful agent for change and for inspiring action.

Boris Kievsky 4:03
Many of us watched the video of what happened to George Floyd. Someone happened to shoot that video, someone happened to be nearby, and was able to capture what was happening there and share it with the world based on that people were emotionally connected to what was happening regardless, hopefully, regardless of your, your race, your your beliefs, seeing another human being suffer like that needlessly unjustly has to spark some sort of emotion within you. It could be rage, it could be empathy, it’s likely both. But it has to actually affect you. That is part of the human condition that is part of our DNA. We evolved with storytelling we evolved with the ability to connect to others through story. And now technology exists, whether it’s video recording technology, or social media that allows those video recordings to spread like wildfire throughout our society, the technology exists today where we can actually do more than just witness and document. But we can actually push and inspire action that will that must lead to change. I’m sorry, if I’m sounding so boxy today, I obviously feel strongly about this. And I hope most of you out there do too. I want to take a few minutes and mention some of the different some of the different tools that are out there. And I have highlighted a lot of these on the blog that you can find on my website. But just quickly to mention them. There are apps that have been specifically designed for this purpose, like the UCLA mobile justice apps that I believe are state specific and can be downloaded for your state to document and report the activities of law enforcement or other injustice is going on. And also to help you know your rights. Should you be in a situation where you think your civil rights might be violated. Then there are private and secure messaging apps like WhatsApp and signal that encrypt your communications so that you don’t have to worry about government reprisal, or anyone’s reprisal in terms of what you are talking to your fellow citizens, your communities about.

Boris Kievsky 6:18
There is the app citizen, which is used for listening into 911 official alerts and reports, but also to contribute to those feeds to be able to document and say, hey, there’s a fire going on, or there’s an injustice going on. And the police need to pay attention to this and others in our community need to pay attention to this maybe come out and help and support and and help us fix the issue if it’s something that can be fixed in the moment, or just get enough attention that more people actually care and do something about it. Tik tok, you know, is a very powerful social media tool that can be completely frivolous. It can be all about, you know, the latest jokes or getting videos, but it is also a great way to share content with a younger generation. And one of the advantages of tik tok is unlike the algorithms on Facebook and Instagram, on Tik tok, you can discover new videos much more readily, not just ones that your friends have shared. So it’s a great way to help new people discover things that you want them to see. Because it was all video based. With that Facebook and Facebook Messenger are still incredibly powerful whether you want to go live on Facebook with a with a interview with one of your volunteers who has seen something or someone who is a victim of something or just your organization, how you’re going to step up or are stepping up and making change. Or if it’s Facebook Messenger where you can message a whole lot of your supporters or person to person peer to peer messaging. I know I’ve received dozens of videos over the last few days and weeks. About the Black Lives Matter protests and the COVID-19 situation, right? People are using these tools to spread information quickly, hopefully, accurate information. And that’s another issue that we have to always consider. But if you seed this content out there and it resonates, it will spread quickly.

Boris Kievsky 8:24
Then there are platforms for more social activism in terms of government change. usa.gov, where you could find your representatives, you could find ways to communicate with them. There are several websites that I also mentioned, where you can actually see how people voted on how your Representatives voted on certain issues and what they support and what they don’t even where they’re funded. There is do something.org this is an election year, do something.org is very, very focused on making sure that there is a great voter turnout that people can easily registered to vote there promises anyone can register to vote, assuming you have the right to vote within a few minutes. They also have a whole lot of different campaigns that are on there and you could start your own, you can partner with them to create a campaign to get younger, younger people, but really any generation these days to stand up and take action of some sort or other whether it’s in community on a national or even a global level. change.org is probably the most popular and famous petition site. There are several others where you can start a petition, you can find petitions to sign and when there are enough petitions signed, it gets forwarded to the appropriate representative in government, whether it be on a local or national level. We the people is the White House’s a site for petitions, I think the URL might even be petitions.whitehouse.gov. But you could just go to the people and it’ll take you there and that is a direct form of communication where if you have over 100,000 signatures within a certain amount of time, I think it’s 30 or 60 days, 30 days, I think the government promises to respond in one way or another to your petition. How far that will take you. Your mileage may vary, but at least people will see that these petitions are out there that the government is forced to acknowledge the desires of the population. Then, of course, there are crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe and many other Indiegogo, many other sites where a nonprofit charity can go on and start a movement in terms of attention and fundraising. The difference between a crowdfunding campaign and a regular donation page is that when you’re launching a campaign, you’re activating an entire community, and you’re trying to get them to also spread peer to peer, the importance of the mission that you’re trying to achieve in that particular moment. So it’s much easier in my opinion, to get attention to that cause beyond the community that you already supports you. It can reach a wider audience through not just search engines, but really through social media, people can easily say, hey, support this campaign. This is important. This is relevant to what’s happening right now. And that’s one of the key differentiators between a specific crowdfunding campaign versus a donate page that’s always up.

Boris Kievsky 11:20
Even sites like YouTube are currently being used for activism, whether it’s just posting videos, or what a lot of videos are now doing what a lot of video makers and channels are now doing is donating any advertising revenue from their YouTube streams to a specific charity to a specific organization like blacklivesmatter, or other organizations that are supporting social justice. What’s fantastic about that is it’s appealing to the Netflix binge culture, where if you just want to sit and watch on your couch, including of course the advertisements that sit and watch on your couch for hours at a time, you’re going to be watching hopefully interesting and relevant videos. Of course, but with those ads every time you watch an ad, the cause that that organization that that video channel is supporting is going to get a donation. And it’s a fantastic way to use tools and common culture that are out there for other reasons to help promote social change, whether it’s through awareness or actually driving donations.

Boris Kievsky 12:24
I said this was going to be a short episode, and I’m going to keep it that way. I’m just going to say that a couple final things. I’m sure most of you have most of your organization’s already have either released the statement or have instituted some begun some conversations within your organization, about blacklivesmatter about how we as a society continue to function, through the pandemic and post pandemic, about how we can make sure that there’s justice for everyone and that the information that’s being consumed by the world is accurate and hopefully positive in respect to where it’s trying to get our country and our society. That’s great statements are of solidarity are fantastic, but they’re not enough. Let’s start asking ourselves, how we can be more active, be a greater force for change, and then activating our supporters and new ones to join us on our mission on our hero’s journey, where we can all be heroes. We are citizens, a nonprofit organization, in many ways is a citizen of this country or whatever country that you are based in. And you have a tribe you have that’s a sensitive word these days, but you have a community that supports you, that will rally behind you. Of course, you want to keep it integral to your mission. You don’t want to suddenly completely shift because you will lose your base but I’m betting that some part of your mission also relates to something that the world needs to take action on and you can use these tools to do that all of the tools, again, are going to be referenced in the show notes. But with that, I’d really like to thank you from the bottom of my heart, for all that you are doing to make the world a better place. It’s not always easy, and it’s definitely not always fun, but it’s absolutely vital. And the fact that you’re out there doing it every single day counts. I hope this episode has given you some ideas and strategies to bring up with your organization, hopefully implement all of the links and everything is going to be in the show notes along with this video, the audio and transcripts of the episode. And if I or dotorgstrategy as a whole can be of help doing these things, getting you moving and getting you in a position where you can actually activate change agents in your community, please let me know please reach out. I’m happy to do whatever I can. I offer consultations to any organization, especially one that is active and trying to pursue social change and justice in this world.

Boris Kievsky 15:04
With that, thank you all for watching and listening to this special and important I believe episode of the nonprofit Hero Factory. Please be sure to subscribe to the show on YouTube. Watch us on Facebook, join us there, follow us on your favorite social media platforms and subscribe and follow us on your favorite podcast platforms. We’re on just about all of them now. And that’ll be the best way to make sure you keep getting these strategies sent to you in one way or another, delivered in your favorite medium, and helping us all make the world a better place. And if you’d love what you see, by the way, please do leave us a review. Thank you Have a great weekend.

Concepts and Takeaways:

  • While statements of solidarity are great starting points, we have the power and responsibility to do more.
  • Storytelling—and video in particular—is the most powerful instrument for inspiring and inciting action.
  • Technology has the ability to amplify story and make it go viral through peer-to-peer sharing. It also has the power to organize and activate people in new ways.
  • Mobile tech has democratized media. Everyone is a broadcaster.

Action Steps: What Now?

About this week’s guest

Boris Kievsky

Boris Kievsky

Chief Storyteller and Nerd at dotOrgStrategy

Boris is an entrepreneur, recovering filmmaker, and relapsed geek. As the the Chief Storyteller and Nerd for Good at dotOrgStrategy, Boris helps nonprofits harness the power of great stories amplified through the right technology to reach the right audiences, create meaningful connections, and activate the inner hero in each of them.

Connect with Boris Kievsky