Tag Archives: Jay Frost

Nonprofit Radio for February 19, 2024: Frustrations & Opportunities With Jay Frost


Jay FrostFrustrations & Opportunities With Jay Frost

Jay returns to share his reflections on four decades in the nonprofit community. There are things he’d like to see us doing better, that the sector has been talking about for many years. But they haven’t changed much. Yet he remains optimistic, so he recognizes the brighter future that’s possible if we practice more of what we preach. Jay is on LinkedIn.


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Welcome to Tony Martignetti nonprofit Radio. Big nonprofit ideas for the other 95%. I’m your aptly named host and the pod father of your favorite abdominal podcast. We have a new sponsor. Welcome. Virtuous to the nonprofit radio family. So glad to have you. I’m grateful for your sponsorship. Welcome. Oh, I’m glad you’re with us. I’d get slapped with a diagnosis of irises if I saw that you missed this week’s show. Here’s our associate producer, Kate with what’s going on this week? Hey, Tony, we’ve got frustrations and opportunities. Jay Frost returns to share his reflections on four decades in the nonprofit community. There are things he’d like to see us doing better that the sector has been talking about for many years, but they haven’t changed much yet. He remains optimistic so he recognizes the brighter future. That’s possible if we practice more of what we preach on Tonys take two last chance were sponsored by donor box, outdated donation forms, blocking your supports, generosity, donor box, fast, flexible and friendly fundraising forms for your nonprofit donor box.org. And by virtuous, virtuous gives you the nonprofit CRM fundraising, volunteer and marketing tools you need to create more responsive donor experiences and grow, giving, virtuous.org. Thank you again for your new sponsorship. Virtuous. Welcome. Anyway, here is frustrations and opportunities. It’s a genuine pleasure to welcome Jay Frost back to nonprofit radio. Jay has worked in the nonprofit community since 1985. That’s 39 years. Let’s call it 40 years between friends. He’s been a grant writer, fundraiser service provider and now he’s a consultant and content creator. You’ll find Jay on linkedin and he hosts Donor Searches Philanthropy. Masterminds series. Welcome back, Jay. It’s good to see you. It is always great to see you, Tony. We talk a lot on the Masterminds series. You’ve hosted me there probably by mistake or, or you had last minute cancellations. Uh I don’t know, three or four times. I’ve been on a bunch of times. I think you’re a popular guy. I, I like to draw a crowd. I, I like to think I draw a crowd but, but we’re focused on you today. The crowd that you draw, the thinking that you have the wisdom of let’s call it 40 years, 40 years in philanthropy. What does that feel like? What does it feel like to have done something? 40 years? Who, when you say the number over and over and now so far it’s 100 and 20. Uh I I it, it uh it, it really, it really makes me feel old Tony. So, thank you. Um But, ok, so there’s a line from Mary Oliver that I want to quote because it’s what I’m thinking about a lot, which is that, um, when it’s over, I don’t want to wonder if I’ve made of my life something particular and real. I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world. So that’s what I’m thinking about these days. And, uh, and it’s a good place to think about it. Right. I mean, we have a lot of fun in our world, especially when I’m hanging out with, with a friend like you. Um, but it’s serious stuff too. And when you say 40 years, 40 years, 40 years, the first thing I think of is, oh, my gosh. I’m just getting started for, well, first of all, it’s not additive. So it’s, it’s not 100 and 20. So, uh, it was, it was keep you with your 40. Let’s not get carried away. Don’t get a big hit. Um, no, but, you know, uh, well, I like the, I like the idea of not, not simply visiting our world. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that. Um, what was your very, very, very first job? Was it the grant writing job or? Very, very, very first job in, in nonprofits? Oh, my gosh. Ok. So, first I wanted to be in the film business. I went out to LA. I lived in a garage. I didn’t have a car. I took buses, you know, you don’t do any of that in L A and I did all those things and that’s why I left. So I was there for a brief time, came back tail between my legs to Washington DC where my parents then had, had uh moved and I was introduced to a person at the National Endowment for the Arts. And very quickly, somehow miraculously got a job there as what was called a floater, which is back when people typed stuff and printed stuff, I was running around just doing all those odd jobs at the National Endowment for the Arts. And it was the dream for me because I was raised to study poetry and music and all these other things. So the ne A it was the citadel of all those things. And so very quickly, I, I had the opportunity to work in the inter arts program which was very interesting and controversial place. What program inter arts which is introduced plenty of arts work and um lots of controversy there. And then I worked at the literature program which also had a share of controversy, but that’s where I had a chance to as a 24 year old identify poets who would then be reviewing manuscripts from all the people, writing poetry and fiction and so forth around the country to review it and make investments in writers. I mean, it was, that was my first job. I was 24 I had $2 million in grants responsibility but, but uh I was not making the decisions. I was administering that work. But still, since nobody else really knew a heck of a lot about poetry then or now it meant that I got to be in this candy store of being with people who cared about words and their, and their impact. And that was 1985. That was, yeah, I was, I got there at 85. I was there through just a brief time through 87. Yeah. What happened in what, what happened in uh Hollywood, Los Angeles filmmaking? Oh man. Uh well, you know, you can only live so long on patty melt sandwiches served to you from behind a plexiglass screen for cash um working across in the Kit Kat Club in a theater that’s closed most of the time. Uh I I that was, that was my life, you know, occasionally getting into 50 bucks in the Kit Kat Club. You could have been a, oh my God, you could have been a floater instead of a floater. It could have been many things on that street with Santa Monica Boulevard in the eighties. Yeah, it was an interesting place. Um Alright, but it didn’t go, it just you didn’t take off. No, I did not take off. I had the opportunity to write some uh some scripts for things that probably didn’t need the scripts. Um and I decided not to do that over Christmas vacation. Looking in the mirror. Um, and then was able to rededicate myself to things that have, you know, aesthetic value. I see. All right. Oh, this sounds like a conversation that we should continue over a beer at a conference, uh, on a, on a Friday night. All right. All right. But, yeah, it’s fascinating. Yeah, absolutely. Uh, so let’s turn to, uh, your thinking. I mean, I, I invited you on to, to share your thoughts about our, our community. You have 40 years to reflect over. You’ve seen the things we’ve emphasized over 40 years, the things we’ve accomplished not accomplished. What uh what strikes you first? Wow. It’s a lot of it that occurs to me first are the kinds of things that you and I have chatted about um over the transom every time we’ve, we’ve talked a lot of the petty frustrations that kind of, you know, gnaw at you. Um The things that we laugh over such as uh such as, you know, um why don’t organizations we know, do the things that they should do that are relatively easy to do um such as, uh you know, send out a personal thank you note once in a while. And then we get into all these debates about whether or not people should write thank you notes, whether they’re vestiges of the past, whether they’re too elitist, there are other terms that are less polite for doing this kind of thing. But the, but the thing that really drives me bananas about all that is that it focuses on a tiny, tiny sliver of activity. Uh instead of thinking about the whole, where we can say, what is it that we’re here to do? What is it we’re trying to address what are the best ways of engaging with people who believe in the same things we do, making sure so that they know that we see them, that we hear them, that we know that they’re human and they’re valuable and then we truly partner with them to get things done. Instead, we’ve divided all this stuff up and these little uh actions and then half the time we ignore some of those things to do and I’ve been guilty of it too. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that that I haven’t failed at almost everything because I have. But rather that once we learn these things, I’d like to think that we could put some of them into practice. And I have seen best practices over 40 years. So if we could just pull them together, sort of like our own little mini Bible and actually practice that stuff. I think we could have better partnerships, better friendships and be better trusted and then have better results. Let, let’s take off a few of the things that uh you’re talking about these, these small things that uh accumulate into better, better relationships. What you’re saying, stronger relationships, longer, more devoted donors pick off a few things that pick you off. Yeah, I took some notes so I wouldn’t forget. Um So what are these are so reverential to you? So I have to take notes to you that you have to write them down to remember. Ok, there are two levels here. So what we’re talking about first actually are kind of the appetizers of a conversation like this. They’re the annoyances, right? So those are the things we mess up that we can control for if we thought they were important. So it’s treating donors like ATM machines. This has become a common phrase now. Uh But uh but I think I’ve been saying it for a long time, I’m sure you have to and it’s not just because we see other people doing it and we say tis tis you should do what I say and not what I do. No, it’s because as donors, we experience this, we wonder what in the world is going on here. We make it donation and then we don’t hear from anybody or we get a digital receipt and they think that’s enough. It’s never enough. So uh just one practical example. And I think I’ve told you this before. Um off offline is that I started giving to an organization that this was two years ago now. So it was in the middle of the pandemic uh based on a book and a movie that I thought was just so powerful emotionally wrenching. And so I won’t mention the name of the organization because what I’m about to say suggests that they, that they are not taking care of their donors. And I’m hoping that what I’m going to tell you is isolated, although I fear it’s not. And I know it’s also true for many organizations that is it. I saw this powerful story. I’m really engaged. It’s a way to help people who are getting out of the prison, industrial complex. It is a big deal. We have more prisoners in this country than anywhere else on earth. And so, uh what do we do for these people when they get out? Well, pretty much nothing. Their life is almost over unless they’re lucky or they happen to live in a state with a program for that. I mean, it’s just awful on every level. So, wouldn’t it be great to help out? So I start giving an amount every month, which for me was a fair amount every month. Um And, and even though it’s not a lot of money, I knew it was probably putting in the top like five or 10% of donor pool just because of the stuff we know from fundraising. And so they keep, you know, sending me the kind of the notes uh via email that say dear friend. So I made a point of calling at one point just to say, you know, I’m doing this. They didn’t call me back and then at the end of the year I stopped giving, I thought, well, let’s see what happens. Not because I don’t care. But I was hoping that this would be kind of jarring and they do something and then I’d have a discussion not trying to get business, just trying to say, hey, I’m not special. There must be a lot of people like me silence every once in a while. I’ll get a note from the organization saying, dear friend asking me to give, not even mentioning my past giving. Now this all sounds pretty petty on my part. But the reason I’m mentioning it is because I think it’s just emblematic of a larger problem. Um On the one hand, we don’t have a lot of time in this world, fundraisers just don’t have a lot of time. We’re, we’re, you know, we got a lot to do, we aren’t particularly well paid to do it and we’re doing it out of love. All of those things are true. We don’t often have a lot of support staff. We don’t have a lot of great resources. It’s all true. But then there’s what we do with our time. And if there’s not, I don’t know that there’s anything more important than saying to people who believe in the same things we do that I see you and you’re important and this is important to do together. And I, and I know that organizations can do it and they’ve done it very well in some places, but somehow in the nonprofit industrial complex, we’ve forgotten a little bit of that. And I’m not sure that some of the new technology is, is helping us to become more human. I think sometimes it just relieves us of this nagging responsibility to, to have those little personal engagements that make this work so personally rewarding and so financially successful. It’s time for a break. Open up new cashless in-person donation opportunities with donor box live kiosk, the smart way to accept cashless donations. Anywhere, anytime picture this a cash free on site giving solution that effortlessly collects donations from credit cards, debit cards and digital wallets. No team member required. Plus your donation data is automatically synced with your donor box account. No manual data, entry or errors, make giving a breeze and focus on what matters your cause. Try Donor Box live kiosk and revolutionize the way you collect donations in 2024. Visit donor box.org to learn more. Now, back to frustrations and opportunities. Well, the promise of artificial intelligence is that it’s going to free us up for, for all the things that you’re talking about. So we’re gonna be better to our donors because we’re gonna relieve ourselves of the mundane writing tasks. Uh I think it’s mostly right. I’m gonna use that as the example. That’s what I see the most, you know, the the writing tasks, whether it’s annual report or a 200 word article or whatever, you know, and that’s gonna, the promise is that it’s going to give us time for the, for the human relationships and in my, uh, now we’re on Tony Martignetti s frustrations that, that sounds familiar. It’s a good show. I, I think the, I think the smartphone was supposed to do that for us too. Yeah. And I wonder if the telephone was supposed to have done that in the, I don’t know, 19 tens or I might be off on when, when that was became a widespread technology. But I think I’ve heard this promise before that we’re going to have more time for other activities and, uh, the promise hasn’t been realized in my mind. Right. Yeah. No, I, not only do I agree with you but I think it’s, it’s going back to what I was trying to get to, which is that this is a symptom of a larger issue and the technology it is, seems like a patch on this big tire that we’ve created to try and drive down this road of social change and, and it’s good. I mean, I, I’m all about tech because tech is, is awesome and we really can use it for good. Um, but at the same time if we’re using it as a patch to just keep driving down the same road in the same ways, it doesn’t necessarily serve the purpose. Um, so I’d like to think that if we can go back to what it is that’s supposed to be guiding us. What is the principle behind this work? You know, keep that in mind all the time, keep it up on our wall and look at it all the time. Then hopefully we’ll be doing the more human things. Um There’s a book written years ago by Robert Putnam, you know, Bowling Alone. And the reason I’m mentioning it here is because this concept about uh this kind of fracturing of society where we don’t know each other as well has been potentially exacerbated by some of these technologies, not because of the technologies themselves, but how we use them to avoid actual interaction with one another. And I think that the nonprofit sector and fundraisers specifically not only have potentially a responsibility to do something about that, but it’s more of an opportunity to do something about it that we could decide every time we employ a technology or a technique um that we can use that in order to get closer to people instead of just to mechanize and uh efficient and make more efficient our work because I know what we’re trying to do is get more money. But what we really need to do is build stronger connections in order to get that money, be mindful of your use of the technology. I mean, if, if, if it does, in fact, if artificial intelligence does, in fact relieve you from the, the drudgery of writing your annual report then what are you gonna do with those extra 15 hours that you saved? Because nobody’s gonna tap you on the shoulder and say you’ve got 15 free hours. Now, what are you, how are you going to use the time that the A I saved you? You’re, you’re boasting over coffee. Whoa, the writing, the annual report was so easy this year? Ok. What did you do with the quote surplus time that the, the A I uh allowed you? Did you, did you make more donor calls? Did you have more donor meetings? Did you write more handwrit notes? Did you uh pick up the phone to somebody you haven’t talked to in a, in a while? And this implication, this leads over into the personal too, not only the professional, but you and I are talking about fundraising and fundraisers. So I’ll, I’ll keep it there but use that time consciously if you feel A I is or some other technology has relieved you of a burden. How do you use the new time that, that you used to uh devote to that burden? But, but we kind of forget then about those other things that we can do because if we’re all then trained to engage with one another in these almost mechanized ways like by text and I use text all the time like we all do. But if, then that’s what we’re used to. How comfortable does it feel to just call somebody. So every once in a while I’ll do this, I’ll just grab a number on my phone of somebody I haven’t talked to for a long time and just call them up. And it’s almost shocking because we’re all now so used to communicating in this other way that to do that other thing, sometimes it can be refreshing but sometimes it can be off putting because we’re not accustomed to it. And I, and I, and if that’s true in the personal world, I know it’s also true in this professional world, you, you feel like it’s off putting, I find it more refreshing, then off putting it, you can mean off putting to yourself or to the person receiving the call to the person, receiving the call. And I’m not suggesting we don’t call. I’m saying the opposite. I’m just saying that I think people have become used to a certain kind of thing. And so this new thing, some people do find it refreshing like you and I do. But other people just, they don’t know what make of it. Like, why is this happening? Why is this thing happening? We have to do that. We have to break up that thing and, and do those things to, to engage with people in these ways to make it more human. I, I think my experience is, you know, I I’m working in Planned Giving. So I’m usually talking to people who are 70 80 90. And there’s one woman who’s 100 and one and one who was 100 until she died recently, they grew up with handwrit notes and then they had decades and decades of phone conversations before we went virtual that many decades, like 4050 decades of, oh, no, 40 or 50 years of, uh, phone calls. So to them, uh, a phone call is very thoughtful. A handwrit note is even more thoughtful as the recipients of those. And I, you know, I, I think, um, I think when you do more than what’s typical, I think it’s more refreshing to the recipient than it is off putting. So I guess I’m pushing back a little bit. You know, I, I would and I know you’re not discouraging folks from doing the extra, you know, look, customer service is, um, I have a recurring show that I, uh, replay called Zombie Loyalists with a, a marketing and, uh, pr guy named Peter Shankman and he says, well, he said years ago when he was first on the show and I’ve replayed it many times since then, you know, the average, but it remains true, the standard of customer service is crap. So if you could just be a little above crap, you’re setting yourself apart. So just don’t, just don’t do crap. Yeah, I absolutely agree. You know, whatever it looks, whatever, taking an extra step looks like for you and your donors do it because you’ve got this, uh a surplus time theoretically from the, from the, from the technologies that we, that are, that are saving us so much. But if you do find you have extra time, um, use it, you know, use it consciously. That’s, that’s kind of what I was getting to is, you know, conscious use of time. Yeah, I absolutely agree. And I use off putting that as the way I feel about it but as how some people react even to the idea of doing it. Um It’s, it’s funny though because in talking about these things and you, you’re going through the idea about people who were used to handwrit notes of a certain age than people used to phone calls. And if you talk to people who are maybe of the successive generation, they might say, well, we don’t do these things or people in this age group, they make assumptions, they don’t do these things. But in fact, if we go on to Twitch right now and we see a Twitch streamer who’s raising money for, you know, pick your cause, it might be Saint Judes. It might be something we know as well. What are they doing? They’re engaging with people live right now. They’re talking to them. They’re, they’re um they’re doing that through the chat. They’re engaging with people in a meeting that makes sense for them today. But the reason why I mentioned this is, it’s not about the tech that’s just today’s tech, they’re really engaging with people so anything we can do to properly engage with people, uh, I think is that is exactly what we should be doing. And I, and I, and once again I don’t think it is off-putting. I just think that’s the objection. I think what we really need to do is bring things up a little to, to be better than the boring to go back to your point. Yeah. Oh, I see. You’re, you’re concerned. Yeah, I see what you’re expressing that people might be put off. No, I think people will be uh elated. You know, I write a lot of handwrit notes and not surprising that I get a fair amount of handwrit notes back. But again, I’m writing to older folks. 70 plus, it’s time for Tony’s steak to do. Thank you, Kate. This is the last Chance for Planned Giving Accelerator. The last few weeks. The class starts in early March. If Planned Giving is on your to do list, you wanna launch it. Your board has talked about it. You’ve been thinking about it. I can help you in Planned Giving Accelerator Guide. You step by step week after week, how to launch Planned Giving at your nonprofit. Of course, there’s the incredible peer support too. Besides what you learned from me. Lots of cross talk. We, we set this up as zoom meetings, not webinars, so you can talk to each other. Folks get to know each other. Share successes, frustrations uh help each other. That, that part has been much more uh than I than I expected the, the, the peer support. So there’s all that if you’re interested, the info is at Planned Giving accelerator.com. If you use code nonprofit Radio, 1500 you can claim $1500 off the tuition. It’s all at Planned Giving accelerator.com and that is Tony take two. Hey, I hope people join in the class. Thank you. We’ve got just about a butt load more time. Let’s return to frustrations and opportunities with Jay Frost. What you’re espousing is be relational, not transactional, but that’s something that we’ve been talking about for 20 years. Donor centric. How long about 15 years we’ve been talking about being donor centric. Do you feel like we’ve improved? II I, I’m not experiencing it when you give, when you leave the prison. The prison charity is, hasn’t heard about donor centrism or hasn’t put it into practice. I think that’s it. I think that they haven’t put it into practice. I mean, we have had a really important discussion about whether or not organizations are community centric or not. And I think that’s a valid and important conversation, whether the organizations themselves are accurately representing the needs and interests of the community by having people within the community uh on the board and engaged in the activity and engaged in the fundraising and all these things. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the organization, uh, shouldn’t do these things we’ve been talking about, shouldn’t have a note written to somebody. Shouldn’t pick up the phone and just say I appreciate so much that you care about the same things and what can we do to, you know, to make sure that you have the information you need to keep being involved. These, I think these things work well together. So I understand why we’ve had this discussion. I don’t understand. It sounds like you don’t understand it either is why when we’ve been talking about these things for so many years, whether it’s about donor Centricity, whether it’s about actively engaging the community that we end up in the same place of not doing it, of sending a digital receipt of not just finding whatever the current version of picking up the phone is. And here’s the reason why I think this really matters. I, I think it’s much more than just whether or not we’re going to hit this year’s retention figures and make this quarter’s goals. That’s important. All of that is important. But what’s far more important is that it’s about building relationships of trust that’s fundamental to major gifts, that world that I spend some time in. It’s obviously important to plan gifts, which you spend so much time in. But, and there’s so much revenue there that that’s important, but far more important if people don’t trust our organizations as a whole. And the Edelman Trust survey shows that nonprofits are also seeing declining uh faith in, in our organizations. If people don’t trust our organizations as a whole, then that means they won’t start, they won’t come on the on ramp to supporting us as volunteers, as, as employees, as board members, as contributors. And if they won’t, then we can’t meet the big challenges of our time. So these little things that we choose not to do either because we think we’re too busy or because they’re not important. End up having a direct correlation to whether or not people trust our organizations to take on the biggest challenges of our time. And these are existential. I mean, if, if we can’t get anybody to trust uh the government um or major institutions about issues like climate change, why should they trust, you know XYZ organization either if, if they are engaged with us that we haven’t asked them to volunteer, we haven’t invited them to sit down and have a discussion in the local community. We haven’t invited them to invest. And if they’re not really engaged with us, why in the world should they listen to us about why we need to make sure that we don’t go above 1.5 °C, which we just hit, we just hit this week, the thing that we were supposed to avoid for, for decades, just like for decades we’ve been talking about. Write a Thank you note. It’s, it’s almost parallel to see the decline in trust, the decline in generosity and ultimately the decline, our ability to address existential challenges and we have the ability as fundraisers to do little things to achieve great things just by building these bonds. That’s a terrific sort of segue to, you know, what we can do. And we’ve, we’ve toyed with this, uh uh while we’ve been talking, but we keep saying, don’t do this or do the other instead. But, um yeah, I, I mean, I’m, I’m, I’m with you. These, these small, these small things, small tasks lead to bigger uh either trust or a lack of trust if you’re not doing them, which impinges our ability to uh stop hunger and homelessness and, and reverse climate change and, and save whales and animals from kill shelters and domestic violence victims, survivors and all, you know, all of it and, and the arts education that, yeah. So, all right. So we have the ability to write the ship. It’s just, you know, we haven’t done it. We’ve been talking about it for decades. I’ve only been in philanthropies for 27 years. It got me beat by, by 1312 or 13. Um 12 or 13. Yeah. Right. 12 or 13. I don’t wanna overstate the case. Um But you know, but, you know, I’m not, I’m not, I’m not seeing big uh I’m not seeing big impacts. I’m not seeing big outcomes, outcomes is really what we want to be measuring. So, but that doesn’t mean we stop talking. That doesn’t mean we stop trying. No. And I, I wonder if maybe the, the thing is that we need to give people a bigger goal. Um, I mean, climate change is a pretty, pretty large, pretty existential goal. Right. But that’s, that’s too big too. Right. I mean, an individual or even in an organization, probably many people and many organizations don’t feel like they can do a heck of a lot to make a change to something like that. Um They can do the little things but they can’t do the big things. But maybe there are, there’s a, there’s something in the middle that ties together the work that we do in our world of, you know, um fundraising, for example, and philanthropy together uh with um uh with that bigger, bigger existential um question and, and I wonder if it’s stuff like um determining how we work with other organizations to build trust, you know, consolidating and coordinating our efforts so that instead of everybody forming another nonprofit. Um No, well, maybe we find a way to bring these nonprofits together, not just out of financial distress, which is where we typically go with mergers, but out of AAA true desire to share power, to share resources and to achieve greater things, bigger goals, bigger impacts, you know, through consolidation and cooperation’s, that’s one and that’s a bigger goal that I, I think is also attainable. And um it, something it’s a little easier to sort of imagine rather than how am I going to make sure that the ocean water levels don’t rise too high in the Carolinas. Um, you know, but it does lead there, I mean, if we can get people to work together as organizations instead of all being separate entities, then maybe it’s going to be a little easier to communicate to the public about the importance of taking actions to lobby the government, which is another thing that we can do that we don’t do because we’re so fearful that if we lobby that it’s going to run afoul of the law and that also we won’t be able to receive all the donations we want. So lobbying is one and then we can do things like um ensure that we are partnering with the kinds of supporters who also best represent our values. So we’re not just going for whatever money is out there, but we have big audacious goals supported by larger consolidated and cooper entities in pursuit of these bigger goals, supported by people who are willing to make big investments towards those goals. So not just trying to get uh a few dollars together for a small thing, but bringing more actors together with bigger support from well aligned actors for bigger things. The first one you mentioned the partnerships and those are all valuable uh the the partnerships with other organizations. That’s something I feel that the community, the sector is doing better. I remember um grant making foundations focusing on uh on, on collaborations and, and I think that that made a difference. Um II, I do still hear that there’s, you know, fear about, well, you know, we don’t, we don’t really know what a partnership looks like, you know, is it just a memorandum of understanding or are we doing events together or, or grassroots activities together like uh an advocacy day on Capitol Hill or, or in the State Capitol or whatever? Uh you know, what, what does it look like? And, or our, our board is, is uncertain about working too closely because it kind of suggests that we can’t do the work ourselves. You know, I’ve heard some of these arguments against the, the, the, the partnership ideas, but I do still think we are further along in working collaboratively than we were like 10 years ago. You, you may be right about that. Uh But I do on my end in the consulting work that I do still see so many emerging organizations all the time. They’re popping up like, like weeds or maybe dandelions. I mean, something prettier than weeds. But they, but the problem is that they still are thinking I need to do this alone. And I, and I, and I don’t see the trouble there. I pardon my interruption, but you’re accustomed to it, you know. You know, I, I do that all the time and the, the trouble there is, you know, these are folks new to the sector. So like, you know, they have passion about something. It may have, may be an event that a AAA trauma in their life that they want to create a, an advocacy cause around, you know, but, but they jump in, I mean, their first thought is I want to start a nonprofit or maybe, you know, maybe the first thing is they do a uh a fundraiser, you know, on one of the platforms or something. And then they say, oh, you know, we made $1500. Well, you know, maybe I’ll start a nonprofit, you know, so they, they’re not acquainted with the sector. They don’t, they don’t know what they’re jumping into. And by the time they start to meet the partners, you know, they’re, they’re already incorporated for three years and they’re raising, you know, now, $5000 a year and they’re flailing. But, but they got in with all with passion, which is necessary but not sufficient. It’s time for a break. Virtuous is a software company committed to helping nonprofits grow generosity. Virtuous believes that generosity has the power to create profound change in the world. And in the heart of the giver, it’s their mission to move the Needle on global generosity by helping nonprofits better connect with and inspire their givers responsive fundraising, puts the donor at the center of fundraising and grows giving through personalized donor journeys that respond to the needs of each individual. Virtuous is the only responsive nonprofit CRM designed to help you build deeper relationships with every donor at scale. Virtuous. Gives you the nonprofit CRM, fundraising, volunteer marketing and automation tools. You need to create responsive experiences that build trust and grow, impact virtuous.org. Now back to frustrations and opportunities. It’s, it’s uh it’s hard to watch because you want to take people’s, you know, all that, all that energy and passion that they have and, and help them to achieve that result that they, they say that they want to see in the world. Um At the same time, they’re never going to, it’s going to be extremely difficult for them to hit the scale that they want. What is it? Three quarters, three quarters of all nonprofits uh annual revenue under, isn’t it three quarters under $75,000 or something like that? But, but I, I don’t know, have, have you ever had these conversations with folks who just reach out to you because you’re in the sector and you’re well known and they want to start a nonprofit and they’re like, pick your brain. I, I, I’ve, I’ve had a lot of those pick your brain kind of conversations and the folks are resistant to the idea of donating to an existing cause. That’s, that’s already doing the work they’re talking about or volunteering with it or, or uh just approaching them about how can I help somehow if, if you don’t know what the structure looks like, just they, they feel like they have to do it themselves. It’s, it’s not that the existing organizations are not sufficient. But, yeah, but they’ve already, but they may have already scaled. They’re certainly more scaled than your non-existent organization. They’re, they’re, they’re way beyond where you are now, but folks are, are resistant to that line of thinking. They, they’re just so motivated. They don’t really want to hear the reach out to the existing community versus incorporating and taking on management of a, of a nonprofit corporation. You, you really don’t know what you’re getting into. So this is, this is one of the questions that I have for myself. It rattles around in my head all the time. How much of that is the result of the way we have kind of trained the community to understand how they can engage with the existing organization. I, I mean, some of there are going to be some people who tomorrow want to start their own organization and that’s just the way it’s gonna be, but it could be that they aren’t even aware of how they could be involved with another organization. So let’s take this down to the very, you know, practical kind of fundraising stuff that we do all the time. If we look at many organizations, websites, it’s very difficult in most cases to find out how to volunteer and sometimes volunteering is not only difficult to understand within the website, but there might be barriers to it. Um And those barriers are sometimes practical on the inside. But what it means externally is if you’re the person who says I really need to help the kids in my community um with an after school program. Uh And you don’t know any, any of the programs that are existing right now. Well, maybe that’s a bit of your own personal ignorance, maybe you can do more research, but it could be also that the organization already performing that role, or more likely several organizations have not found a way to bring everybody with that passion in. So I don’t mean to blame us for not being sufficient in our marketing, but I do think that we can open the doors wider to people who share our values and our passions than we have done. And we can certainly do it even in very simple, practical ways that fundraisers have some degree of control over like our websites, our Facebook pages, other places where we are acting as an acquisition tool. Well, it’s, it’s, it’s a way that we can say you don’t need to in indirectly say you don’t need to start your own thing. We’ve already got a thing here. We value you. That’s why we’ve already invited you to participate in this and that and the other thing and to give. So why don’t you come on in and work with us and that work may be as a volunteer, it may be as a advisory board member. It may be as some kind of community event or organizational um activity person, but I’m not sure that we’re doing that job very well. And in fact, if anything, I think that we have in our efforts to streamline our operations once again, um we have narrowed the portal through which people can discover and engage with us so they can find their passions through our organizations instead of coming up with 10,000 other competing organizations. I mean, let’s put it another way. 1.6 million organizations in the United States is just too many, it’s just too many. Some of that is uh the, the, the accessibility, you know, volunteering with us could look like two hours a week. I, I it could look like just a few hours a month, you know, or you, sometimes you see volunteer options but, you know, it’s not, I, I don’t, I don’t know, you, you sounds like you’ve, you’ve spent more time thinking about it and, and looking at them. Um II I, I’m thinking about, you know, volunteering. We, what does it look like? I mean, define, define what folks could do as a, as a volunteer. I mean, I think a lot of people would like to enter as a volunteer and then may very well become donors when they see the, the good work that you’re doing and they’re helping do it firsthand. They’re doing it with you firsthand. Um All right, Jay. Um what else? Now, what else? Uh What, what else would you opportunities on the opportunity side? Well, we also talked about the importance of, of coming up with advocacy um of making sure that uh we are taking a more pronounced role and discussing the issues that are important to us. And that might go a little bit beyond just a statement of our mission, our immediate mission. Uh maybe we once again get together with other organizations and say that this is our common platform, the thing that we all need to do together. So if we’re working with Children, there are lots of organizations working with Children and we need lots of them. Uh Maybe we don’t need as many as there are. I don’t know, but we do need a lot of people out there working with kids, but together, they probably have some common threads and if they worked together, I would think that they could also have more um more weight in lobbying their state legislatures. Um and, and their, their congressional representatives, um the federal government for more aid to Children um in various forms, whether it’s for head start programs or for after school programs. What have you. So in other words, we don’t have to have tons of organizations trying to fight over small amounts of money, kind of that scarcity principle, but instead coming together uh in pursuit of larger goals and then lobbying together uh to make sure that there are more resources available to address these common needs. So I think that advocacy is something that we don’t pursue as well as we could. Um And, and we could, we could do it in a more concerted and um, and successful way uh advocacy days in Washington or in state legislatures are a great example of this, but they’re usually done by individual organizations rather than by a group. Um, and so that’s one more way that I think that we could find common causes together and work together for, uh, a more, more successful outcomes, an advocacy day. I mean, I see that as perfect, uh, fertile ground for partnering, you, you’d rather have six busloads of people than one or a half and one of the organizations may have other organizations are gonna have relationships that you don’t have with, with staffs and, and this could be like we both said, Washington or at the state level. Um, I, I don’t know, I see that as ripe opportunities for, for partnering door knocking campaigns. The same thing. We, we’d rather have hundreds of people than a dozen. And I would think that would be easier if we’re working with a coalition of them. I mean, that’s, that’s definitely what happens in a political campaign. And there are some things that political campaigns do well and some things that they, they don’t, they’re much more transactional, but there are some things they do well that we can learn from and we can uh make sure that we employ those same tools and, and techniques and approaches to reach more people, get them more engaged. You had a, a dalliance with uh political campaigns. You were, you were considering running for uh for the US House at one point. I remember years ago, years ago, I never, I never jumped into the, into the, you were considering, I admire that you were thinking about it. You were serious enough that you, you publicize it to some of us, some. Well, I, I was involved at the state level with uh with the Democratic Party. Um And uh so uh was involved as a finance chair for our congressional district and doing other activities like that. Um There’s also a history of politics in my family on both sides of the aisle, uh especially with advertising and marketing, interestingly enough and in, in, in that world, what I find really interesting is advocating for ideas. So it’s not just, it’s not just the politicking over the bills, but it’s also saying that this is what’s important to us. Let’s fight for it together. Um And I, I think if there’s a kind of a through line in all this discussion, it might seem like we’re bouncing around a little bit. Uh But for me, it’s that if, if we can figure out what it is that we’re pursuing and then find out what our common interests are and common pursuits, then we should be able to attract more people to that together, um, to work on those things and more resources to, to accomplish those things. That’s certainly true in politics. And I believe it’s true in the nonprofit sector. Um, and if there’s something that, uh, that has driven me kind of crazy in the last few years, it’s this almost disaggregation. It’s this breakup we’ve had um that uh that I think that, that fundraising in part can help to fix. Um that instead of uh finding the way to divide up the population into a million different conversations, we can find common conversations and invite people to have those with us. Um instead of fighting over red and blue and, and so forth, whether it’s political or, or sports teams or our approaches to fundraising, um Instead we can find what it is, the majority of us need to do together in order to achieve these common objectives. Um So, yeah, uh politics in some ways is very appealing to me. Um What has been most uh um uh disturbing about politics is also in some ways reflected in the nonprofit sector, we may not have the same kinds of fights here in the nonprofit world that we do in politics. Thank God for that. Um But I do think that sometimes uh we, we get involved in these little uh rivalries over ideas when in fact, some things are, are pretty simple and direct, like sitting down with people across the table and listening to them first, um showing them that we heard them and then invite them to participate equally with us in achieving a mutual, you know, mutually desired result. And I know that in earnest, most of us feel that we are doing that. We are working hard to do that in this sector, but especially in some of the ways we’ve talked about so far today. Um I think we can do better. I think that’s an a, a fine place to stop if uh if, if you’re comfortable with that. Yeah. Is there? No, I need you to work with. I was kind of all over the place. No, no, you, you were restrained, right? All right. I think you like. That’s uh those are, those are excellent parting words and we, we, we can do better and we’ve got existential challenges that are at stake back to J Frost. Oh, thank you. Um Yeah. And we had a, you know, I should have given you a little more space for humor, Tony because this wasn’t the laugh fest. It usually is with you. That’s the only problem. Well, that’s when I’m, when I’m the centerpiece. It’s, it’s more uplifting. No, you were quite uplifting. Maybe. Uh maybe I wouldn’t go so far as to say jovial. But uh you’re uplifting, uplifting. All right. He’s Jay Frost. He hosts the, uh, you do this a couple of times a week, right? The Donor Search philanthropy Masterminds series. You do one a week or a couple of week, 22 per week, plus one podcast per week for 46 weeks. This year, I’m giving myself a little vacation. All right. Let’s not get too slack. 46 444 weeks of vacation. 4 to 4 to 6 weeks of vacation. Um, You’ll find him on linkedin and you’ll find him at the uh philanthropy Masterminds series, which is he’s the host and donor search is the sponsor of the, of the series. Thank you, Jay. Thank you for uh Thank you for opening up. Thank you to really, really appreciate it next week. Publish your book, Thought Leader. If you missed any part of this week’s show, I beseech you find it at Tony martignetti.com or sponsored by donor box, outdated donation forms blocking your supporters, generosity. Donor box fast, flexible and friendly fundraising forms for your nonprofit donor box.org. And by virtuous, virtuous gives you the nonprofit CRM fundraising volunteer and marketing tools. You need to create more responsive donor experiences and grow giving, virtuous.org. Welcome again. Virtuous. Thanks so much. Our creative producer is Claire Meyerhoff. I’m your associate producer, Kate Marinetti. The show social media is by Susan Chavez. Mark Silverman is our web guy and this music is by Scott Stein. Thank you for that affirmation. Scotty be with us next week. For nonprofit radio, big nonprofit ideas for the other 95% go out and be great.

Nonprofit Radio Knowledge Base: Online Engagement


Video interview with Beth Kanter, master trainer & speaker, from Fundraising Day 2013: Online Engagement & Measurement

Aria Finger, DoSomething.org‘s COO on Mobile Engagement

Amy Sample Ward, Nonprofit Radio’s social media contributor & CEO of Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN): Get Engaged

Video with Jay Frost, CEO of fundraisinginfo.com, from Fundraising Day 2012: From Engagement to Action Online

Shari Ilsen & Lauren Girardin, from NTC, the Nonprofit Technology Conference on “Engagement: Motivating & Measuring”