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Paul Loeb: Don’t Burn Out In 2017
Paul Loeb has been doing social change since the Vietnam War and his most recent books are “Soul Of a Citizen” and “The Impossible Will Take a Little While.” After nearly 50 years of activism, he has a lot to recommend about keeping yourself motivated day-after-day, especially in a time when nonprofits may suffer federal cutbacks. We talked at Opportunity Collaboration 2015 in Ixtapa, Mexico.
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Oppcoll hello and welcome to tony martignetti non-profit radio big non-profit ideas for the other ninety five percent on your aptly named host oh, i’m glad you’re with me. I’d suffer with ad elect assists if you deflated me with the notion that you missed today’s show, don’t burn out in twenty seventeen paul lobe has been doing social change since the vietnam war, and his most recent books are soul of a citizen, and the impossible will take a little while. After nearly fifty years of activism, he has a lot to recommend about keeping yourself motivated day after day, especially in a time when non-profits may suffer federal cutbacks. We talked at opportunity collaboration twenty fifteen in x top of mexico and personalized video or your videos engaging and deepening your donor connections. Are you taking advantage of video personas? Is video part of your donor onboarding and retention strategies? If you answered no to any of these, michael hoffman and jonno smith can help you. Michael is with c three communications and jonno smith is from make a wish america we talked at the twenty sixteen non-profit technology conference on tony’s take two is your thanks sincere? We’re sponsored by pursuant full service fund-raising data driven and technology enabled, you’ll raise more money pursuant dot com and by we be spelling super cool spelling bee fundraisers we b e spelling dot com here is paul lobe with advice on not burning out. Welcome to tony martignetti non-profit radio coverage of opportunity collaboration twenty fifteen we’re back on the beach in x top of mexico with me is paul lobe he’s, the author, most recently of soul of a citizen and the impossible will take a little while, plus three other books before those those two have sold over a quarter million copies, you’ll find paul lobe at the impossible dot org’s polo. Welcome to the show. Glad to be here. Thanks. I’m glad we’re together on the beach. I want to talk about avoiding burnout. A lot of your work for decades. Going back to the seventies is in activism. Citizen activism, right? Um, taco, actually, let’s. Start with a cool story that i heard you tell about rosa parks. So it’s. Interesting. Because rosa parks is the sort of story that everyone thinks they know. You know i can go. I can be overseas and people know the name i can talk to eleven year olds and they know the name. Oh, yeah. She’s the lady on the bus. But what’s interesting to me is that most people know in a certain version and they know it as one day she was writing on this bus and sort of just feed retired. She just refused out of nowhere and single handedly launched the civil rights movement. You know, all by yourself is this lone heroic woman. And i get very frustrated when i hear that story because it strips away the context that’s so important understand that actually is much more empowering that that story and so i look in there several elements there’s the one he is that’s, their mistake, the element of community. So she at that point is the secretary of the end of the civil rights organization in montgomery, alabama. And she has worked for dozen years with the p co founded by her husband. That particular chapter was a barber in the city and she’s doing these sort of humble towns, like getting people to come to meetings and all the stuff that certainly is not going to make the history books. Or the network news or even page six of the local paper. And when you take that away and you take out all the other people that she’s working with, it becomes a sort of lone crusade, which is very much a mythology of our culture. I mean, you know, one of things i sometimes bright lad in the language around social on ownership is lone hero super person. Yeah, but she’s, part of a community that she’s built there’s, others in it. There’s ah, a union organizer, gotomeeting nixon who’s, the head of the local. At that point, he’s, the person who gets a very young and relics on martin luther king involved king is all these excuses. He’s young he’s, new in town is thing was reluctant to join. He was reluctant to join. Yeah, he’s reluctant step for we think of them as leaping forward, but at that point, he has not really fully he’s not embraced that path. He’s still, you know, well, i i’ve got divinity school. I’m going to be a minister and it’s not at all clear that that’s going to be his direction. So he’s looking, i think warily at it and there’s a phrase i used the perfect standard, which is the notion that you need to know everything be the perfect place in your life, be the combination of sort of albert einstein, gandhi, king wonder woman, mother grace, you know, add seven other people, you know, none of us is ever going to get there so and it’s also about the perfect time and place and, of course, he’s saying, well, it’s, not the perfect time in place. I’m too young, i’m do knew all the excuses, you know, in his case elements of truth, but he’s their excuses. And so it’s nixon, who persists, gets king involved, and montgomery is where the world hears the king as well as in rosa parks. So when you strip that away and you make it the long hero, it ends up, i would say, being very disempowering to people, even though think it’s an inspiring story because they have to be as her work as a perceived princessa rosa parks perceived rosa parks as opposed to the real heroism which is doing the stuff day after day after day. Um, and then the second element is that they think it is. A sort of accidental action one day, her feet hurt, but there she wasn’t. The first person refused to move to the back of the bus. There was a young woman who was actually unmarried and pregnant. They just died not from the youth section, not to build a campaign around because they’re up against enough as it is latto strategic decision and these parks had got the summer before arrests, going to trainings at a place called highlander center labor and civil rights center still going in tennessee despite being burned at once by the group klux klan and so she’s meeting with an earlier generation of civil rights activists smaller move but still certainly present and when she acts it’s intentional, intentional doesn’t mean she knows the outcome. I always said that there’s a two, two aspects one is, you’ve got to have a leap of faith. The minister, jim waller’s, from the social justice magazine sojourner, says hope is believing in spite of the evidence and then watching the evidence change. Yeah, so, you know, by your actions, you change and you have believe it faith about the possibility, but right next to that is intentionality, which just means you’ll be strategic. So you’re looking at you’re saying, ok, what do want accomplished? How do we get there? Who are allies are the obstacles? How do we get the resource is how do we carry it out? How do we tell our stories? All the practical stuff? Of course they had to deal with that montgomery and and when parks took that leap, she also knew that it was going to be part of intentional campaign. They would run his best they could. And, you know, they’d see where lead and it is. Yeah. I love the story because of the intentionality aspect, and that leads us to the social change work the people are doing now, right? And where we get to the potential for burn out in all this day after day after day after work that is so intentional and so time consuming, right? And and so and so emotionally fraught. And the stakes could be life and death and disappointing. Yes. And i just ate pointing. Yeah, yeah. You know, never enough resource is all of those kinds of things. So so i think there’s a third element. That’s missing is perseverance, which is okay, you know, twelve years, if she gives up in your tender rate, we’ve never so and so and so that that carries into that question of burnout persisted. You have to keep going. So let’s spend some time talking about sort of empowering people toe, right? Not burn out in their day to day work as they’re going about their struggles. Where? Wherever in the world yeah, you, uh you believe a lot in, uh, support and they do, and the disempowerment of isolation isolation is the killer. I mean, when you feel like you’re the only one you’re up against every but when you change it to okay, we’re up against a lot, but there is a way and the wii doesn’t have to be thousands of people. It can be three or four people that are the ones that you rely on, but it’s so easy. I mean, i i find myself i run a project that i found it that gets students engaged in elections using the resource is of the colleges and universities. Shut that out. What’s the name the campus election engagement project. Campus elect a door ad it’s really demanding on dh. You know, resource is and on also sometimes, you know, really hard personnel situations and, you know, because this comes up, you hire people and sometimes problems like you and i remember one particularly acute situation, which really, wass i mean, it was just the kind of thing we are going to details that just wrenches your heart wrenches your soul on it had the potential to destroy the organization and and just trying to deal with my own. And then, you know, call. I talked to a friend who we have really wonderful street newspaper in seattle where i live real change that where homeless people sell it and it’s partly professional staff partly almost poses a great model. And, you know, i just called my friend who who ran it was like, ok, tim, why don’t i d’oh it’s like, you know, you really you know, this is something that you can’t you’re not large enough to handle the son, you know, you know, when you know, you just hear this, you have to be ableto, you know, hard as it is to say, this person can’t be apart the organization because, you know, it’s just this otherwise you’ll be in constant crisis, so we need to have support. Yeah, it could be it could be colleagues similarly situated right in the community or across the country, right? Yeah, could be, yeah, with funders even made the tech with the technologies we have, you know, it doesn’t have to be geographically focused. Yeah, but you do have tohave and you have to have a team of folks. I mean, on the other side is we’re doing, like, i mean, i’m asking people in my election project to basically take the culture of us college or university, get access to the administration, and we go in through sametz works that they tend to work with, but even still, you know, and the student government convinced them to do something that they haven’t done before, or now that some of them now they have done because they worked with us, which is to make a priority of registering their students to vote and getting to reflect on issues and helping them turnout at the polls in all non partisan is this school has to be done lorts ad and i mean, we’re just think, okay, here it is, here’s how we’ve done it before go do it and so it’s hard. So, you know, part of even like working it’s harder working virtually, but we have our conference calls each, you know, in the heat of it every week and me, we’re gonna do a video or we don’t go hang out or whatever, and we’re supporting each other. We’re appreciating each other’s successes were brain streaming through the through the project. We also have coaching the cohesion in the group is what sort of were being extremely were being extremely intentional. The cohesion doesn’t happen automatically were laughing and making jokes talking about, oh, did something cool happened in your personal life? Two be able to sort of give people the sense that it’s not just because in our particular case, they really are physically on their own there’s not somebody in an office, but they’re off on a college campus know weather off where they happen to live, and then they’re either talking by phone or visit making site this is tow campuses, but they don’t have the calling next to them. So we try and very intentionally create that community because otherwise they would they will burn. Out, you’re tuned to non-profit radio. Tony martignetti also hosts a podcast for the chronicle of philanthropy. Fund-raising fundamentals is a quick ten minute burst of fund-raising insights, published once a month. Tony’s guests are expert in crowdfunding, mobile giving event fund-raising direct mail and donor cultivation. Really, all the fund-raising issues that make you wonder, am i doing this right? Is there a better way there is? Find the fund-raising fundamentals archive it. Tony martignetti dot com that’s marketmesuite n e t t i remember there’s, a g before the end, thousands of listeners have subscribed on itunes. You can also learn maura, the chronicle website, philanthropy dot com fund-raising fundamentals, the better way. Dahna about in in recruitment, there’s gotta be there’s gotta be things that you look for bringing people to the organization that are going to help create this cohesion, you know, it’s a good question, i’m not, and i wouldn’t say i’ve always been perfect at it. I would have had my share of a fallibility, but i do think that, you know, as i learn and we all do, you know that being able to i mean, have a strong sense of self but also know that you’re not going to do it all on your own know that you’re going to be working with others no, that have a sense of humor. I mean, if you’ve got a sense of humor, helps help cement slim and you see people in just, you know, dealing with the hardest i lost the vote, heart wrenching situations and there’s a sort of i mean, somebody called gallows humor, which french trenches humor has in-kind wartime or whatever guys get you through it’s so important in prison culture, they talk about the brotherhood of suffering, yeah, it helps to be that cohesive group, right? And so, you know, one of the stories i tell in the impossible, take a little while. Um, is, you know, they’re breaking it robben island prison in south africa, you know, they’re telling mandela and all those other folks, you know, you are going to rot here, the world has forgotten about you, you will never leave here alive, and they isolate him in every way they can. And so they’re breaking rocks in a prison courtyard, and they start whistling a freedom song and just just that, you know, okay, we’re not allowed to have this political conversation, but we all know what this means, and they’re they’re ice. They’re denied newspapers and, you know, further isolate him. And they said guard who’s got his tuna fish sandwich wrapped in a newspaper and throws, you know, sandwich stores in his paper in the trash, take it surreptitiously under their shirt. They see a story that they think might give each other heart and in a kind of coded script on toilet paper’s only paper, most of them had access to the right, you know, just something that will tell that story of the outside world so that people are connected to the outside world to each other. And then they pass it hand in hand, you know, when they’re waiting, you know, had lunch or whatever the damn chance or in the yard. Yeah, so it’s just it’s those air extreme situations, but they also suggests to me that and this is the lesson of both soul of a citizen and be impossible to take a little while, but that in any situation, you know, you don’t have to be faced in prison. But if you’re doing difficult work, you need that camaraderie. You need that community. And you have gotta be we know recently intentional about trading it about, uh, the scope of the work of the organization being judicious about what the organization takes on, right. So it’s not straying from mission and and stressing stressing in killing staff? Well, yeah, i think we are. I mean, i think we all face that challenge because if you’re trying to do something, i mean, i was the needs are so great, the needs are so great, and i always encourage people to think really large and to tackle big systems on a lot of times. There’s a tendency to sort of yeah, which i describe it. It’s i think there’s a value in that more delimited personal work, it’s i don’t want to demean it in any way. Hyre but i remember stanford students saying very well meaning lee, i’ve learned so much volunteering at this homeless shelter, i hope my grandchildren get the opportunity to volunteer at the same homeless shelter that i have and as his friends sort of try to gently remind him that really wasn’t the point. And so if you’re working at the homeless shelter, which is great, you wantto look upstream and you want to be able to say, okay, what am i learning from this one on one encounter? And how do i buy-in with others and join together others to tackle homelessness on a larger platform? Because if you don’t it’s just going to the endless parade of need, so i think that that’s true and at the same time well, where do you draw the bounds? And you look around the issues and there’s poverty and inequality and climate change and, you know, on and on and on, you know, police violence, i’m not stone on on on how do you deal with all of it? And so i think part of it is just you do have to think about what your capacity is. You do have to think about the past people. I tend to be somebody who thinks large and tries to get my project on staff to think large and probably, you know, maybe drives them a little too hard. But by national directories is wonderful. Twenty eight year old is pretty good at balancing, like, all right, you know, this is what we can ask people to do. And if they do it, well, that will matter. But i have this wonderful friend who i nufer years who died at a hundred to is an environmental activist. And of course, you know what time she reaches her. You know, late eighties and nineties, you know, you’re asking your weather sees her secret of longevity is certainly but also her secret of being able to keep doing this work. Yeah, on and so, you know, one of the phrases she does that you know, you you do what you can, you can’t do everything you have to say no to people, but you can do what you can and then you could do some more and you could do that your entire life. And then she also another point she was talking about reviving our spirits and she said, you know, you go kayaking, you go hiking, she both into her nineties and she gets the mist of a smile and she says, then you come back ready to take on exxon, you know, so she’s willing to take on exxon, but she also knows that she has to go do those other things to renew her soul, you know? And, you know, and humor and just she and this sort of goes to the recruitment to you, right? You recruiting hole people? Yeah, you have other interests beyond the work that you’re you’re hiring them for your not recruiting robot? Yeah, no, absolutely. And so i think having, you know, having people who really are just i mean, it’s hard because i always want people who are passionate about the cause, but also but not one dimensional, but no one dimensional. Yeah, yeah, and not, you know, we’re not recruiting robots aboutthe aboard as potential support you, you know, in times again, times of burnout, we’re not talking about your fiduciary responsibilities. But hyre valuable to have a couple of trusted board members who, you know, i would you can’t trust confide in i mean, i would say the trusted people can be anywhere, so i think, you know, if they’re on the board that’s terrific, you know? And there was also i mean, sometimes you sort of worry, will you exposure in, er, you know, the afraid of the classic phrase about politics and sausage making it’s like you really don’t want to see how the sausage is made? I mean, there was there was at least those those sure are meat eaters and made sausage sometimes i really don’t want to see how it’s made and, you know, do you expose the inner workings that boardmember than thinking, oh, my god, this is like, you know, we’re in crisis, we’re in crisis, you know, you know, and the same thing’s true with funders, i mean, certainly myself, you know, there’s funders who i have a very serious, trusting relationship who really do want to know and who i trust if they recognise that, oh, everything is not going perfectly, but this is true in any organization and is not and he’s, perfectly compatible with doing astounding work, you know, i remember i had a staffer once was running operation brilliant, brilliant guy and you, you know, innovated. A lot of the things that moved us forward is an organization, but at one point he liked the plan, which is good because he brought. He brought us to a higher level of planning, and planning is really good. But at one point, he said, it’s supposed to election is that you planned all this stuff out and, you know, it’s all going out, it’s all happening, different blade, yeah, and i’m like and yes, and that’s always going to be the way it iss. It is gonna happen differently, and the planning was good and it makes us respond, you know more effectively, but there’s always going to be if you’re doing anything worthwhile, ambitious enough to be worthwhile, there are always gonna be things coming in from left field on her balls and what not and it’s just. How about sort of going backto what the one hundred two year old activist saying she kayaks, etcetera, right? And he’s mischievous? I mean, i remember a lot of us hundred to you talk. I think there are like he was busy in your party little chablis apartment lived on second, section eight subsidence dilgence social security, which, when she was twenty three years old, as a young union activists, should help lobbied through one of the first public pension programs in america became a model for social security, so something she did in twenty three or four benefits there are ninety eight, ninety nine, one hundred, and i think her i can’t see what she was talking about her landlord and said, well, you know what? If something happens, you know? Yeah, just dig a hole in the backyard. I’m pretty small. I don’t take up my face, you know? She just was she didn’t know there was one point there was was in central america, something there was a congressman she met. She was very active with the audubon society and and who very condescendingly in the way that when does towards the old than the young sort. Said to her, oh, so i hear you’re a birdwatcher like, isn’t that? And she said, yes, there’s a lot of birds in washington d c that need watching these days, but i was thinking of the kayaking, she she takes care of herself, she takes care of its just got this wonderful sense of humor, right? And she’s a kayaker and yes, you know, so having similar to recruiting people who aren’t one dimensional, not being one dimensional yourself. Yeah, i mean, you do have to take care of yourself. You do. I’m a big proponent of naps. Yeah, i’ve blogged about the the the the love i have for napping. But whatever it is, you do need to have something outside. Yeah, yeah, i know it and it’s true. And, you know, and again, i think we all wrestle with i mean, i certainly wrestle with that it’s like, you know, on, you know, my wife’s going out to see a play. I’m she works very. She works very hard, but in a more contained space probably dad, you know? And i’m like no, i got this deadline. I got to do this, you know? But, you know, if i over the years on a runner and run in my early sixties and been running since i’m fifteen and fortunately, my knees haven’t given out and so, you know, if i go run, i also live in seattle, so i get to run by water, but, you know, if i’m traveling, lecturing on the road, it’s, like i take a break, which because i met town, make my living, you know, i take a break and i run along usually if there’s water around, i’m going to run along the river or the stream of the, you know, whatever the lake and it just, you know, physically, it flushes me, you know, they did toxicity out of you, but it also just, you know, it gives you a space and it’s it’s, you feel better afterwards? Endorphins, there’s lot to be said for endorphins, flood flow. All that stuff suppressing the stress hormones. Yeah, yeah, i can think of offhand. Well, no, gentlemen. One of them? Yeah. Suppressing those. Yeah, and building up endorphins. And yet, yeah. And i think also things like diet. Yeah. He’s getting enough sleep? Yeah, yeah. I mean, i called. I mean, i called the holy trinity of, you know, exercise diet, which includes, um, good supplements. Yeah. Ok. And after? Yeah, not not on the suicide. Very practical. And you know what? Yeah, you are dealing with serious dressed. This will help. Uh, this will lower your cortisone there’s. Another right doesn’t stretch on and, you know, and sleep, were i my sleep tends not to be that great. So i just figure okay, i’m gonna log nine hours to get a where you get seven and a half, okay? Yeah. And, you know, and that helps about switch gears a bit to the teo donor-centric team. It don’t, er burnout, right? You know, i’ve been doing this. I’ve been supporting this cause a long time. I feel like it’s time to move on. I need any advice around that. Well, i think part of what happens is people have this constant pressure to sort of see the quick short term results and a lot of times howard’s in new york by accepting the impossible take a little while the greatest story. And he talks about the optimism of uncertain. You don’t know when the moment will turn you go backto parks. Of all, the wasn’t like she was doing lots of things for twelve years, as they all were one of them little spark, but you couldn’t anticipate which and so i think, it’s very it’s, very easy to sort of say that success is for human dignity that we’ve had were inevitable civil rights movement. Of course, eventually they would have revealed gay rights in eventually. Well, our environmental challenges open question whether we will be able you do what we need. Well, we are able to do what we need climate change, but they have the will is yeah, the will for it. I mean right now, you know, the technology is there, renewables have now passed, you know, they are cheaper than coal, there are equal with fossil fuel without any externalities at all. And you know, when next molly’s it’s not even close. So but will we have the political will? I don’t know, um, it depends on us and you and the stakes are pretty ultimate because, you know, we’re talking about the habitability of the planet. So you know, when i when i look at it, you know what i what i see is donors being subject to the same schools is the rest of us buy-in possibly possibly in a more mediate wet because they’re not actual sum of money, but a lot of making sure they aren’t in the field, they’re they’re dealing with, you know, with them, you know, then the publicans of hands, possibly and it’s so and they’re getting reports, but they may not even have time to read the reports and, you know, depends on how good the people are a storytelling and so i think and, you know, let’s be honest, at least on some issues, they they may be insulated by privilege, they’re not, you know, they’re not seeing in their social circle, and i remember talking with one of our funders, and she said, well, she has a couple different pieces, like one of her groups, they are just not always down in silicon valley, they are just not at all concerned about this stuff at all and, you know, so she’s an environment that is not reinforcing her concern. Yeah, and that’s what? You know, that makes it harder to continue as a donor, then everyone’s talking about these urgent issues and oh, yeah and, you know, here you are, so you’re trying to address them, so i think you know, the challenges well for the rest of us, to try and offer that perspective in our work, which is hard because we’re often mean again, the stakes couldn’t be life and death, you know, they’re huge, even if they’re not immediately life and death wait care passionate about our families to myself, it’s like this is what we can do, and we want to put these many people on the ground in our states in time to really work with the school’s for this election and the clock is ticking and, you know, so, you know, from the donor perspective, if you want to try and really see that long term, you know, i mean, and of course, you want to be rigorous and you want all the rest of this stuff, but not get but see that long term goal is his long term goal recognized the the the short term, the short term impacts we can have, right? And but you also see the longer the wait and see how things build on the other thing i think is, you know, there’s a certain, you know, i would argue that our our culture, including certain the non-profit donor intersection, has that has adopted dahna bh session with certain kinds of measurement to the detriment of other kinds of metro meant measurement. And so it’s, metrix, metrix, metrix, metrix and i mean, i mean, i’ve been seattle in a city where it’s particularly talks, because we’ve got a tech culture, and yeah, some of the numbers could be exceptionally important. There’s, no question about that, but here’s, a story that embodies the process of what’s occurring that can be equally indicative. And so when you’re trying to evaluate impact, which is a reasonable in good thing, you want to take that broad, long term picture, and you want to get the understand all the different ripples of a particular organization. You’re supporting our considering supporting. Yeah. That that’s that can be as warm or important. Then then the numbers, you know, and not to dismiss the numbers, you know, but another way of measuring there’s qualitative, this good storytelling as well. Yeah, but, you know, in which can include numbers which can include numbers the air of i mean, you know, when i talked to donors, they know we have some very good numbers on our project. Way from our best calculations. Couple hundred thousand students who voted our last year who wouldn’t have otherwise? This is huge, you know, for a tiny minute budget of well, i have less than half a million dollar budget for that level of impact is amazing. Yeah. Yeah, we just have about a minute left or so you’ve been doing activism. What? Forty some years? Forty something years. It creeps up on you. What do you love about it? Why do you keep forty you? Why so long? What do you love? Well, some of it’s that the work continues to need to be doing dahna but some of it is that you do. I think the old skills and you build a sense of capability. And you can see, things happen that you’ve done or and this is what i would say is that everybody wait the books that i write, try it like impossible and so try to connect people to a broader stream of people working for such for social justice that started way before any of us were born and is going to continue long after we die. And if we feel connected that stream, it can help carry us, and we can help carry others. And to me that’s a lot of what keeps me doing it because it means that not only do i have a community that supports me current time, but i have a community of historical time, which i could see is supporting, and that makes you an awful lot of difference. Follow-up he’s written five books, the most recent our soul of a citizen and the impossible will take a little while you’ll find him at the impossible dot or ge paul, thank you so much. My pleasure. Been a real pleasure talking to you. Thanks a lot. On the beach on the joanie martignetti non-profit radio coverage of opportunity collaboration. Twenty fifteen. Thanks so much for being with us personalized video coming up first, pursuing they have mohr free research for you. This one is a paper it’s their e-giving outlook report. They bring in data from several industry reports, different reports and put it together with their own boots on the ground perspective as fund-raising consultants to give you precautions, opportunities and questions for discussion in your office e-giving outlook report by pursuant and it’s at. Pursuant dot com click resource is than content papers we’ll be spelling spelling bees for fund-raising have you checked out this video? You’ll see live music, dancing, standup comedy, spelling and raising money from millennials it’s that we be e spelling dot com now time for tony’s take two my video this week is, is your thanks since here less thanksgiving, i got two messages that said, thanks, but they added in promotion and solicitation that made them sound less than sincere like here’s an example. Just wanna wish you a happy thanksgiving and ask about your athletic fund-raising i’m kidding like, well, happy thanksgiving to you. And can i borrow five hundred bucks? Have you got all the insurance you need? Uh, might you be in the market for a used car happy thanksgiving i have another example of something less than sincere and a little more to say about sincerity. The video is at tony martignetti dot com that is tony steak, too, from ntcdinosaur sixteen here. Michael hoffman and jonno smith on personalized video welcome to tony martignetti non-profit radio coverage of sixteen ntc this is day three with e san jose convention center, and this interview is also part of ntc conversations. My guests now are michael’s, michael hoffman and jonno smith. We’re going to eat them in a moment. First, i have to shut out the swag item for this interview, doing one each time and this is a t shirt from canopy studios. What i like about this one is the pretty green tag i mean, they don’t just toss you a t shirt and throw it on, but comes a little pretty green ribbon, i should say pretty green ribbon. We had that to the swag pile the three day pile with a small thumb because that’s a soft item, alright. Michael hoffman and jonno smith. Michael is ceo at sea three communications. Jonno smith is director of brand marketing and digital strategy at make-a-wish america gentlemen, welcome to non-profit radio. Thank you, michael. Michael, welcome back. Thank you, it’s. Good to be back two years ago and tc believe was twentieth. Twenty fourteen. Your workshop topic donor onboarding and stewardship using personalized video to create stronger constituent ties and raise more money. Okay. That’s a mouthful. Yes. Let’s, let’s. Start with michael. You’re the c three is a video production company and marketing what’s. What is personalized video? Personalized video is away. Toe put user data inside a video to give every individual a personalized video experience. So it may say hi, tony, in the video and you get a link to that video that’s for you. So it’s almost like mail merge for video. All right, what’s the okay, i have a couple questions. Can this be done on a large scale or were absolutely so we’re not talking about recording an individual video about now we’re talking about tony. Hello, michael. Hell, john, we’re not doing that. We’re talking about automated triggers with a c r m so that we can take any data out of your database and say tony gave fifty dollars, last year. Tony, will you give one? Hundred dollars this year. Or thank you for your gift of x and the ex comes from the database. Okay? And these are called triggers. Within a video, you create a trigger to make the video so it might be a first time gift. Or it might be trying to upgrade you. And then the system will produce a video on the service side and send you a link to a video that has your name in it on way. See that people are incredibly responsive when we are customized to their own experience. How okay, if if i am the person in the video howto my lips sync with each different persons also mostly we don’t do audio we just to text on the screen so it might say hi, tony in ah in words on the screen on then there’s kind of a generic voice over. We have done it with voice and basically the way you do that would be to record, you know, the top two hundred first names, for example, and then and then have a default for names that don’t fit so most people would get you know, something that that says their name. And other people get some default, but usually that’s not necessarily worth the effort, because just seeing your name on the screen and seeing a donation amount or something specific about you, i really had an impact. Upstanding how long have we had this personalized video technology? We’ve been doing it for years, mostly for peer-to-peer fund-raising sofer run, walk and ride fund-raising mostly tto help the person who’s raising the money, who’s just a donor really ask others for money, so it’ll say, you know, tony is walking in the in the important, you know, make a wish event. Yeah, and you should support tony and and so you could just send that video to your friends, and that does the asking for you because most people don’t like to do the asking, and most people aren’t very good at it. So we’ve seen that raise money we’re doing working now with the alzheimer’s foundation and alzheimer’s association, and we’ve done for american cancer society, and we’ve done for autism speaks we’ve done from video reference it’s a very successful company. Did you develop this? We did. Yeah, we did. And there’s other other folks doing it there’s some. Companies that just do this for the corporate side, which is really what got us into the question of onboarding and stored ship on retention because we’re seeing companies like a t and t uses technology to welcome new customers to say hi, tony, this is what you ordered this when you’re billing date is this is who you know and and it keeps people are connected. I saw jonno check his watch. He’s. Well, let’s bring you in there’s a part of this. You know what? I’m speaking at a ten o’clock. Okay. Oh, my gosh. Okay, it’s. Nine. Forty. All right, we’ll try to be mined mindful of that, but i got to get these twenty one minutes out of you. All right, so how is make-a-wish using this? Well, what we’ve done is work with michael’s team to create nineteen in nine different audience personas. And historically, all of our video has been very make-a-wish centric and not focus on our constituents. Oh, and so we created dahna personas volunteer personas medical professionals because they’re very important to our wish referral process, huh? And have rolled those out across all sixty two our chapters in the us. As a framework for them to think about storytelling and video storytelling specifically in a different way. I’m not just talking about make a wish and how great we are, which we are, but we couldn’t do what we do without hundreds of different people to make witches happen. And so by featuring these different personas in our videos, it really moves make-a-wish out of the hero role and more into the mentor role and puts our constituents ahs the hero of our story. So personalized video is just one tactic in a in a bigger strategy, which is to really understand who your donors are and speak to them, you know, clear directly, personally, thoughtfully, yeah, we’ve been just really privileged partner with make a wish on figuring out who those who those folks are today and who they will be in the future and on dh, then to be helping them shift the messaging so that it really speaks to those people in their role. Yeah, it really does mean using their name that speaks to them. Yeah, right, i’m saying, but even outside the technique of personalized video, we’re doing that through all other kinds of content. Development just wanna banding that, you know, the major donor is of this age or is likely to like these things. Then when you start to create content, you speak more clearly to those people, even if you’re not using their name. Okay? And this is one of many channels that you’re communicating with courses altum staying multi-channel sure, all right, you know, you’re specifically using this for donor onboarding and retention or stewardship? How, john, how are you using it in the end? Donor-centric video technique, it’s personalized video is just one tactic that we’ve used around this donor onboarding in sword ship. Oh, okay, but well, you have video personas, though yes, so just a little bit different. We’re not at the point yet where we’re featuring the person’s name in the video, okay, but we’ve just changed the storytelling archetypes, so to speak, to focus on these different individuals and make them the folks of the video instead of it being all about us, okay, makes a lot of sense. All right, so then for onboarding michael, how how are non-profits using it or how might they? Yeah, i i think i think it’s a powerful opportunity. To say when somebody doesn’t action or does a donation to say to them, you know what you just did was really important and organisations are so focused on acquisition all the time, it’s like that new name, that first gift that they forget to amaze and delight their donors afterwards. And so the theory and we’re seeing it again in the corporate world, is that if you treat them well at the beginning and you explain what they did and why it was important, then they’re going to stay with you longer. And so we know, for example, that monthly givers often drop off after a couple months when they see this thing recurring on their credit card, but if you keep them for longer than a few months, they might stay for seven years, so just using different techniques, personalized video being one of them to really speak to them in those moments and say, hey, what you’re doing is really important and here’s the impact that it’s having and here’s people like you who are doing it and doing incredible things and making them part of the story, one of our most important metrics is donor commitment. Score, which is the non-profit equivalent of the net promoter score and we measure that on an annual basis with our donors, you have to explain what the net promote. I have george in jail on sorry twenty martignetti non-profit radio i do not know what the net promoter score is, so and i’m the on the orbiter for jorgen shell. So? So when amazon asks you, how likely you to recommend amazon to a friend on a zero to ten basis, the nines and tens are considered promoters of that brand and the ones most likely to purchase again and to refer amazon and there’s a group that’s adapted that for the nonprofit sector and not only asks, how likely are you to donate to this organization? But are they your favorite charity? Do you love this organization? And they combine those scores to understand the donor’s commitment? And so we measure that on an annual basis and what we’ve seen since we’ve transitioned to the more personalized form of storytelling in general and specifically through video is that our donor commitment scores have started teo increase because the donor’s air really seeing themselves in our stories for the first time and in a long time, okay, and what are some of the other techniques that you’re using alongside the personalized video? So we’ve once we created these nine different personas, we actually built collateral around them for all sixty two of our chapters and developed with michael’s team, a flip book that sits on every marketer and fundraisers desk throughout make-a-wish way have a thousand employees throughout the u s and so having a shift like this and storytelling was a massive endeavor. We didn’t want the personas to end up on the shelf in the office, so to speak. And so literally we put these flip books on everyone’s desk, and when they’re getting ready to send an email or write a direct mail letter or create a video or whatever the case, maybe they can literally flip the persona and remind themselves about their demographics there. Psychographic sw what? What these individuals value so they make sure that they’re truly speaking to these individuals and personalized and segmented way, right? So if you’re writing an e mail or you’re writing a facebook post, you look at those pictures of those people and you say, well, will this person like that was this speaking to them now they’re not it’s not speaking to everyone. It’s, speaking to specific types of supporters donors wish, refers on making that really top of mind all the time when you’re doing content creation. Now the flip books are the persona. Yeah, the nine percent cracked and their posters on the walls and there’s, you know, an idea of like these air, our constituents, we need to be talking to these people, you’re not the audience, these in the audience. So when we think about the language we use, when we think about the things we want to share, when we think about how to ask for for donations, we have to look at these faces and their character, and we have to say, you know, will this resonate with them on dh that sharpens started to sharpen the messaging on, but also diversifies the messaging because it’s not just one one type, so make a wish kind of got caught in talking one way tau one type and the way to grow is really to think about, well, who were those other types that we weren’t speaking too? Okay, and it sounds like common sense, right? People have been talking about being donor-centric and constituent centric it conferences in presentations and white papers for ten years, but the reality is, most organizations have not really embraced that. And although it seems like common sense and doesn’t sound like a controversial idea, it was actually very controversial for many of our chapters, especially those with staff who have been there for ten, fifteen, twenty years. They’ve been used to talking exclusively about make a wish, make a wish being the focus, and when we said no, if we’re going to grow, if our donor commitment scores are going to rise, we need to flip that and people were resistant to that. And so the flip books really helps push that along. What are some of the other personas you mentioned? Doctors, volunteers, major donors? Who some what are some of the other? Sure so we created not only current heh personas, but perspective personas of those who were not currently reaching that we feel like there’s a good opportunity. Two one example of that is a volunteer persona of an older male. Most of our volunteers are younger females, but we thought there was an opportunity with men who are approaching retirement age to become volunteers who helped grant our wishes. A tte the same time, those individuals could potentially become candidates for plant giving, major gifts and so forth. Doctor’s on social workers and child life specialists, or court our mission. And they’re a really difficult audience to reach. Eso, we develop personas for all three of those individuals. And it’s enabled our chapters toe. Think ah, a little bit more strategically, about how they get into the conversation, in hospitals, in treatment centers and with nurses, and so forth. Like what you’re hearing a non-profit radio tony’s got more on youtube, you’ll find clips from stand up comedy tv spots and exclusive interviews catch guests like seth gordon. Craig newmark, the founder of craigslist marquis of eco enterprises, charles best from donors choose dot org’s aria finger, do something that worked. And naomi levine from new york universities heimans center on philantech tony tweets to, he finds the best content from the most knowledgeable, interesting people in and around non-profits to share on his stream. If you have valuable info, he wants to re tweet you during the show. You can join the conversation on twitter using hashtag non-profit radio twitter is an easy way to reach tony he’s at tony martignetti narasimhan t i g e n e t t i remember there’s a g before the end he hosts a podcast for the chronicle of philanthropy fund-raising fundamentals is a short monthly show devoted to getting over your fund-raising hartals just like non-profit radio, toni talks to leading thinkers, experts and cool people with great ideas. As one fan said, tony picks their brains and i don’t have to leave my office fund-raising fundamentals was recently dubbed the most helpful non-profit podcast you have ever heard. You can also join the conversation on facebook, where you can ask questions before or after the show. The guests were there, too. Get insider show alerts by email, tony tells you who’s on each week and always includes link so that you can contact guests directly. To sign up, visit the facebook page for tony martignetti dot com. Lively conversation, top trends and sound advice. That’s. Tony martignetti non-profit radio. And i’m lawrence paige nani, author off the non-profit fund-raising solution. I like the idea that it’s not only people you’re dealing with now, but perspective volunteers, for instance, the old er, the old er older guys, yeah, i mean, that was really an important insight that michael’s team helped us come teo and sell internally. Yeah, yeah, and also, for example, it fits in with the diversification of america as well. So, you know, we have a millennial donor-centric perspective dahna persona whose latino so, you know, those air communities that the chapters are starting to connect teo and don’t necessarily have the insight or the language to connect well, and so the persona is help them do that. Jonah, what kind of reactions have you gotten from donors who have received personalized video for whatever stage of their relationship with you? Yeah, so, ah, since we started implementing this about a year ago, ah, pretty much every single metric on our youtube channel has doubled subscribers, engagement, comments, shares, you name it, we’ve, you know, historically are channel had gotten a little flat. Excuse me, are these personalized don’t don’t personalize videos on youtube channel their videos with these personas featured in them on our youtube channel? Yes, not not the ones personalized each individual doesn’t. The person doesn’t go to youtube to watch it. It’s a it’s a private somewhere, as i said make-a-wish e-giving treyz you guys wait, give me a break elearning this now i’ve got about fifteen minutes of forty six seconds into personalized video. You’ve been doing it for years, okay? Yes, yes. Oh, no. Just saying that personalized video where the name appears in it is one tactic that make a wish is not using yet right? And they’re using the broader approach, which is to really see yourself in the video in the broad sense that there were somebody like you on the video, i think that’s having a great impact, i thought you meant they weren’t using them in donor onboarding but you’re not not using that. You haven’t personalized the videos yet, correct. Okay, you too. Metrics have doubled in views in every single way. Yeah, as you know, we believe as a result of changing the storytelling paradigm on youtube. Historically, all of our videos were about the wish, the child’s name, their disease and what they wish for organization centric or when you were talking about being donor-centric exactly, and now they can actually see themselves in these videos, riel live donors, medical professionals, volunteers contributing to our mission. We saw a video in the session that that make-a-wish produced that was these guys who created a polar plunge thing, and then they were somebody said, why don’t you make it a fundraiser? And they raised over five million dollars for make a wish and the video was about they spill it on you, but the video was about them, right? And there the donors on there, the fundraisers in the video was about them. It wasn’t just about the wish kids and the impact they had a huge impact. It had a huge impact on their life, right? They were incredibly moved by it. So this donor-centric heimans techniques is really saying, well, that’s an important story to tell and that impact is valuable, right? The impact on the child is a focus, but that impact on the donor is a real value and it’s something that make a wish is bringing to the world and let’s talk about it. Yeah, i mean, videos like this, i think, really make volunteering and giving contagious because people are able to see themselves in these videos more than they have in the past and they can say, well, if these these two guys from long island put together a polar bear plunge that raises five million dollars from make a wish, why can’t i do that? Why? Why haven’t i done something as simple as that that’s exactly how the ice bucket challenge took off right for for a l s purely organic and it was it was a beneficiary who thought of the thought of it, and it is now obviously took off from there. So in this case, a donor saw it and said, why don’t we do the same thing? So it’s our job to remind people every day how they khun get involved and and stay of involved? And if we’re just talking about us, we’re not going to be able to be doing that. Yeah. Grayce now, general, won’t be respectful of your time. It’s ah, about seven minutes of no it’s. All right, ten. Thirty i’m good. Oh, ten. Thirty. Okay. Okay. Because michael and i could’ve wrapped up in like, the next three, four minutes. But you’re good till ten. Thirty, i speak in ten. Thirty, so okay. Oh, yeah. We’re gonna get you wrapped up in a few minutes. Okay. Um, so we do have a few more minutes left. What what more can we say about this technique? The multi-channel that goes along with think, you know, important thing to say is that there’s a lot of shiny objects here. There’s a lot of technology is there’s a lot of good strategy, but in the end of the day, it all bumps up against culture and capacity. And and so you can say let’s be donor-centric you can say whatever, but if you have buy-in grain silos, if you have people have been doing some things for thirty years the same way that’s, what you’re going to run into, and so well we’re really focused on and what we’ve been working with jonno. And is this culture change and that’s not an easy process? That’s something. But if it’s not built in tow, whatever it is it’s it’s not gonna work. So when we think about strategy, we really think about that culture and capacity and, you know, how are we designing for change? Johnno talk a little about that. Because this this applies not only to a video strategy but really anything new where there are long term employees who haven’t been doing this way. Culture change, we all know, is enormously difficult. How did you bring along the recalcitrant ones? Yeah, absolutely so creating the percentage was twenty percent of the challenge, you know, eighty percent was rolling it out, and we work with michael’s team to create something internally. We call the content strategy collaborative, and we’ve broken our sixty two jap chapters into cohorts of fifteen, fifteen chapters with similar characteristics and are putting them through a nine months virtual learning program where each month they participate in a webinar on a topic related to one of the personas. Then they have personalized one on one coaching with a marketing and fund-raising coach, and then they get back together with their peers at the end of the month in a webinar that we call a share fest, where they share how they’ve experimented and tested and started to implement these personas in their storytelling and their campaigns and it’s been ah, overwhelmingly successful so far, the chapters love the program and have been extremely engaged in it and they’ll be spending literally nine months, five to ten hours per month. Just focused on this for the next year. Yeah. All right, so so there really weren’t people who were seriously objecting because they were brought along in the process and it was it’s a working product is the working process. I mean, even in this program, you know, there’s there’s, people, there’s, you know, resistance to specific things all the time. So it’s ah it’s working through it it’s saying, hey, we never did it that way or hey, look, we have events we’ve been doing our schedule a certain way, and we feel really full, like you want us to do these other things, you know? So that’s it it’s not a straight lying. So the program is great. And it’s moving the needle, but it’s turning a big ship? Yeah. Okay. Okay. Where we want to leave this? We have just like, another minute or so left. What? What happened? We set about it that that we should yeah. I mean, i would just say, ah, you know, every day if you work in marketing or fund-raising the non-profit you’re going to get an email from a vendor with a white paper about being donor-centric you’re going to go to a conference and see all the sessions air about that? But if that’s been going on for ten years, why have things not changed? And, you know, one of my former colleagues used to call it the mission megaphone. All we’re good at doing is sort of shouting our mission, but nobody’s listening, nobody cares what your mission is, that they care about what impact they can have on your mission. And until the sector really embraces this idea, e-giving will continue. Tio tio, grow at a at the small rate that it that it is. And so, you know, i would really challenge all of my colleagues to think seriously about this and start finding ways to implement in their organizations. Okay, outstanding. Thank you. Deep thinking civilization, right. They are michael hoffman, ceo of c three communications and jonno smith, director of brand marketing and digital strategy at make-a-wish america. Gentlemen. Thank you again. Thank you. All right. Tony martignetti non-profit radio coverage of sixteen ntc the non-profit technology conference. Thank you for being with us. That was interesting. I got i got a little confused. I feel like i wasn’t totally paying attention to what michael was telling me. So i apologize for that, michael his first time going through it. Sorry about that. Next week, jean takagi returns he’s, our legal contributor and principal of the non-profit and exempt organizations law group. You know, jean takagi, if you missed any part of today’s show, i beseech you, find it on tony martignetti dot com, responsive by pursuant online tools for small and midsize non-profits data driven and technology enabled, and by we’d be spelling supercool spelling bee fundraisers. We b e spelling dot com, a creative, producers clad meyerhoff sam leave uses the line producer. I’m still working on hyre, not am and fm outreach director. Social media is done by susan chavez. On our music is by scott stein. Offgrid me next week for non-profit radio big non-profit ideas for the other ninety five percent go out and i agree. What’s not to love about non-profit radio tony gets the best guests check this out from seth godin this’s the first revolution since tv nineteen fifty and henry ford nineteen twenty it’s the revolution of our lifetime here’s a smart, simple idea from craigslist founder craig newmark insights orn presentation or anything? People don’t really need the fancy stuff they need something which is simple and fast. When’s the best time to post on facebook facebook’s andrew noise nose at traffic is at an all time hyre on nine a m or eight pm so that’s when you should be posting your most meaningful posts here’s aria finger, ceo of do something dot or ge young people are not going to be involved in social change if it’s boring and they don’t see the impact of what they’re doing so you got to make it fun and applicable to these young people look so otherwise a fifteen and sixteen year old they have better things to dio they have xbox, they have tv, they have their cell phones me dar is the founder of idealist took two or three years for foundation staff to sort of dane toe add an email address card. It was like it was phone. This email thing is right and that’s why should i give it away? Charles best founded donors choose dot or ge somehow they’ve gotten in touch kind of off line as it were on dno, two exchanges of brownies and visits and physical gift mark echo is the founder and ceo of eco enterprises. You may be wearing his hoodies and shirts. Tony talked to him. Yeah, you know, i just i’m a big believer that’s not what you make in life. It sze, you know, tell you make people feel this is public radio host majora carter. Innovation is in the power of understanding that you don’t just do it. You put money on a situation expected to hell. You put money in a situation and invested and expected to grow and savvy advice for success from eric sabiston. What separates those who achieve from those who do not is in direct proportion to one’s ability to ask others for help. The smartest experts and leading thinkers air on tony martignetti non-profit radio big non-profit ideas for the other ninety five percent.