A Nonprofit Dream: What would you do if your nonprofit went viral?

A Nonprofit Dream: What would you do if your nonprofit went viral?

August 26, 2020
37 minutes
EPISODE SUMMERY

Liz Dunn · Chief Development Officer, RAICES | Listen in as Liz and Justin Wheeler, Funraise CEO and Co-founder, discuss the value of crowdfunding, the ways fundraising is both an art and a science, standing up to the test of "going viral", and the fraught nature of fundraising in 2020.

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EPISODE NOTES

It's any NGO's dream problem: raise $20 million in 5 days. Set the record for Facebook's largest crowdfunding campaign (since broken by fundraisers for Australia's wildfires.) Catapult your nonprofit's brand to household-name status.

Now, what do you do?

Well, most importantly, you keep fundraising, thanking your donors, and looking for more supporters.

And if you're RAICES, you build parallel programs to add structure and strength to the legal services you're already providing and you show the public what you've done with their investment... All the while shifting focus to immigrants—in your story and the donors'.

Speaking to Liz Dunn, Chief Development Office of RAICES, is like watching a magician pull endless colorful scarves from their sleeves. Every time you think the conversation is settling down, Liz gives you another perspective or idea or nugget of truth. Her experience making asks through both calculation and intuition has paid off big-time for RAICES as they embrace her methods and their ongoing success.

TRANSCRIPT

Hello, I'm Justin Wheeler, and welcome to this episode of Nonstop Nonprofit! Today, I have the incredible honor to talk to Liz Dunn, Chief Development Officer for RAICES. Her attitude towards fundraising that it's an art and science is what has made their response to the 2018 viral Facebook fundraiser go from beyond a serendipitous social media accomplishment. Liz joined RAICES as a consultant and donor and loved the organization so much she made the leap to full-timer. Her experience making asks through both calculation and intuition, has paid off big time for the organization as they embrace her methods in their ongoing success. Talking to RAICES in the midst of America's current climate of crisis, political, economic and racial strife an unchecked pandemic, hard-hitting natural disasters and weather concerns and ongoing immigration uncertainty was an exercise in both stress and relief. Liz reminded me of how fickle fundraising can be and then brought back the hope as she laid out how RAICES has built on that original 2018 Facebook fundraiser that spread like wildfire. Listen in as Liz and I make RAICES' immigrants the hero of their story. Meet donors where they want to fundraise, lay the groundwork for RAICES' expanded infrastructure and talk fundraising in 2020 and beyond. Let's dive in!


Justin Wheeler Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Nonstop Nonprofit Podcast. We're very excited today to be joined by the chief development officer of the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, Liz Dunn. Thank you so much for joining the podcast today!

Liz Dunn Thank you for having me. I'm really excited!

Justin Wheeler So before we jump in to all things fundraising, can you tell us a little bit more about your organization and what it is that you guys do?

Liz Dunn Sure. So I work for RAICES, Refugee, an immigrant center for Education and Legal Services. It's, of course, a mouthful as an acronym, but we provide low cost and free legal services for anyone who comes through our doors, anyone who crosses the border, who we come in contact with, no matter their needs. So that might be unaccompanied children. That could be families. That could be parents. We don't just provide legal services anymore, which is something I'm excited to talk about today. We also provide wraparound social services as well as advocacy. We really want to attack the challenges in the immigration system from all angles.

Justin Wheeler So how has the mission of the organization changed in the last several years with the current administration, which is known to be not as friendly towards immigrants? How has it changed for you and the organization?

Liz Dunn You know, we've always been a bit on the outskirts as an organization. We've always been rebel rousers. We've always been fighting for justice. And so there's really never been any administration that's been super pro-immigrant. And so in our thirty-four-year history race, this has always been fighting for justice through different avenues. Zero tolerance and family separation was a moment in the public perception and the public's openness toward the immigration conversation and the issue that totally changed things. So before that, the way I described it is we had attorneys who were pretty scrappy and some days they might be a caseworker and they were helping their client move into an apartment. And some days they might be on the steps of a courthouse speaking to the media about the case and performing as activists as much as attorneys. And so really what we've tried to do since the attacks of the current administration become so many, so varied, so difficult, so, so strange to deal with on a just a weekly and even daily basis. We've really just had to step off our game and fight as hard as we can and all the ways that we can.

Justin Wheeler Yeah, I can imagine. I've been following the organization since two thousand eighteen when I first learned about you guys on Facebook, which I imagine is when most people, when you guys really kind of got on the map, although you've been around for, as mentioned, 30+ years, I'd love to know what got you inspired? What was it that compelled you to get involved and join the team?

Liz Dunn Like you and hundreds of thousands of others, I also started as a Facebook donor and a Facebook supporter for RAICES. So I was a part of that public support and that public outcry for what can we do? How can we help? And the first step was to learn more about the issue and to donate. And so that was my first entry into the RAICES world, into the immigration landscape. I was very fortunate that at the time I was working, consulting. And you don't always have a choice in the clients that you get or the organizations that you get to work with. And I was very fortunate that I got placed in an organization that I was a donor of already. And so it was really just a match made in heaven. And I fell in love with the organization, the staff, the work that they were doing even more once I started helping as a consultant. And so I made the big leap from consulting to in-house. And here I am.

Justin Wheeler That's great. And one of my favorite parts of your bio, you mentioned that your favorite part of fundraising is the actual ask itself. And I thought we'd dive into that a little bit. A lot of times even fundraisers that I've met are afraid of asking people for money. But the fact that you love the ask, like, let's dive into it. Let's talk about that. What does that mean to you? And why do you like it so much?

Liz Dunn Sure. So for me, fundraising is an art and a science. Think digital marketing and the math of fundraising and getting to the right ask amounts is the science that I love that relates to fundraising, but I love connecting with people as well. And so much of that comes down to the art. And so for me, I was fortunate that one of the first starts I got to fundraising was being an outsourced gift officer. I was at another consulting firm and I only had one client. And the model for our fundraising was to ask everyone on the first date for a repeat gift. It was a mid-level giving program and I fell in love with that connection with an individual where, you know, in a for-profit world, you buy a product or a service, you get that. That's the exchange of money in the fundraising world. People give their money, give their time through volunteering to benefit a cause. And the thing they get in return is a good feeling. So being able to watch that process happen. The moves management process happening in a really short time period was very powerful in me and in my experience as a fundraising professional. And it really made me confident that asking for money is so core in what we do. And I go back to that today of have we asked? Have we ask somebody to do something, even if it's not giving. Other calls to action, you have to ask. And so I saw the power of the ask early on as being really key to the process. And I just love the adrenaline rush of it. I embrace it.

Justin Wheeler I love that and I don't know if I've mentioned this yet, but I spent twelve years fundraising. And, you know, one of the things that I feel like made me a good fundraiser was that I really believed that feeling we give to donors is much more powerful than anything they could ever purchase or buy. I took a lot of ownership in that and a lot of pride in that. And especially, I imagine with your work being you're based in Texas, you like your services are provided in and around the Texas area. And then, of course, across the U.S., you as a fundraiser could also see the impact of your work firsthand, which makes you so much of a stronger believer in the impact that you're allowing other people to invest in. So I'd like to dive in a little more about the actual science and art of fundraising. So a lot of times, a lot of fundraisers, especially at the executive level like yourself, a lot of their decisions, you know, appeal amounts and so forth, are based on sort of what makes the most sense. Maybe it's based on wealth data. It's giving history and so forth. Has there ever been a time when your intuition led you to ask maybe for a bigger amount? Based off of sort of the connection you had with the donor, how the donor was impacted and how did that go for you following that kind of that intuition on the art side of fundraising?

Liz Dunn Sure. I think that intuition is really important in fundraising. It's I think why for individuals who work in nonprofits who maybe don't have fundraising experience and don't work in development departments, it can be such a strange bird sometimes of what does this work that everyone is doing? How do you come up with the numbers? When do you ask for a restricted? When do you ask for unrestricted? It's a bit of a question mark, or sometimes I call it rainbows and unicorns. But for me, I lean into intuition a lot. When I was a gift officer, when I was doing frontline fundraising, I would do a bit of math in my head when I was doing mid-level giving and asking in that first appointment, trying to get to the right number. And I remember one meeting that I had with a donor many years ago. The reaction I got and I think I still remember the amount I asked for a $9,000 pledge over three years and the individual had been giving, I think maybe a couple, $200 gifts. So is a pretty significant upgrade. And what this individual said was, if you had asked me for a penny more, I would have said no. And I was like...

Justin Wheeler Oh wow.

Liz Dunn Oh, I got it. So, you know, I think so much of it, and I learned this early on is about listening. Fundraising is a bit of a matchmaking exercise. And that's where the intuition comes in of people tell you the information. You just have to listen. It's not about me. It's you know, it's about the organization. And that's something we're trying to do differently at RAICES. You know, we don't take a stance that the donor is the hero because the immigrant is the hero, the person who is traveling to safety, to security, they're really the hero of their own story. We don't see them as vulnerable. We don't see them as voiceless. And so we try not to center the donor too much. But it is important to understand people's natural inclinations, the things that motivate them so that we can bring them along in the journey. And so I do think we lean a lot into intuition. Obviously, testing is important. Obviously, doing the science side of direct marketing is very important. But another story I'll share is that when I started at the organization, we had not solicited anybody in three months. We weren't registered in every state to fundraise. And so previous to my arrival, people were waiting for that moment when we could legally solicit everywhere. And it was like, well, let's just start by sending some stewardship and see what happens and not solicit people. And one of our first emails raised more than any email we've ever raised and it wasn't a solicitation e-mail. But just because we were thanking people. So sometimes I think we can get mired in the details of the science and the math of everything. And I try to stick to the fundamentals and the basics. And like, if you think people and you tell them what you're doing, they're probably come back and give.

Justin Wheeler Yeah, it's not everyone gives just because they were asked, right? I mean, like, here's obviously lots of things that happen between the ask and someone giving and the way people are stewarded, the way people understand or understand impact how their dollars are actually to make a difference. All these things are important. So having that strong communication strategy is absolutely key. Let's go back a couple of years when RAICES was a lot smaller. This is prior to the Facebook campaign. And let me know if I have the details right, but if I remember correctly, there was a supporter of the organization that created a Facebook fundraiser, the initial goal was something like $1,500? Something maybe to the fundraiser felt pretty lofty. And this is right around time when Facebook fundraising also just came out to market to nonprofits, it was maybe out a few months. But something amazing happened over the next week, two, three. Could you maybe walk us through what happened, which is, I think, probably how a lot of us, including listeners, came to find out about the organization. Can you walk us through just that event that unfolded that ended up producing a lot of impact?

Liz Dunn Sure. I will do my best. I was not at the organization at the time, but I will do my best. We certainly talked about it a lot. There are a lot of variables, tangible and intangible, that kind of paved the way for something like this. It started with a couple who are based in California. They, like so many of us who supported RAICES in the summer of 2018, learned about us from somebody else in a network. There was a lot of word of mouth happening in terms of which organizations to support. They did use the Facebook platform to start a fundraiser. It did start as a $1,500 Facebook fundraiser and it quickly went viral. And there are a lot of reasons, I think, that we can point to now for that. It certainly wasn't something that was manufactured to be viral. And so it quickly raised a lot of money in a five day period, it raised $20,000,000. And shortly after that, they kind of cut off the Facebook fundraiser. So, you know, we've continued to fundraise through many other platforms and many other channels sense because nothing really happens in a vacuum.

Justin Wheeler Yeah.

Liz Dunn Yeah, it was really extraordinary. So I'd be happy to share for the listeners more about what went into that, making it successful.

Justin Wheeler Yeah. Yeah. Well, we'll definitely up into that. I think, one of the things that you said is so key. You for the most part can't manufacture by virality. I mean, it's something that it either happens or it doesn't. And there's a lot of things that have to line up for this. We just had a guest on the podcast last week that made a video for a nonprofit and it got 100 million views in six days. And their goal was 500,000 in a year.

Liz Dunn Amazing!

Justin Wheeler So you can't manufacture these things. These things are hard to create. But I think one of the sort of common threads is, is the organization doing good work? And does it have a track record for having a good, solid reputation? And I think that when things start to go viral, those are the first things that start to get picked at. And it seems like you are RAICES stood up to that test. I didn't I don't remember seeing a lot of negative publicity or anything of that nature. I remember seeing celebrities and influencers supporting and endorsing the organization as one of the best ways to contribute towards immigration reform and direct support for immigrants.

Liz Dunn Yeah. So I think you're absolutely right. The number one reason I would say that Facebook fundraiser was possible is because RAICES had always been there doing the work. We weren't reacting to the public outrage. The public was finding us. And so, you know, it's important not for people and organizations not to try and find a cause and like force themself that square peg into the round hole. Do what you're good at doing, but make it relevant to people with what's happening in the world and people will show up.

Justin Wheeler Totally. So a lot of concerns people have with Facebook fundraising and we work with so many different nonprofits across the spectrum all around the world. And one of the major objections we hear why people don't want to use Facebook as a platform is because of the donor data. They don't get enough information. I imagine most organizations rather have $20,000,000 than zero dollars and no data anyway. So I think that, like Facebook is an amazing platform that has a viral effect. If it's the right place at the right time. What would you say to fundraisers in your position who discourage their teams from using Facebook? Is it a tool that you think should be utilized more or do you have your own concerns with it?

Liz Dunn So there are a lot of feelings out there about Facebook as a fundraising tool. One of the interesting aspects for us is that the couple who started the fundraiser, they met while working at Facebook.

Justin Wheeler Oh wow.

Liz Dunn So one of the key ingredients in this story is that a lot of the tool that we use today in Facebook actually was frankly improved upon during the summer of 2018 when this fundraiser happened. There used to be a cap of like ten thousand or fifteen thousand on fundraisers and that is no more. And I think we were very, very fortunate to be in the hands of what I call super volunteers who knew who to call, who had the connections. And so they were able to kind of push through some of that corporate bureaucracy to be able to improve upon the platform and raise a lot of money. Yeah, we all struggle with the data side. I see the cost of acquisition of data on Facebook donors as a bit of a replacement to the fees that are associated with other platforms. And so...

Justin Wheeler That's a good point.

Liz Dunn I think it can be a bit of a wash when we look at our budgets. What I have found is that donors who give through Facebook identify as donors, even if they've never signed up for your email list, even if they've never gone to your website. You know, I've gotten emails or calls from people related to the world that they're seeing. And what they're hearing about RAICES on social media and I'll go to look them up in our CRM database and they're not there. And it's because we've never received their data through Facebook but certainly they're identifying as a donor. And so I would say make the most of it. Donors are going to go to this platform. It's already got a user experience fairly built out. So embrace the fact that you don't have to build a lot in terms of code or in terms of graphics like it's all there. People know how to use it. And so, yeah, we embrace it. It's not the core of our fundraising revenue. Certainly not something that we're trying to prioritize or necessarily push people to with a lot of force. But we really do try and embrace it as a part of now our comprehensive fundraising strategy.

Justin Wheeler Yeah, that makes sense. And, you know, a lot of the viral campaigns that have happened on the internet for charity has often come from supporters on the sidelines right? It has been manufactured by four years or the staff or wasn't a part of the marketing efforts of the organizations. It was just an individual saying, I want to do something and it's the same ice bucket challenge, I want to do something to help support the mission of this organization. And then it just takes off. So I think that the way I look at Facebook fundraising and how organizations can utilize it is to be set up to understand the channel and to allow your supporters to fundraise for you on the platform that makes the most sense for them. A lot of times as fundraisers, we create this process and this system and donors can sense it right away. When we put them through a process, all of a sudden, they're like another cog in the wheel vs. this one to one relationship, we tend to turn to a more transactional by trying to force them in all of our systems and so forth. So I love your approach. I love the more omnichannel approach that you're talking about as a result. So how has the organization, since this campaign in 2010, which it went from, as you mentioned, in five or so days, raised over $20,000,000 for the organization. The organization tripled it in terms of headcount because of the amazing support that it got from the public. It was able to provide more services, as a service-oriented organization, you need people to do this important work. So how have you seen sort of the impact increase over time since 2018 with a huge cash infusion of donations, a bigger team to provide more services? What would you say are some of the exciting things that's happened over the last two years that you're really proud to be part of?

Liz Dunn So much. Iy's been incredible We did scale up pretty rapidly in terms of our staff size because so much of our work is legal services. Having attorneys, having legal assistance is really important to doing more of that work. So we absolutely scaled up in that way simultaneously because of the threats of this administration, the cases are harder. The cases are longer. So we've actually struggled with the impact that just the legal work could have in an administration like this and the scaling up that we needed to do. And that's why we built out our programs to attack the problem from all different angles. And so...

Justin Wheeler Advocacy was was one of the new things because it launched?

Liz Dunn Absolutely. So we created an advocacy department and a social programs department. As a result of the fundraiser. We really grew our family detention legal services program, which is really a marriage between the legal work that we do, but also the advocacy. That's where you see when we tweet about individual cases in detention. Our attorneys are finding out about those cases and working with our now advocacy department to really mobilize the public around the injustices happening within the walls of detention that a lot of us don't know about. So, you know, we've created an advocacy department. Those are the campaigns that you see now. We've got Free Them All. We've got Don't Look Away. We've done No Kids in Cages last summer that went pretty viral. And so we've really embraced social media and PR as advocacy tools as well as organizing. And we're trying to create those wraparound services that not only provide the impact that people need in terms of access to education, to health care, all the social things that also make for a thriving kind of life, a family community experience in the US. But it actually relates back to advocacy and the legal work because legal outcomes will be better if people can actually get to their court case because they have access to transportation. Or they're not worrying about their child in school because they've had a caseworker help them through that. And so we're really trying this holistic approach and that was the gift of the fundraiser, is that $20,000,000 was unrestricted and we were able to invest it in something much bigger.

Justin Wheeler I love that. And I think this is like the testament of unrestricted dollars being donated to charity is it allows organizations, who I view as the experts of the issues they're working on. To know what how to best deploy the funds. And sometimes that doesn't always mean X amount more people are going to be helped because it. It's going to mean we need to build up infrastructure. We need to build capacity. We need to address the root problems of what we're fighting for. So that one day, you know, the organization is not needed. Or that these problems are solved once and for all, which is a much bigger outcome than helping a thousand extra people in a year or so forth. I love that you guys took that approach and really went more holistic with where do we take this organization? You know, not just in 2019 and 2020. Really where are we headed. So it's really good to hear that. As the head of fundraising, obviously every campaign is not going to raise $20,000,000. So how do you set expectation within your team when you launch a campaign? Is there always an expectation for it to go viral now or how is that played out in just your planning and strategy as you lead the fundraising team?

Liz Dunn Yeah, I think I go back to the intuition that we talked about earlier. We definitely plan for our campaigns to go viral. I would say No Kids in Cages last summer was almost an equally viral moment for us as an organization, with the exception of the Facebook campaign. If you can pluck that out of the data, everything else looked like like a boom at the same time in terms of our fundraising activity. And the reason we leaned into that, and we've actually created an advocacy and creative partnerships program as an offshoot of that or from that experience was just that the law and policy are downstream of culture. And an ad agency approached us with a great idea and they said, you tell us what you need. They weren't trying to get something out of it in terms of brand recognition or free advertising for their firm, whatever it may be. They said, you tell us and we'll show up with the creative resources. And so it's been really important in our strategy to say yes to the right things. We've had to say no to things that are exciting or cool or creative or awesome. And if it wasn't the right timing or it wasn't the right alignment with brands or organizations, you know, we do have to kindly decline the offer. But it's because the outcome can be so much greater when there is that perfect match with brands and with alignment. So we found an agency that wanted to do this cool guerrilla art campaign on the streets of New York. Where we are today is that we've created a creative partnerships program at RAICES. And so we're partnering with musicians, with visual artists to actually create the content and lift up the stories of immigration and the stories of those who are impacted in order to actually continue influencing the public, so that we can push for those changes at the policy level that we couldn't just do through lobbying or through some of these other traditional tools that we're used to. So, yes, we go for what feels right and what's intuitive, and we definitely have goals. And we're definitely growing our revenue as an organization from a sustainability standpoint. And we do a lot of the basics with recurring giving, major gifts, et cetera. But we're trying to look for these creative opportunities to do something different that just feels really intuitively right for us.

Justin Wheeler Yeah, that makes sense. I feel like that's become a part of, with these campaigns that you guys have run it's become part of your brand and your story. It's what sort of supporters and donors expect. So I think that that's really neat. How has it been since 2018, and to see sort of to manage the volume of these new donors? Was there any process put in place or strategy to try to understand who are these people, these I think it was hundreds of thousands of people that had given or tens of thousands. What was your cultivation strategy or thinking around how do we keep these people engaged to be not just donors, but advocates of what we're fighting for? Because, you know, aside from just giving the voice that your supporters have is so important because you're working on political issues... Issues that are political, that shouldn't be political. But it takes voices and advocacy to move the needle. So how would you captured all this energy and momentum and how has that helped the organization move forward?

Liz Dunn You're bringing me back to the past two years.

Justin Wheeler Back to the pain.

Liz Dunn Oh, it's it was a bit of like a tsunami this like massive, like kind of rush of information and opportunity. One of my mantras from the beginning that I still have today is don't let perfection stand in the way of progress.

Justin Wheeler I love that.

Liz Dunn We don't have to think everyone with 10 different types of acknowledgment, letters that are all personalized, like, let's just start with one. Let's see how it goes. Let's add two. So we've been focusing on process for the past two years and are going to be continuing to focus on process. We didn't have a CRM when all this started that was capturing all the information. We didn't have the digital marketing program know. We didn't have a development department. So all these things have been kind of built over the past two years, which feels a bit like overnight. But yeah, we're focused a lot on the process side of things and then continuing to improve upon it incrementally.

Justin Wheeler Got it. It just isn't possible to think that many people, right? Obviously don't have all the information. And so it was just like, let's do the best we can with the resources we have. When a campaign goes viral, the way your guys' did, really the best you can do is show the public what you're doing to really increase capacity and increase, you know, the effort of the amazing impact you guys' are making. I think you guys have done such a good job showcasing that. And in some cases in many cases, I would say that's way better than a personal phone call or an email to a $20 donor. It's proved to us that you've you're continuing to move the needle forward. You continue to make a bigger impact and that's it seems like at least from the outside, that's what it seems like it's bent.

Liz Dunn Donors have been incredibly understanding. I think that's been an important part of this. We knew we could not thank people for two years, but there was a certain amount of patience and generosity in the donor base, whether they understood the fundraising process or not inside the organization, that it's given us the time to scale up. We did prioritize, I would say fundraising, digital PR and social media very early on as the investments that the organization made and some of those support departments that not only support that amplification and the advocacy, but also the ability to create sustainable revenue through digital systems like all that's been working in concert for, honestly, almost since the fundraiser started, the Facebook fundraiser. So, that's been a real key to our success. And I think also not trying to build that comprehensive plan from the start where we want to have X number of touchpoints every month. We started with, let's say something when we have something to say. Like, let's not try and meet some arbitrary number goal with how many donor touchpoints, how many communication emails, how many people in a portfolio. Let's just start with, like, who can we reach now and what can we do? And, you know, I'm super proud of the team that we've built. I cannot take credit for so much of the work that we're doing right now, because we've been able to build an amazing team, not just development, but across the organization of people who are really engaged around this cause, who come with a diversity of backgrounds and diversity of experience. So it's really a testament to the staff and the teams that were already there, as well as the members that we brought on in the past two years.

Justin Wheeler Absolutely. So maybe one or two more questions and then we'll wrap up here. I'd love to hear you today. You came in after the organization had scaled in terms of revenue and so I'd love to get your thoughts if you could share. A lot of our listeners are our fundraisers, organizations who are thinking about, you know, who's the next right hire for my fundraising team. And so from your perspective and an organization, your size, how do you look at this fundraising team structure? What are the important roles that that leads you guys to success of the organization?

Liz Dunn I mean, we tripled in size in the past two years. So we've we've gone through a lot of hiring and recruitment. You know, I will say I have to give a shout out to the number two in the development department, his name is Tai. He was the first person I hired. It took us six months to to make that first development hire, not because we were not at capacity by any means, but because there were just so many moving parts and you want to have a plan together. And Tai was very excited about the advocacy side of our organization and actually applied for an advocacy position. We didn't have a development position open. He got referred to us by advocacy. And I'd been dreaming up this position. And here was this great candidate. And so I would say that I would recommend that people hire one position at a time. I think having a number two, if you're in a moment where you are experiencing rapid growth, if you need to implement a lot of strategy, if you want to grow the team and need senior managers, find your right hand. That's been crucial to our success. We didn't hire too fast, but once we got our feet wet with a few members in development and started to really understand the future of what the org chart would look like based on the opportunities that were coming in through the inbox and through the CRM, then we had a plan that we've more or less stuck to. And so we're about a 20 person team today and we're good. We're not going to grow that much. And so we front-loaded that growth in the first year. I recognize a lot of nonprofits and a lot of heads of development probably won't have that luxury in their organization to say, hey, I want to hire 15 people. Is that OK? Great. I am definitely from the school of Dan Pallotta of if you invest in fundraising, it'll come back and actually allows you to have a bigger impact. And I'm fortunate to be in an organization that embraces that, too.

Justin Wheeler That's great. And I have to ask, I ask every individual that comes on here that leads fundraising teams is how has 2020 changed your approach to fundraising? Has it changed any of the way that you fundraise or any significant or material changes that have actually, that you would keep around in 2021 and beyond or whenever we're gonna get past this pandemic?

Liz Dunn That's a great question in all of this. We've been talking about 2018 and 2019, but not 2020, which is gonna be such a year in the history books for fundraising.

Justin Wheeler Yeah.

Liz Dunn Another philosophy I have is that, for better or worse, I think wealth is pretty infinite in our country. And even in times of economic hardship, that the fundraising machine, the philanthropic machine, it's still out there churning. I don't think we're going to see lower giving this year through giving USA and those other reports that come out. So I would really encourage people to, like, lean into not having a scarcity mentality. I know that's easy for me to say. We are also fortunate that our revenue model is really built around fundraising and grants, but not earned revenue like so many arts and culture organizations. So, you know, I think that part of it's hard. In terms of what we're gonna do differently, we did lean into making sure we were making the ask. That foundational piece of, you don't get the gifts you don't ask for. So we made sure we were asking for money in March and April through our email program. And sure enough, we had successful results.

Justin Wheeler Yeah.

Liz Dunn It's amazing how that works. So we'll definitely keep leaning into that of making sure that we are not being shy about soliciting through email. And I think that we're really excited about this culture shift, industry shift as it relates to in-person, face-to-face fundraising because we are trying to build a major gift program, at RAICES. And so what does that mean? Not just for the fact that we can't travel right now very easily, but people may feel differently about meeting in person. But I also think it's challenged people to embrace Zoom calls to build relationships and phone calls to build relationships in a way that's actually going to allow us to maybe do our work in an even more cost-effective way into the future. And so I think we're really excited about the digital tools being utilized right now. I'm not in love with galas and we don't have a gala yet at RAICES. We've also been very fortunate that we haven't been touched by the kind of gala experience that so many operations have. But yeah, I'm excited to embrace all those things.

Justin Wheeler That's awesome. And, you know, you guys have obviously a history with, especially with Facebook fundraiser you know, it's interesting, Bank of America just came out with an e-commerce and I think there's a lot of parallels between e-commerce and online giving in terms of trends that are followed. And it showed e-commerce growth over the last eight week period compared to the last 10 years, and it was an equal growth rate from an eight week period to a 10 year period. I mean it's, the world is changing even when things return back to normal, that normal is going to be different. And so I think now is an opportunity for nonprofits to really embrace digital, to really modernize the way that they look at fundraising. And that's how to really have a more bulletproofed sort of approach going into 2021 and beyond. So it's really neat to hear that you guys are way ahead of the curve already. I mean, the fact you don't galas, God bless you because there's just so much inefficiency and waste. And it's amazing to see you guys scale without needing to do some of the more traditional fundraising models.

Liz Dunn We don't do galas yet.

Justin Wheeler Yeah. I'm sure there'll be a time. I'm sure there'll be a time.

Liz Dunn Until the donors say they want a gala. Then we'll be talking about a gala.

Justin Wheeler There you go. There you go. All right. Well, Liz, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. Very insightful. I really appreciate your time. And I wish you and the team the best of luck as you enter the Q4 giving season. And keep up the amazing work.

Liz Dunn Thank you so much. It was a pleasure to share about the work we've been doing for the past two years and beyond. And I just want to wish best of luck to everybody out there who's working on this right now. Just keep the faith and keep the positivity. And we're all in this together.

Justin Wheeler Thanks, Liz.

Liz Dunn Thank you.

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