Jamie McDonald · GivingTuesday strategy expert | A voice of reason in semi-unreasonable times: Jamie McDonald, former Chief Strategy Officer of GivingTuesday.org and current CEO of UpSurge Baltimore. Jamie's advice: start where you are and transform from there. According to Jamie, transformation is key to impact, storytelling, engagement, ...the future! And when you build a movement based on transformation, there's no limit to the generosity you'll unlock.
With the US election coming down to the wire and Giving Tuesday coming up fast, Jamie McDonald's emphasis on transformation struck a note that resonated across all we've endured in 2020. In this conversation with Justin Wheeler, Funraise CEO and Co-founder, Jamie's advice might take Nonstop Nonprofit Podcast listeners by surprise—while Justin normally champions digital expertise as essential to our sector's future, Jamie's argument that digital fluency is less important than starting where you are is powerful... and accurate.
In this episode of Nonstop Nonprofit, Justin and Jamie talk nonprofit shop: the value of transformation in building your movement, separating successful strategies from digital fluency, the power of the collective to bring dreams to life, and what you need to start where you are.
Hello, I'm Justin Wheeler, and welcome to Nonstop Nonprofit. On today's episode of Nonstop Nonprofit, I got the opportunity to talk to Jamie McDonald, CEO of Generosity and Chief Strategy Officer of GivingTuesday.org. With the US election coming down to the wire and Giving Tuesday coming up fast, Jamie's emphasis on transformation struck a note that resonated across all we've endured in 2020.
Jamie's advice might take some of our listeners by surprise - considering that I normally hype digital expertise as essential to our sector's future, her argument that digital fluency is less important than starting where you are is powerful... and accurate.
Speaking of powerful... so is taking on the mantle of an entrepreneur. As a young nonprofiteer, it took a colleague of mine pointing out that I WAS an entrepreneur - a social good entrepreneur - for me to see the full depth of impact that nonprofit leaders have on the for-profit world. That realization changed the direction of my work and ultimately led me to champion that transformation in other nonprofits.
In this conversation with Jamie, we talk nonprofit shop: the value of transformation in building your movement, separating successful strategies from digital fluency, the power of the collective to bring dreams to life, and what you need to start where you are. Let's dive in!
Justin Wheeler Hey, listeners! Thank you for joining this episode of the Nonstop Nonprofit Podcast. I am so excited to introduce our guest today, Jamie MacDonald. The CEO of Generosity and chief strategy officer of Giving Tuesday. Jamie, thanks for joining the episode.
Jamie McDonald Hey Justin, it's so good to be with you.
Justin Wheeler Before we jump into a bunch of questions, I always like to start with your story. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do between Generosity and Giving Tuesday.
Jamie McDonald Yeah, so I'm a proud Philly girl, and particularly in this week of the election, feeling pretty darn good about the role Philadelphia is going to play in the future of our country. I spent the first part of my career as an investment banker. I didn't come to the work that I do now kind of directly out of school. I grew up in a family that had some personal financial stresses, and I definitely kind of started my career thinking like financial stability first, but always had a real passion for working in the community from that platform. Baltimore is my home base now. I moved there after graduate school and I really kind of immersed myself in the city. When I left my time 17 years as an investment banker, I decided that I wanted to be an entrepreneur and my real interest was the impact space. So my first endeavor was not unlike Funraise, actually. I had a software company called GiveCorps, which was one of the early crowdfunding, kind of local, civic engagement platforms. Had a heavy nonprofit focus, but also had projects that weren't nonprofits. It was in the LivingSocial, you know, Groupon era. So very like local focus. Two-sided marketplace of givers and nonprofits and through that and ultimately sold it to Network for Good in 2014. And then have spent the last, I guess, now six years working with entrepreneurs of all types for-profit and nonprofit, but all of whom have a focus on the good they can do in the world from whatever perch they sit on. But I also was Giving Tuesday when I had GiftCorps I had launched the first large scale community campaign for giving Tuesday. We did a day on the second giving Tuesday in 2013 where I kind of mobilized Baltimore and we raised about $6 million dollars and that was back when Giving Tuesday wasn't a thing...
Justin Wheeler Wow!
Jamie McDonald ... the thing that it is now. But we saw the sort of the platform that Giving Tuesday, as a concept, created as a way to galvanize people around an idea on a day. And so I then with the Giving Tuesday team, advised them for a number of years on working with communities across the country. And we built the community platform up to now. It's there's 240 or so organized community campaigns in the US that take part in Giving Tuesday. I don't do that work anymore. I've got a colleague now who leads that. But I think a lot about how Giving Tuesday scales around the world. And really in that same vein, a lot of that kind of thinking, you know, how a movement or an organization can scale is a lot of what I think about for my other... in my other work as well, which is how people who are trying to do good, whether they're on a for-profit or nonprofit platform, can mobilize a community around them that can help them scale their good work. So that's a medium length.
Justin Wheeler No, that's great. Thank you.
Jamie McDonald Where I am to my path to here.
Justin Wheeler It's it's actually brought up a bunch of new questions as a result. I want to go back to the scaling piece real quick and ask you, as you work with both for-profit and nonprofit leaders and executives, are do you find unique challenges in talking about scaling, specifically within the nonprofit space? Is that as important to nonprofit leaders as for-profit leaders in your experience, or dig into that a little bit for me because that's super interesting.
Jamie McDonald It's a really good question. I mean, I have a different take on scale than you might hear from some people, you know, so my view of scale is not how many people you have that connect with your movement initiative, nonprofit or a company. My sort of perspective on scale is that it's about transformation. So it's how many people who connect with you are transformed by what you do, and therefore they feel motivated enough to share the word, right? To tell others about the power of their interaction with you. And so the easy example and a lot of nonprofits will really get this, to sort of make that point really concrete, is if you think about, you know, imagine if one of your kids had a rare disease, God forbid. Right. That rare disease. Maybe it's got a thousand people in the whole world who have it. That is never a movement that will have scale, right? But the researchers who work on it, the parents who are advocating for a cure, the donors who give money to make the research possible, those actors in that movement or in that initiative where that nonprofit, if it's a nonprofit, their lives are transformed by the potential of what this work can accomplish. Right. So transformation is the linchpin there. Not scale because that movement will never have scale.
Justin Wheeler Yeah.
Jamie McDonald And so that's the pivot I try to get nonprofits in particular, but also for-profits, but nonprofits in particular. It's like if they can flip the switch and stop thinking, like how many social followers do I have or how many donors do I have? And start thinking how many people connect with me who can actually feel a sense that their life has been transformed by our work, whether it's because they feel they are making a difference in their community or whether they feel directly connected to the cause for some reason, that's really how things scale, right? You need it to move without you.
Justin Wheeler Yeah, I love that, I love that definition because it makes me think of several organizations that I work with who they don't need to scale to one $100 million. They don't need to scale the $25 million to actually achieve the results that they're looking for to solve the problem that they're solving. And so looking at the transformation of the people you're working with, the benefactors that are on the other end, that transformation and defining that at scale is super interesting because it removes this pressure I think a lot of organizations feel oh like if we don't get to $10 million in revenue, are we a meaningful nonprofit? Are we making meaningful impact? And so I love that concept. I think it's it's so strong because if you still need to grow, you still need to focus on building a good nonprofit, a good business. But the focus is on the transformation, which is super interesting. So thanks for sharing that.
Jamie McDonald Yeah. One there's one other really, I think important connection point to that and then leadership for if it's, you know I call them all entrepreneurs, the idea of like executive director to me just seems like we somehow talk about nonprofit leaders as though they're less chief than leaders of for-profit. So I just think of them as entrepreneurs. But I think that the other really pivotal aspect of taking a transformation stance rather than just a pure scale stance is then it helps you reframe the way you think about how you engage and interact with your supporters, because what you need to keep explaining to them, it transforms your storytelling. Right, because it's not about give because your gift will make a difference today kind of thing. It's when you give you get to shape the community you want to live in. You're transforming your life by being part of our community. And when leaders take that, you know, approach, when they start to think in that mindset, it really shifts a lot of the other decisions that they make and can and also makes everyone on their team realize that our goal is not, you know, one hundred more disengaged supporters who might give to us one time and walk away. Our goal is people who really believe that their investment in us can transform them.
Justin Wheeler I love looking at nonprofit leaders and executives and really individuals working in the nonprofit space as entrepreneurs. Right, because they are pioneering a path that so few people have taken. They're trying to solve big problems, local problems, whatever, whatever it might be. And remember that moment I started a couple of nonprofits before I started Funraise. And one of those organizations I remember being on on a subway in Seoul, South Korea, with one of our board members. And he told me he's like he's like Justin, you know, you're an entrepreneur, right? I was like, no, I helped start this nonprofit. I'm in the social good space. I'm not, I'm not an entrepreneur. If I remember feeling a lot more power when he had that conversation, a lot more creative, a lot more. I don't know why. I don't know what it was, but I just remember that really stuck with me. And so I appreciate that, that effort you put into as you're talking with nonprofits and looking at them as entrepreneurs and giving them that power to really create and innovate in their respective fields.
Jamie McDonald I mean, I think it's long overdue, honestly, for nonprofit leaders to really assume that power, you know, if you think about it, nonprofit and socially oriented entrepreneurs, because they don't always take a nonprofit structure. But social entrepreneurs are the ones that taught us what it actually looks like to build a movement. Right. It's not companies, but there are certainly companies that think like movements and more companies that are adopting a movement frame. But the truth is, again, if you think in this transformation lens, then what you realize is that social entrepreneurs or people in the nonprofit sector are often the ones that are doing the things that are most transformative to society, but they don't hold that power in the same way that for-profit leaders do. And I think that when you sort of say, look, we're foundational to the future of society, the work I'm doing, it lets all these other companies have more consumers. It you know, it creates the ability for governments to have, to sort of thrive within healthy societies like that work is so fundamental. I think that sense of holding their own power is a really, really important difference that you see in nonprofit leaders who kind of find the traction of momentum and just aren't like slugging it out 10% a year every year versus the ones that just sort of never seem to really breakthrough. That is definitely a hallmark characteristic that I've seen across more pivotal leaders.
Justin Wheeler Are, you know, are you seeing this change, especially with current events? Are you seeing the way nonprofits are working, like in their local communities, towards change? Are you seeing any impacts or are you seeing this affect leaders with just recent pandemic, the chaos of the election? How are you seeing this impact on local nonprofits or leaders you're working with.
Jamie McDonald And I mean, truthfully, I think we all have to acknowledge that no matter how strong a leader is, this has been a year like no other for us, for everybody, but particularly for those who serve others, you know, in the sense that it's been a stressful year just on all accounts. Right. Everybody's carrying a lot of weight on their shoulders no matter what we do. Life isn't normal. We are homebound often where people are dealing with all kinds of personal challenges, even if they haven't been touched directly by illness they have all the other dislocation that's happened this year. At the same time, for many of them, if they're not directly in the health direct response, food, if they're not in one of those spaces as nonprofits, some have felt cowed to really sort of put themselves out there and say we still matter. Yeah, right now. Right. Like if you're an arts organization or, you know, or your education or something like that, I think a lot of people have struggled with how to sort of stand tall and say, no, our work matters as much as it ever has, if not more. In this moment, even though we're not on the health care front line or we're not on the food front line. We're on a different front line. Right. And at the same time, many of them feel like they've had more demand on their services. So it's this triple challenge, I think, that a lot of nonprofit leaders are facing. So I want to start just by acknowledging that at the same time, I think that what we have seen is that there are leaders who sort of say we're going to use a year like this to experiment and do some different things. Right. We're going to try something new. We're going to mobilize in a different way. We're going to tell different stories. And I think that I hope optimistically, I hope that some of the lessons that will have been learned this year, because people are going to be forced to be a little more creative. I hope that will actually carry the sector forward into 2021 and beyond with, you know, feeling like they've had a bit of a weight lifted off their shoulders that they can try some different stuff. Because you know what, in a year like this, all bets are off.
Justin Wheeler Totally. Forr organizations, these smaller organizations that maybe are under-resourced. What do you think are the resources that they do need to succeed in an environment like today, whether it's around their fundraising, the infrastructure? What would you advise nonprofits to really sort of focus in on to ensure that they succeed and survive through what we're going through?
Jamie McDonald I mean, I don't think it's all that much different than at other times, but I think you, of course, have to make sure that you're being relevant to the moment and authentic. Like, I think it's totally OK for nonprofits to be transparent about the challenges of the year like this one and to and to use that honest discussion about how 2020 has challenged them both from a service delivery standpoint, but also I think they can make the pivot to it's also challenged us to think in new ways to talk to you about new stories, to invite you into our work in, you know, in ways we wouldn't have it if just the world had just continued on, you know, the way that it always had been.
Justin Wheeler Yeah. And we're seeing what I'm seeing, too, with the data that I'm looking at across our customer base. It's the organizations that really adopted a more digital-centric fundraising approach, we saw those were the organizations that really fundraised through the uncertainty and of course, there's still a lot of uncertainty, but we're seeing record online fundraising dollars from Q2 really right around the time of the murder of George Floyd, we saw a huge spike in organizations rallying there. And it's sustained really through Q3. And so, as you think about Giving Tuesday coming up in here in Q4 and end of year giving. Do you think that Giving Tuesday will be at its biggest year yet? Or do you feel like it maybe it's going to be impacted by, you know, Giving Tuesday Now that happened shortly after? Or what are your thoughts around that?
Jamie McDonald Yeah, I don't think we think Giving Tuesday Now will be the thing that would have impact. But we never predict. So first of all, we just every year is its own unique year. And this year is the unique of unique years. Right. I mean, so with the election uncertainty with who knows what's going to happen these next few weeks, I just think we have absolutely no idea what's going to happen on Giving Tuesday. Not that we do any year, but I think we have even less idea this year. I think we could envision a couple of different scenarios. I think we certainly could envision people feeling like, you know, this is the most important year ever to support organizations in need. I think we also could have people be feeling like the energy that they may have put it from whatever political place they stood, what the energy that they put into the election and they continue putting into the election over the next few weeks. That pen will pop, you know, I mean, it's so hard. It's just really, really hard to say. With all of that said, you know, I want to comment on the point you just made about digital and then kind of connect it back to Giving Tuesday. So I agree with you to some extent. I do think, of course, we're in a digital age. The social sector was the last. And in it in a lot of ways, it's still such a laggard. But it's the last sector of the economy to be revolutionized by digital. It's happening slowly but slower than other sectors because often of financial constraints and that sort of thing. But I also think that not being a super savvy digital organization is not a kiss of death for really effective supporter engagement and fundraising. Because, for example, if you think about what the mutual aid networks have done across the country this year, I mean, it's been unbelievable. Now, some of them are super savvy, digitally. Right. But many of them are next door groups. Right. Or their neighborhood churches where they'll have a message board and they'll say somebody needs this and who has it. Right. And so I think it's a mistake to make any organization feel that if they're really small and they don't have a twenty-five-year-old digital native on their team who's really making them super cool on the Internet, that they can't be really effective at supporter engagement. And at building support, I like to use support because I think it should be thought of as so much more than money. Yeah. So so that's one thing I want to kind of address in terms of what you said. The connection to Giving Tuesday for me is that if you take that point and I don't know if you agree with that or not, but if you take that point, then what that also means is that for Giving Tuesday wherever an organization is. They can be successful, they just have to think about the mistake I think some organizations make, as they say, oh, well, Giving Tuesday is a social media day and I've got 42 followers, but I'm going to try to run a social media online giving campaign. Yeah, that's just not going to work. Right. So they have to start where they are. Right. They've got to recognize, like, what is their strength, where is their their core sort of base of support? How do you reach them, where they are? How do you engage them with compelling stories or give them opportunities to engage with you that are, they feel right to them and some of that can be really analog. So I'll give you just one very small example. It sort of straddles analog and digital. But in a lot of the small communities that we work with for Giving Tuesday, particularly in small towns, they literally create like old fashioned give guides with a PDF, right. Where they go to every nonprofit and they say, what do you need this year? And the nonprofits in their town will say, many of them will say, you know, we need to raise $3,000 to have 20 more kids go through our program. But a lot of them will say we need three hours of an accountant's time to help us with our 990 or we need five hours of a lawyer's time to help us write an employee handbook, or we need four new computers or we need 100 pairs of socks for the people experiencing homelessness in our city or whatever. Right. And literally, this give guide has the list of every nonprofit. It has a little overview of them. It has the all the stuff they need and they get the whole community involved in trying to, like, cross everything off the list on the give guide.
Justin Wheeler That's awesome.
Jamie McDonald Super analog, right? It's not digital and but it works. And so my point in all of that is just to say I don't want anybody listening to feel like they can't be successful, whatever way they need to be for their organization on a day like Giving Tuesday. Yeah, you just have to resist the temptation to try to do it like everybody else.
Justin Wheeler Totally. I agree with that. I would add that I think digital is, a lot of times people confuse digital as a strategy, not a tactic. I think digital is a tactic. And I think, and it's a distribution channel, right? There are multiple distribution channels. The most important thing a nonprofit can do, in my opinion, is tell their story in a very compelling way, because nonprofits are competing with products and other other businesses. You're competing for disposable income, essentially, and your story has to be good. Your your messaging has to be important. It has to resonate with the end supporter who is thinking about buying product A instead of making a donation. So I definitely agree that, like the story, telling that story, getting her story out and whether you decide to use digital distribution or analog distribution or any other sort of creative channel, that just becomes a tactic to further get the word out. And, of course, you know, there are opportunities to accelerate, I think, fundraising and under certain channels. But I agree that it's not a kiss of death if you're not entirely digital, if you can't go digital. But the question I do have to there is what holds a small nonprofit back or an organization working the community from using digital? Is it is it the cost? Is it the expertize? What is it that hold someone back from at least bringing it as a part of their tool in their tool belt?
Jamie McDonald Yeah. So the way I think about it is a little bit like what holds you back from speaking a different language in a different country.
Justin Wheeler Fair enough. Yeah, that's a good point.
Jamie McDonald I think that a lot of us maybe you grew up taking Spanish, but all of a sudden you land in Spain and you're like, oh, ah, ah! Like it, it's hard to, it's hard to feel confident. And honestly that lack of fluency comes across often. Like my kids tell me this, that I'm, for my age, I guess I'm reasonably comfortable on social media. It's not something I do a lot, but I, I do it when I have to. And what my daughter, the way she describes it is she says you're conversational, but you're not fluent. Right. And so I think that that's what holds a lot of nonprofits back, is that they worry that if they go into a channel where they're not fluent, that it actually doesn't help them. It might even hurt them. I'm not sure that that's true. But I think that that's the feeling. It's that same feeling about landing in a foreign country. And even if you grew up taking Spanish in school, like you, just all of a sudden you feel really awkward speaking that language. That's why I really try to emphasize to sort of like start where you are. The other thing that for sure can really help is if you have a great story. And so I will link back to your story concept with a one of the things I. In my workshops and again, this is true for me, nonprofit for profit, it really doesn't matter, is I think that iconic stories are the thing, not just stories. So I think what that when I what that means in my frame is, I think that nonprofits and for-profits need, each year, one or two stories that are the stories they tell all year long. So instead of trying to tell one hundred stories of one hundred different people that have benefited from what you've done because we're in such a saturated media age. Right. For anything... you know, there was a rule of thumb years ago when I was in graduate school that was like if it took seven touches before a marketing message broke through, you know, today, I would imagine it takes twenty seven touches.
Justin Wheeler Yeah.
Jamie McDonald And so if you think about it, if you're a small organization or a larger organization and you're trying to tell 20 different stories about your impact, my guess is none of them land, right? So and when I'm again, when I do workshops, the example I give is if you think about Starbucks in October, what do you think about?
Justin Wheeler Pumpkin lattes.
Jamie McDonald That's exactly right. So it's not that Starbucks doesn't want you to come in and get your double macchiato. It's they need a breakthrough message that's going to make you think about Starbucks. And so if you're a nonprofit or for-profit, you know, you need the equivalent of your pumpkin spice latte.
Justin Wheeler Yeah, that's a great point.
Jamie McDonald You need that story that you're so sick of talking about because you've told the story of Susie who ended up going to art school and becoming a world famous artist because she went to your after school art program in third grade. You need to tell that story all the time. Now, you can tell Susie's story from lots of different angles. You can talk about it from her teacher in third grade. You can talk about it from her mom. But the story of Susie becomes... what's the the Progressive lady? Ah, Flo!
Justin Wheeler Oh, okay.
Jamie McDonald It's like Flo on the Progressive ads you see in all different takes on Flo, right? But she's she is the iconic story, in essence, the iconic figure in that particular instance. They want you to, they need you to connect something with your organization.
Justin Wheeler Yeah.
Jamie McDonald And I know that it's like hard for nonprofits to think that way, but an iconic three can really be a breakthrough when when a nonprofit gets their head around that is an idea that they don't have to tell a hundred stories. Because, again, it's about transformation. It's not about scale. So one amazing story of transformation that can make people feel like an investment in your nonprofit can result in this kind of transformation. And therefore, when that person is transformed, I am transformed because my community is different. That's the pivot.
Justin Wheeler Yeah. I think that this translates really nicely as well to the way you talk about impact to your supporters. You have this this iconic story that you share over and over again, which becomes a big part of your brand. But also I think the mistake a lot of nonprofits make is they tell us that they want to save 10,000 people. Right. And we don't have we don't have, like, the emotional bank to understand what 10,000 lives saved really means. And so we saw this when I was at Liberty in North Korea. We actually saw this play out where we have this robust chapter program, universities and high schools all across the nation. And our messaging used to be, hey, like your goal this year, chapter network is to raise enough funds to rescue 100 refugees. Right. And and then we started to change the model and say, hey, hey, school, you're responsible for one rescue, one person. That's it. Like this year, focus on one rescue. And then when we pivoted to that sort of messaging, the growth in the overall fundraising skyrocketed because people had connection to one life, one individual. And I think that, that resonates in stop telling 100 stories, tell one really powerful story, make it iconic, make it what people when they think of your organization, this is what they think about. All the other things will fall into place. I love that concept. I think that's so important.
Jamie McDonald Yeah. Let me I'll give you another, another, I think about that same idea as a layer of what I'm talking about with the iconic story a lot. But the process of getting there, I call again like I do so many workshops. I'm sorry if I keep saying that, but I call this landing the helicopter. I know if you imagine you're in a disaster zone flying over a hurricane zone. Right. And all you can see for miles in that helicopter is water as far as the eye can see. But, you know, you come down to 5,000ft now. You can start to see some patches of land. You can see some houses sprouting up. And imagine if, should have said, imagine if when you're up that high, somebody saying to you, go help when you're up at the high point in the helicopter you're like geesh you should just keep flying because what could I possibly do to make a difference right now? But the helicopter starts to descend. You get down to 1,000ft. Now, you can actually start to see some movement on the ground. You get to 500ft. Now you can see a family with their backpack on and they're dragging the dog along and they got their kid walking next to them. And you land on the ground and you get out of the helicopter and somebody says, I need and you say I'm here to help. Right. So it's like nonprofits so often talk from the helicopter. Instead of like, you know, coming down and down and down to the place where somebody can find their point of connection.
Justin Wheeler Totally.
Jamie McDonald So that transformation that you went through, it's sort of like you jumped right to the end. It sounds like you guys were really smart. But for a lot of people, what I find is that they've got to sort of sequence themselves down through the descent, you know, down to the ground and really recognize that. And then that links to the iconic story. Right. Because now their iconic story and you can tell it over and over again. So, yes, we are 100% agreement about that.
Justin Wheeler Yeah. No, I love that concept. That's a great analogy. So you work obviously with a lot of leaders in the nonprofit space, Executive Directors. This might be an odd question, so companies like Funrise who sell technology to help organizations modernize their fundraising, but also just help steward their donors and cultivate them. What can we do better to serve the type of clients that you work with, the type of leaders you're interacting with daily? What can companies like Funraise and others in our space do better to support the nonprofit community?
Jamie McDonald It's a really good question. You know, I think that one of the most critical things in my career from my perspective is I think we do a lot of and I did this, too. So I say this from a place of my own learning because I have a software company that was working with the nonprofit leaders. You know, I think that we we focus more on how they do what they do than who they are as leaders and why they do what they do. And so I think that's one pivot that we could make. You know, the people that are sort of the providers of of services and tools that if you could take I think the reason that a lot of people bring me in is for some of the stuff we're talking about today. Right. But the truth is, your business would be better if you helped more of them to understand that they can lead differently, that they can tell stories differently, that they can be more transformational, even if in the short run it means less online dollars flowing through your platform. Right. What it can mean in the long run is sustainable because, look, the other thing, we haven't talked about this, but I'll bring it back to the point I was just about to make. The other thing this year is certainly showing us is a nonprofit that is not stable in a period like this is going away. Like, you know, there's I don't know what the estimates are now. I've seen different estimates through this year about what the fallout will be in terms of nonprofits closing. Yeah. And, you know, and it's not that their work is an important it's that they've never sort of made that more important connection to sort of leadership and transformation. And they make it about doing and fundraising. Doing and fundraising are should be the enablers of leadership and transformation. But I think those are often sort of put to the side. So I would say that that's one thing to really think about. I think the other thing is to recognize and this has been borne out by a lot of giving to say research, people are more inclined to give money when they're asked to do things other than give money. And so, you know, if you if you say to people, we value you as a person who believes in the importance of our work. And there are all these ways that you can be supportive, you can give us skills, time, advocacy and money and just cheering and belief,right? You know, those people who feel valued in all those ways are much more likely to give money. Yeah, and this is particularly true with millennials who are so sensitive to being like human wallets. Right. So I think that's one thing that you guys could really think about, how to message more effectively, more genuinely provide tools for, you know, do more coaching around, just like the wellness of and health and mental wellbeing of, you know, leaders in the sector in difficult times. I mean, I think there's a lot of that kind of thing that could go a long way.
Justin Wheeler Yeah, that makes sense. That's super helpful. And made me think about the idea of the way that you invite supporters to engage and to be a part of your organization. If you think about, you know, it's such a cliche example. But Nike, right. When people buy Nike's, it's you feel like you're not buying shoes. You feel like you're buying into a dream that you can be X, Y or Z. Right. The way that they market, the way they tell their story. You can be an Olympian if you wear Nike shoes. Right. And I think with like the sort of connection point here with nonprofit organizations is there has to be this belief, especially today. I think that when you get involved with this organization, when you donate your time, your resources, your money, whatever it might be, you're actually making an impact. You're actually a part of what the organization says it's doing to try to end or whatever the problem might be. So I think that it's not just about volunteering or it's not just about giving your time and resources. It's actually understanding that the organization you're supporting is equipped and can make the change that it's, you know, it's mandated to make. I think going back to the storytelling and the iconic sort of, you know, success story that you tel, I think that plays into it, when I say I see organizations struggle to tell, we call it your theory of change. Organizations really struggle, I think, to make that the connection of like we exist to solve this problem. Here's how we're doing it. I don't know if you see that with the organizations and clients that you work with, but I see that across the board as a problem that could be addressed in a better way so that more people stick around and give. We have a terrible retention problem with donors across the board. And I think part of that goes back to the way impact is being communicated and proven.
Jamie McDonald I think that's 100% right. Demonstrating impact is definitely one thread. I think there's a number of other threads that are also really critical to retaining supporters. And they're connected to this transformation concept. Like my definition of a movement is a collective surge of energy toward the possibility of a different future. That's my definition. And so think about the components of that. And that's because I've been involved with a lot of movements and again, and I consider some for profits movement builders right there. Really good at ... Nike, that example you gave in some ways is that idea. So the collective part of it's important. So one thing that I think a lot of effective organizations do really well is certainly not just show impact, but shows that together our supporters are doing this. They're making you feel like you're part of something bigger than just your individual actions or the collective part is is important. The surge idea to me, like that idea that when you join us in this, we're like surging together. We're building momentum. We're making progress. Right. That this is like a collective surge of energy. So the energy piece of it to me is like that sense that I mean, we all know when we feel like those those those places that are just like electric. Right. They have that thing that's hard to describe. But like if you can... and you see it in certain leaders who just there's they so passionately believe that their energy just like comes through. Right. And then the final piece about it is the possibility of a different future. I think the one tricky part of impact is some of the work that nonprofits do is a bet on the future. And so that's why I like this concept of the possibility of a different future that we're believing. And it's and again, I like your Nike example because it makes that point completely right. They're not promising you you're going to become an Olympic athlete. They're saying if you wear our shoes, there's a possibility you're going to be better at what you do. Right. There's a possibility of a different future. So I think about all of the different points in that arc, that statement for me, if a leader of a nonprofit is really thinking through each of those steps of building a movement, collective surge, energy, possibility, different future, if they think about those five things, then impact is in there. The impact is part of that. But it's only one thread of the button on your sweater. Right. Where? Well, I'm trying to do is say you need five or six loops through that button if you're really going to bind people to you.
Justin Wheeler Yeah, that makes sense. I love that. That is I think that's the best I've ever heard. This concept explains. I really appreciate that perspective and I love the idea of the possibility of a better future. I think that, that's right. Like a lot of times nonprofits are just making bets on whether or not they're going to change the future. It's more transparent. Talk about it from the possibility of of a different future. Jamie, I could talk to you all day. Thank you so much. We've already spent an hour talking, and I'm super excited to get this out to our listeners. So thank you so much for joining the podcast today. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much. Have a wonderful day.
Jamie McDonald You too.
Justin Wheeler Thank you.
Jamie McDonald Bye bye.
Justin Wheeler Bye.
Thanks for listening to this episode of Nonstop Nonprofit. This podcast is brought to you by your friends at Funraise. Nonprofit fundraising software, built by nonprofit people. Don't forget to get your next episode the second it hits the internets. Go to nonstopnonprofitpodcast.com and sign up for email notifications today. See you next time!