Live Q&A – March 2024


Sami Bedell-Mulhern 0:00
I know. Let’s get started with our March live q&a. We have Emily joining us here today, which is great. Hopefully, we’ll have a couple more friends pop in this morning. But this is our monthly live q&a where you can ask any questions. We do have a question from Emily already. So we’ll get to that in a second. Um, but Patrick, welcome. I know you’re on the road.

Patrick Kirby 0:24
I am thanks for having thanks for the two minutes worth of time as I raced here to set up and again, I, I love, I love the AMA stew because every once in a while that are in between, like the months we actually get to do this, like so many little pieces of nuggets of information, like sort of pop up. I mean, I’ll give you one if you’re okay with it, which is interesting. I’ve been talking with a lot of like auctioneers and event people, right. So like one of the big things that like, you know, either gonna do a summer of integrity with fall event. Interesting, like two interesting pieces, number one, live auctions, and Gen Zers. They don’t like it at all, like, like, those don’t work. They love funding needs. But live auctions a little less interesting. To our Gen Z friends. They’re very particular about what they want. And they don’t like stuff

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 1:18
is that we’re like learning that the product like it, is it? Would it be different if it was like experiential, as opposed to?

Patrick Kirby 1:26
Okay. Yep. So it’s so but here’s the here’s the thing, it’s experiences that they can’t buy with their own money already. So if you have like a series of like, you can golf these four golf courses. Great. Nobody’s gonna nobody’s interested in that. Or, hey, here’s tickets to a sporting event or whatever that you could already buy. Not really interesting. It is the I get to go behind the scenes of this, or I get to figure out how things are made. Or I get a tour that nobody else has access to. Those are the ones that go well, anything else that involves things or stuff or clutter, not interested whatsoever. So as you’re sort of gaining momentum with your events, yes, sort of take that into advice as they’re sort of like picking on what works and what doesn’t

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 2:13
do well. Do you remember when we were a couple summers ago, and we did your workshop all over the Midwest, and we were at Omaha and Omaha zoo shared that what’s working really well for them is they auctioned off, like dinner with the seals, dinner with the you know, the monkeys or whatever like they. So which, which was brilliant, because, again, you’re auctioning off something that’s exclusive behind the scenes VIP, but you’re also sharing mission, you’re also getting people back to your organization. And because it’s a dinner, they have to invite other people. So you have potential conversation, new people, that is a different way to ask for those connections. It’s like, hey, they get to they get to show up and have dinner. And this exclusive experience, your team gets to have natural conversation and then take it from there. So like that totally lines up for me with what you’re saying.

Patrick Kirby 3:07
Yeah, totally. It just kept trending, trending trending. And it was the same thing but they doubled down on its so auctioneers are seeing that it’s a little slow on the uptick, a lot of the the hard work of pre selling those items is way more than it ever has been. But the experiences are sky high, with people interested in it. And then the other thing, too, was if you have big donors in your event space, asking them specifically what they would like to bid on or what they’re interested in, or what their tables are, and specifically going out and getting something along those lines, sparks some enthusiasm in the room. So it’s been it’s again, this goes back to something you and I have been talking about for a long time here are like more recently, like a lot, though, which is this hyper personalization of everything in the nonprofit world, not only to like how you communicate with the donor, like I need to know what Sammy likes and dislikes. I need to know what Emily’s passions are or alignments in conversation. It goes far beyond that. So now we’re looking at how can I make this event experience exclusive to you? So how can I go get something? Or how can I create something that is very much aligned with what Emily loves, or Sammy loves, and then create a package out of that, then we talk about it, then we sell it that becomes a lot more interesting across the board. So again, it just it the trend that we sort of had in our vision or had in our brain for the last year and a half two years is now like viscerally true from people who are in the field doing some of this fundraising work and it’s nice to see we guessed correctly.

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 4:49
What would you say then how does that translate that into the silent auction as well? Are you Are they saying the same thing like the stuff isn’t getting as much such bidding action is maybe some of the experiential or unique things.

Patrick Kirby 5:05
Yeah, so you’re looking at you know, whiskey baskets bourbon bass gets like the idea that you can sit down you know, you have to you have to build the baskets have to be an experience to so no longer dislike aunt May’s hand mitten hand like handmade mittens package going well, because it’s just stuff it’s clutter it’s things. So the packages have to be a full board, like it’s a charcuterie package. So you give them instructions, and you give them all the pieces to it. And you you know, give them this is how you lay out the board call, you can do an online video training on how to make the charcuterie board that you have with the package like those kinds of things are going like all over the place. Here’s what you should be tasting with your bourbon package or whatever. So it’s, again, it’s putting a personal touch on all of those things. And then the stuff the packages that you’re like things just not going well, because people don’t want stuff, this this cluttering of the things that come back with the they’re thinking about, like, where’s this gonna go. So think about that when you’re sort of doing your, your, your auction pieces. So

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 6:10
the other thing that you mentioned is that they like the funding need, or the Paddle Raise, they don’t like the stuff. And so it’s also like, that kind of makes sense to me. Like it doesn’t mean, I guess what I’m saying is it doesn’t mean that the money isn’t still coming in, it’s just coming in in different ways than it was before. And that you need to be thoughtful about that. Which is interesting, because I came this morning, the thing that I was going to mention is very much in alignment with what you’re saying. And we didn’t even talk about this. But I’m working on a couple scripts and things for a couple clients for their fundraising events. And the thing that I keep butting my head against with them is that they want to, to talk about everything, like when they’re getting ready to appeal, or they’re getting ready for their program like but we also do this. And we also do this and we also do this. And so I think really being thoughtful of the people that are in the room and not creating decision decision fatigue, and making it quick and easy. So it’s like, Hey, here’s a really great impact story, go ahead and put the ask out there at the end be like if you’re already moved, here’s the QR code give today, right? And then like continuing to build, where all of that flows into the appeal at the end. So we’re working really hard with clients on reverse engineering your event. So start with the ask, what’s the impact statement that you’re going to share at the end, and then you build your program to ought to be dropping all the seeds and nuggets. So when they get to the ask at the end, they’re already primed. The motion is already there. And the ask is just reiterating what you’ve already said throughout throughout the program. And I think we finally got a client to cut like three bullet points that they were going to talk about during the ask because I’m like, Nope, you’re gonna bring it up for the first time at the appeal. And now they’re like, wait a minute, I thought we were talking about puppies. And now you’re telling me that we’re going to go save swans, like I don’t, I’m confused, and then they’re not going to get it and they’re not going to give. And so I think, especially with what you’re saying about people liking the fund need better, it’s because it’s going directly to the organization, it’s providing directly impact. And if you’re clear in your messaging, it’s gonna set you up for success. So I love it. We’re on the same the break.

Patrick Kirby 8:21
Yeah, no. And What’s brilliant about that, too, is that you can then directly tie whatever you raise at that event back to an impact story for the continued conversation after the event. And what you and I sort of have always aligned on is that the after communication on what the event actually did, is as important if not more important than the event itself, because they need to know what they did mattered. And if you just raise money, and then that’s the last thing you talk about before you see them again next year, when you solicit them for a ticket that you’re not going to make any friends that way long term. So this allows you to really hone in your story hone in all the good that you do into one egg, it’s just it’s so much easier. So I love that I love the reverse engineering piece. That’s brilliant, start at the end, and then work your way back to kind of create the program chiffchaffs

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 9:14
Let me give you one example of one thing we’re doing with a client and then and then we can move on. Um, but just with regards to the follow up. So we, at this one event, in particular, are talking we’re having three families share their story. And so it’s inner like living room interview style, and then a video that shows kind of impact for the broader organization. Right? Interview. So we’re do that three times. Those are the three key messages of what we’re talking about. In the program, the three key messages that are in the appeal, we’re having the two cofounders of the organization record three videos just sitting like this, like casual just them in their kitchen. That so we’ll be gathering in for Meishan at the event about their area of interest within that event, and then post event follow up, even though they’re automated, we’re going to be grouping people. And so they’ll get a video from the founders, that’s just like, hey, thank you so much for coming to the event, we really appreciate your time and effort and learning more about our organization. You know, we noticed you were really interested in this part of our program. And I just wanted to give you a little bit more information about kind of where we’re going and 2024. Just a quick two or three minute video, that again, we can automate the follow up just by tagging our attendees. So it’s not like it’s a manual process. We send those emails out, it’s gonna allow us to track that engagement back. Specific to people that didn’t give it the event, people that said, they’re encouraged and excited about this topic. All of that can be done ahead of time. So that follow up is fast and quick. But when was the last time you went to an event and then got a video message back? about something that you’re interested in? Like if they weren’t ready to Gibbs? Hopefully, that’s gonna push them over the edge. So that’s something we’re testing?

Patrick Kirby 11:02
I love it. No, that’s a great, it’s a great, it’s a great bit. It’s a great bit. Brilliant.

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 11:06
No, we’re brilliant. Love it. Okay. Um, any questions about events before we move on from this topic? Otherwise, there’s a lot of modules in the boot camp. I don’t have it up in front of me. But there are quite a few event modules in there. If you want to take it out. We’re getting rapidly into event season here in the Midwest. So good times. Otherwise, Emily sent us a question that I don’t know the answer to at all. It’s an HR related question you might not know the answer to but I think you’ll at least know somewhere to direct her. So here’s her question. Yes. All right. Um, how and where do those that work for nonprofits that do not provide benefits like health insurance? Where do they find coverage? Is there a group that provides nonprofits with a single employee that can pull together to provide coverage? Resources? I don’t know if your local AFP or something like that, does it? I don’t know. Do you have thoughts on it? So

Patrick Kirby 12:06
yes, so I’ve several thoughts. So turns out, apparently, running your own business with a very small shop is very much running like a nonprofit business, when you have in place. So there’s three ways you can go about doing this. Number one, depending on who your payroll is through, so a lot of payroll providers, and you can seek one out that have an offer insurance coverage through a group, so that so they have insurance, availability, it’s not the it’s not the cheapest, but it’s there. So if you have a payroll provider, ask them about what coverage options that they have available. Normally, they will have a vision, dental, and life insurance stuff, that’s, that’s usually a part of the package, but they usually can get you into a pool, three year or payroll provider. The second thing is Chambers of Commerce have a pool group. Benefits package, if you are a member, most of them do it, especially the State Chamber. So if you are a State Chamber member, you have access to this, I know for a fact. And if you’re a local sort of sort of regional group, usually they have access into the pool, because they’re their chamber member provider. So ask your chamber director, ask your chamber provider, what they have available, and there is some access to those. And again, it won’t be the super cheapest, but they’re pulling a lot of solo shop, maybe two, three employee persons together to get that big discount. And then they use and leverage their chamber membership to the national organization to leverage coverage for small groups like that and be and it doesn’t matter member, your nonprofit as a tax, that is not a business plan. So you are a business in the state that you are in and you get to have the benefits as a chamber member as well. So those are the two things the number 312 is you can go to the open market and try your hand there. And then if the individual who you want to have coverage for finds it, as part of the benefits package that you give, you can give them a reimbursement of or a stipend of a certain amount of money and put that as part of your comp package as as the year goes on. So let’s just say I’m throwing out hypotheticals here. I don’t, you know, don’t need to use this as a gospel. But just as an example, if you had a $250 a month stipend for health insurance, reimbursement or whatever, and you could just give it to them and then they can go to the open market and use that as a as a drawdown that works as well. And again, that’s tax deferral, right from your whole thing. Again, ask your tax person and ask your payroll people but you could give them a stipend to do that with and that gets you at least into the conversation about having them afford it. Now they’d have to do the hard work and the heavy lift thing in that scenario, but at least they’d have some sort of revenue coming in to pay the difference between so either number one payroll people to chamber which is probably your best bet. And then Emily, if you wanted to do a pay down thing, that that’s a good option. Sorry.

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 15:13
And fundraising associations don’t offer that, that you’ve seen.

Patrick Kirby 15:17
I have not seen one. I’m not saying that they don’t. But typically, they’re more concerned about training and mechanisms now, that I could be totally wrong. And depending on depend on the organization, you know, Minnesota, you know, is the Minnesota nonprofit Council is a massive beast. I mean, they’ve got hundreds, if not 1000s of members. And so they might have the wherewithal in the draw, and they’re very politically active. So that might actually be a thing. Some of the smaller regional flyover country, nonprofits might not have that, or the newly established ones, but I’m not necessarily saying that they won’t. The question is, hey, where do I find this? And usually going to those EDS to get the right first step.

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 15:57
What about economic development? Organizations? Would they be a good place typically would ask question that question, too.

Patrick Kirby 16:06
They would. And then mostly, they might be aligned with the chamber as well. I mean, they probably work hand in hand with that. But the Chamber’s got the relation, I know for a fact the Chamber’s got the relationships. And so they’ve got the they have the strong arm that economic development might have grants available, or other funding mechanisms that might be able to help you either reimburse those rates or work with them as well. But typically, it’s just chamber stuff. Yep.

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 16:31
She says wonderful. Yeah. Yay.

Patrick Kirby 16:34
Good. See, that’s what we’re here for wonderful info. Um,

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 16:38
we have an HR professional coming on for our guest expert training on Wednesday. So we will pose this question to her as well, that’s not necessarily what she’s coming to talk about. But, um, but we kept her for the question, I

Patrick Kirby 16:53
think I asked her that question.

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 16:54
And if she has any other brilliant insights, then she can share that as well.

Patrick Kirby 17:00
Seeing access to all these brilliant human beings that here bootcamp, which is great. Um, see me, I’ve got a question for you. Because we don’t have any additional questions here is, what do we what is what are we seeing trending wise, as it pertains to digital and print? I’ve seen a lot of people who just are ditching print completely, because either it’s not in the budget, or they just don’t have a somebody to like work with it. And they are solely going digital? Are you seeing a trend somewhere that people are doing that? What is the results? What is your take? What’s your hot Take, take communication pieces like that?

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 17:41
We have I’ve actually been having this conversation quite a bit with some friends on on the podcast. And we have a couple that are, I don’t think they’ve gone live yet that are linked up direct mail, specifically versus online. And I would say, statistically, still, you get better results from direct mail than you do from most digital options. I think email is always going to be the highest ROI when it comes to the digital space, like 300 times over social media. But direct mail is still really important. And I think what it comes down to is really understanding who your audience is. But also like, if you could have so much fun with direct mail and like it. It’s something that people are going to kind of remember and see. So I think I’m taking a look at direct mail from like, what are like a postcard, like we sent out some five by seven postcards for save the dates for the event that we’re having in? They’re not that expensive, right? And then they’ll they handle everything. And like, I don’t know, we’re working with a couple printers, where we’re really lining out what our whole year looks like and saying, okay, like if we commit to, you know, three direct mail pieces as part of our year end campaign, you know, like, if you really get thoughtful, then you can just say these are kind of the things that we’re thinking if we commit to this minimum, what discount will you give us because they know that they’re going to get bulk mail from you. And they’re going to have excellent projects. It helps you plan your year and get ahead of things as well. So I would highly recommend that but I it, it’s still very relevant in important to do because we want to hit people in as many ways as possible. So if I see your ad on Google or Facebook or whatever, for an event or a campaign, and then I get your email, and then something shows up in the mail, and I’m like, oh, okay, yeah, I’m like I’m prepped and ready to go. But we want to hit people in all of those different places so that they can take action when they’re ready. And then I would say, really, making it super easy for people to take action on those direct mail pieces. So QR codes going to look like making sure you have just a dedicated landing page on your website for that direct mail piece. So when they scan that piece, they’ve gotten it go straight to the information that validates that and lets them take the action, whether that’s registering or donate, right? Don’t send them to the homepage where they have to, like, try to figure out. Okay, well, I want tickets to this event. But now I’m on the homepage. And I don’t know where I’m supposed to go to be simple and concise. But absolutely, yes. That was long winded. Yeah.

Patrick Kirby 20:23
Good. No, it’s great. I love it. It’s a yes. And is one of those. Yeah, so the other thing, too, I think the follow up to that particular question is I think people see different mediums. So they see print, and they see digital, and they see then social media or whatever. And in their brain, they have to create different pieces of content or different themes or content, and they have to change everything up from piece to piece, because like it, you don’t want to sound like the same thing. My intuition says, they’re not paying attention to you enough to know that you’re saying the same thing in different mediums. And if they are, they’re at least reminded of one thing or two things rather than brand new stuff. And they’re inundated all the time. You want to be consistent with messaging, etc. So you don’t need to, like, blow up and start having creative. You don’t need to do a blog that’s completely different than an email that’s completely different than a social post. It’s completely different with an action like, don’t do that. Because it’s a waste of a your time. And then b It’s people’s brains can’t like do you said, if you’re going to add something at the end of the event, that’s a new program that you’re trying to fundraise for? And you’re like, Where the hell did that come from kind of bit. Keep it consistent. And I’ve always gone with this notion of the minute you are bored with your message is the minute that everybody else is just figuring it out for the first time. Is that still sort of true?

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 21:47
Yeah, I mean, listen, we want people to do the thing that we want them to do. And if we’re telling them it in five different ways that they have to process it, they’re not going to do it, I would say like, okay, because I’m trying, I have a couple examples actually sitting on my desk. So like, the other thing about direct mail that I love is that you can do it, like, an annual appeal letter could be four pages long, like people are gonna sit down and read it more than they would sit down and read a long email or like read along social media posts. So I always love starting with your direct mail piece first, because you can put more in it. And then you just repurpose all of those things in all of the other places, right. So like, this is something I got in the mail for a workshop, which I love, because it’s like it is a bigger piece. But it’s a printed on lightweight paper, it’s mostly black and white. Like I don’t think it was probably that expensive. But it is like has literally every single piece of information about their upcoming workshop and how to register. So now, it’s like, when I see that if I haven’t done it yet, but I see that social, like I might throw this on the counter and be like, why? Yeah, I think I want to do that. But I don’t have time right now to look into if this works on my schedule. So you throw it in a pile. And if I see a quick social media post, then that’s about oh, yeah, I really wanted now I have this piece that I can go back to physically open up and take a look at right, like you can have kind of those things. The other piece, you know, like my kids go to a gigantic High School. And registration is like college registration, it’s a big deal. And so they send us a lot of emails, and then we get mail, because they know like, We’re busy. And we’re not gonna see everything. And I love the look of this because again, it’s small, but like it opens up big. And so you have literally like all of the different pieces of information here. And then this is the counselor, all of the different programs and when like the learning times are to like learn more about them. But I love it. Because on the back side, you can have like you have these great snippets where you can capture people’s attention for for different programs that you run. And then when they open it up, they’re getting like, you know, so like, these are just kind of fun. And again, easy for me to throw somewhere and be like, oh, yeah, I know, I need to register. I want to make sure I keep these Calendar of Events handy. This is probably a more expensive piece to print. But anyway, those are just a couple examples of why I love some of the longer form direct mail pieces for people to go back and reference and have that information when they need it.

Patrick Kirby 24:12
Perfect. Oh, I love that. That’s good. See, that was that was a great Yes. And as well. And examples, and I even know that so that’s even a better setup. Like you know, it’s perfect.

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 24:26
Anyhow, I Yes, direct mail. Absolutely. I think it’s important. We’re going to test I think with a couple clients this fall, like three different direct mail pieces. So one, well, we send Thanksgiving Day cards instead of Christmas cards because they get earlier in the year. And then your traditional appeal letter, and then like a last call postcard that goes out the hits like right around the end of the year to just be like hey, if you haven’t yet there’s still time. Just down and dirty. Here’s the bullet points of our campaign and QR code. So we’ll see I love it. I love it.

Patrick Kirby 25:09
There was a lot of information in 30 odd minutes in the q&a today. I like this a lot.

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 25:14
Well, Emily, not to put you on the spot, but we’ll take last call for any final questions if anything popped up for you. Otherwise, this will be in your dashboard to rewatch it anytime. In the next day or so. Patrick, you’re gonna want to rewatch this? Well, I have to make sure I put this in the email because it’s not often we see Patrick in a suit and tie.

Patrick Kirby 25:42
No, you really don’t. memorable day ever. Listen, I am trying to make a good impression today. So it’s casual Professor look today. I feel like that’s, that’s where we’re going for.

Sami Bedell-Mulhern 25:55
Fair enough. Well, awesome.

Patrick Kirby 25:59
Excellent. Emily, thanks for joining us, everybody in the replay. Thanks for joining us, Sammy, as always, you’re brilliant. And we’ll see you next time on our AMA’s. And yeah, get into the bootcamp. Go check it out. We’ll link Okay, and probably will link some of the event pieces as well because I think that’s probably a good note to make as well. You guys are awesome. Talk to you later. Bye friends.

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