By Sarah B Lange under Uncategorized on April 1, 2024

How Storytelling Can Revolutionize You Fundraising

Hi everyone, I'm Sarah Lange and I'm here to spark the philanthropy revolution. The word philanthropy means love of mankind. My show is all about the ways we can revolutionize our fundraising so we can raise more money and do more good.

Sarah: Hey everybody, it's Sarah Lange back with another episode of the philanthropy revolution. Thanks for joining me. And for those of you who haven't met me yet, I'm a professional fundraiser, been in the field over 35 years and have raised over a hundred million dollars. And today I'm really excited to introduce our guest, Olivia Schwartz. And Olivia, I'm gonna let you introduce yourself to our audience and tell them a little bit about who you are and what you do.

Olivia: Sure, well, first of all, Sarah, thank you so much for having me today on this wonderful Thursday afternoon. It's great to see you and I was honored you asked me to be a guest on your podcast, so thank you. Hello folks out there, yes my name's Olivia and I love talking about stories and storytelling, just a little bit about my story. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, born and raised. and I went to college in Worcester, Massachusetts. So Sarah and I have that connection to Worcester, yeah! Worcester! Yes, I went to Clark. And then I live in Nashville now. I am a singer, songwriter, and musician, and storyteller, and I work at an amazing software company called GoodSeeker. We are a storytelling platform. So stories are my bread and butter. They're my jam. I just think that stories make the world go round.

Sarah: Awesome, thanks so much. So as somebody who's been in the field for a while, one of the things that I see is that, you know, philanthropy means love of mankind. And I've realized that most people on this planet are good people and they wanna do good by their fellow humans. And they don't always know how to do that. They don't always know where to invest their philanthropic dollars. I'm hoping you can tell us like how does storytelling make a difference in the field of fundraising?

Olivia: Absolutely. So of course, there are so many incredible nonprofits doing amazing work and all kinds of different deals and facets. And sometimes for nonprofits, something I've learned is they of course are so focused on fundraising, they kind of look, they overlook the importance of really showing the impacts that they make and showing the work that they do every single day behind the scenes and also to help their clients, whether that be like dogs or folks who are unhoused or folks who are looking to expand and further their education. And so what I've learned through working at GoodSeeker is showing and telling stories can really be that what's needed to kind of get let's say a potential donor across the finish lines, maybe they're thinking of donating, and then they read a story that really tugs at their heartstrings and really like, really illustrates like how important the work that nonprofit is doing. And so that story can really be the powerful force to get a donor to donate. And I know that we talked about how to, some nonprofits are very focused on like single transactions. But it's so important to have donor retention, which is hard. It's a challenge for nonprofits nowadays too. And, you know, it's just hard with everything going on with the economy, etc. But having those stories once again can really just continue. It's kind of like a chain reaction because it's like, let's say you've got a story from a volunteer that's really powerful. And then let's say a donor donates because of that amazing story. And then that donor. wants to continue to donate, and you can actually then thank that donor and say, “hey, thank you for sharing your story. We so appreciate, you know, you giving to our organization.” And then that donor feels heard and feels recognized and feels appreciated and wants to continue to give and then wants to tell their friends to give. So it really is, it's a really powerful tool.

Sarah: Yeah, I love this idea of getting volunteers and donors to share their stories, You know, peer-to-peer fundraising is so powerful. And when you see somebody who kind of like looks like you, and maybe you're the one thinking about donating, and now you hear from somebody else that's donated, and they're feeling really good about the difference they're making through their contribution, I think it can spur other people. So I hadn't really thought about the volunteer and the donor angle, but hearing from people who give their precious time to the organization to volunteer kind of is like, a check of credibility, like, “oh, I'm here and I'm giving up my precious time to be with this organization. I really believe in them.” So again, it's almost like that peer to peer testimonial and their donation of their time, but it's still them making a contribution. So I hadn't ever really thought about promoting volunteer and donor stories, but I love that and I can see where that's like tremendous value added. So awesome. Thanks.

Olivia: Absolutely. Yeah, of course. Another angle that I'll share quickly that could also be enlightening potentially is, you know, of course, some people want to give to nonprofits, they want to give their time and maybe they don't have the money to give. But an option is to then say, “Hey, you know, we'd love to hear your story.” And that in itself can, you know, give someone, yeah, the space and ability to share something other than like, you know, monetary sharing.

Sarah: Yeah, that's awesome. Just keep the, it's like a chain, like you said, a chain reaction. It's like more stories, more stories, more stories. So, you know, nonprofit folks are so busy, as you know, doing, you know, I have a colleague who calls it one big game of whack-a-mole, which I think is so funny.

Olivia: That really is, it's great.

Sarah: But it's so true. It's like, “which dumpster fire are we putting out today?” Because, you know, so often nonprofits are pulled in many directions, trying to meet the need, trying to deliver the service, while also doing social media and stories and fundraising and just managing, oh, the copier broke today, you know? So a lot of times, yeah, nonprofit staffers are in such intense role compression. So, you know, for those folks that aren't, you know, telling stories right now, What are some things they can do to get started with their storytelling?

Olivia: Absolutely. I would say that one way to get started is even if a nonprofit thinks they might not have any stories, like, you know, over the years potentially there've been emails that have come through about like how much, you know, a sponsor enjoyed sponsoring an event or a volunteer enjoyed volunteering, you know, on a Saturday afternoon, things like that. So it's first of all possible that you actually have as a nonprofit stories lying around at different places. Maybe you've received a letter or, you know, and oftentimes these different pieces of content are kind of scattered about. Maybe they're all stuck in someone's inbox from eight months ago, two years ago, five years ago, you know, but really shining a light on that content today. Like even if it's a letter from five years ago, I mean, it's still completely relevant to the work that you're doing. So that's definitely part of our GoodSeeker platform as we want to really take all that content and bring it to the surface and have it super easily packageable for a nonprofit to send out in their newsletter, send it to LinkedIn, etc. So I would say the first step is to really take a magnifying glass and kind of go through what you think you might already have. And then after that, step two would be to, think about as a nonprofit, think about your annual goals for the year. Think about what you're aiming to do and really ensure that your, we like to call it storytelling strategy is aligned with your strategy as a nonprofit. So for example, if your goal is to gain more sponsors in 2024, maybe really receiving and asking, we like to call, we can request a story within the GoodSeeker platform. or you can if you're involved in the platform, request a story from your three current sponsors to maybe story prompts could include something along the lines of like, “why are you a sponsor for our nonprofit?” Like ” what drives you to continue to support us”, etc. And asking those questions and receiving those answers could then allow you to receive more sponsors this year.

Sarah: That's awesome. Yeah, one of the things I was just thinking is, I always try to look at what are you already doing that with a little bit of a tweak can help move something in a different direction. I was just thinking for nonprofits that are doing exit interviews with their clients, so if somebody is graduating from a program, maybe they're filling out an evaluation form, you could actually just add a line, we'd love to hear your story if you're willing to share it. That's like one little thing you could do. And then also, I love the idea of getting people in the habit of like, you know, we all have our little swipe files, right? So one of the things my team has had to train me to do is I'll get these compliments from people like, Oh my gosh, that was the best webinar ever, blah, blah. And I, they have now trained me to forward that email to them so they can put it in our little repository. So I was thinking of something like nonprofits could do with their staff. Just say, if you ever hear a compliment, get an email, get a letter, a card, like put it here or give it to this person who is like the keeper of the story repository because I guarantee that staff have heard a million beautiful things or already have stories to tell, you know, especially the people who are. on kind of like what I call in the trenches jobs where they're the ones delivering the service or helping coordinate the transportation for people. They hear the stories, or giving out food in the food pantry. Like whatever it is you're doing, those frontline workers are probably hearing stories all the time. They just haven't been trained to like take that story. And even if it's just on a voice memo on their phone, oh, you know, Shirley and her family came by today Shirley was crying because this is the first time she ever heard about the food pantry and been there. And she sent her kids to bed hungry before. And so like, she was actually moved to tears that we were here to help her. Okay, great, voicemail that 30 seconds. And you now have a story that somebody else can flesh out. So yeah, I love that.

Olivia: It's beautiful. Yeah, and we love to call GoodSeeker a story bank. because the platform itself is nice, but if you don't have anything in it, it's not really gonna be helpful. But the more stories you add to the bank, the more you can then withdraw all the stories and bundle them together. For example, all the stories that showcase creativity or education, you can show those together to a potential board member, donor, things like that. And I also love what you said about voice memos too because within the platform, we make it really easy to do videos, voice the text. text format and something I've learned too from talking with a lot of nonprofits is oftentimes there's you know a communications director let's say and some nonprofits who they're doing the story the storytelling for a volunteer like there and you can do that of course like call volunteer get their story etc and that's definitely like a helpful way to go but in this case you know sending a link out saying hey here submit your story here where you're actually allowing the volunteer to like write their own story, tag the tags that they think are relevant to their stories and the questions and tags that are included within GoodSeeker. It's all customizable, but are things like, you know, what skills are showcased in this story? What skills did you learn? How does the story make you feel? You know, you can add media, things like that. Even you could say what are some of the challenges within the story. So anyway, it's really, it's nice to be able to take that pressure off of like that, let's say communications director to do all the work and actually to ask, you know, volunteer, Hey, we want to hear your voice. We want to hear your story from you.

Sarah: That's amazing. So, excuse me, I have to confess that I'm not familiar with your platform. So I'm just wondering if you could explain to everybody like how does GoodSeeker work? And by the way, I'm not getting any money for this. This is just curiosity and a connection with Olivia. So FYI, I wish I was getting paid, but I'm not.

Olivia: Oh, you're great. Yes. Okay. Of course. Good seeker. So I actually started working at GoodSeeker in June of 2020. So I've been there for almost four years, which is wild to me. Time has flown by and having such a great time. And, um, essentially GoodSeeker is a storytelling platform. We are a story bank that easily allows organizations to centralize, collect, and share content. And we have features such as, yeah, request a story campaigns, where you can basically build a story campaign. For example, there's one organization we're working with and they're running a campaign to collect like recipes from some of the clients they're working with because they're doing like a big like cookout fundraiser. So they're doing that. So, Yep, story campaigns, story builders, where you can organize these stories. Basically what we learned is, you know, if you get like a Facebook comment or a LinkedIn comment or a letter, like again, like these pieces of content are floating around and maybe like one person has access to all the letters in their desk or something like that. But really GoodSeeker allows the content to be accessible to everybody on your team, be super easily shareable and packaged and really used to help your organization grow.

Sarah: That's amazing. I actually used to have a Manila file folder. I know I'm dating myself where I would keep like any cards or letters that people had sent about, you know, the work I was doing. And when I was having a crappy day, I would just open that file and read those letters and cards and be like, okay, this is why I do this work, you know? So now we can do it digitally and the whole staff can have access.

Olivia: Exactly. Yeah, and it's been a huge learning process. You know, when I first started a good seeker, we were very much like a, like just starting out startup type thing. And we were really working with companies actually to help to help, you know, our CEO, Eric Harris, he started good seeker because he was the CMO at a company and then was put in charge of recruiting. And basically, he was like, how do I do that? And so he asked his, yeah, the coworkers like, hey, like what do you like about working here? He wrote that down on a piece of paper and just like gave it to everybody. And people, you know, wrote down what they liked about it. And then he was like, where does this content go? How can I like make this more organized? And so that was kind of the initial beginnings of GoodSeeker. And so we were using, you know, we were pitching GoodSeeker for helping companies with recruiting and marketing and branding. And we still do that. We still work with companies, but about a year ago. we've really transitioned to focusing in to help nonprofits with fundraising, visibility, marketing, calls to action, like getting folks to volunteer more, etc. So it's been super eye-opening and just wanted to share full disclosure. We're relatively new to the nonprofit space, but we've really, really loved being part of it. I love talking with nonprofits and every nonprofit has such a different use case. Of course, as you talked about with bandwidth, I know that nonprofits' bandwidth are usually small. And that's also why we love to go above and beyond with our platform. We're not just like, hey, use this platform, sign up. Okay, bye. See you later. That's not what we do at all. A nonprofit signs up for GoodSeeker. We go in, customize the GoodSeeker platform to make it totally on brands. We put in your logos. We look at your mission and values. We make sure that the tags are correlated to your specific values. Make sure that the cover photos, etc, everything is very, very branded to your organization. Then we walk through it with you, and of course we share some ideas as far as story campaigns that you can start based off of the challenges that you might share within the meeting. And then we really like, we're here to hold your hand the whole time. So, you know, we encourage you to, you know, maybe send 10, let's say 10 volunteers a link to share their story. And really, like, it's amazing how it's amazing how the response, the response that we've seen from, you know, an organization asking volunteers for stories, and the amount of stories they'll get back, for example, we're working with Hope Shelters in Michigan, which is a homeless shelter. And actually we begun kind of offering storytelling as a service a little bit. We're, we're definitely a platform. We're not really a service, but in their case, like we're like, Hey, listen, we want to ask for stories for you. We want to take that task off of your plate. We know you're so, so busy and we want to help you. So, Hey, if you want to just give us like 10 email addresses, like, I think it was 20, 20 email addresses, 20 volunteer names. We're actually just going to basically create like a, you know, like three emails that'll blast out to remind people to share their story. And in two weeks, I think they got like 13 stories.

Sarah: Wow. That is amazing.

Olivia: Yeah. Volunteers are eager to share.

Sarah: Yeah. And I just love that, you know, just be like, come to the pool. We're going to teach you how to swim. And then you give them one swimming lesson and like shove them in the deep end. Right.

Olivia: Not at all.

Sarah: Yeah. I know. I just, I think that's so important because. when you're trying to learn a new habit, you don't need this hurdle of trying to figure out. You look at the software and then you're like, okay, great. Now what? So I think it's great that you're there initially to really help them learn how to use the platform effectively. So that's amazing. So I do have a question about the platform. I was just wondering, so does the platform automatically connect to their social media platforms or is that... or a scheduler of some sort? I'm just wondering if that is one of the features.

Olivia: Sure, that's a great question. So when I go in and customize the account, I make sure that all the social media handles are at the bottom of your GoodSeeker page. And then as far as connecting to socials, basically, you know, if you receive a story, you wanna share it to LinkedIn, there's an easy share button that allows you to share it directly. You can click LinkedIn, and it'll go to your LinkedIn profile on your computer. And then it just almost looks like a blog post, like a blog post would look if you share that on LinkedIn. And then you can write a LinkedIn caption and things like that. Similarly on that note, I just wanna mention briefly as far as when a nonprofit receives stories, there is a process where a nonprofit can approve of the story. So it's not automatically public. There's a internal private view of the GoodSeeker page for an admin to look at. And then there's a public GoodSeeker storyboard where the admin of the nonprofit approves, okay, these five stories, I've seen them, I know what they say, I'm going to approve them to be public so that they can be shareable to social platforms or our newsletter, etc.

Sarah: Yeah, yeah, that I think that's so important because, you know, you need that filtering mechanism for, because some people are going to overshare or share things that maybe need some editing.

Olivia: Yeah, totally.

Sarah: Yeah, so that's really great that you make it that easy and that there is that internal control. The other thing that I run into sometimes, so I often have my clients do these quarterly story postcards, where on one side, it'll be a photo of a client and then on the other side is kind of like, here's what was going on when they came to us, here's what we did, here's the end result. And all we do is we just put the URL on there. We don't even ask for a donation, but you can tell when those hit the mail cause the donations go. So to me, like stories are a straight arrow to the heart and philanthropy means love of mankind. And so when we can see, you know, we've got these big overwhelming issues like hunger or people who are unhoused or domestic violence. These are like huge, hairy, complicated issues. But I think when somebody can see like, oh, I could change that person's life or somebody changed that person's life, it's like, oh, I can make a difference because that's really what philanthropy is aimed at. We can't help the people that are showing up that are unhoused or hungry necessarily. but we can give money to organizations that we trust to do that job for us. And so I think the story just goes straight to the heart, because we all wanna know each other's stories. When we first meet somebody new, we wanna know, oh, what's your job? What do you do when you're not at work? Do you have kids? Do you have pets? Like, where do you live? Did you go to Clark? Like, right? But like those are all ways that we connect as humans to each other and so I think the stories play that role, but one of the things that I've run into when I suggest doing client stories is Sometimes the folks working at the nonprofit feel like that's exploitation so I'm wondering if you could address that issue because I don't think it's exploitation But I'm wondering what your take is on it.

Olivia: Absolutely. So the topic of ethical storytelling is one that's definitely super relevant right now. I feel like there's a lot of blog posts and circulation on that topic and it is a really important topic. I think that one of the ways in which GoodSeeker addresses that is kind of what I touched upon earlier, where it's not having somebody like from your nonprofit writing a story for someone else for them and really illuminating their words and their voice. I think that in itself is huge because I think one of the issues or things that sometimes an organization can run into is kind of like saying something for somebody when that's not really what they were saying. And I think that's part of some of the things that can, can potentially get messy. I do think that, you know, the types of questions asked. So within the platform, one of the ways in which we customize it is we come up with like 10 different story prompts for you to ask guests, which is like people outside of your organization. And then sometimes nonprofits also want to use GoodSeeker to ask questions, you know, to their staff. So that's more we call as user stories and user story prompts. So we are more than happy to come up with those story prompts to share. But again, like we always carefully craft those prompts because the way in which, especially to like a client that an organization is working with, the way in which you ask that story prompt or that question, you definitely want to be mindful and intentional and, you know, limit like triggering questions, etc. So, I think with GoodSeeker, the fact that you can customize the story prompt and edit and change it and, and really like make sure that the question you're asking, Is one you're asking carefully is another way in which we help provide a platform that fosters ethical storytelling.

Sarah: That's really good to know This is quite a while ago, it was a decade ago I was working with a women's organization and we completely rebranded and revamped everything and they were definitely creating what I would call snooze letter So everything was focused in the past on what had already happened. It was like black and white photos and it was maroon and like, you know, very small font. And it was kind of a slog to get through it. And you weren't really learning anything that was inspiring or motivating. And so we decided we were gonna do a woman's story every edition. So it's like a quarterly newsletter. And so the way we did it was we interviewed the woman, because I mean, unless they wanted to write it themselves, which we were totally open to, but we would sit down and do a one-on-one interview. And we made sure that they knew that this was not an obligation, that they only were gonna disclose whatever they were comfortable with, that we were not interested in, you know, doing what some people might call poverty porn, you know, which is exploitive. We really just wanted people to see that, you know, women from all circumstances can end up in these situations. So we would write the story and then we would give it to them to review. And then we'd have a second meeting with them and we'd say, how do you feel about the story? What do you, you know, is there anything you want us to change? And then we would make the edits if we, they wanted them and give it back to them again. And then we would, so obviously this would take a while. But then we would sit down with them for a third and final time for approval. And then we said, you know, well, this is going to final, you know, to the person who organizes the newsletter, the graphic designer in like 10 days. So just so you know, you still have time and very rarely did a woman come back and say, no, I want you to pull my story. That did happen once. So we were really, really glad that we had that extra breathing room, but It was such a collaborative process and what we found was that the women were really eager to tell their stories and that they wanted to show other women If I can do this, so can you and so to which I hadn't really thought about but they felt like they were helping other women by sharing their own story and I was like, oh, that's so beautiful, you know, we were just trying to like motivate people to like continue to support the mission of this organization and um so it was really rewarding to help them help other women you know and that was just something I hadn't anticipated so it was one of those things like if you really sit down and you're kind of in this relationship with them then you learn some things that you don't always know so that was really heartwarming to me.

Olivia: Thank you for sharing. That is really heartwarming. And also on that note, again, with GoodSeeker, as far as privacy goes, when, you know, let's say a client submits a story, names can be edited. So the admin can edit those names can also edit the name of the storyteller. So for example, if the storyteller decides, hey, I want to be anonymous, like that's totally fine. Like that's doable within the platform. And then also even just what you shared as far as like that process goes of the back and forth, with GoodSeeker that would be a lot easier because it you know, they submit their story send it back say hey this is what it looks like. Like here's the format, here's what it says, like is this good with you? And then they say hey, yeah, it works for me or maybe you show them on a screen or however you want to show, or a phone, we also have like a mobile app mobile platform version of the software. So so yeah, so there's definitely easy ways to kind of do that editing process. And the admin too, like for example, let's say, storyteller tags two of your values, but like the admins like, oh, actually I see the story really illuminating this other value. There's backend tags that an admin can add. So that way going through the stories later on, they can kind of search, easily searchable. That's the goal. It's a library of stories, really.

Sarah: That's amazing. Yeah, and I love the fact that there's these values “hashtags” because I think so many times we forget to kind of verbalize our organizational values, and yet it's really around those shared values that your donors and your volunteers are drawn to you. So I think that's a brilliant addition around the values.

Olivia: Thank you. Yeah, walking the talk. I mean, because so many of your organizations are like, oh, yeah, these are our values, this, and that. creativity, learning, education. But then if you have the stories, we like to say like you're story proof. You can literally prove that you walk the talk with those values because you have 20 stories showcasing those values. I mean, it really like sets you apart from other nonprofits.

Sarah: Yeah, I will have to go back and check because we've been making some changes to my website, but I'm pretty sure I have my story on my website, which is like when I was little, I was four years old. I lived in upstate New York where the Iroquois, the Mohawk had previously been. And of course, we chased them right out of there. Not me personally, but you know. And I dug up arrowheads in my backyard and I went in the house and I said, you know, ask my dad, what are these things? And I don't have any recollection of this, but this is a story that's been passed down over the decades. Apparently whatever he told me made me so angry that I got on the kitchen chair and started yelling at my parents, like, you can't take this house, you have to give it back. That's not right. And I was like, had my hands on my hips and was just like going off on them. And I guess, yeah, I guess in my little four-year-old head, I thought my parents had literally taken the house we were living in from the Indians because I didn't, you know, four years old, what do I know about Native Americans and history? And anyway, so like, That is the same passion that I have now around nonprofits and equity and access. But it's just so funny because sometimes when people hear that story, they're like, oh, now we totally get why you are the way you are. Like, pop out of the womb like this. But yeah, I just, yeah.

Olivia: Thank you for being so passionate.

Sarah: Yeah, oh, I have been passionate for a long time. Oh yeah, I was always that kid in elementary school. who would like stick up for the kid who was getting bullied or if a teacher was ignoring a student, I would be like the one who would say, Mrs. So-and-so, Paul has a question, you know? And yeah, I remember one time…

Olivia: I did that too, yeah.

Sarah: Yeah, there were a couple of times where I got sent out to the hall to cool down because I was apparently getting so riled up.

Olivia: You did, yeah, so intimate. I mean, we need people like you, like the fiery people who are just like ready to, ready to make a change, ready to make it happen. And I mean, I'm so grateful that we've connected because I love listening to your episodes and love reading your content and hearing your story. And it's just amazing.

Sarah: Aw, thank you. Yeah. So what other kinds of things should people think about or do to amp up their storytelling? And then how do you see that storytelling impacting fundraising in terms of like ramping up revenue?

Olivia: Absolutely. So I was actually I tuned into your most recent episode number 22 on luck and I loved your connection to St. Patrick's Day. Yeah, so beautifully done. And I know you mentioned data and CRMs and I do think touching upon that and that the relation to storytelling and data is something that would be of interest. So we actually just posted a recent blog post on this topic. And essentially what we've learned and what we've, you know, what we've seen is your CRM has a lot of data connected to the question of who to ask for stories. So for example, if you see, you know, a donor just increased their monthly, you know, giving them out by $100, that's a story, you know, like, what made them do that? Why are they interested in continuing to support you? I feel like as far as your story antennas can go off and be like, wait a second, that's really amazing. Or you see that a donor referred you to someone else who's now giving $10 a month, they're like that's a story. So really kind of seeing, or maybe there's someone who used to volunteer once a month and now they're volunteering once a week, that's a story. That data is really valuable and really reviewing that and then making sure that you say to yourself like, Oh, that's a great, that's a great, uh, time there's, there's basically like height times where you can ask for stories from, from people, especially if they increase engagement and involvement. And of course, I think that's also when they want to be asked for their story too, because they're getting more involved on their own behalf.

Sarah: Yeah. I love that idea of using your CRM to find people whose stories would be worth highlighting. I would have never thought of that so thank you for that genius idea. And you're so right. And it is the perfect time because if I just up to my giving and you didn't notice that, first of all, that's gonna make me feel like I'm not being seen. But also if you do come to me and say, hey, we notived that you gave up, you know, joined our monthly donor club or whatever, what made you do that? First of all, you get a story. But also now that you've come back to me and made me feel special because of what I just did, I'm going to do more of that because when we do good things for other people, volunteering, holding the door, like making a donation, making a contribution, volunteering like all those things, it releases dopamine in our brains, which is the happy chemical, right? And so subconsciously, you want people to associate being involved with you with feeling good. Because we all chase those behaviors that make us feel good, right? Whether that's, you know, on the downside, the chocolate or whatever. But it can also be people who make us feel good, activities that make us feel good. And so I love this idea of like using stories at the right time with the right people to deepen their engagement, and secure them as a, you know, take them from being like just a donor to a fan and then from a fan to like a super fan, right?

Olivia: Exactly, and like showing your thanks and like showing that gratitude, hey, thank you so much. We just saw that you increased your giving amount. We're so thankful for you. Like we'd love to hear. like why you decided to continue to support us that have done like that gratitude element is so key too.

Sarah: Yeah. And the other thing that I'm just thinking about now is you could look at your donor database and see who are the people who have been giving to you the longest. Because there are people who maybe they're giving you $25 a year or $50 a year, $100 a year, but maybe they've been giving you for like 10 years. There's a story there. Why would somebody hang, right?

Olivia: Absolutely.

Sarah: Yeah. And so a lot of times, there are people who are kind of, I call them sleeping giants, right? These are the people who are giving to you quietly, but it's not enough so that it's going, oh, these are high-end donors. They may not be high-end donors, but they're loyal as anything. And so looking for that donor loyalty, and it's also a good lesson for us in what drives donor loyalty at your organization. So if you get these stories from your long-term donors, you might learn something that then you can use to turn your shorter-term donors into long-term donors. So it's like multiple layers.

Olivia: Totally,And maybe you realize that maybe like the reason people are donating is because of X reason and you realize, oh, on our website, that's actually that's not even really highlighted in like what we do. And that's actually the reason people love giving to us. So you can really like learn so much. And another point I'll share as well is there's actually a lot of data within the GoodSecret platform, too. So there's a data component of like how many how many views has this one story gotten that we shared on LinkedIn? How many clicks? I haven't emphasized this enough, but. Within GoodSeeker, of course, like collecting and receiving a story is huge. But then also the next step that's even huger is that call to action component. So essentially when you land on a GoodSeeker story, you know, let's say a donor reads that story feels really moved. There's actually a call to action button within that story that pops up completely customizable. You can send them to wherever you want, but usually it's a donation button or a button about your latest fundraiser happening April 1st or, you know, or, and it would be volunteer event, etc. And you can actually track like who's clicking on or like how many clicks like the donate button has received and learning. Wow, we got $20 from this story, which is huge.

Sarah: Yeah, that's amazing. And you know, I'm a big, huge fan of data driven fundraising. So let's And I know, you know, me in culpa, I've been in the field 35 years, and I used to use the ‘throw the spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks’ strategy, right? Not effective. But over the years, I've learned that when I use data to inform the strategies and inform the outreach and inform the marketing, the results are so much better. The ROI is so much better. So I love that idea of like checking on how did this story resonate, who did it resonate with because some of us might have different pools of donors. So I know this one organization I was working with, their donors were primarily women over 60 and then a smattering of women in their 40s and 50s. And I'm like, Um, we need to reach down into the generations because, you know, these donors over 60, you know, just by the nature of being human have an expiration date on them. We need to like build our, what do they call that in baseball when you've got your farm team, right? So it's like we have to, we have to build the farm team. And so it really informed this whole strategy that we developed about where are women hanging out, right? So within the geographic territory of kind of the organization's reach, which we again used our CRM to figure out where was the bulk of the contributions coming from. And of course they were coming from Worcester, but yeah, it was a, you know, Worcester-based organization. And then, you know, some of we really started looking at where are women hanging out. So what events do we need to be at to increase visibility. We ended up organizing a 5K because we knew that was gonna draw in younger people. And that was a great way to start engaging. And then we had to make sure not only did we have that event and we did some other events like there was a fashion show that we did at, you might know where Ralph's is, right?

Olivia: Yeah, that's of course Ralph's, love that place.

Sarah: Yeah, so we had a, and that also drew in a younger crowd, but we started really thinking strategically about what are the things that we can do to engage younger women. And so that was all good, but if we hadn't had a clear follow-up strategy to keep those people engaged. You don't want somebody like you don't want to all go to all the trouble of Organizing a 5k, which is a massive undertaking. I have a say now…

Olivia: Massive.

Sarah: Massive, like, we’ve involve the local police, the state police, get the permit blah3x. It was a lot and I'm really grateful that we had three women who were you know runners and participated in a lot of 5k's and had connections in the running world, and they were connected to running clubs, I didn't even know there were such things as running clubs, but anyway. Yeah. So the event was a massive undertaking and it was extraordinarily successful. And we didn't want the people to just show up to that event and then walk away, right? We had done way too much work to allow that to happen. And so we had a very clear. follow-up plan for both the 5K and also the fashion show, because we didn't want to lose any ground or momentum that we had built. So I think that's one of the beautiful things about looking at who's responding to your story, and then you can track it back into your CRM even, and see if there's a certain demographic that's responding to your stories most frequently. And then that becomes your donor avatar. And then you could figure out where more of those people are hanging out. So I think it's just such a cool…

Olivia: Oh, I love that.

Sarah: Yeah. So I just think it's a really cool way to like integrate it, you know, using the CRM and the stories and looking at who's responding to your stories. And I'm also really, really glad to hear that you have a call to action because that's one of the things I think. Really falls flat with this nonprofit social media outreaches, like, this is great, but now you've captured my attention, do you want something from me? Or you already mean like, I have the dopamine hit, what would you let you know, so whether it's a petition or some advocacy or donating or coming to an event. I actually just got a DM from a nonprofit today inviting me to their upcoming event. And I thought that was really smart. So they're apparently they're going into everybody that follows them on social media and is issuing a personalized invitation. Cause I got it on both Facebook and Instagram and I follow them.

Olivia: Oh, very cool.

Sarah: I was like, well, that's a smart idea.

Olivia: Yeah. Definitely. Yeah. And, and too, I think it's, you know, It's interesting to think about the different types of stories that, you know, that organizations can collect. So I thought maybe I'll just share some ideas. For example, anniversaries, 20th anniversary, 25th anniversary, huge, great time to collect stories and ask, you know, uh, about how your organization has, you know, been through, been in someone's life or maybe someone's just gotten connected to the organization and there's just a lot of great story prompts surrounding anniversaries. fundraising events that are taking place in person, like I mentioned the cook-off or cookbook event that's coming up. There's also spotlight stories. I mean, spotlighting a volunteer. GoodSeeker is great for having a spotlight series and having it really, really organized in that way. I know that Dress for Success Houston, which is a wonderful nonprofit we're working with, they wanted to specifically have a story campaign highlighting female veterans that are a part of their organization. So it's really great, again, to be able to shine a light on whether it's a specific sector of people who are connected to you or getting specific type, even the feedback. I mean, we work with this one solopreneur who shared with us, you know, I love being able to ask for a story when it's really like feedback about how she's doing, you know, for a nonprofit, I could say. Hey, you know, we'd love to hear feedback on how, you know, you thought this event went and that that's a story too. And I actually have this list in front of me, you know, sponsor impact stories, program impact stories, staff success stories, donor appreciation stories, you know, all those are all like really, really fantastic juicy content that you can collect and highlight. And lastly, something we recently started doing that actually kind of connects all the way back to your first question about how someone can start collecting stories today, is we are creating like GoodSeeker kits for the nonprofits we're working with, where we're essentially creating like a branded poster, branded postcards, branded business cards that all have to do with, let's say, Hope Shelters wants you to share your story. And then there's a QR code that can take anybody directly to the GoodSeeker, we like to call our story generator to specifically just input their story and send it off. And having that collateral, whether it's hanging it on the wall or at an event, maybe putting QR codes on every table, sharing your story. Maybe someone isn't gonna share their story at the event, or maybe after the event, or maybe during the event. But just again, having that ask in a lot of different places is really important.

Sarah: Yeah, I love that you're creating that kit because I think, you know, the more we can let people know that we do want to hear your stories and we do want to share your stories, the more stories we're going to get, right? Again, it's not just training our staff and our board to, you know, collect stories or volunteers. It's also training like the general public, like, hey, we are story collectors and we want to tell your story. Yeah, I think that's amazing. I love that idea. And I love that, you know, just give them an easy QR code because everybody knows pretty much how to do QR codes now, right?

Olivia: Sure, yes. And there is that component too. And we are very aware of, you know, some organizations work with folks who maybe aren't as digitally savvy. And that's okay too. And then in that way, you know, as far as storytelling as a service, either we on your behalf are open to calling volunteers and getting a story over the phone. And I type it up and then that can digitize it into the generator. Or if there is someone on your team who wants to do that with some volunteers, that's also totally great.

Sarah: I love that. Thank you. So I know we have a couple of people on air with us today. And I want to know if you have any questions for Olivia, you could drop them in the chat and she'll answer them. So we wanna make sure that you get your questions answered while we have her on the air with us.

Olivia: Thanks, Sarah.

Sarah: Yeah, so how do people get started with you?

Olivia: Absolutely, well, if someone wants to go to, all y'all, welcome on to You can book a demo with us and ee'd love to help on a call with you for 30 minutes, show you around, learn more about you, and then, or you can just really sign up today if you want. It's basically the way that our pricing works is it's $49 for two months of GoodSeeker. We wanna make it really accessible and easy. And essentially with the $49, we go in, customize your account, have a meeting with you, show you what we've done. 100% of it is done for you as far as set up and launch. And then during those two months, we really help you like just get like, it's like a rocket ship. Like we want you to just go flying and we wanna help you collect all the stories that we can so that you're just, stories are just flowing in. That's our goal and that's what we aspire to help you with. But if after those two months, you decide to not move forward for whatever reason, you do get to keep your stories forever. So there's no problem with that. And then if you do continue on past those two months, it's $129 per month. And then we also offer custom pricing plans, because once again, so many nonprofits have their unique use cases. And we have one nonprofit we're working with that's super excited about the video component to GoodSeeker. And I'll just briefly mention, they shared with us that a lot of their videos on YouTube have ads that run, of course, you know, before you watch their actual video, there's an ad, and they were really frustrated by the fact that the ad is so random, not connected to their values, not connected to anything that they do, and so they're working on basically making GoodSeeker very much a video library where they're gonna send people to watch their videos with no ads at all, which is super great, and we love that, they're so excited about that and they were like, you should talk about this more and more nonprofits. I mean, that is just gigantic. We were like, oh wow, we didn't even know that was as gigantic as it could be. So I'm sharing it with you now. And then from there, yeah, we just once again, continue to help you all the way. We continue to share ideas with you, we continue to check in with you. Obviously, we don't wanna annoy you, but like whether it's a monthly meeting or every other week meeting or whatnot, we're always here to share ideas and as I said, like the GoodSeeker kit, that's like a new idea as of, I think, two weeks ago or something. So we're always keeping it posted. Hey, can we help you with this? Hey, how's this going? Hey, we saw you got this incredible story. Congratulations, we're so excited for you.

Sarah: That's amazing. And I just wanna say what an incredibly reasonable price for everything you're providing. I was like, oh my God, this is gonna be hundreds of dollars a month, but it's so reasonable. And you know, the other thing is that you know, stories do make a huge difference in terms of the ROI you get on fundraising. And there are so many uses for a single story, you know, you could put it on social media, you could make it part of your however many appeals you send out a year, that could be a story for an appeal letter. It could be, you know, going out as part of your welcome kit to a new donor. So I'm a huge fan of doing a drip campaign for new donors to kind of, again, with this idea that you don't want somebody to walk in and give you money and then just leave, right? You want them to become a regular donor until it's like habitual for them to just, oh, of course we're going to give to this organization. So for me, like a drip campaign can be like a great way to keep them engaged and again, do this like, you know, post purchase affirmation that a lot of retailers have gotten really good at is, oh, you bought our product? Let us affirm that was the right choice. But affirming that they are a good person, they are a generous person, they are making a difference in the life of your organization, they are important to you. So just sending out like six to eight pieces of content over that many weeks, and integrating these stories into them. Who doesn't want to hear from a donor, a volunteer, a client, right? Like those are all things you can…

Olivia: Board members.

Sarah: Board members, right? Like this is why I volunteer my time and come sit at this table every month and, you know, do my thing. So, yeah, I just think, again, there's just so many different uses for these stories. And the fact that you have this amazing platform where people can collect stories, edit stories, post stories. It's like that all in one place instead of just having, oh, we're putting the stories in Dropbox and then we have this and now we have to figure out…

Olivia: Google Drive.

Sarah: Right, and Google Drive. And now we figure out who's gonna write the story and what's the photo that's going with the story. And blah3x, yeah, just, you know, cause the thing, you know, in a nonrofit sectors, people are spread so thin already. So the fact that you can collect all of this in one place with like so many different features, I think it's just amazing.

Olivia: Thank you. And we hope to, I mean, again, $49 for the first two months. Like we want you to raise $100 in those months and to pay for that, to pay for the story.

Sarah: Exactly.

Olivia: You know, like we want that to happen because again the correlation between stories and fundraising, they're so interlinked. And so it's really, it's wonderful to be really at the intersection of that and to be a software that can help nonprofits grow with both fundraising and stories.

Satah: Yeah, it's amazing. So I wanna thank you so much for joining us today and I am definitely signing up for GoodSeeker demo cause now my curiosity is peaked. Yeah, I'm super excited. Yeah, the platform sounds really cool and I love what it stands for because again, like we connect as humans to each other's hearts through our stories Right. So and you know that as a musician, right you connect to other human beings through your songs which a lot of times our stories.

Olivia: That's right. Exactly yeah, so many things are interwoven together and connected in such beautiful ways and And thank you so much for inviting me to be a special guest. Once again, I've so enjoyed chatting with you. Thank you for your questions, for your time. Thank you for those who've tuned in today. I'm just so excited about it all.

Sarah: Great, well, thank you so, so much. And when we send out the transcript to our email list, we'll definitely have the link to GoodSeeker in there so people can find it really easily. Thanks again for being with me and sharing all this amazing information with us. And I'll be back in two weeks with another episode. And thanks for joining us today. Bye, everybody.

Olivia: Thank you.

Thanks for tuning in. I'll be back in two weeks with another episode. Got topics you want me to cover? Organizations you want me to showcase? Let me know. Also, I'm here to help you revolutionize philanthropy at your nonprofit. If you wanna talk about what that looks like, drop me an email.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}


Have a specific question for me or my team? Send us a message and we'll get back to you as quickly as possible - usually within 24 to 48 hours (not including weekends).