In this episode, we’re happy to have Devin Miller! Devin loves startups, he runs his own patent and trademark law firm to help startups and small businesses. He has also worked with a number of non-profits over the past few years, so needless to say, Devin knows a thing or two about marketing and protecting and organization’s brand.
David: Welcome to the Non-profit Digital Success Podcast. I’m your host, David, and today I’ve got Devin Miller on the show, allow me to introduce him.
Devin loves startups, he runs his own patent and trademark law firm to help startups and small businesses. He also founded his first startup while earning his law and MBA degrees for a total of four degrees. Since then he founded several seven and eight figure startups and enjoyed every minute of it. He’s worked with a number of non-profits over the past few years, needless to say, Devin knows a thing or two about marketing and protecting and organization’s brand.
Devin, thanks so much for joining me on the show today.
Devin: Absolutely excited to be here. And I’m looking forward to a great conversation.
David: So let’s dive in, you know about guerilla marketing. How can a non-profit break into a new market that they might be thinking of expanding into or increase visibility in their current niche that they’re targeting with guerilla marketing?
Devin: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s a broad question and we could take it a lot of directions. I mean, a non-profit I would look at is, you know, we worked with some and it was interesting.
I was just talking with one the other day that’s with the non-profit in the arts that is actually helping people that are on the oncology unit for hospitals and actually for adults and providing some activities. So they have a lot of activities for kids, they tend to not have a lot for the adults. And so they actually do quite a bit there, and it’s an awesome non-profit knows. I was talking with her and a lot of the, it seems like, you know, a lot of the things that apply for any business apply just as much for a non-profit.
In other words, we talked about the failure rates and you know what, the failure rates for a non-profit are about the same as for startup or a small business.
When you look at, you have to have a sustain, you know, do your competitor analysis. In other words, everybody wants to do a non-profit. There’s a whole bunch of non-profits doing the same thing in your area, as what you’re doing, just like any other business is going to be hard to compete for those donation dollars. You know, if you look at making it a sustainable model, in other words, you have to just like a business, go out and sell, in non-profits you have to go out and sell.
And even just like a non-profit, you know, or for-profit businesses when you’re looking at intellectual property, a lot of non-profits have a great brand. They look at making sure that everybody knows their name. They have to do marketing, they have to do sales. You want to protect that brand. And so to a large extent, other than how you do it in the accounting and how you sometimes pay, which is, you know, sometimes how you have to do compensation of it differently, which is set up different.
Otherwise I think most of the same business, their logic and business rules apply to a non-profit just as much as any other business, because you have to make it sustainable and you have to make it something that people are willing to support.
David: Yeah. And it’s come up in a number of other podcast episodes. Also, non-profit doesn’t mean no profit, right? You need to still be out there in order to push your mission further. You need to have those dollars to be able to do that. And you have your staff. Yeah, you know, a lot of non-profits have volunteers, but you have to have paid staff as well if you want to be able to grow your organization and help more people in your community.
Devin: Yeah. And I think that’s absolutely right. You know, a lot of times people think, “well, not for profit, that means it doesn’t make any money”. Well, to a degree, that’s true in the sense that a normal firm or normal business, you can have bonuses. You have end of year dividends. You have those type of things, which are different than not-for-profit. But on the other hand, people can still be paid, and that was, I mean, circling back just to the same example, talking about how, “Hey, well, the person that founded the business didn’t take a salary for three years”. They paid every artist that came in and did stuff at the hospitals because they wanted to make sure that those artists were very talented. They had to make a living.
And so there’s still salaries are still management of, you know, how many, or how much donations or other income you have in. It’s a lot of times like a for profit, other than you’re not doing dividends, you’re not necessarily publicly owned or having some stock, but you still have to treat it. Like, we have to be a profitable business that makes money. Otherwise, just like any other business, you don’t, you go under
David: Exactly. So back to guerilla marketing, what is it that you think non-profits could do to leverage that?
Devin: Yeah. I mean, I would say almost again, I feel like I’m beating a dead horse, so to speak, but there’s a lot of the similarities when they start up for a small business, which is, you know, as they, opposed to a large business is already a well-established brand. You know, they have their own type of brand, when you’re doing, whether it’s a non-profit or startup, especially non-profit, it’s a lot about stories, right. In other words, you’re having to relay why your story matters.
And so, you know, I’ll just keep with the same line. The one that we went to work with the hospital, they had a story where she was 13 and basically had some cancer and other things that she had to get treatment for all of high school. And she went through the program as a kid, and then she went back to volunteer her time at the hospital for adults and found that they didn’t have the program that she thought they should.
So started up for non-profit, got it going there. That’s all the story, right. I’m just using that example, but there’s a story behind it. And yet the story is the most, you know, one of the most powerful things.
And so if you’re looking to do a lot of real marketing, you have to make sure you have a mission or a story, especially for non-profit where you’re saying, this is the reason why this matters. Because as opposed to a normal consumer product, which you’re paying for a good, you’re paying for a service, you get something for what you’re paying for.
With a non-profit, typically is donating. You’re supporting a cause. You’re supporting a service and guess what? You don’t get that physical or a tangible service or a tangible product. Now you may have other benefits. You feel good, you’re supporting it.
It may be near and dear to your heart, but it has to be a story that resonates. And so I think when you’re getting that kind of guerilla marketing, the first thing you have to do is nail down your story, nail down why it matters. What is that story? What is that brand? And how you’re different than the other non-profits are out there.
The other one that I think as far as guerilla marketing is you have to look to differentiate yourself. Cause there’s still a, you know, you think, “oh, well, I can start non-profit and people would donate, and that kind of stuff”. There’s a lot of non-profits out there, and a lot of people trying to solve a lot of issues. Hunger in schools, hunger in general, homelessness, cancer, you take, you know, and then there’s missing climate change. whichever side of the aisle you’re on with climate change. You can take, you know, energy, you can take all of the beautification of natural resources, and you go down the list and there’s a lot of times buying for it.
And so if you don’t have that story, it doesn’t breakthrough. But I think after you establish that story, then it’s much easier to utilize that story in the social media, whether it’s LinkedIn, if it’s more on the business side and you’re trying to go to B2B or you’re trying to figure out, is it direct to consumer?
The last thing I’ll add, and then I’ll take a break, is that I think you have to also define your core market, which a lot of times, I think if you’re a normal business, you tend to say, okay, who is the person that’s going to buy the product. When you’re a non-profit a lot of times you just say, “well, we’re just going to go and anybody that will donate, we want to take their money type of thing, because that helps the cause”, which is true, but there is still a core audience.
In other words, let’s say that you wanted to go and address climate change versus you wanted to go and take beautification of it, versus you wanted to go and change the legal system. All those are not going to be the same people that may donate to the cause because while people are charitable in general, they typically give to the causes that are most near and dear to them. So you still have to figure out who those people are that are willing to donate similar to as if you’re trying to sell product, you need to know who your consumer is.
David: Yeah. I think, you know, in terms of what you just said, there’s a lot of really great bits in there.
You know, identifying the unique sales proposition, the USP for the organization is really, really key. And then finding 1, 2, 5, 30 stories that can really evoke emotion, that’s tied around that to connect with the people that you’re trying to get money from, or even get volunteers to help with the cause.
People like to give to causes that are near and dear to them and being able to help them understand how you help and how you solve a specific problem. Just like a business does, right?
Like Tesla, they want to solve the gas crisis with cars, right? That’s one of their things that they’re going for. That’s why they produce electric cars and all that type of thing. Whether you believe in electric cars or not, it doesn’t really matter. That’s their goal, right, is to help solve this energy crisis. And that’s what they’re tied around, that’s why people buy their vehicles, right?
It’s the same thing for a non-profit. What is it that you do? How can you help? Why do you help? And how can other people participate either financially or with their time? And I think it’s really key to be able to make that connection and stories are one of the easiest and best ways to do it.
Devin: No, absolutely. I mean, and I think that you almost hit on something is sometimes we almost dived into how to do it as a non-profit. Sometimes you look and say, should we be a non-profit or not? In other words, you can be a poor profit business and still have a mission.
I like Elon Musk for some of the eccentricities he has, a lot of what he is doing is he thinks that there needs to, we need to have an ability to not just live on the earth and we need to be able to diversify into other planets. And so if something were to ever happen to the Earth or human populations and wiped off, so you look at electricity, well that’s as much you need to if you were to go to there’s some other world.
Take Mars, an example, you need electricity, you need to have spaceships, which is why you got into spaceships.You need to have drilling, you need to have- and all these things now, whether or not you agree with him or whether or not you think he’s a bit crazy, but you like his product. There’s at least that mission and his is a completely for-profit business, but he’s doing, he’s still working towards a mission.
Another one that I always like is there’s FlexWatches and they have a, you know, they have different colored watches that are for different types of causes you can buy and you buy a blue watch for one and a pink watch for another. Those are both for-profit businesses, and yet they have as much of a mission. So if you’re going to go to a non-profit you want to look and say, is that the best set or set up, or is that the best thing that I should be doing?
In other words, it may be better that you are a for-profit business and you run it like a business, you have a product, and then you’re able to accomplish your mission by donating.
Versus you just say “no, for this type of thing, it really doesn’t make sense to be a for profit business. We’re not going to go out and try and donate part of our causes or, you know, donate part of our profits. We’re going to run off with donations”. And I think making that determination and why you’re going to set it up oftentimes will make it set it up better for success because you can go both ways, and it does depend on what you’re trying to accomplish
David: A hundred percent, a hundred percent and, you know, taking it from the ethereal into the practice and bringing that down into actually producing something. How do you see how non-profits can leverage that in their websites?
Devin: Yeah. I mean, if I were to look at the website, you know, it’s a great place to have a footprint. In other words, it is getting harder and harder, you know, as opposed to maybe other conventionalism to break through on social media and other places to tell your full story.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t use those areas, social media, doing events and everything else, but you have a very limited amount of time and a limited amount of attention to capture a lot or to tell a lot of your story. So it’s usually a much more condensed short version of your story. And yet it’s, you know, you’re almost doing it as more of a teaser and yet the website is a place that you can fully embellish that. In other words, you can tell about what you’re doing, show stories from other people, show missions that you’ve accomplished, people you’ve impacted and all that, and you can do it in a much fuller thing.
So I think the website oftentimes builds a lot more of that trust. And so in other words, a lot of times with the short snippet, you’re just trying to grab attention in a good way that you’re trying to get them to be interested in your cause. And then you use your website a lot of times to leverage that trust.
In other words, you’re looking to make sure that now that I’m interested in what your cause is, “Hey, do I, is there transparency? Do I know where the money’s going?” Because sometimes it feels like for non-profits 5% actually go to the non-profits and 95% go to the people that are giving themselves a big salary and calling it a non-profit and others that are really great. They really do just use all or user resources in a very good way, but it’s hard to tell.
So transparency, building trust, building that story. And that’s a great place online that they can come and start to actually become more familiar if they’re not already.
David: Yeah. And you know, if you take a look at the cost, right, you can put out a mailing, you can put out direct mail, go to CanadaPost or a USPS and send out, you know, postcards to a certain area, your catchment area or whatnot, drive people back to your website instead of producing, let’s say a TV commercial, or a video that’s going to get pushed out and you’re paying for ad space on YouTube, right? You should still have really good quality video. Does it have to be, you know, Hollywood level quality? No. Should it be a little bit better than somebody just, you know, taking their cell phone and, and doing a video, probably.
But it’s a very effective way to tell your story, getting people through to the website and then you post your video on your site. I think you should also post it to social, if you don’t have a YouTube channel, you know, get it out there, because you’re going to get a whole bunch of views. YouTube is the number two search engine. A lot of people go there to search for things.
Anything you can produce, that’s educational will get more views. It’s about, I think 30% of YouTube traffic are educational type of videos. And you know, being able to leverage that, to draw attention to your brand and what you do as an organization, I think is really critical.
Devin: No, the one thing I think that you hit on is that geographic area. In other words, you are going to want to set it up probably a bit different if you’re saying, “Hey, I’m only in this local area”, you would probably going to advertise and do it a bit differently than if you’re trying to do a nationwide push. Both work and you have different organizations do it both ways.
But I think defining that, the other thing I would maybe slightly push back. I would agree with you on the video that you should, or if you can get the better quality you should, but it shouldn’t be a fear or another word. “Hey, because I don’t have a studio set up that has a nice microphone of perfect lighting. I’m just not going to do it at all until I get to that point”.I don’t think that that should be a gating factor.
In other words, if all you have is a cell phone and that’s how you’re going to start your mission, great start doing something to build your mission, to build your cause. Now as you get it up and going, you should certainly get it to be a bit better quality and try to improve it and further show that you build that trust.
But I think a lot of times people kind of have an all or nothing thing where it’s either gotta be very professional done up in quality or it’s nothing at all. And then they never get started and they never put out that content, which can certainly be beneficial to them. So I always think that getting started and then realizing there is a difference in quality and a better quality can have the higher trust and the higher likelihood that people are going to support the cause. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything in the meantime.
David: You definitely shouldn’t blow your budget on video production. I think there’s a time and place for it, a hundred percent. You know, something is better than nothing, getting started with it, I a hundred percent agree, take a video, get it up there and set that as like legacy content down the road and have a plan for producing a newer version of it. Maybe a more refined script from it. If you’re just like shooting it off the cuff, right. And then eventually kind of like archiving that out and replacing it with, with newer footage. I think it’s definitely a great plan for sure.
Devin: No, and I think that one of the other- you talked a little bit about guerilla marketing. If you’re looking to build a story, build a brand and otherwise leverage a lot of what you’re doing as what we’re doing right now with the podcast, the podcast is a great way. That’s the one I think is on the uptake that people are certainly liking to listen to it as you drive or as you’re otherwise out in the yard or doing things or going for a run. And if you can find an interesting angle to tell your story and to have consistent content, that’s another way. And then you don’t have, all you have to do is make sure you have a decent microphone if you’re not even doing the video, and then you don’t have to worry about as much of that content. It also gives it a bit more free flow.
Now, the caveat I give is you have to make sure that it’s consistent. A lot of times people will get five episodes into a podcast and then they run out of people or interesting topics or interesting guests, and then it doesn’t have that. But if you can kind of consistently, it’s another way to engage people that maybe is a lot of times underutilized.
David: I agree. And if anybody who’s listening to this is interested in getting started in podcasting, your best bet is to find a podcast to be a guest on and to start there and get some experience with it and, and go from there and see, you know, what works, what doesn’t work and, and so on.
But switching gears a little bit and I want to chat a little bit about branding. So as you know, a non-profit, NGO, community based organization, or charity, what should they consider in terms of protecting their brand?
Devin: Yeah. I mean, typically when you’re protecting your brand, there’s a couple areas that you might want to consider, which is trademarks and copyrights. And if you think of trademarks will really go towards the actual branding, in other words, name of the non-profit. If you have a product or in other words, you know, we mentioned like watches, or if you have other things that people are otherwise.
Let’s say you have a unique product, in other words, some of the cool ones you have, “Hey, we go down and we go to South America or we go to Africa and we support other people that make products. And then we come back to the US and sell them in order to support the non-profit”.
If you have a cool product, then you also can think about a product name. So product, name of the non-profit, name of products or services you’re offering, a catchphrase, something along those lines, those are all going to be under trademarks.
And now you think, “well, why would we want legal protection for a non-profit, we’re a non-profit we’re just doing or doing admission?” Of course, nobody’s going to rip that off and maybe less so, maybe people feel a little bit more morally obligated. On the other hand, its just like any other business, if you have a great brand, people are going to try and ride those coattails if they can, because they want to have that shortcut in order to get whether it’s their own non-profit or their own business going or anything else. And so you’re still going to want to protect that.
The other thing that you can consider is copyrights. Now copyrights go more towards creatives. So if you’re to think of a video, a book, a sculpture, a painting, a photo, something along those lines, that’s more on the creative side then you can protect those with copyright.
So let’s say you have a really great viral video that the people really catch fire. You may want to copyright that because it does give you that protection to control the video. Now you don’t always have to go out and sue everybody. You don’t have to go in, you know, otherwise, you know, if you try and shut people down, but it also gives you that ability to control.
So in other words, let’s say you don’t want, you have your brand or you have your copyright. You don’t want it to be tied with a given cause that is contrary to your cause. So if you’re on one side of, you know, an issue and you have people that are using on the other side of the issue you want to be able to control the narrative or control your story. You don’t want to leave it open to others. You don’t want people to go out and start a counter or a similar website that, or takes the opposite message of what you’re doing.
And so all of those things allow you to, when you get the trademark, you get the copyrights, you’re able to have that control.
So as you’re building the brand, even if you’re not looking to go out and sue everybody, because it’s not the same thing it’s made on the business side, you are able to control it so that you can make sure that your brand of your non-profit stays intact.
David: Yeah. And I think to that point, in terms of branding, I would hope that a lot of people that are listening to this understand the importance of having a unified and solidified brand and knowing the value of having a brand guide and brand standards documents.
And in terms of protecting their brand, like you just said, making sure that the efforts that they’re putting in the creativity, the time, the thought, and all of that was put into coming up with whatever, your example, like the viral video, right. That should be protected. That’s their IP, that’s their time and effort. Right?
So in terms of copywriting or trademarking or that type of thing, what, what would non-profits, or I guess any business or organization need to do in order to do that type of protection.
Devin: Yeah. And also, I definitely answered the question, you know, just to give you a couple examples of readily recognized brands that you are for non-profits, you think of United way, everybody knows the United Way. You think of Salvation Army, you think of St. Jude, you think of Habitat for Humanity. You think of YMCA, you think of, you know, Boys and Girls Club of America, all of those are brands that are all non-profits, and yet you readily recognize their brands and they want to, you know, those brands are saying, “I want to be able to control”
So if we want to do an initiative with someone else, great, we can do an initiative. Or if we want to license it or otherwise help people, we can, but it still gives you that ability to control. Now, as far as kind of what you need to get started, it’s really going to be about the same, whether you’re non-profit or for profit, in the sense you’re going to have to go through the same process of protecting your brand.
So typically the first thing you’re going to do is, whether it’s the copyright or the trademark. First, drill down to what is a core value or the core, you know, what is proprietary or where is the value of your non-profit? Is it in great content?
In other words, “Hey, maybe we have a name, people don’t recognize us, but we’re putting out great videos” or maybe, you know, you used to have some of the famous celebrities that all got together and would do songs with non-profits that would promote a cause.
And maybe you have a great song that’s really popular, and you’re going to want to protect that. So step back for a second and say, “Yes, we want to make sure we have the brand, we have the copyright, but what is the thing that is helping our non-profit the most? Is it the content we’re putting out? Is it the creatives that we’re putting out or is it more of the brand and people like the name and they like the title or like what we’re doing?”.
And so that’s what you first do. And so you identify what the thing is that you want to protect. And then from there, typically you’re going to want to go and see an attorney. I know that sounds like a self-serving answer, but I mean, that is the best way if you’re wanting to make sure if your intent is “we’re building a non-profit that is going to be sustainable, that’s going to go in the future”.
You’re going to want to take a few steps, just like setting up the non-profit, making sure that it’s legally done correctly, that you’re managing the funds correctly, that you’re otherwise staying in line with the government. You’re also going to want to make sure that you have your brand properly protected or your creatives such that you can make sure as you’re building it and growing it. And you’re helping more people that you’re able to also have that protection in place.
And so typically the easiest way is let’s say what you want to protect, whether figure out if it’s a copyright, the trademark, whether or not what it is that you want to copyright a trademark and then go to an attorney, talk through, ”this is what we’re doing, this is how we want to protect it”. And then walk you through the process of how to go about doing that.
David: And I think it’s important for brands, businesses and non-profits, to make sure that they do protect themselves. And like the worst thing that could possibly happen is you put a lot of time and effort into something to fight for whatever the cause is. And then somebody uses the same thing for their cause, and they end up, you know, poaching your donors really. So I think that’s maybe a little bit far-fetched and maybe like an extreme example, but, you know, it’s certainly something that’s possible.
Devin: Yeah. I mean, I think it can be everything from poaching, your donors, or even if they’re not intentionally trying to go out and get your donors, but they’re trying to get their own non-profit up for going. And they want you ride your coattails. In other words, they want to come and or play off of your brand, which has the same effect of it may poach your donors. Even at that, it can be that they start to control the narrative.
So let’s say you have a very polarizing type of a non for profit. In other words, you have a specific mission that some people on one side of the aisle are going to be very passionate about some people on the other side of the aisle, and I’m not going to name which side are going to hate. Then what you don’t want to do is have the people that are your opposers that don’t want to support your non-profit, to be able to go out and start controlling your brand or ride those coattails or otherwise change the narrative or the message.
And so in a lot of times allows you to, especially if you’re in those polarizing type of non-profits, which there’s ones on both sides of the aisle and there’s people do it, but it allows you to maintain that control so that as you’re working to fulfill your mission, you can still do it in a way that doesn’t, or you don’t have issues with other people trying to tear it down.
David: Exactly, exactly. And earlier on, you were talking about, you know, being out there and vying for dollars with, you know, different organizations. Look, you know, there’s lots of organizations out there that are looking for donor funds because that’s how, you know, a lot of non-profits operate are based off of a large percentage of donor funds, whether they’re doing the same type of work as you, whether they’re in the same region as you, it doesn’t really matter, right.
Everybody only has so much money. If there’s a finite amount of money, people need money to live, to pay for food and shelter and all that type of stuff. Hopefully people are thinking about, you know, having a, a certain amount of money a year, a month, a week, a day to give to charity and to help because that’s really, you know, what makes the world go round at the end of the day. So how can an organization compete in a world where there’s just so many non-profits that are asking?
Devin: Yeah. I mean, I think that it, it probably is a lot of what we already hit on in the sense that first of all, if there is a non-profit in your area or, you know, or you’re doing it nationwide or worldwide, if there’s a non-profit already doing what you’re doing. I don’t know that I’d recommend trying to just go and do a non-profit that’s exactly the same as out there. Figure out something different or figure out something, that’s your niche now, maybe they’re not doing it well. And you’re saying, “Hey, they’re not doing fulfilling their mission, and that’s what the differentiating is”, but you have to have something that’s different.
You know, usually we’re getting right around the Christmas time and that’s the time that, you know, you always see the Salvation Army out, ringing the bell and they have that- First of all, they have an established brand, but even second of all, they’re buying for the same dollars of people are otherwise going to either go buy or spend on Christmas or that they’re going to go donate to one of another 20 causes. And so you have to be able to clearly articulate your message, clearly get it out there, differentiate yourself.
And then I think beyond that, it’s just putting in the work. You actually have to go out, hit the streets, let people know about it. And I said, sometimes it’s a direct to consumer, Salvation Army, you got the Santa ringing out the bell, other times you’re going to businesses and you’re doing, you know, asking for donations.
Other times you’re doing events and you’re actually, you know, providing an event where people can come and otherwise feel good and be entertained, and also donate. Or is it an auction, you’re going to do that? Or is it online, and you’re going to have a mission where you’re doing it all for you as social media?
But I think one is, you have to identify what your niche is, how you’re going to be different and what’s out there. And then you get that plan as to how you then go about tackling it in a way that approaches or hits the people that are willing to donate, because everybody gets bombarded by plenty of people, especially around the holidays, of asking for money to help and go and support. Because this is the kind of the season where people are more charitable, but also means that there’s only a finite amount of dollars that people are able to donate.
David: Yeah. And I think, you know, in conjunction with that, obviously every organization needs to believe in what they do and understand that what they do is specific and unique to them. And they are not necessarily better than other organizations, but different, right.
But going in hand with that, I think it’s also important for organizations to think about partnerships with other organizations that might be doing something similar or might be doing something very different and seeing how they can connect with them, to bring them in and help them with their mission, with their goal in a joint effort, or even reaching out to industry, to for profit businesses and seeing how they can leverage partnerships on that side as well.
Devin: No, and I think that those are both great points and sometimes it is, “Hey, we’re trying to accomplish the same thing, let’s get together” Another time that’s, “Hey, we’re trying to accomplish two separate things, but we can both utilize our leverage”. In other words, we’re non-competitive and sometimes non-competitive’s great. Sometimes competitive’s great.
But I think reaching out and trying to one, if you’re in a non-profit, it’s typically because you’re looking to make an impact and have a mission. And if you can, couple with those that are also trying to make an impact or mission that may either be pulling in the same direction or be able to leverage each other. That’s a great way. The other one I think that a lot of times people have a hesitancy with, or at least in some people’s view, is that if you go out to big corporate or big America or corporate America, you’re now somehow dirty your non-profit, because now you’re going again, you know, you’re not no longer a non-profit you’re or you’re selling the name, so to speak.
Make sure that you vet the people you’re working with that it does line up. You don’t go and work for the gas and oil industry if you’re looking to go for green energy or vice versa. And so make sure it doesn’t go contrary, but just because they’re a for profit business doesn’t mean they don’t care.
There are a lot of businesses, take Subaru, for example, they have done a ton to brand themselves as a very charitable giving company. Now, never looked into ’em, don’t know if that’s true, but I know that that’s a public perception.
So can you then partner with them for a cause that may line up with what Subaru or something else to do. And I think that those are both great options and avenues. And sometimes people overlook because they’re saying, “Nope, it’s gotta go it on my own, gotta do it myself”. And rather than try and do it yourself, a lot of times you can work together and have a lot better success if you’re working with others.
David: Absolutely. And you can leverage their expertise, right? If you are a small non-profit and there’s a super dealership near you, just as some like random example, right. Maybe there’s something that you can run in conjunction with them to help bring what you’re doing to life and go from there.
And in terms of working with other sectors and industries, how can people or organizations leverage marketing or design from other sectors or industries?
Devin: Yeah. I mean, how can you leverage the design or the marketing? First of all, I think that you, one of the easiest ways that you find people that are also wanting to accomplish the same mission, or also have that near and dear to their heart that may already have the skills. In other words, before even go out to other industries, there may be people that are, you know, give you the cancer ward that have gone through cancer that are very talented graphic designers or artists, and they’re willing to donate some of their time.
Go start to see it. Are there people that are looking to donate their time? I think a lot of people are wanting to give, they’re wanting to donate. And even before you go to others and find them, you can find the individuals that are oftentimes willing to help and donate in other ways, work for the cause.
And so I think one thing is to look and see, are there ways, that even before you go out and ask others, to find other businesses or non-profits, ask those people that maybe wanted to give. Because I think as opposed to money, people a lot of times are even more willing to donate their time because that’s something where they feel like they’re giving, as opposed to just writing out a check.
Now, as far as kind of, I think identifying who are the people that you can go out is, you know, I keep using the same example is the same as a startup or small business. But when you’re doing a startup or a small business, you’re looking for investors, you’re looking to go and get people that are willing to donate. And now they’re giving you money to get a return.
But even when you’re doing that, you’re having to go out and you’re having to look and see which investors have previously invested in these type of causes, which investors are willing to donate or invest the same rate that we’re needing for and the amount of money in which ones are otherwise lined up with our costs.
Exact same thing with the non-profit, go and do your homework, which are the people, whether it’s another non-for-profit or another business that is willing to donate, have they donated before? Are they donating to the level that you need to? And maybe that, you know, if you’re looking for a $10,000 donation and they only donate $500 a year, may not be a good thing. On the other hand, if they’re looking, they typically donate $500,000 and you’re not set up to take that type of money and be able to utilize it.
They’re going to say “we’d love to donate, but you’re not at the scale”. So do your homework and say, “okay, have they donated before? Do they donate in the reigns that we’re needing or asking for donations, and are they lined up with our cause?” And it’s a lot of the same thing, you have to do your homework, go identify those people. And then it’s nothing more than it’s nothing more or less than just, you have to hit the pavement.
In other words, you have to go out and sell and it can’t just be, “Hey, you know-”, I think that very similar to a startup that people think they’re going to have a great idea, and they’re going to be banging down your door to give you money. “Hey, I’m going to go start a non-for-profit, it’s going to have a good mission. And everybody’s just going to want to bang down my door and donate and support”. It’s not the cause or not the case because people have to know about it and you have to get out there and sit in the pavement.
David: At the end of the day, it comes down to taking an action of some kind in, in doing something to help your cause move forward, right? Whether it’s shooting a quick little selfie video, talking about, you know, creating an article, going and meeting with other similar like organizations meeting with businesses that are maybe near you, or are somewhat related or affiliated to the same type of cause. And really, you know, taking that first step forward is the way to the path of success.
Devin: Yeah. And I think one of the ones you can also, a lot of times look for, you know, the overused word of influencers. Now influencers have taken on different meaning, but I’m more- when I say influencers, let’s say you had, you wanted to help with, you know, something with babies or with childhood. And let’s say it’s toddlers that are going through, you know, health conditions. They have a specific thing. Well, there’s a lot of, you know, mommy bloggers out there that are doing that.
There’s a lot of, you know, people that are doing those type of things and they’re not influencers, in the sense they’re not famous and everybody knows about ’em, but they may have a following. Now they may be doing it for profit, who are saying they are oftentimes willing to, and their audience is going to line up with what you’re doing.
And so I think that looking just for those businesses, those individuals, people in the same area, and then just reaching out to them. And a lot, like you’re going to probably go through reaching out with a lot of people that are going to give you no’s and you need to have the understanding and the preparation and the grit to say, “it’s going to take a lot of no’s before I’m going to get to the yes”. And if you’re not willing to accept the no’s then you probably shouldn’t get started because it’s not an easy road to get something up and going, no matter whether it’s a business, a non-profit or anything else, it’s going to take time and effort and you have to be willing to stick to it.
David: Absolutely. And I think ultimately it comes down to starting with what is your unique proposition? What differentiates you in figuring out that story that’s going to connect the dots for whoever it is that you’re going and talking to, and then weaving that through a lot of, not a lot of non-profits, but a number of non-profits don’t even have a business plan. They don’t have that, that like formal understanding written down of what it is, what they do and who they do it for, starting with that story. Why are we doing this? Why do we care? Right. What makes us want to do this every day? Right? Putting that down, getting a story about it, and then weaving that through all of your messaging is going to pull it all together and is going to, I think, get you that first foot in the door with people when you try to have these conversations.
Devin: Yep. I couldn’t agree more. I definitely- that’s a great point.
David: Awesome. This has been really, really awesome. Thank you so much for joining me on here. If anybody wants to get in touch with you, what do they need to do?
Devin: Yeah. So I’ll give three different ways, depending on what you’re getting in touch with me for.
So the easiest way, if you want to do a one-on-one session now, as I mentioned, what we do, I do run an intellectual property law firm. So if you are looking to protect your brand, protect your copyright, discuss business or anything else, I’m always happy to chat one on one. They can go to strategymeeting.com, that links right to my calendar. You can grab a day and time that works for you. And that’s easy just to do one on one.
If they want to find out a little bit more about what I’m doing and what I’ve done and what, you know, or what services I might offer and the businesses I’ve worked with and done, they can either go to the law firm’s website, which is an easy one lawwithmiller.com, that sends you right to our website. And you can check all that out, that information.
Now on the socials, I’m not a, I do some on socials. I’m not as nearly as active other than, I love LinkedIn. So that is a lot of times where I tend to hang out if I’m on socials. And if you want to go check me out on LinkedIn, just go to meetmiller.com. And that takes your right to my profile.
David: That’s amazing. I’m going to include in our show notes page for this episode links for that, for everybody who’s listening. If you want to head over there, just go to wowdigital.com/podcast. And there’ll be a link on this episode once it’s up and published for you.
So thanks again for joining in Devin. It’s been so great having you on the Non-profit Digital Success Podcast. Yeah. Thanks everybody for tuning in and listening. And until the next episode, keep on being successful. There we go. And cut.