In today’s episode, we’re so happy to have Josh Bloomfield!
Josh is the visionary CEO and Founder of Givecloud, a company dedicated to revolutionizing the way non-profits raise funds. With a passion for using innovation to empower non-profits to make a real impact in the world, Josh is a leader in the field of fundraising technology and strategy.
We’ve bought him into the show to talk about the gaps that exist in fundraising, and how Josh is working to close them by developing cutting-edge online fundraising tools.
We’ll also explore how generational changes are impacting the way donors give and how Givecloud is helping non-profits stay ahead of the curve by creating personalized, donor-centric experiences.
David Pisarek: Let’s talk about donation platforms. Welcome to the Non-profit Digital Success Podcast. I’m your host David, and in this episode, I’ve got Josh Bloomfield with me, and we’re going to be talking about Givecloud. Hey, Josh, how’s it going?
Josh Bloomfield: Good, David. How are you doing?
David Pisarek: I am great. I’m going to introduce you to everybody, Josh is the CEO and founder of Givecloud. He’s a true innovator, reimagining what next-generation fundraising looks like.
He’s passionate about helping non-profits change the world by changing the world of fundraising. And through his leadership and software, they shift traditional transactional fundraising to donor-first experiences that focus on the hearts of those wanting to make an impact.
And if you’ve listened to any of my past episodes, you know that I always talk about creating impact and creating emotional connections, and that is what is going to help drive your organization forward. So, Josh, happy to have you here. How’s your day going so far?
Josh Bloomfield: Great. How about you?
David Pisarek: So far, so good. Everything is great, and I love doing these podcast episodes, bringing experts into the show to kind of push out their knowledge and expertise and help expand the minds of those people that are subscribing to listening to or watching on YouTube to our episodes.
I’m curious, how did you get here? What was the inspiration behind creating Givecloud, and I guess maybe explain what Givecloud actually is?
Josh Bloomfield: Absolutely honored to be a part of this content, by the way. I love the soul and the spirit of it. Oftentimes people don’t think enough about profit and the customer experience, but in non-profits, the experience of your supporters who become your donors and maybe your volunteers, and that whole experience.
How did I get into this? I’m a software engineer. I was the nerd in the computer lab in high school, and yeah, I didn’t go to the dances, ate lunch alone, one of those guys.
Coming out of my late years of high school, ended up in a band, and the drummer in that band stumbled across a really cool software project, building a financial system for the US Government, which is really strange as a Canadian citizen myself, working and building an enterprise level app for state governments to manage the flow of finances during a disaster.
So skipped the university route and kind of learned all my software development skills on the fly in this project. I left that opportunity after about five years.
Working for the government can only be so energetic and so innovative in that space, and I really wanted to take everything I had learned in that space and apply it to, what I would language as, the ill-resourced entrepreneur.
So my parents were the quintessential ill-resourced entrepreneurs, they owned a bakery and had been a family bakery for 30, 40, 50 years, and “Mom, dad, wouldn’t it be awesome if your customers could custom design a cake in an app, and when it’s their birthday or their friend’s birthday, they could have it delivered to them? Think about how cool that would be” and they’re just, like, way over their heads. How would I build that? Didn’t really have the resources or the money to do it.
I never end up building that app, which I still regret to this day (kind of like an Uber Eats before Uber Eats) but there were other businesses in the city that needed the same kind of creative thinking paired with someone who actually knew how to get it done, so I worked on a supply chain system for grocery stores and worked on an e-commerce platform that I sold.
All along the way, being kind of self-employed, I’m working on these little projects for non-profits, “Oh, you need a website. Yeah, I got you. I’ll throw something together for you.” and this was kind of the days before WordPress was the premier platform for hosting a website.
I had thrown my own CMS together that had fundraising in it, which would eventually become Givecloud, but it was a side project for many years, up until 2015, 2016, when I realized, “Man, I need to take this opportunity seriously. Why am I helping one non-profit at a time, or even one entrepreneur at a time when there’s an entire space, an entire market that is ill-resourced, that’s missing thought leadership on things like the donor experience or the customer experience?”, “What if I could add value there?” and that was kind of the beginning of the journey.
And me, the long road of morphing from programming in my basement to finding mentorship to networking, to becoming a CEO, to leading a company, and now really trying to embody that thought leadership around.
What does it look like to build a genuine, heart connection with your supporters in a digital world? You and I are chatting. We’re vibing. We can build a connection. You could invest in me. I could invest in you.
How do you replicate that same kind of oxytocin, that same dopamine in a purely digital world? And that is this unique art and science that I’m obsessed with experimentation.
How can we take what we know about how people use technology and how they react in the real world? And how could we apply that in a digital world? Not to be manipulative, but to get people to feel a genuine connection where it’s difficult to feel that?
David Pisarek: Yeah, so that was a really short answer. That was awesome. But it speaks to your evolution and really kind of what happens with a lot of people that are in this space.
There’s a true passion behind what it is that you’re doing, and honestly, it comes out in how you promote yourself, how you talk about the work you do, and how you help the people that you want to help.
One of the things that I talk about, and I’ve mentioned it a number of times on the podcast, is something called a know, like, and trust factor, and you need to have 7 to 8 interactions with people before they will know, like and trust you, ultimately leading to, in our business, some kind of sale or something like that.
But in the donation space, in the non-profit space, getting them to subscribe to your newsletter, getting them to show up to an event the last couple of years, events (maybe not so much), volunteering for your organization, making a donation, sharing your content in their network.
You’ve done something really interesting where you’ve created something that’s along the lines of what you call trust-raising. So let’s talk about that for a sec. What is trust-raising, and how does that shift the perspective that people have on fundraising?
Josh Bloomfield: Yeah, that’s a great question. First off (just kind of piggybacking off some of your comments there), being a software guy at my core, I can think of all of these features I could build to create an incredible checkout for your donor.
In this know, like, and trust, and I’m sure you’d agree, there’s a lot of storytelling nurturing that happens in that process, and the software developer and I, are frustrated that I could spend all this time making software, and yet if you don’t have those three things on the front side, none of the conversion matters, so really part of the product we’ve built is to allow you to do these three things well.
I’d love to understand how I could support organizations in doing these three things better, but right now our focus is if you’ve done these things even half well.
We want your donors, your supporters, to land in an experience that is a continuation of this story. It doesn’t feel like a jarring redirection of the brand of feel, of experience, of messaging. It feels like we’ve taken that same heart connection, which really, is a great segue to trust-raising.
So Trustraising was a bit of a revelation I had a couple of years back as it reflected on, I think, some of the mistakes I’ve observed non-profits making fundraising. Just too often, organizations don’t put enough thought into how to build that meaningful connection with their donors, which is why the key to true fundraising success and lasting support for your mission is that trust-raising, that “know, like, and trust.”
Many organizations think that connection starts perhaps after they receive a donation from someone, when in reality, it starts much, much sooner.
The word Trustraising is just kind of a clever spin on fundraising, focusing instead of on the wallet, focusing first on the hearts of your supporters from the beginning, then having the wallet conversation, and building trust with a friend, with a coworker, or with a spouse.
I mean, it’s nuanced and difficult enough in that space, but doing that in a purely digital world with people you know you’ll end up asking for money from can feel impossible.
The reality is, without trust, there is a ceiling to the success you’re going to have in any transaction, especially fundraising. And too often for organizations, that ceiling is just $0.
No transaction happens because of that lack of trust. Our trust-raising thought leadership really centers around what it takes to build trust in a digital world. The storytelling, the donor experience, the user behavior and motivations, it all ends up, as I said before, this unique blend of art and science merging to generate real compelling results for our non-profits.
And of course, our product is jammed full of our own thought leadership in action. So, yeah, that’s Trustraising.
David Pisarek: It’s really important to not just build your organization, not just have a website. Everybody needs to have a website, if you don’t have one, get one today kind of thing.
And people are using mobile more and more these days, if your site isn’t mobile friendly, is your organization even really still in the business? Mobile has been prominent in terms of web development and design for the last, at least, decade.
Make sure your site is updated in that way. You’re going to help build some trust through that as well. But it’s really about creating that emotional connection, and I talk about this all the time, I feel like I’m beating a dead horse kind of thing. You really need to create that emotional connection.
Why is anybody going to care about your organization versus the one next door? Why should you get their money, even if it’s $5? What is that compelling story that’s there?
And one of the things that I hate seeing non-profits and charities do, and it happens to me: I get emails, I get regulars like snail mail, “Hey, make a donation.” and “Here’s our donation form.” but what did you do with the money? How did you spend it? What value did you bring to it?
And these are some really big organizations. We’re talking about $400, $500 million in donations a year that these businesses or organizations are pulling in every year. You’re only reaching out to me for a donation. When you want a donation, connect with me.
Josh Bloomfield: Create that bond, brother. My mind is exploding with feedback. We ran an experiment last year, we built up a little project called Causemos, and the idea we had was, instead of a donor focusing on how much money they’re going to give, what if the focus was the impact the organization was going to promise?
The practical example was there was a toy drive that couldn’t do its thing during COVID, they couldn’t do the in-person stuff, and so they needed to take donations honestly for the first time online.
They hadn’t done online fundraising, and I pitched to them, I said,
“You’ve already done great storytelling. The community already knows about this initiative, and they know you’re in a pinch. You’ve got anchors on our local news talking about the pinch of toy donations and so on. What if you could drive them to a page that didn’t ask for money, but instead showed how many toys would be given and then as a second step, showed you how to finance it?”
I wish I could share my screen and demo this, I’m not prepared to, so I won’t, but you just kind of have to imagine an experience where the very first thing you see, especially on a mobile device, the very first thing you saw was a toy and a big number one on top of it, and all you had to do as a donor was tap through how many toys.
What was cool about the experiences was that you could tell, just intuitively through the interface we built, that you could actually swipe the toy icon, and the next icon would be a child. There was this intuitive understanding that you could do one toy, or you can do an entire child’s Christmas, or you could do an entire family’s Christmas. The conversation hasn’t touched on money yet.
Our data showed almost every donor immediately started going, “Well, how many toys could I do?” and then through self-discovery, which kind of gets your own little dopamine hit, they’re swiping to the most amount of impact they can have. They’re going, “I can do a whole family Christmas. Hold on a second. I could do two families Christmases.” and now the conversation in their mind has shifted. It’s about the story.
They’re not trying to justify a token $25 or $50 donation that they’re not quite sure how it will translate. They’re not having a conversation with their spouse, “Hey, babe, do you want to sponsor a family this Christmas? It’s in our local community, and it’s only $150”, financial conversation comes next.
So you agree, you click next, and then our software would break down for you, “How to finance that impact?”, “Hey, are you in for $150 today?”, and maybe you’re in for $25 over X number of months. Maybe you’re in for only $15 over X number of months.
And now you’re realizing, “Wait a second. Maybe I can have more impact than I realized if I can finance this a certain way”, and then the upsell after the transaction wasn’t about becoming necessarily a monthly donor, or it was about, “Hey, did you know? If you packaged your financing differently, you could actually help six families by doing $25 a month instead of $150 a day?”, and it was so compelling, they tripled their fundraising in that campaign. Tripled it.
But back to what inspired me to share this story, when did non-profits reach out to you? And what does that cadence look like? What does that communication look like?
The reality is, we’ve got a generation who is used to becoming accustomed to our society’s candid updates. They’re checking in on friends, they want to see what’s going on.
There is a bit of polish, there are some filters, and yet you’re looking for authenticity in it, and it’s bleeding around the edges, and it’s frequent. It’s relevant, it’s in context. What if this is part of my thought process during building out this experiment?
And actually, this was the inspiration for this experiment: when I buy online, I know exactly what I bought. I got a green shirt, I got a Givecloud hoodie coming my way, I know what I bought. I’m amped for it, and I got an email confirmation telling me, “Hey, your order is being packaged”, and so on.
A couple of days later, I get another email notification, “Hey, your shirt’s out for delivery”, I am jacked, I’m reengaged with that brand, and I’m feeling that connection. I’m peeking through my wines, “Is it here yet? No, it’s not here. It’s here”, why doesn’t that exist in fundraising?
Why can’t I say, “You know what? I’m into planting 50 trees”, and I instantly get a confirmation saying, “Yeah, we’ve received your donation”, but then in a believable amount of time, 7, 10, 20 days later, I get a text, I get a push notification, I get something. And it’s not a polished update, it is a picture of Sue and Bill taking a selfie next to the trees that you funded.
We built some technology very similar to inventory tracking, where people are committing to, “Hey, I’m funding five toys”, or “five family Christmases”, or “100 trees”, and we built some software that allows organizations, very similar to a social media post, where they would post, “Hey, look at the trees we’re planting” with one catch: the organization has to mention (in our software) exactly how much impact was delivered or, in the commerce world, fulfilled. Then our software would know, “Okay, we fulfilled 50 trees. We got this. We got David waiting for 25 trees”, and you guys, only you guys, received that candid update, and everyone else can see the update on a broader impact profile.
This experiment went so well, and it’s part of what inspires the ongoing evolution of our product.
We know it’s not for everyone, that experiment we ran because not everyone can do one-to-one fundraising, and we tried it with a couple of organizations. For example, an organization that does their work with officers who work in the human trafficking space, and part of their impact is wellness. How do you kind of commoditize wellness? Like hours of therapy?
The experiment got a little dicey in those areas, and so we’re trying to understand how we can apply this impact first thinking and pairing that with the impact for storytelling so that organizations can use tools like this no matter their fundraising goal, or their fundraising technique.
But these are the kind of updates we want as donors, we want to know what’s going on, and we want the candid update.
Another part of our technology, as you’re donating surfaces, is the transparency promise.
So many organizations are nervous about saying, “Listen, of the $50 you’re giving, straight up $8 of it’s going to go to our salaries”, and yet there is a candidness to that I appreciate and our data shows donors appreciate.
It’s naive to think if I am going to pay for 15 meals at the Downtown Mission that, you know, all $50 is just going to go to the food on the plate. Well, who’s paying the lease? And maybe you’ve got corporate sponsors doing that, say so, and surface it in your transparency promise, “All $50 is going to meals, and $0 goes to lease insurance staffing, thanks to our generous corporate sponsors”, something of that nature.
Anyhow, listen, I am a rambling founder and CEO who’s really passionate. I don’t want to take us down too many rabbit holes here, but you brought up communication, and that’s something just through our own feature development that we really want to help organizations get better at.
David Pisarek: Yeah, and I think that that’s something really important that everybody needs to be thinking about. How is it that you can connect with people?
I mean, everybody wants those big donors, somebody that’s going to give you like a million dollars or $50,000 or $5,000 or even a few hundred dollars depending on the size of your organization. That could be super substantial.
I love the idea of having a transparency report, a page on your website that says, “This is how we operate” and going, “You know what? Yeah, there are overhead costs”, whether it’s lease electrical, or you need toilet paper in the bathrooms.
There’s stuff that happens that money needs to go to pay for or be donated.
If you have strategic partnerships with places, like, if you’re building homes, maybe you have a relationship with Home Depot, and they donate screws and wood, so be upright and just be out there and use that to your advantage and people will understand that “You know what, it takes money to make money”, that’s kind of like the business mantra.
You need to invest in yourself to do the work that you want to do, and it’s the same with non-profits. You need to think of yourself as a business, and you need that money coming in, so you can do all the awesome, and stuff that you do, whether it’s money or time or donations in terms of products and services to help you achieve what it is that you want to do.
Josh Bloomfield: That last part, the know, like trust, that trust is the milestone you want to get to. To build trust, you’re going to have to put yourself out there. That is a symptom of life, of our reality in any interaction.
What better way to build trust than to be transparent? Put these things out there, and have the courage to be transparent, where maybe some of your adjacent non-profits aren’t being transparent or being true to themselves.
Those are the things that build trust, not putting a veneer on things. Back to social media, you get a vibe when you’ve got someone on your profile who you know, “Man, that is a filter”, and you can see right through the filter and go.
David Pisarek: And then they tag it with #nofilter.
Josh Bloomfield: Yeah, man. Savage. It’s savage.
David Pisarek: So you were talking about terms of communication, being open and honest and transparent, and how amazing it would be if you knew that an organization was spending 18% of your donation on overhead.
Wouldn’t that be awesome that, you know, maybe that would inspire you to make a donation that was more so that you can give more money to the cause that you want? Maybe it might deter you potentially if that percentage is too high.
Josh Bloomfield: Right.
David Pisarek: Like, as a non-profit or charity, you want a good chunk of the money to actually do the work that people are expecting you to do. But aside from that communications piece, are there any other gaps that you see in terms of fundraising?
Josh Bloomfield: Yeah. Okay. My passion for the giving experience really started with my own personal frustration with donating to local organizations and the gaps I see there, which I’ll touch on, but then also putting myself out there, reflecting on my own product, and realizing that I was part of the problem.
There is a new generation of generous, socially conscious wealth, and it’s only growing. That’s the only direction it’s going. And it’s not just a wealth of finance, it’s a wealth of awareness, influence, and advocacy, like, has never existed before in our history because of social media, because of network effects. Too many organizations are one of the gaps I see.
Too many organizations are mistaken in thinking all we need is an online donation form to accept online donations or to engage digital donors. They don’t realize that this is an entirely new breed of donor with high expectations for the online experience set by the culture they’ve grown up in.
David Pisarek: Just to add to that, many of these people that you’re talking about, this generation, likely haven’t known the world without the Internet, so let’s just keep that in mind here. I remember going to the library in high school and needing dictionaries and resources that I couldn’t get at home.
Eventually, I bought Britannica online CD so that I didn’t have to do that anymore. But life pre-internet, you know, is kind of like life without a microwave. Like, how much do we rely on using that? Some people are like, “No, I don’t use it at all”, and there are some people that are like, “I have nothing to do with social media. I don’t want to be there”.
That’s okay, everybody is entitled to be in the space that they want and use whatever devices or technology they want, but imagine never knowing the world without the super interconnected web that we have. Pun intended.
Josh Bloomfield: As a dad, I appreciated that dad joke. So the quintessential example I see in organizations is when an organization begs me to add, like, a title or pronoun to their donation forms, “but, Josh, we want to send letters and reference Mr. Bloomfield or Dr. Brown in our letter to them”, and please, don’t send me a letter.
This next generation does not care to give you their title or their pronoun, they want to tap Apple Pay and move on with their day. As you’re saying, they’ve grown up, not just with the Internet, they’ve grown up with the layers above the internet, Facebook, Instagram, Clubhouse, TikTok, whatever that was, right? (The Insinuation there, just flying through a couple of social media networks). They’ve also dealt with persistent change, filters, feeds, followers, likes, gamification, ranks, challenges, and competition.
This is how they are wired, nothing like previous generations. They don’t know what their password is. They face ID, they thumbprint, they autocomplete, and they don’t know what your phone number is, they will iMessage you, they will facebook-messenger you, they’ll WhatsApp you, and now you’re going to ask that individual to fill out the twelve to 16 form fields you have on your website, no autocomplete in there, no Apple Pay.
You’re going to ask them a bunch of info that, by the way, would love to know about your customers: their birthdates, their religious affiliation, how they heard about you, and all these pieces of mission.
I’m not saying they’re not important to your organization, it’s just not the time to ask for it. You’re going to ask them for all this information, and the Amazon’s, the H&M’s, and the Czars of the world would love to know about their customers, then make them type their 16-digit card numbers. You feel where I’m going.
The digital face of the non-profit just has to evolve, not the least of which is the donor experience. Motivating, gamified, compelling, well-designed, innovative, instant, and authentic.
While I was really proud of the types of experiences we have built as a company, and I know many of our customers may have argued and may still argue that our forms are some of the nicest on the market like the nicest looking on the market, I knew, and I know we could do better.
So, honestly, along with our competitors, we’re all falling quite short of that high bar that a next-gen donor expects, and so that’s really the inspiration behind our new forms, our new offering, this Causemos experiment that we’re running to be courageous enough to ignore what’s been done, ignore what the data says, do some experiments, try some things that this generation deserves, and let the new data speak for itself.
David Pisarek: There are billions of dollars that are coming down from pre-baby boomers who might be my grandparents, my parents.
They’re getting older. Life happens, people pass away, and estates pass money down.
There are billions of dollars coming down the road. And really, if you think of it as a business transaction, you need as an organization to focus on building those relationships, creating that trust factor.
Now when money starts coming down, when money starts filtering down, you stay top of mind because that is ultimately going to help you 10, 15, 20 years down the road.
And creating those relationships and building that know, like, and trust is really what’s going to set you apart from other organizations.
Josh Bloomfield: Even as you navigate some of that conversation, I know there are some legal mechanics that go into Estate planning and so on, and yet who’s really going to be quarterbacking a lot of this transfer of wealth? It’s going to be the digital donor. Not to say they’re going to give digitally, but you can’t think about one without considering the other.
It’s always a balance and not going to make black-and-white statements, but you need to consider it all as part of that. I love that know, like trust.
David Pisarek: Know, like, trust, absolutely. Let’s talk about money for a sec. Let’s call that affluence, so there’s influence, there’s affluence, kind of maybe Rhyming words, but like, one is greater than the other. What are your thoughts on that?
Josh Bloomfield: I’d recommend anyone read the book “The Gen Z Effect”, really great ideas in this book around what makes Gen Z different and if it is not gospel truth about Gen Z.
There are phenomenal ideas in this book that you can apply to how you think about that generation, how you think about fundraising, and even how you think about the future of your organization.
One of the points they make, going back to a point I made earlier, in a lot of ways, Gen Z is going to be kind of the last generation, the last named generation, because from here on in, we now are raising kids, we are raising future generations that are now accustomed to change.
They’ve never been disconnected, there’s never been this much change. So “The Gen Z Effect” is also a bit of a reflection on how times are changing, and whether it’s for the good or not is, I suppose, more subjective, but what I meant to say is for good, we’re not going back the other direction.
One of the ideas in this book is this clarity between influence and affluence with Gen Z, and because of the network effects, because of how they’re connected and wired, there is more of a focus on that network than on previous generations being focused on affluence.
Practically, how it applies is, organizations need to be asking themselves, and again, I won’t make a black-and-white statement and say this is all they should be doing… You need to be thinking about your major donors, but you need to start asking yourself more often, “Who are your major influencers?”
That kid, that Sally, who’s donated $100, $50, $25… It is so easy to glaze over that opportunity because I’m not even going to use a grandiose number here, I mean, you use a very average number, 1500 connections, 1500 followers.
What an opportunity to get a little more awareness, and start the know, like trust process with (let’s be realistic here), of the 1500 people checking her feed, maybe she’s posted something about the impact she’s had, not about how much she’s donated connected to the story.
Let’s say 100 people see it, and I think I’m being conservative, and then of that 100, maybe you’ve got 5, 6, 7 people who take it a little step further. You’ve turned one donor into 5 other real opportunities, 5 or 6 other real opportunities.
But this is the idea to be paying attention more to these connections and listening, it sounds daunting. “Josh, you expected me to go on these profiles and figure out who my followers are”, and so there is software that does this for you now, just like you’ve got major wealth software that helps you find the wealth in your donor base, there is software that will help you find the clout, the influence in your donor base. “Well, Josh, okay, what do I do with it once I have it?”, and I want to say get Givecloud because what we can do is create experiences.
You can do this with other software platforms as well, but there’s a real dedication to exactly how this happens. You can get those individuals to start a social challenge.
There are really simple and clean and easy ways to get them to start a social challenge, whether it’s on social media and don’t ask a lot of them, “Click here to start a social challenge”, they’re not going to upload a video and be like, “Hey guys, I really want to support this organization”.
They’re not going to do that, they’re not even going to write a paragraph about why it’s important to them. They’ve donated, and they want to support it. Let them support it. Let them write their own content on social media, and let them do their own storytelling.
It’s their connections, it’s their family, it’s their friends, it’s their network, it’s their influence. Let them manage that influence the way they want, and just bring to bear the tools, the really simple, really clean tools they need so that when one of their followers and their family members expresses a breadth of interest, you have a tool ready to capture that.
One of the things I’ve been using internally, and we’re starting to kind of adopt on our public marketing, is we want to help organizations convert attention into retention, into retained revenue in their organization.
Because again, know, like trust. You’ve got that trust, you’ve got that attention, you’ve taken them through a story, whether that story has taken months or years or just a couple of seconds in a social media post, that there is nothing stopping them.
There is no 16-form field stopping them. There isn’t a jarring experience stopping them. You are converting on that attention, you’re converting on that not affluence. You’re converting on that influence. This is where things are going. How true it is today and how much it impacts your organization.
We could debate the data, we can look into it. Of course, there’s still tons of value in dealing with classic checkout and dealing with checks and your major donors and your estate planning, but it’s changing.
And to understand how to unlock that change can be very important for your organization and the longevity of your mission. Not to mention, I think, awareness, influence, and support are just underrated. I know you got bills to pay, 100%.
A couple of likes and a couple of follows on your social media account does not translate to your salary or to operations, and yet somehow they will when you build that network. I’ve got a lot to share here, I’m not sure if I’m going to say it quite the way I want, but back to your three items: that storytelling, that connection. You have to start it early, and you just cannot underestimate it.
David Pisarek: So there are three things that you mentioned, and I made a quick little note of that I want to touch on. The first is about this digital generation that’s out there. Way back, we went through this industrial revolution. If COVID has done anything, it’s really fast-tracked what I’m calling the digital revolution.
People working from home, being more connected, using technology, more and more cost of tech, of cell phones, prices going down. So we’re in this digital revolution that has happened and there isn’t going back from it.
The great resignation is like a big thing. People are leaving their jobs because they can’t work from home anymore, because they want to come back to the office, so that’s something to think about in terms of the persona.
What I call a psychographic of this generation is they want to be in charge of their own destiny, they care, and they’re empathetic.
And not to blanket everybody in the generation that way, but I think there’s a much higher percentage than 50% that are kind of in that zone for that.
The second thing I want to mention is couch-surfing. So you’re sitting on your couch, you’ve got your phone in your hand, you’re watching TV, you’re streaming this, you’re having conversations, whatever. You got to make it simple and quick and easy. Like what you were talking about, the one-tap Pay or Face ID to pay, or there’s got to be some really quick and simple way.
And I’ve mentioned this, I think, on at least two other episodes: you need to have that donation form, that initial thing that somebody does, the bare minimum of what you need to process that transaction. And, like, as simple as possible, nobody wants to fill out a PhD dissertation to make a $25 donation to your organization that way.
The third thing is, I want to get your opinion on monthly donations versus one-time donations. So here’s the question, if you want to hit somebody up for a one-time donation of $25, how can somebody maybe convert that into $2 a month? Yeah, that first year, maybe you get $24 instead of $25.
But psychologically, what happens is they’re like, “Oh, it’s only $2 a month. Yeah.”, and they just leave it in perpetuity. So what’s your take on how people can shift that mindset?
Josh Bloomfield: A couple of things come to mind. The first thing that comes to my mind is a donor’s willingness to add a monthly charge to their account, to their credit card. How material is it to their budget?
The other piece is like, what are they actually signing up for? The way I process the monthly donation conversation is I think about my Netflix subscription and how I don’t really think about it. I use it every day, I get value out of it, and I’m not really thinking about it, I am sure Netflix is making a fine amount of money on me.
I’ve been a customer since probably 2015, and I’ve gone through their pricing changes. Never bailed on a pricing change. They’ve been a dollar or $2, or $1.5. So when you’re thinking about converting someone to a monthly donation, just like you’re saying, don’t undervalue the $2 donation, I’d encourage you to go for $9.
The willingness to pay between $2 and $9 is… I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I can’t imagine it’s too high.
And if anyone’s looking for some great thought leadership around pricing, this does not apply at all to non-profits. And yet so much adjacent wisdom can be applied when you’re thinking about how to build a subscription to your non-profit. Essentially, that’s what you’re doing.
Think about it that way. They’re signing up to pay monthly. For what? Because they’re generous. Because out of the kindness of their heart, you have something to offer.
You are going to make an impact in the world that I can’t. And that’s why I’m subscribing to your organization.
How much am I willing to pay? Probably like $9 a month. I mean, if you make it freaking compelling enough, maybe I’m in for $29, maybe even for $49, show me the plans. Obviously, don’t think about it exactly like that. And yet, as I’m saying this out loud, I’m wondering, like, why don’t non-profits position themselves a little bit more like this? This is how we buy Netflix. This is how we think about our Amazon Prime subscription.
Don’t tell me what I’m going to get, tell me what you’re going to do. Tell me the impact that I’m going to connect my heart to as a result of this, which is a great segue into the second piece of this, which is like, what are people getting?
One of the most successful monthly giving programs I’ve ever seen done is an organization out of Utah. They work through human trafficking challenges, and they don’t ask you to donate monthly. I’m pretty confident it may not even be in their marketing language. It may be, but it is certainly not the headline.
The headline is “Become an abolitionist. You want to be an abolitionist? Sign up here and you put in a monthly amount. You’re an abolitionist now”, and from time to time they may throw like a gift with a donation, not to compel you. It is not to convince you. It is what it is to make your abolitionist status official. You are an abolitionist, you are not thinking about the donation.
So this is where Netflix and Amazon cannot touch your opportunity as a non-profit to create this incredible trust connection long term. Netflix and Amazon, what do they have to do? They have to continually, day in, day out, deliver your products, shipping goods in a non-profit world.
Just keep those communications up as we talked before, those candid communications, and make your monthly donors feel like they are a part of something. If you can do it, give it a name, make them something. The abolitionist thing is just wildly successful. They are an outlier in our data.
We leave them out of our data because they literally do it so well, there’s just no point. We segment a lot of our data around that and study this over here going, what is going on? How are they? Is it our technology? I’d love to say it is, and obviously, we’re a part of it. But you and I both know, man, that is a story.
That is a story through and through and through. And the technology to support the story. And again, that’s our passion. The technology to support the story.
So that’s how I feel about monthly giving, and I am for it. I’m not sure if I actually ended up finishing my sentence because I am, again, the rambling founder, CEO.
If anyone’s looking for adjacent thought leadership on pricing, Patrick Brown, google him. He is a SaaS pricing leader, and he helps SaaS companies like us figure out what we can charge our customers based on their willingness to pay, based on features.
And they’ve got all this data on how to do it, but the thinking. Don’t take necessarily the outcomes because they’re very for-profit, but there is a strategy and thinking through what you can charge someone, someone’s willingness to support you, and for how much.
Segmenting that into a persona and having a conviction on it.
Something else, a big mistake I see non-profits make is not having the courage to fully be themselves, they will dilute themselves. They’ll dilute the soul of their organization, they’ll dilute their message to try and cast a wider net, and they end up not serving them well.
Have the courage to go after not just the people who are passionate about human trafficking, not just the people who are passionate about human trafficking and children, but not just the people, and get that circle as small as you can get and tell that story.
You’ll catch people out here because they’ll want to be these people, they will want to be these people when you are that true to yourself, and you have the courage to be that true to yourself.
David Pisarek: So, a whole whack of thoughts about that. The first is, if you’re watching this or listening to this, I just grabbed a book that I have on my table over here beside me. It’s by Ian Harris. It’s called “Hooked on you”. If you have a hard time figuring out how to get your story going and get the flow going.
This book is super cheap, I think it’s like $4 on Amazon for the hardcover (not even the eBook, but it’s well worth it. It’s not a big book at all. It’s, maybe, a half-inch thick, if that) so this book is about a genius way to make anybody read anything.
But you can take that, and you can use that, and you can create stories that you weave through your website, through your social media, through your emails, through your text messaging, through everything that you’re doing, the way you talk about the work that you do to give that really compelling story to make people care.
And that circles back to what we were talking about originally. The second thing that I wanted to mention is in the business world, we talk about Niching. If you’re in the States and you need to do that same thing for your non-profit, exactly what you were just talking about. When you focus on and work on your demographic, your geography, and your psychographics.
So there’s three more there for you, Josh, if you’re looking for the knowledge trust, you’ve got your demo, your geo, and your psycho.
And when you focus on that and you get a really clear idea about who you need to have care about your organization and who you want to try to target and bring in as volunteers, as ambassadors for your brand, not even as a donation. Like, we’re talking influencers. You can have ambassadors.
Every one of the volunteers that you have should care about your organization, they’re there spending their time, even if it’s kind of forced because they have to spend time volunteering from high school or something, they are there, and they opted to come to you.
They should be part of your brand ambassador. Give them a label, give them a tag, give them a badge of honor to do that, and really impart that value.
Josh Bloomfield: Listen, I want to make one big clarification as well. When I use the word, and even I believe in that book Gen Z when they use the word “influence” versus “affluence”, it rhymes and you get the point.
I want to be really crystal clear that I am not suggesting you find brand influencers with millions of followers and great influencers.
For me, I actually think a better word is ambassador, a brand ambassador. This could truly be anyone, and it’s a correction I’ve had to make inside my organization. Need to stop using that word because there’s a loftiness to the word influencer and even influence that makes organizations feel like it’s inaccessible. It’s difficult to connect with an influencer versus just an advocate, or an ambassador.
That’s all we’re talking about. Anyone can be that.
David Pisarek: Yeah, it’s just literally a tap away. Like “boom, share, done, end of story”, right? That’s the couchsurfing motto. I guess. I don’t know Latin, but if I can translate that, that would be fantastic. All right, so let’s take a step back for a sec. Let’s talk about Givecloud. Big non-profits, new non-profits, non-profit marketers fundraisers. Who is this platform for?
Josh Bloomfield: Any non-profit will love fundraising on Givecloud. Just as fun as we’ve made it for donors and really doubled down on that experience. We’ve made sure Givecloud is just as fun to manage.
Smaller-scale non-profits might enjoy us a bit more because they can realize many of our bootstrapped tools, and when I say “many of our bootstrapped tools”, this thing was built by an engineer, and so anytime there was a point in time when an organization would say like, “Oh, man, I wish I could sell event tickets”, I’m like, “I can do that. I’ll do that for you”, and we’ve ended up with a platform that’s got a lot of these apps, tickets, child sponsorship, membership, commerce eCards, I could go on a point of sale card swiper, all these pieces.
And bigger non-profits will love having a purpose-built digital fundraising tool that works seamlessly with their existing systems, so they can kind of just plug us into what they’ve got and not have to worry about some of the stuff that maybe some of the smaller non-profits would really take advantage of. Does that make sense?
David Pisarek: Absolutely. So Givecloud, an awesome platform, does tons of stuff. What is the best feature that you are about to release?
Josh Bloomfield: Yeah, man, listen, there are lots coming down the pipeline that I am insanely excited about. We are thinking of some really innovative ways to continue to upsell donors after the fact that get me so jazzed. Stuff no one’s doing and no one’s thought of and so kind of experiments that will run, but we’ve got a pretty high conviction that this will have to at least be somewhat successful.
And even if it’s somewhat successful, could drive really great results for our organizations. But selfishly, only because it hits a little close to home, one of the features I’m most excited about coming is at the end of every donation on our platform, the donors are prompted to start a social challenge, and it’s one click they see right on their “thank you” screen, “hey.
Share the impact you just had or challenge your friends and family. And there’s a dollar amount right there.
You can plus or minus how much you want to start the challenge for, and then all you do is hit continue with Google”, and “Boom, it’s ready!” We grab your avatar, we grab everything. There’s no creating a page, it’s just done.
And now you’re ready to share it on social media. It’s wonderful, we’re creating a template that will allow the Davids, the Joshs of the world, to create these social challenges in one click. But use a template that really allows you to honor someone who’s passed or someone you’re doing in memory of.
So my grandmother recently passed and looking at the program, at the very bottom on page two, it says, “In memory of Ramon, make your donation to Kidney Association, diabetes association”, and there was another faith-based organization somewhere in that list, and just stare at that, and it’s like, “Wow, there’s got to be a better way to honor my grandmother”. And the legacy is… Part of her legacy is that she wants people to do this.
There’s got to be a digital way to do this, so we’ve just generated this beautiful template that is actually focused on the legacy first, the story first, not the donation, and then you continue into this just really tasteful, really elegant donation experience that gently kind of, like, nurturing you through the process of a transaction while you honor someone’s legacy.
I think the way we’re doing it in the digital world is as part of a colder donation transaction, there’s a drop-down or a text box of who you want it to be an honor of, instead of me putting it out there saying, “Hey, will you guys help me honor my grandmother?”.
One of our board members, their father passed, and all they wanted to do was create a fundraising page, a way to give digitally to our local Humane society.
He loved pets, he’s a major donor to this organization, and they couldn’t figure it out. “No, sorry, we can’t do it now. Let me get back to you. No, sorry. We got no way of doing this”. You’re going to have to just some subpar solution for the experience. And he ranted it, he called me, “I can’t believe people can’t do this. What should he have been able to share? What should I have been able to share with my friends and family?”
So, it’s a more personal connection, but again, I don’t know if there’s a lot of technology on the market allowing organizations to create a space like this, but where you’re not just accepting donations, you are engaging your supporters, you’re engaging your donors, you’re creating ambassadors, you’re giving them the tools.
Don’t make them request it, and don’t make them call your director of fundraising or someone on your team, give them the tools to do it.
Don’t give them too much control. They don’t even want too much control. They can upload an image, and they’ve got to socially verify their account with one click. So, you know, it’s very likely not a fraud.
There are so many ways to address the challenges that a lot of people face and allow to be roadblocks. We believe we’ve addressed most of those, and so that’s probably the one feature that I’m personally most excited about.
David Pisarek: It’s amazing, this conversation and how passionate you are and how it’s basically evolved out of need and the amount of time and effort that you’re putting in to continually kind of push boundaries and think of things in new ways is absolutely phenomenal. So kudos to you, I guess, for steering the ship and to the team over there.
Josh, amazing insights that you’ve brought and to everybody listening, whether you’re using Givecloud or another platform, I hope there’s something here that you’re able to take away and rethink what you’re doing, so you can impact more and have greater contributions to your communities or whatever it is that your organization is doing.
Josh Bloomfield: Yeah, absolutely.
David Pisarek: So to everybody listening, take something away from today, and implement it today. That’s my challenge to you.
Take something that you’ve learned, that you’ve heard about, and go, “You know what? Let’s rethink this. Let’s have a conversation about how can we do something better?” Use that kind of like design thinking methodology behind that to start reshaping your organization to do better, not just do good.
So, Josh, if anybody wants to get in touch with you, what do they need to do?
Josh Bloomfield: The best way, hit givecloud.com/trustraising or trustraising.org (if you want to get there quicker) and sign up. We’ve got awesome content helping you unpack what it looks like to build trust. And you’ll get exclusive early access to some of our new products.
And we’re even very close to releasing a zero-dollar pricing plan for all your non-profits who wish you could, but just can’t figure out the purse strings.
So all of that will be available to you early access if you sign up today. Again. Givecloud.com/trustraising.
And hey, I just want to encourage all of you. I know you’re busy, and I know you’ve come out of a difficult season, but you’re doing awesome. You have started a journey, you have started a mission, something you feel born to be involved in, whether it’s working in your community, whether it’s helping people in a school setting, whether it’s nutrition, whether it’s the environment, whether it’s animals. You’re doing great.
And people like David and myself that we are here to serve and support you in realizing that full potential, so keep going!
Don’t let yourself get too overwhelmed. Take it one step at a time. And again, take David up on his challenge. There might be an overwhelming amount of things in here that would inspire you. There’s got to be one step, and I’ll end with a quote from Anna in Frozen Two, “I just need to do the next right thing”. Love that quote.
David Pisarek: That’s awesome. Thanks again so much. Josh, it’s been great having you here on the Non-profit Digital Success podcast.
To everybody listening, if you enjoyed this episode, head over to nonprofitdigitalsuccess.com/podcast. Click on this episode for all the show notes, and links to the items that we talked about, including how to connect with Josh and his awesome team over at Givecloud. Until next time, keep on being successful.