On this episode of Bloomerang TV, Betsy Rhame-Minor, Partner at Nonprofit Media Solutions, joins us to talk about friendraising. What is friendraising? You’ll have to watch and see!
Steven: Here we go. Hey there. Thanks for tuning into this week’s episode of Bloomerang TV. I’m Steven. I’m the VP of Marketing over here at Bloomerang, and really excited to be joined by our guest today. She is Betsy Rhame-Minor. She is a partner over at Nonprofit Media Solutions. She does a lot of communications consulting and a lot of awesome work. She’s joining us from Atlanta. Hey there, Betsy. How you doing?
Betsy Rhame-Minor: Hi, Steven. Thanks for having me today.
Steven: Oh, sure. Thanks for being here. Hopefully, I got all that right. You guys do a lot of great work over at your consultancy. You have a partner in crime over there. What kind of work do you guys do?
Betsy Rhame-Minor: I do. My partner is crime is Lori Aston, and together we’re Nonprofit Media Solutions. We’ve been in business a few years now, and I’m in Atlanta, and she’s in Salt Lake City, so this Google Hangout thing is something we do a lot of. It’s a great tool.
Steven: You’re a pro.
Betsy Rhame-Minor: Yes, we’re pros at this. We’re pros at this.
Steven: So what kind of consulting do you guys do?
Betsy Rhame-Minor: I’m sorry.
Steven: What kind of consulting do you guys do over there?
Betsy Rhame-Minor: We help usually small to midsize nonprofits with communications. We’re looking to help them with consistency across a lot of different mediums. Sometimes that social media, it’s print publications, email newsletters, talking to people, just making sure that everyone involved in the organization is on the same page and they’re talking about the same things in a consistent way to build a brand.
Steven: Great. I’m looking at your website, and you guys put out a lot of great content and you do a lot of speaking. And on of the topics you focus on is a word that I’m starting to see pop up a little bit around the sector.
Betsy Rhame-Minor: Yes.
Steven: That’s friendraising. And I know there’s a lot of those fun combination words. I actually saw a new one yesterday that was something like philanthroshaming, and that was the first time I had seen that.
Betsy Rhame-Minor: Oh, dear.
Steven: Yeah, it doesn’t sound good. Friendraising sounds a lot better.
Betsy Rhame-Minor: Friendraising sounds more positive.
Steven: Yeah. What is friendraising? Maybe you can explain that for people who may come across that here in the near future.
Betsy Rhame-Minor: Sure. Well, it’s a fun word to use. It’s got the word friend in it, so it’s got to be a good word, right?
Betsy Rhame-Minor: Friendraising is establishing relationships. It’s nurturing relationships with people who are fans of your nonprofit or your cause. Your friends in your personal life should be your fans. They should be interested in you personally, and friends of organizations are much the same way. They’re people who will jump up and down and shout about your cause and share your information because they consider you a friend.
Steven: So we’re really talking about advocates for your cause.
Betsy Rhame-Minor: Absolutely.
Steven: Donor acquisition is so expensive these days it seems like, and if you can get people like your friends to do some of that work for you, that’s going to save an organization a lot of time and money, isn’t that right?
Betsy Rhame-Minor: I think so. We really believe in talking with your friends and people in your own network about organizations and causes that are dear to you because it feels more natural. It’s more comfortable than having to reach out and do the dreaded cold call that so many people don’t like doing.
Steven: So how do you get those friends kind of mobilized. It seems like every nonprofit has friends, whether they know it or not, but how do you really get them going to do these types of things that you want them to do for your organization?
Betsy Rhame-Minor: Well, when Lori and I talk with a nonprofit board or staff group about this kind of thing, we’re talking with them about not thinking of it as something that needs to be a sales pitch. It’s a natural part of a conversation. For instance, if you’re a volunteer at a local animal shelter, it’s as simple as when you’re standing at the bus stop with your neighbors waiting for everybody’s kids to get off the bus, and your neighbor says, “Hey, what’d you do this weekend,” it’s very easy when you volunteered maybe Saturday morning with the dogs to say, “Hey, well, my family and I are really, really interested in animals, and we spent this past Saturday helping over at the animal shelter. We got to play with the dogs, we got to feed them, a few of them got adopted, it was really great.” And suddenly, it’s a conversation, it’s not a sales pitch. The friend will probably then say, “Oh, wow, I didn’t know that you did that,” or, “I didn’t know there was a shelter so close to the house. How do adopt a dog?” The conversation feels very natural, but the person is able to give great information in a friendly way that’s not a sales pitch, but gives the other people enough information where they can either continue to ask questions if they’re interested, check it out online. They’re more educated. They know about this thing that you do, that you’re committed to.
Steven: Do you think that happens naturally or does the nonprofit really kind of have to coach the friend or the volunteer of the donor to talk about those things. It seems like you don’t really get what you don’t ask for. Should nonprofits be telling volunteers, “Hey, you’re standing at a bus stop and someone asks you what you did this weekend, you should tell them that you volunteered here.” Is that a good time to do?
Betsy Rhame-Minor: Well, yes. We want to get people to think a little bit ahead about a few things they could say when an opportunity does naturally come up in the conversation. That animal shelter conversation, what if the neighbor says, “Well, gosh, what happens if these dogs don’t get adopted?” If you know the answer, then perhaps that tugs at their heartstrings. If you know how many dogs the shelter can hold and how many dogs might get adopted every week, just knowing a few of those key points off the top of your head that you’ve prepared a little bit for, but yet it still feels natural, gives the other person some good information without it being a real sales pitch.
Steven: Right. So you really got to equip people with some of those facts and figures. That’s good.
Betsy Rhame-Minor: Yes.
Steven: And you mentioned boards, and I know you do a lot of board training. It seems like the board should be your number one friendraisers, right?
Betsy Rhame-Minor: Yes, that’s what we’re always hopeful for, that board members are really the boots on the ground. They’re people who know people, are well-connected, are good at just telling people about a cause, about an organization. They’re not necessarily in the trenches every single day cranking out the emails, administering the programs, sending out donor thank you letters necessarily, though sometimes board members do help with those kinds of things, but we’re hoping that board members are there really talking and getting the relationships formed in a community.
Steven: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So let’s say people follow your advice, they get this kind of thing going. You work with a lot of nonprofits, what kind of mistakes do you see people making? What are some common mistakes that you see people maybe do when they’re trying to get this sort of advocacy program type thing going?
Betsy Rhame-Minor: Right. One of the most common practices I see that I wish we didn’t see quite so much of is let’s say an organization is two months away from the big annual event that’s their major fundraising event for the year, and a board member starts sharing links to buy tickets or links to donate to the organization, and it’s constant. It’s in their Facebook, it’s all they’re talking about in person when there’s a real push for that event. And some people get turned off by that.
Betsy Rhame-Minor: Some people scroll down through their Facebook and say, “Oh, my gosh. Okay, this thing is all I’m hearing about from this person.”
Betsy Rhame-Minor: A better way to do that would be to just share a little bit of information all year long. Maybe post a picture from a volunteer thank you event that you went to in January, and then a few months later, if it’s appropriate, maybe some statistics or an article or reshare a blog post the executive director put up. So it’s here and there, but it’s consistently all year long. Your social media friends will know that you’re involved in that organization or that cause. If they’re curious, they’ll click on the link and check it out. And then in a few months when you’re posting some links to buy tickets or donate, it’s not a foreign concept to them. They’re already aware of that person’s commitment to this particular thing.
Steven: Rather than every day they send something out.
Betsy Rhame-Minor: Yes.
Steven: You got a board member who’s a little too overzealous. You might have to, “Hey, take it easy. Just share every once in a while.” Yeah, that approach definitely works better, I find, in just marketing in general. Okay. So cool. Well, now people know what friendraising is. If you see that word, you’re a pro on it now.
Betsy Rhame-Minor: Yes.
Steven: Where can people find out more about what your and Lori are up to? Where can people learn more about friendraising?
Betsy Rhame-Minor: Well, we’ve got a beautiful website that my partner Lori has recently taken the helm on redesigning. You can find it at nonprofitmediasolutions.com. We’re on Facebook. You can find us there, too, and then our Twitter handle is @yournonprofit.
Steven: Cool. We’ll link to all that in the blog post.
Betsy Rhame-Minor: Okay.
Steven: Yeah, follow Betsy’s advice. Get those advocates going. They’ll do a lot of good for, right?
Betsy Rhame-Minor: That’s right.
Steven: All right. Cool. Betsy, this is a lot of fun. Thanks for being here.
Betsy Rhame-Minor: Thank you, Steven. This is great.
Steven: And tell Lori we said, “Hi.”
Betsy Rhame-Minor: Will do.
Steven: And we’ll catch everyone on next week’s episode. We will talk to you then.
Betsy Rhame-Minor: Great.
Steven: Check out Betsy and Nonprofit Media Solutions. You’ll learn about friendraising there. So we’ll talk to you next week. Bye now.