Episode 39 – The cutting edge of digital

The Blog

Episode 39 – The cutting edge of digital

cutting edge of digital

My guest on the show today is Cassie Gilman.  Cassie Gilman, Vice President for Marketing and Development for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. In this position, Cassie helps lead a dedicated team to fight hunger in the State of Oklahoma through building relationships connecting organizations and individuals to our mission. Her core values are honesty, trust and kindness. She is a lifelong learner and strive to learn something new every day.

Highlights from this Conversation

  1. What has worked well for you?
    1. Was on the cutting edge of digital
    2. Developed a video for advertising
    3. Pushing ads out
      1. Google Grants
  2. What hasn’t worked well that we can learn from?
    1. Social without a plan
      1. Didn’t know how to properly engage
      2. Should consider
        1. Ask people a question. Engage with them. Don’t just push push push
  3. What are you excited about?
    1. Targeting individuals through direct marketing and segmentation
    2. Different generations give differently
      1. Spare change project
        1. Donors can round up for charity and give change
    3. Purchasing ads in social
    4. Philanthropy is more integrated into the life of the younger generation

Interview Transcript

Adam: [00:00:09] Hi and welcome to the Good People Good Marketing podcast, a podcast about nonprofit digital marketing and how to make it better so that good people at good organizations can have good marketing as well. I’m your host, Adam Walker, co-founder of Sideways Eight, a digital marketing agency that specializes in nonprofit work and 48in48, a nonprofit dedicated to hosting events that build forty-eight websites for forty-eight nonprofits in forty-eight hours.


[00:00:32] On the line with me today is Cassie Gilman. Cassie is the vice president for marketing and development for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. In this position, Cassie helps lead a dedicated team to fight hunger in the state of Oklahoma through building relationships connecting organizations and individuals to their mission. Her core values are honesty, trust, and kindness. She is a lifelong learner and strives to learn something new every day. Cassie, welcome to the show.


Cassie: [00:01:01] Thanks for having me, Adam. Glad to be here.


Adam: [00:01:03] Do you have anything else to fill in from that bio?


Cassie: [00:01:06] Oh, I don’t know. I would say a little bit about me. I would consider myself a scatter joy. I like to scatter joy among other people. I am also really joyous to be joining you here today to talk about digital marketing.


Adam: [00:01:22] Well, this is going to be fun. I have to ask based on your bio and the fact that you’re a lifelong learner, have you learned something new today as of yet


Cassie: [00:01:33] Oh, absolutely. I’m always learning something new. Well, I mean not necessarily a skill based thing, but I always try to take an assessment during the day and pause and say okay, what can I learn from this or what have I learned from this. I find that others that work this way are great to have on a team.


Adam: [00:01:53] I totally agree. The more we can learn, the more we can improve, the better we can be, and the more good we can do in the world. I love that.


Cassie: [00:02:01] Yeah.


Adam: [00:02:02] Well, let’s get started. I would love to ask you three questions and we’ll start with the first one. Tell us something related to nonprofit digital marketing that has worked well for you.


Cassie: [00:02:13] Okay. One thing I want to tell you Adam. In my previous life, before I was at the Regional Food Bank, I worked for a higher educational institution. It is also considered a nonprofit for that foundation. Something that worked really well for us, and I have to admit I am not a Millennial. I am a Gen Xer, so I’m sort of kind of getting into digital and Web. I was raised with the traditional kind of print media, sending out press releases. When we made the transition to digital I wanted to dive in and learn what we could do to get support.


[00:02:51] Most of the work we do in our digital space is to generate dollars through fundraising. We were kind of on the cutting edge that year. We developed a kinetic type video and this is more on the video but we used it as advertising to share our message. That was before Facebook started with their algorithm populating videos above friend feeds and the sound was still being used at that time but we really kind of came out in front and I’m proud of that, to pioneer that kind of work. Actually on our YouTube channel, we’ve got a copy of that video, which I think came out in 2008 or 2009.


Adam: [00:03:33] Nice. Fantastic.


Cassie: [00:03:33] Yeah. Other things that have worked well for us here, I’ve been with the Food Bank about seven months. We’re blessed as a non-profit to actually have a marketing team that is focused completely on advancing the mission of the Regional Food Bank, so whether that is working on our Web. We’ve got a video team here. We’re lucky. Most nonprofits don’t have that. We’re kind of like the Cadillac model.


[00:04:04] Some things that I think have worked well for us. Of course we’re still trying to get our website to be more dynamic. But we have been working with our direct marketing firm and are participating with the Google Grant and we’re pushing ads out. I don’t know if you’re familiar with this, but Google offers ten thousand dollars in in-kind ads for nonprofit organizations each month.


[00:04:29] We really were not utilizing our Google Grant that we had received. We’re starting to see our Google Analytics. We’re pushing people back to the website to make a gift. We’re also paying attention to where people are interacting with us on the website. Our volunteer center we’re looking at the hits to the volunteer center. That is really working well for us. I encourage other nonprofit organizations if they don’t know about Google Grants, google it, learn more, and see how your nonprofit can take advantage of this ten thousand dollars in in-kind advertising.


Adam: [00:05:03] Yeah, I totally agree. Google Grants is a big game changer for a lot of nonprofits and it’s very, very helpful for getting the word out. One of my companies, the marketing agency, we manage Google Grants for some nonprofits and we’ve helped them to really scale their organization because of that, which has been a real blessing for us and a fun ride and really helpful for them in growth. That’s great.


Cassie: [00:05:28] I think a lot of times nonprofits are just really trying to work on their mission, try to keep the lights on and so the opportunity to be able to go out there and seek these types of funds are not what they’re used to, so any help that you guys provide and others to nonprofits is so very welcome.


Adam: [00:05:47] Yeah, I totally agree. That’s kind of why we’re doing this podcast, really is I want to help push the envelope of what nonprofit marketers are doing, what we’re looking at, what we’re understanding, how we’re thinking about marketing, and how we’re growing our organizations to try to push forward a little bit faster and hopefully we can do it together.


Cassie: [00:06:04] Yeah.


Adam: [00:06:05] That’s great. Next question, related to nonprofit digital marketing, can you share something that has not worked well for you that we can learn from


Cassie: [00:06:15] Well, sure. It’s not actually going to be at the Regional Food Bank, but I don’t even know how we’d use this, but you know we jumped into social early on and did not have a real plan. This was before you were even scheduling using like a Tweet deck or a Hootsuite or scheduling and pushing out messages. We did not know how to properly engage. I still see this, actually, with a lot of nonprofits is that they jump into the social space with no plan.


[00:06:43] You try to understand what’s the target audience, what information are you trying to push out there, but often we fail to look back and say what are we trying to do to engage that target audience.


[00:06:56] Let me give you an example. We push out information all the time. Come volunteer in our volunteer center. We need help in the month of January because our volunteer numbers are down. We tell a lot of stories but we don’t engage our base. If we’re looking for volunteers and we’ve asked volunteers to follow us on our Twitter account, then what we need to do is ask them a question. Tell me about your most memorable volunteer experience or how many backpacks did your group pack last week, do you think the next corporation who’s coming in to volunteer can beat that number. Some way to try to engage.


[00:07:35] Of course you’ve got different target audiences for your different types of social media. It took us a while to figure that out. We just kind of looked at it as what I would call social buckshot. We shot (07:47 inaudible) in every medium possible with no idea, no plan. We eventually could lose followers or just not having that engagement. We’re just something else that shows up in the feed that’s not really a part of something that someone’s reading or paying attention to.


Adam: [00:08:06] Wow, yeah. I love that. I mean the idea of social buckshot is spot on. That’s what a lot of nonprofits do is just throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. The problem with that methodology is that nothing sticks, but you’re throwing everything at the wall so you’re getting rid of all of your energy and assets and everything else but you’re not doing anything that actually works. I think we have to dive in and really understand how these platforms work so that we can create strategies and methodologies to sort of play within the lines of those places.


Cassie: [00:08:37] Absolutely. I could tell you some funny ones that we had with Snapchat early on and Geofilters and it was a lot of fun. It was good because our target audience at that time were college students and trying to get them. I learned a whole bunch in that process and I learned that I don’t need to have Snapchat account at all.


Adam: [00:08:59] Yeah, I will confess that Snapchat gets a lot less attention on my phone than it once did. That’s just kind of the way of things I think. Right there with you. Well, that’s great. That’s great. That’s really good advice I think that we can all act on. The next question is related to digital marketing for nonprofits, tell me something you’re excited about.


Cassie: [00:09:25] We’ve got a lot of cool things going forward. Most excited about is just really targeting individuals through, I can talk about direct marketing and segmentation, but we’re seeing this trend of donors not giving through the mail, so of course we’ve moved to a digital platform and it’s opening up all kinds of opportunities and also different generations giving differently.


[00:09:53] Let me give you an example of something we’re getting ready to hopefully launch soon. It’s a spare change kind of product. We’re not actually the app developer. We’ll work with an app developer that will allow our donors to basically roundup. Sometimes you’ll see this if you go to the supermarket and you’ll see it at the checkout. They’ll say, “Hey, do you want to round up for this charity?” Being able to have the opportunity for our donors to engage through our website to get the application and do the spare change thing, that’s something that’s coming down the road.


[00:10:26] It’s been fun. I’m learning as much as I can about it and I’m working with a bunch of Millennials. They just think differently about how they engage with charity. It’s different than going to see my parents who want to write a check and if you call them on the phone, they’re going to ask for you to send something in the mail.


Adam: [00:10:46] Right.


Cassie: [00:10:47] That’s kind of something I’m excited about. We also have spent more time this year purchasing ads in social. Facebook now allows you to do your own fundraising platform as an individual and so we’re looking at ways to engage those individuals who set up their own fundraising, I guess, campaigns is what they would call them on their social media pages. That’s been a lot of fun. I just think there’s a lot of exciting things happening also with video coming forward. We’ll see what happens with the social, specifically with Facebook and the changes that they’re making. But I think it’s great for us.


Adam: [00:11:31] Like we were talking about, the difference between engaging with the older generation and the way that they see themselves and their relationship with the nonprofit is just different than the way the younger generation sees themselves in relationship with the nonprofit. I think what I mean by that is that I see the older generation, they’re a little more separate. They want to send a check. They want to be involved from a funding perspective, but not necessarily from a boots-on-the-ground perspective. But the way I see the younger generation with nonprofits is they really want to be fully immersed. They want to be involved. They want to be a part of the community. They want to give money but they also want to give time. They also want to give expertise. They want to join in as a part of it and really almost attach part of their identity towards that nonprofit. What are your thoughts on that?


Cassie: [00:12:19] Well, I completely agree. This next generation, they really want to be involved. Their philanthropy, they view it differently. It’s a part of their life. Rather than having it separate, I mean they integrate it in all that they do. Look at TOMS shoes is a great example. You buy one, you give one. That really exploded with this generation. I think that’s how they see the world.


[00:12:45] It begs that question of okay so now there’s all this corporate philanthropy. I can feel good about going and buying my shoes. Why should I go down to the local food bank and help prepare meals for kids in the backpack program. We have to be strategic as a nonprofit organization and partner with corporations. I can tell you about some really cool things we’re doing. Starbucks is one of them. But I think it’s important for nonprofits to try to partner with corporations and figure out new creative ways in which they can generate revenue.


[00:13:20] A lot of that is going to be through digital, whether that’s website, whether that’s through social media, who knows, but there are lots of opportunities I think on the horizon for nonprofits to engage with younger donors that way.


Adam: [00:13:36] I totally agree, totally agree. I think it’s exciting when that generation really wants to engage and wants your nonprofit to sort of be a part of their identity. There’s much more stickiness there, where we can sort of grow together as a community of people rather than I’m the nonprofit growing and you’re the person over here helping me grow. It’s really an ‘us’ sort of thing not a not an ‘us and them’ sort of thing.


Cassie: [00:14:02] Right. It’s an integrated relationship.


Adam: [00:14:05] I love that.


Cassie: [00:14:06] It’s going to be fun. As I mentioned, I’m a Gen Xer but watching this next generation, they’re really going to start taking over leadership roles as baby boomers start aging out of traditional nonprofits. Their generation’s larger. Gen Xers are kind of the sandwich generation right now. I’m excited. I’m learning something new from the Millennial members on my team every day. Sometimes I forget that I’m not their age or they’re not my age.


Adam: [00:14:36] Yeah, yeah. For sure, for sure. I totally get that, 100%. Well, let me see if I can summarize some of what I’ve learned from our conversation today and it’s been quite a bit. I think this is great.


[00:14:47] Under question number one what has worked well for you, you said being on the cutting edge of digital and really being out there, pushing the envelope, doing videos and advertising early on really helped you to push that envelope and get more out there and grow the organization. You also mentioned Google Grants and Google ads has been very effective and helpful and definitely encourage nonprofits to sign up for that.


[00:15:13] Under what has not worked well that we can learn from, you mentioned that social without a plan is not ever really a good idea and if you don’t understand the platform, you probably should be cautious about engaging. You said people should consider asking people a question, try to engage with them, don’t just push, push, push, but really interact with people and engage with them about what they’re thinking about and seek information from them.


[00:15:38] Then for what are you excited about, you said targeting individuals through direct marketing and segmentation, specifically understanding the differences between the generations and like we just talked about how generations interact and really see themselves in relation to nonprofits very, very differently. Then also purchasing ads on social and helping to more integrate philanthropy into the lives of the younger generation. I think that’s great. Do you want to add anything to that? Did I miss anything from that summary?


Cassie: [00:16:06] I think you captured it pretty well. I thought of something and then it just went out of my mind, but it was something about when we were talking about video and digital and getting started, that video is really changing the world for us. We’re able to tell our story and reach people in ways that we wouldn’t be able to otherwise. I don’t remember what it was, Adam, but you made it sound great.


Adam: [00:16:33] Well, I’m sure you’ll remember as soon as we stop recording and I can add that to my notes later and share that with the world, so that’ll be great. Do you have any final thoughts you want to share with our listeners


Cassie: [00:16:43] Sure. I just want everybody who’s listening to know how grateful I am that you took the time and I would love for you to check out the Regional Food Bank or if not our food bank a food bank in your area and partner with them because we do great work, not just getting food out but partnering with other nonprofit organizations to really change the economic status for the people who come and use our services.


Adam: [00:17:09] I love that. I totally agree. I think everybody should be involved with a food bank in some way shape or form. Appreciate what you’re doing and that’s really making a difference in the world. Thanks for being a guest on the podcast.


Cassie: [00:17:19] Thanks for having me.


Adam: [00:17:21] And thank you to our listeners for listening to Good People Good Marketing. To get more resources about nonprofit digital marketing, make sure to go to goodpeoplegoodmarketing.com where you can find more podcasts, blogs, and other fun resources.


[00:17:34] Also if you want to find me, Adam, your host, you can find me on Twitter @AJWalker or on my blog at adamjwalker.com, where I blog about productivity, leadership, habit building, having five children, and other insane things that I think about. Thanks for listening and tune in next time.

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