Olga M. Woltman · Founder & Principal, LemonSkies | Olga is a leader in digital fundraising and marketing and the founder of LemonSkies, a strategic nonprofit agency that takes communications and turns them into conversions.
Let us ask you a question, fundraiser: When it comes to crunch time for your fundraising campaigns, do you feel intense pressure to find a poster child for your nonprofit, capture their iconic story, and optimize it to deliver maximum donations?
Look into our eyes, listener, and hear us when we say that’s a daunting task for anyone. It’s no wonder storytelling stresses nonprofits out!
But there is a way, and you’re about to hear the secret directly from one of the storytelling greats. Olga M. Woltman has the key to discovering, creating, and distributing stories that will compel connections and keep donors coming back time after time.
Spoiler alert: it doesn’t involve parading a poster child around, invading your clients’ privacy, or making something up.
Today, Olga and David Schwab, Funraise's Director of Growth Marketing have the scoop for you on how to ethically and empathetically uncover the captivating stories just beneath the surface, weave relevant impact stats and authentic conversations throughout, and choose the perfect moment to release them for incredible impact.
Hello and welcome to this episode of Nonstop Nonprofit!
Let me ask you a question, fundraiser: When it comes to crunch time for your fundraising campaigns, do you feel intense pressure to find a poster child for your nonprofit, capture their iconic story, and optimize it to deliver maximum donations?
Look into my eyes, listener, and hear me when I say that’s a daunting task for anyone. It’s no wonder storytelling stresses nonprofits out!
But there is a way, and you’re about to hear the secret directly from one of the storytelling greats. Olga M. Woltman has the key to discovering, creating, and distributing stories that will compel connections and keep donors coming back time after time.
Spoiler alert: it doesn’t involve parading a poster child around, invading your clients’ privacy, or making something up.
Olga is a leader in digital fundraising and marketing and the founder of LemonSkies, a strategic nonprofit agency that takes communications and turns them into conversions.
Today, she’s got the scoop for us on how to ethically and empathetically uncover the captivating stories just beneath the surface, weave relevant impact stats and authentic conversations throughout, and choose the perfect moment to release them for incredible impact.
David Schwab Hello Nonstop Nonprofit podcast listeners. This is David Schwab. And today I am excited to welcome our guest, Olga Moshinsky Wartman. Olga is a leader at the ALS Foundation, a leader on the board of directors at her local chapter of the Special Olympics and she also owns her own storytelling and fundraising consulting agency. So Olga has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to storytelling and fundraising and people leadership. And I'm really excited to have Olga on today. We have a great conversation ahead for us. But Olga, thank you again for joining. To start, would you just mind introducing yourself to our audience?
Olga M. Woltman Thank you, David, for having me here. Yes, I think you captured some of my background. My professional expertise is entirely in nonprofit sector and storytelling messaging and communications, and marrying those with empathy and people is really my specialty area.
David Schwab So starting off, this is a question I ask all of our guests. What is it about the nonprofit world that brought you in? And then I mean, you've been in the sector for a long time now, not only what brought you in, but what has kept you in?
Olga M. Woltman You know, I think the what kept me in this probably the easier part to answer Once you start working for a nonprofit and you're seeing an impact, then you're tying your day-to-day work to two outcomes and the impact you're making. It's really something that just keeps you coming back. I ended up in nonprofit sector almost accidentally. I moved to Washington, D.C. after graduation, and that was where I got my first job, not surprisingly, out of college and just really sort of enjoyed it and appreciated doing it. So I can't imagine doing anything else.
David Schwab Awesome. So Olga, as we were first meeting and preparing for this podcast episode, you gave me a little bit more detail about your background and your experience and you spent a lot of time on the people side, specifically internally at nonprofit organizations. So as you've built your career, what was it about the people side of nonprofit leadership and nonprofit management that got you so interested to to focus your efforts there?
Olga M. Woltman I think some of it is natural inclination for me to really relate to humans and try and see why we do what we do. But when I think about the work of nonprofit organizations, technology and strategy, all of those matter greatly. But it's ultimately the people that are the fuel that drive outcomes. So to not really lean into that and not to pay attention to that aspect of the nonprofit work just seems like missing a pretty huge, pretty critical piece of the puzzle. So it's really sort of embracing that and thinking about how we work together and how do we motivate people and how do we engage constituents that we work with. To me, it's sort of one continuum. It's not delineating employees versus people we serve. It's really kind of implying that emotional intelligence and emotional IQ to do the work we're doing.
David Schwab Awesome. That's really interesting. But also, I want to dig a little deeper there because, you know, you've got this great ability to tell stories, but also this empathy for people. I feel like that's translated itself into your ability to uniquely communicate the impact that an organization makes. The way that you often refer to it as is people-focused storytelling. Could you just for the sake of our audience and the listeners, define a little bit of what people focus storytelling is?
Olga M. Woltman Well, I think when we think about stories and the storyline and the plotline of the story, it's really about the human experience. It's not a linear telling of what happened and what happened next. It's the journey of the individual that's impacted along the way. When I talk about storytelling and when I sit down to write, or whether it's an email communication or messaging points or overarching strategy, it's really just seeing it from that perspective and allowing yourself to experience it along the way. So and knowing that it brings it brings up emotions as you go through that process, but that tends to generate probably the strongest, most authentic outcome because anybody can string together narrative. But to really add that feel to it, it's really focusing on what compels you, what touches you as you're going through the storytelling.
David Schwab So, Olga, I don't know, you probably don't know this, but there's a conference coming up. It is perfect timing for this conversation because in a couple of weeks I'll be going out to the nonprofit storytelling conference where I have the opportunity to give a session about storytelling and communicating. And the topic we'll be presenting on is is stories move, but numbers prove. And I'm a performance marketing guy. I focus like I have hyperfocus on the numbers. To me, if you show me change over. Time or impact through numbers like that's what gets me motivated. But I also realize that's not the only way to tell stories and the only way to show impact. So this is almost to help me prepare for the session that I'll be leading along with another member of my team. But how can focusing on the people element of storytelling. Make a difference when you're thinking about communicating the impact that your organization makes.
Olga M. Woltman So there's two elements to what you're describing, David. When I think about measuring the impact of storytelling, obviously it matters if we told a great story, but it generates no return on it. As a business person, you have to really consider why are we doing this? But I do think it's looking at a longer view and how we're connecting donors and constituents to the cause and to the mission, because it's not going to be sporadic. You tell the story and you see a spike in giving. You might. But the point is over time to build that affinity and to build that connection. But when we think about compelling case for support, the compelling case to engage somebody in that and then the organization, their mission numbers only tell a partial story. Our brains are really wired for storytelling, so they invoke stronger emotions. We're rooting for the outcome. We're much more invested. So stories are really an illustration of that impact. So the numbers on their own just simply do not connect with us in the same way. And it's combining those two to really build that connection over time.
David Schwab I think it's what you're saying is so important to remember as we're building, not just like we have to write fundraising appeals like we are, we are driven by the generosity of others. That's how we generate revenue and generate the ability to grow impact at our organizations. But it's so important to remember that you can't sacrifice the core of your organization and the core message and the core story that your organization is telling. Just for the sake of driving revenue for like one campaign, like you have to be mindful that does this campaign, does this appeal, does this ad does this message latter up and to my bigger you know, oftentimes we call it brand story or brand arc right. Does what I'm saying here connect to what I've been saying all year? And if not, am I choosing specifically to break the way that I normally talk about what we do like and this kind of I'm leading us kind of into my next question specifically because a lot of organizations I'm talking to right now are like, heads down, It's time we got to write our giving season fundraising appeals, right? Like it's we're giving Tuesday core holidays and year-end, like we're planning for the final six weeks of the year. We know we're going to raise, you know, in some cases as much as 50% of our revenue in the last six weeks of the year, which is crazy to think about. That is a different conversation entirely. But as organizations set their minds on that, it's really easy to get focused on. Like, I've got to do everything I can to drive numbers now. Revenue now, impact now. I got to create urgency. I've got to create a need. I've got to connect the need. I've got to tell stories. There's so much that fundraisers have to do when it comes to telling good stories. As we approach that core six-week cycle of fundraising. I want to dig in to that a little bit because I think you're going to have a really unique perspective here. My first question as we come into that is how do we pick the stories to tell when we know it is game time and it really matters? We have to tell our most powerful stories. We have to show our biggest impact. We have to create the most not just emotive but logical connection to why someone should give and why someone should give to us now when every other organization is trying to do the same thing. So my first question with that context is like, how do we pick the right stories for the right time?
Olga M. Woltman So I'm going to cite Supreme Court here, I think with impactful stories. When you see it, you know it. There are some stories that just stick with you and you can't quite pinpoint. Is it a particular word or is it something about the individual that's been featured? But there's something about it that just stirs emotion. And that story may be different for you than it is for me, but I tend to work best with the stories that I personally feel compelled and connected with. And then I think the other piece to look at is to redefine what a story is. It's not a traditional definition where there's a very clear introduction and sequential series of events and the very clear conclusion to the story in terms of fundraising stories, it's really a vignette it's a snapshot. It's not full view. So it's almost what you say matters, but also what you leave out matters. It's taking that little snippet to illustrate and not to lead donor or constituent down the path where they're very compelled, but they lose sight of why they're hearing the story in the first place. So I think just making sure that there's that strong connection to the mission and strong connection to why I should make a contribution that's so logical that the only next step is to really contribute and support the cause.
David Schwab So often I run into issues like we don't have stories to tell, and I'm like, What? You mean you don't have stories to tell, right? Like you're literally changing lives. It doesn't matter. Like, it doesn't matter what type of organization you are. You are impacting lives in some capacity, right? We've already told all the stories we've captured this year. I'm like, What do you mean? And this gets into something that I've been pushing with our team at five. Raises is resonance, right? Like as a fundraiser, we go, okay, I told that story. I can't use it again because it's like, I can't just say the same thing over and over again. I can't ask for the same thing over again. We're trained like, Hey, you use it. It's like that. That flash in the pan one and done. What I want to get is your take on repurposing good stories and building resonance with a story, maybe approaching it in different ways. Or oftentimes we think in the advertising side, we use the term frequency. How many times has someone heard this message or seen this ad before it fatigues. So in your perspective and your expertise, what is what is that like resonance and cadence of telling a story? How many times can you tell a story before it fatigues or before you have to move on to something else?
Olga M. Woltman I love this question so much, and whenever somebody tells me we don't have stories, I just really think it's time to do a training for staff on how to gather stories. The greatest stories start with uncomfortable questions. When you're interviewing a subject or you're talking to one of the employees on the front lines. Once you start asking questions about how they feel in the moment or what something meant to them or what their dreams and aspirations are. So it's really digging past the surface and going a little bit deeper. That's when you start identifying the true gold threads. In terms of frequency, I think there is this undue pressure on what a story entails. So I think resistance to collecting these stories usually stems from thinking that it's something very huge in nature, and sometimes a simple 20 minute conversation is all you need to to get that nugget that you're looking for in terms of frequency. I think once somebody starts being recognized, you know, their story is very, very unique. That's when I think you're saturating the market a little bit because it starts feeling like a poster child syndrome. And that's why you really need to to mix it up. But I think it's taking different elements of the story and spotlighting a different aspect of it or, you know, maybe changing the angle. I think the other piece to consider is also how long a story has been in rotation, because especially with organizations that may be working with children's population, I've encountered that where a story of an eight year old that's wonderful and resonant. By the time that child is 15 or 16 years old, they may not want to be the poster child for for the cause. So there is a little bit of that ethical consideration to to play a role. But I think, you know, and I'm not trying to sidestep your question on frequency, but I think once you start removing the pressure of story being this epic telling and it just really becomes a small vignette and small insight on what something means, how your mission is put into action, It feels like a much more surmountable challenge now.
David Schwab I love that answer because I think it really gets to the crux of the issue is fundraisers and marketers and storytellers at nonprofits feel like they have to go out and find this like captivating, iconic, amazing story and the thought of doing even getting started doing that or like, even as simple as like, I got to go line up 15 interviews and take my whole day and go find the people and record that it's blocking. When you think about like, I've got to I've got to go do this so that I can hope to find this. But really it's I just have to go be ready to engage with people and listen well and turn what they say into something that I already know my donors and my constituents and my volunteers my supporters are going to care about.
Olga M. Woltman Now, I would just add, it's not stopping. It's reporting of what happened. If you just share what happened to tell a story, you really need to go beyond that. This happened and this is what it meant to me. This occurred and here's how my family was impacted. So I think it's going just that little bit further. And I don't know why we're so uncomfortable asking about feelings and asking about emotions and asking about people's aspirations. But that's where you really generate the story as opposed to a simple reporting that's very, very straightforward. Here's what happened. Things were okay, and then they got more okay and everyone was okay ever after. So.
David Schwab So, Olga, one of the things you touched on, it was the like the poster child or poster, the flagship, the story that becomes the anchor of an appeal or a campaign or a season. But if you're not careful, it becomes like your whole fundraising identity in that one story. You live or die by one story. There's a lot to unpack there, but specifically what I want to unpack because I hear so much fear and opposition to to using stories because people aren't confident that they're telling the stories the right way or doing them justice. But one of the things I really want to get your take on is how do we tell the story of impact from the person's perspective who is impacted or from the community or whatever that impact was? How do we tell that story? Well, ethically and in a way that is respectful and responsible.
Olga M. Woltman I think it's. Not tokenizing and trying to let their voice shine through. Some organizations will actually use first person narrative, which is a perfectly great approach to it, but I think it's the empathy piece that I keep coming back to and not telling the story as you would as an outsider, but telling the story in the way that particular person might be sharing it. So, you know, if it's a story of a child, they sound different than a grown up fundraiser. So it's just making sure that you're allowing some of that to shine through. And it could be the entire narrative. It could be a quote, you know, goes without saying. Permission is always really vital in your point on ethics is a very important one to make sure that we're capturing stories of people who want to share it and they want to make a difference for our organization, their cause that helped them, but making sure that it's true to how they see it.
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David Schwab I want to pause for a minute and introduce another trending topic in the nonprofitsphere. Asset-based giving is largely an untapped tool in the fundraiser's toolbox. And until recently, it was a lever most organizations couldn't afford to pull. But as technology increases, the ability to give donors a chance to give out of their wealth to the cause that they already care so deeply about, is making it as easy for a donor to give an asset-based gift as a credit card gift. Take a quick listen to Steve Leatham, founder and CEO of Donate Stock, one of our partners here at Funraise as he explains the value of asset-based giving, how it's easier than ever to allow donors to give out of their wealth rather than their wallets, and how technology is enabling more organizations like yours to give more opportunities for donors to lean in to the causes they care so deeply about.
Steve Latham Hi, I'm Steve Latham, co-founder and CEO of DonateStock and I'm here to talk to you about how we're making stock gifting easy and accessible for all Funraise nonprofit customers. For decades, stock gifting has been a 1% solution. The wealthiest households giving stock to the largest nonprofits and educational institutions and foundations. It was historically very difficult for small nonprofits to participate in stock gifting, and it's always been a very difficult, tedious process for donors to execute stock gifts. Today it's a very different story. We've made it easy and accessible for all donors and all nonprofits. So first of all, why stock? First of all, it's the most tax-advantaged way for donors to give. When they donate stocks instead of cash. They actually can avoid the capital gains tax they would have otherwise incurred if they sold it and they can pass it on to you. So the profits get larger pretax stock gifts. It's also the most widely held financial asset and where most households have their assets concentrated. Their wealth is in their investment account. It's in their stocks, mutual funds, ETFs. It's not in a checking account. It's not in their credit cards. So this represents a massive untapped source of funding that now is actually quite accessible for all nonprofits. And like I said, we've made it really easy for Funraise customers now to activate stock gifting and inside Funraise and make it easier for your donors to make tax-advantaged stock gifts. Some of the issues that historically made stock gifting hard were for donors a lack of awareness and just a very painstaking manual process to execute stored gifts. That was my experience 15 years ago when I tried to make a stock gift. It was such a painful experience. I never did it again. And it was really that inspiration in 2020 that led us to realize that there was a big opportunity to help nonprofits by unlocking stock gifts, by making it easy for the donors as well as the nonprofits. It's also been challenging for nonprofits. Even those that can get a brokerage account, which is meaning that the larger ones, they really struggle with processing stock gifts. One, it's a it's a lot of work. It's a very manual-intensive process. Multiple people have to touch every stock gift. Number two, there's no information about the donor. That's one of the biggest challenges. Even though the donor filled out the paperwork to send their stock to that brokerage account, on behalf of the nonprofit, their information doesn't travel with stock, so nonprofits don't receive instant gifts in a brokerage account. They don't know who it came from. The donors assume they know because they fill out some paperwork. And so you have a big problem that the donors are not getting knowledge because the nonprofits don't know they're getting stock. So those are the issues that we confronted a few years ago. I realized if we could build a better way to make it easy for donors to execute the gift in minutes instead of hours or days and for nonprofits to streamline and automate the process of receiving, selling, acknowledging and processing stock gifts, then we can really unlock a lot of value for nonprofits and as well as make it easier, more tax-advantaged ways for giving for donors. So that's what we do. Think of us as PayPal, for stock gifting. It's an easy pop-up widget that allows a donor execute a gift in minutes. We then process that. We can send the stock to the brokerage account for a 501c3 that we manage through DonateStock charitable. Allows us then to convert stock to cash. Send it directly to you. So no brokerage required, no fuss, no hassle. It's really easy. And now it's in your platform as a Funraisie customer. And best of all, there's no cost to activate. It literally can activate it your giving form in minutes and then we can start processing these gifts for you. We also argue with the content to go educate your donors, your board, your communities. The assets through email, web content, a button for your site, for ways to give page, as well as social posts and other collateral and campaigns that we can army with to then educate your donors. So we can help make donors aware that stock gifting is easy, allow you to harvest a large portion of your donor's investment accounts, where their wealth is concentrated and like only source of funding for nonprofits. So it's really easy. Again, you can activate it inside a Funraise. You can come to DonateStock.com to learn more, and we look forward to helping you buck the trend and make the most of this Q4 given season.
David Schwab The DonateStock and Funraise integration makes it easier than ever for organizations like yours to empower donors to make bigger, more meaningful gifts than ever before. And now, let’s get back to the conversation.
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David Schwab Mm hmm. I want to kind of redirect us a little bit back to same topic, but thinking back to as we build a year end messaging strategy or that like vital giving final push giving season push messaging strategy, getting super tactical, let's say, you know, we have four appeals planned for that, like giving Tuesday, December and year end timeframe. We got four appeals planned. We have two stories we want to make the most out of this, the stories that we have. How would you go about using bits and pieces of the stories and intertwining them with impact statistics and mission like mission updates and things like that? How would you go build that messaging strategy for that time frame, knowing, Hey, this has to be our biggest impact yet?
Olga M. Woltman Yeah, and year end is a little bit unique because it is the time that we've conditioned, I suppose, donors to contribute. So the story in that case serves not as a reason but more as a validation to contribute. You know, people are a little bit more primed to think about giving, to think about contributing. So we need to give them just that. A little piece of emotional information. If you have a finite number of stories to work with, I mean, I can see just pulling out the really compelling quote and using that as one of your appeals to kind of reiterated. So the appeal focuses on the impact, but that testimonial of how the work is supporting individuals just serves that illustration. And maybe another version having a more expanded story that takes you through the process. I also think of stories as being threaded into overarching narrative. So it's not sort of introduction and here's the story and therefore you should contribute. But we're sort of meanders in and out of the conversation, including some of the information about the work you're doing.
David Schwab It's awesome. Yeah. So I feel like we've had a really awesome conversation about storytelling and crafting good stories and capturing good stories and using stories responsibly and thinking about how to apply stories. But there was this was a LinkedIn post I saw recently that has stuck with me that I thought you would have a really unique take on and kind of the direction I'd like to take. The second half of our conversation here is using stories to motivate internally. As much as you use stories to motivate externally, we often as fundraisers and as marketers, we're like, Hey, that's a really interesting thing. I'm going to go tell all the people, all my donors or all my constituents or all my volunteers or even the people I serve. I'm going to go tell everyone about that story. And I think that internal communication, the people focused internally, the people who are actually delivering the services and doing the work often get neglected. How do you approach motivating teams internally with the same type of storytelling that we often are so good at doing externally?
Olga M. Woltman That's an excellent question, David. I don't know why we delineate between employees and donors and constituents because we're dealing with the same set of humans. And if anything, these individuals chose to to work for your organization and your cause. I believe it's very easy to lose sight of why we do what we do, just being busy and trying to get things done in the course of the day. Sometimes it's very easy to forget the why behind it. So that's where I see stories and mission moments and kind of taking that pause to reflect on the difference you're making in the course of the day. It's incredibly motivating to staff to just be reminded of that. I mean, you read so many articles about people looking for professional lives that have a meaning, and how do you build the alignment behind the mission? Well, that's a built in feature of working at a nonprofit organization. It doesn't have to be your one and only cause that you personally are most compelled by. But you obviously have to be a mission oriented individual. So sometimes asking colleagues and staff members to share their own mission moments. So rather than doing the storytelling yourself. Allowing others to reflect on moments that might be meaningful to them and validating that experience again. Coming back to a story doesn't have to be this epic tale with beginning, middle and ending. It's a moment, it's a snapshot, and hearing your peer, your colleague, sharing something can be incredibly compelling. I'll never forget one of my coworkers was describing something, sharing information for possible future use. And in telling that story, she got choked up seeing the impact of the work they were doing on the family. That was was help. Just really she almost had tears in her eyes in sharing it with her colleagues and peers. And that raw emotion and that very real connection just impacted everybody on that Zoom call to an extent like nothing else. What? Nothing. Somebody could could put on a piece of paper and plan around.
David Schwab I want to think back in the context of of giving season. We know right now all of our friends working at nonprofit organizations are specifically fundraisers, marketers. Storytellers are running around with their hair on fire. It is crunch time, however you want to categorize it. It is peak, busiest time of the year for fundraisers between massive amounts of appeals, marketing campaigns, galas, events, dinners, meetings, delivering services. A lot of organizations have special events that they host during the holiday season. How can we use good storytelling to keep the motivation and engagement of our peers at our organization?
Olga M. Woltman Yeah, I think some of it is. It's sort of two pieces to this equation. You're fundraisers on the front lines may not always be the ones that interact with people that you're supporting. So equipping them with stories that they can share and the impact that they can share with donors or volunteers, etc., can be really phenomenally helpful. Some of it will depend on culture of the organization where, you know, certain things feel very authentic and real to who you are. At one organization may seem a little bit contrived somewhere else. So I think you have to stay true to your organizational approach to things. So in one organization, maybe it's an all staff conversation where a series of stories are shared. Maybe it's your internal slack or internal teams chat where you're sharing those stories and it's also sharing in the victories. I think when we talk about stories, just making sure that we don't pigeonhole them in kind of the narrative and the journey of an individual, but also the story of the impact that we're having. It's incredibly compelling when a colleague shares of maybe it's a legislative win, maybe it's a particularly compelling achievement in service area. So stories can take a little bit of a different form. And success begets success. It's motivating to see your peers and colleagues align. So it kind of creates the sense of we're together in it and we're making a difference. I do rely on the kind of sharing of those moments as well. And then finally, it's celebrating the people of the organization that you are at and moments in our work lives. Right. So it may not always be these grand gestures, but that's what we do day in and day out. So somebody's sharing, hey, here's a thing that happened. I just wanted to share it with you. And creating that culture where it's not only accepted, but it's welcome, I think really is a motivating thing for people.
David Schwab Yeah, I couldn't agree more. And there is a time I'm going to go way back to the beginning of COVID. I don't want to sit there too long because I don't want to remember too much of that time. But I was working with an organization and we were putting the final touches on it was March, and they're a ministry, so Easter's a big like Easter is a big deal for them. We were putting the final touches on their big Easter campaign. Their two office headquarters are San Francisco and New York. So like they were in the epicenter of the epicenter when it comes to COVID and no one really knew what was going to happen. We knew the campaign that we had planned, the efforts that we had planned, the events that we had planned. They weren't going to happen at this point. Like we are like we're just like this just this isn't going to happen. And it doesn't feel authentic to just try and push through with what we were doing, even though we don't really know. Like at that time it was like, Oh, we're going to lock everything down for two weeks and we're going to go back. But the executive director and the president penned an internal memo and he basically said, like, we don't know what's going to happen, but we can trust that God is going to carry us through this. And all we can do right now is pray. So join me, join your peers, Join us together to pray for our organization, pray for the people we serve, pray for Our donors are consistent. Our supporters pray for the people around us, our communities. And we have stopped. And we said, Hey, this is really true and authentic. It motivated your staff internally. Can we send this to everyone? Right? Can we take this story that you told that was really moving? Can we send it to your donors and your constituents and your supporters and your board member? And can we send it to everyone because, like, we're all moved, Maybe it'll move. Of them, and it ended up being the most successful fundraising campaign that we we ran for the entire year. Now, that was covered year. Everything is different. I'm not saying send every internal memo from your executive director to everyone because that's that's a formula for success. But what I'm trying to get to is like, hey, this really moving story that was told, this thing, this moment that happened authentically, we were able to repurpose and use in other channels to communicate and engage authentically. So as we're planning and everyone is listening to this is is neck deep in planning for their year end strategy and they're giving Tuesday through your end strategies is when you find that really juicy story. What are good ways to compound the impact by telling it uniquely through different channels?
Olga M. Woltman I think the word that you kept coming back to and I appreciate that, is authenticity. You know, the beauty of authenticity is that it really connects us. The tough part about authenticity is that you can't plan for it, right? Like it happens very organically. I think it's having that lens of this sound real. Does this sound authentic or does it feel contrived and not being afraid to walk away from something that doesn't feel really true to what it is in terms of channels? I mean, the answer is in the patterns, right? So if you have an executive who who is very passionate and the storyteller and just has a very strong presence, maybe it's video. If you have a message that's best conveyed in writing, maybe it's in writing. But I think it's also not being afraid to not use something if it doesn't fit. If it's a case of a brown whole square peg or square peg round hole, if something doesn't fit, even if it's wonderful, it's not trying to kind of shove it in there because it is such a very compact. LinkedIn is a wonderful space for those types of stories that feel a little bit more internal and it motivates. Even though it's an external communications channel, it's also motivating to internal staff because that's how I sees it a lot of the times. So those could be ways to leverage it. But but I think it's really about looking looking out for those moments, those nuggets of gold, because they happen all the time. So it's a question of capturing them and it's a question of paying attention and listening and then being thoughtful about it. But walking in with an open mind, if it makes sense. And the way you described it, everything just aligned in the right way. Given the context and everything else. It's employing that, but not being afraid to walk away if it doesn't fit.
David Schwab I think that's that piece is critical that you just touched on, is having the courage to lean into a story, but also having the courage to walk away from a story or walk away from a campaign or walk away from a message if it's not resonating or if it's not the right message for the right channel at the right time. And understanding that particularly with today's donors, today's constituents and the people that even that down to the people that we serve, the expectation from an organization is to communicate to them like they would for many for profit organization where messaging sits at the rate of a news cycle which is barely more attention than a goldfish at this point. But it's so important to be able to have not just the insight, to know when something isn't landing, but the authority to be able to say, Hey, this isn't landing, let's pivot. Although I am really grateful for the conversation we had today. So many great ideas, so many great ways to build resonating stories, to engage not just externally your constituents and donors and people you serve or the communities you serve, but also engage internally and keep that motivation so high, specifically during the season when things are crazy, but also like just generally, it's a great way to increase engagement, increase job satisfaction. I know we have such a crisis on our hands with employee turnover and there's a lot of talk about the retention rate of donor retention and that being the crisis. But we have an equal crisis of internal retention and staff retention. This is a great way to keep staff retained and motivated and engaged and combat burnout. So all I just have one last question for you. Really practical one thing for someone to do, like if they're listening now, like, Hey, I, I need one idea to get me through fundraising season. What's your go to? Someone came to you and ask like, Hey, what should I do right now to win this fundraising season? What's that like? One big idea that you would share.
Olga M. Woltman Just one, huh? I think it's keeping focus on why you're doing what you're doing and not getting too attached to how you've always done things. It's not innovation for the sake of innovation, but as you know, if we kind of hitch our wagon to how things have always worked, we're kind of giving up that the ability to think critically and innovative. So I would say just take everything with a grain of salt. Everything is is up for discussion, everything is up for negotiation. And just really think of it as what is the best course of action. What do I think will produce the best possible outcome?
David Schwab Awesome. Well, Olga, thank you so much for your time today. To those who are listening, Olga is really active on LinkedIn. I highly recommend you go find her. Follow her. She's got great thoughts, great stories, great inspiration. I learned a lot just engaging with your posts on LinkedIn. But outside of LinkedIn, if someone wanted to connect with you, what would be the best way to reach you?
Olga M. Woltman Well, they'll probably find me on the running trail. That's probably the best place. But short of that lemon, Sky's skycom is where you can find me. Or just Google lemons, guys, and you will get connected.
David Schwab Awesome. Thank you, Olga.
Olga M. Woltman Thanks a lot.
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