Making A Good Life Working With Nonprofits

Birgit Pauli-Haack

Birgit Pauli-Haack

Read the transcript

Jan Koch  00:03

Thanks for joining me at the WP Agency Summit. I’m here with Birgit Pauli-Haack, which I’ve been lurking around on the internet for ages. And then some six or seven months ago, we finally got to meet. A pleasure to have you on.

Birgit Pauli-Haack 00:20

Well, thank you so much for inviting me Jan. And it’s a pleasure to be here for the WP Agency Summit. And you do great work and the community. Thank you for putting this together.

Jan Koch  00:30

Thank you so much. For those living under a rock and not being aware of who you are, what you’re doing with Gutenberg times, and all the other ventures that you have in place. Can you give us a bit of a rundown of who you are and what you’re doing in the community?

Birgit Pauli-Haack  00:43

Yeah, and you’re too kind. So I’m in the WordPress community, I’m part of the community team. And I just recently in November, signed up to be on the documentation team on the WordPress project but for the last three years, I have been publishing updates on the block editor on the new development of Gutenberg. With the Gutenberg times two years or two and a half years and before that, that kind of had a little ramp-up to the website. And now I collect and interview people in the space that are using the block editor for all kinds of different ways. I also have, so the community times have a good YouTube channel and where we have live Q and A’s with people on the team of Gutenberg or agencies or trainers that work with Gutenberg and how they approached it. Also, the last one was in the new block directory. And we had the meta team and the plugin review team on with Alex Shiels, Kelly Dwan, and Otto Wood. And Before that, we had a series of Q and A’s with the theme team and theme developers about the block-based theme, which is coming later this year as a public beta, so, yeah, and it’s been really interesting. Another outlet, so to speak of keeping up with Gutenberg, is the Gutenberg changelog podcast that I co-host with Mark Uriane, who’s a developer on the team and co-contributor, and we talked through some of the changelog items on the Gutenberg beyond just the three or four new features that are in there, but also what other areas of the software are kind of updated. And also Jan, highlight some people from the community that do great plugins or challenge the Gutenberg team a bit with alternative views and alternative projects. So it’s a really interesting space to get involved with the Gutenberg team, the core team. Yeah.

Jan Koch  03:08

Yeah, it sure is. And I have to confess that I am not using Gutenberg yet. So I didn’t have the time to get my hands dirty and to know what to learn my ways around it. But I’m closely monitoring the development. And it’s coming along really, really nicely with new exciting features being added all the time. And what I admire about what you are doing is, besides all that Gutenberg craze that takes up the majority of publicity, if you will, and what people notice about you, you’re also running an agency and work with nonprofits. So how do you first of all, how do you manage all of that? There must be tons of work?

Birgit Pauli-Haack 03:48

Well, it’s not well, work is only hard when you don’t like it. Yeah. And sometimes you need to have a passion for something to get through the heartbeats easily so that’s certainly something but well, I, one of the biggest productivity tools for I have is switching on notifications off. So there are no things like phones, text messages, slack messages, browser messages on my computer unless I switch them on for a number of minutes or hours a day. So that’s one thing. The other part is that um, yeah, I don’t have a nine to five day. But I also have an awesome team that took over quite a few things from me. Yeah, like development design. All of what I do mostly on the projects that our agency does is on the project management part and communication with the customers and handle all the communication. I haven’t. I started out as a developer, but it seems that that part is actually a strength of mine. So I, yeah, I had to give up this the kind of get my hands dirty on code quite early. So

Jan Koch  05:12

that’s a tough lesson learned I can imagine.

Birgit Pauli-Haack  05:15

Yeah. And I’m, I’m blessed or not blessed. It’s, yeah, I’m coming bow down onto two sides of that. I don’t have children, especially in COVID-19 that kind of takes away a lot of attention from very professionals that have to also be dealing with the kids at home and do homeschooling and education and I’m, yeah, that’s certainly  I feel for everybody who is in that situation. Yeah,

Jan Koch  05:48

yeah, I can only imagine how that works. I have an eight weeks old daughter as we’re recording this and she is taking up a lot of my time even without homeschooling now. I cannot imagine being a teacher that an entrepreneur at the same time, the husband, of course, so

Birgit Pauli-Haack 06:06

Yeah. Yeah, these are tough times. And I actually speaking of husband, I have a very supportive husband. And so we both work from home. And we actually enjoy having lunch together and having breakfast together and have dinner. And we kind of keep the times for that, but I think we just digress a bit, but it’s certainly beneficial to have a supporting support group or supporting spouses with that work.

Jan Koch  06:37

Yeah, absolutely. And you’re right, we are digressing. And what I really wanted to talk about with you is the clientele that you work with your agency and the market that you’re in because you’ve chosen a niche with nonprofits, which I would have assumed is something that’s ruled out by most agency owners because it’s like, nonprofits don’t have money. So Why, why even bother marketing to them and trying to sell them expensive websites? And I would love to hear your thoughts on why you picked that niche.

Birgit Pauli-Haack  07:09

So yes, all the agencies don’t come into the field, then I don’t have any competition. But joking aside, so that is, of course, the notion that doesn’t profit don’t have money, but that’s a myth. They are businesses. And so they’re a small business, large business or even huge businesses. And, but they don’t have the profit goal as for the operation, they want to make an impact on society, or they want to serve people. So But nevertheless, they need to fund the operation. And so that was the sum in 2017 there’s a nonprofit Technology Network short in 10 published a study that gives a lot of insight into the technology situation for nonprofit. And it helped me out make a better sense out of the needs of challenges where I can help or our team can help. And they categorize the various nonprofits, not only on budget size, which is certainly crucial, they need to have the budget to pay you, but they are also dividing them up into technology adoption levels. And, and they and there’s self-reporting. So they have for adoption levels, one that’s called struggling and is an organization that doesn’t have used technology to further the mission that much they and then there is one that’s called functioning. They have the technology, but it’s a little bit outdated and they make the decisions inside the organization of what technology to get. The struggling organization just kind of replaces what they have. And then there’s the operational technology level where they have every back in the row and they kept up with technology development. But then they need to modernize certain things or have different other different on new operational fields that may also be covered by technology. And then the fourth level eyes are the leading ones though, the organization that uses technologies to serve their mission, and they’re actually inventing or creating new technology or work with new technology in the field. And so and I call them because it’s also, without doubt, the so impersonal I call them Sally, Frankie, Olivia and Leslie and have kind of these personas around those technology adoption levels. It was an eye-opening approach for me. Because intuitively, I made that distinction as well that you cannot offer a high technology solution to someone who cant operate them. It’s like giving a piano without giving them the lesson. But it’s also I didn’t see it so formalized before that study. And this and every aspect of the study that had talked about technology information or topics divide the answers that each organization gives into those four categories. So it also shows you how nonprofits actually operate at certain levels. And so one question of course, out of that study, to bring us back to the topic is towards doing nonprofits hire consultants, yeah, because I don’t want to be a full-time person on a. So and it turns out on all four technology adoption levels, they hire consultants, and at an average of 40%, so you need to find them. But that’s a huge market there, right there. And, but there’s also another reason why it’s so that’s kind of that myth kind of thing. It was a little bit.

Jan Koch  11:13

Yeah, debunked in very much detail.

Birgit Pauli-Haack 11:17

So for me, it’s also but it’s also something. I see the dedication of community leaders, like Sally, Frankie, Olivia, and Leslie, and their bravery and their passion. Each day they work in the ditches of the society to help those who were left behind on their journey of life. And they are. They help in food pantries and homeless shelters. They help seniors with music and art. They help poor children to get an education to escape the cycle of poverty in the richest country on Earth, and they work in cultural organizations bridging the divide, they set out to preserve our nature’s pressures. And they need to reach out to their supporters organize volunteers and raise funds, yes. But they know how to help these people and I don’t, but I know how to help them to make this place a better live a better world. So that’s an additional, young, non-monetary motivation for me that I find that my work is a little bit more than just putting code on a website to sell things.

Jan Koch  12:36

I’m really glad that you mentioning that because it’s, for me personally, also, one thing to pay the bills obviously, but then having a work that impacts people and knowing that what you’re doing is not useless to the community is so much more motivating when you have these hard times when there’s like this roller coaster rides that we all try to flatten out running our agencies. If there are those tips and no money is coming in and you know, the work that you’re doing matters. I feel it’s easier to push through these hard times and to stay motivated.

Birgit Pauli-Haack   13:11

Yeah, yeah, I get what you’re saying. And it’s, um, but it also is kind of that what I had before. Yeah, if you have a little bit more passion around something, it’s easier to get through the low areas of the work, the grind, and it’s, there are different things that nonprofits do differently as a business. But we’ve, we can talk through this, if you want. 

Jan Koch  13:43

I would love to Yeah, yeah. But first, one more question about that study. Is that available online for free? or How did you get your hands on it?

Birgit Pauli-Haack 13:51

Yes, there is an I can send you the link for your show notes or what you do. 

Jan Koch  13:57

That will be great. Yeah. 

Birgit Pauli-Haack 14:01

Yeah, I’ll have that I even actually, I used some of that in a talk that I gave on WordPress, New York City last year, called WordPress for nonprofits. And I can also give you access to the slide deck, which has a few of the links in there that I might mention later, as well.

Jan Koch  14:24

Sounds great. So imagine that we run an agency and we want to enter that market of working with nonprofits. What are the first steps that we need to take? How do we, I guess before evaluating which nonprofits to work with we need to consider how we present ourselves in the market. Like how do we need to build a brand of our agency that it’s actually appealing to nonprofits?

Birgit Pauli-Haack 14:52

Yeah, I certainly it’s hard so for me, I didn’t set out and kind of build the agency around it was kind of I had the interaction with the nonprofit first and then build an agency around it. So it kind of was really strong about a lot of me involved kind of thing and do the networking locally. But there are multiple ways to… branding I’m not so sure how to do that. But there are others who do a better job on that. But I think it’s how do you connect with the nonprofits and learn more about how their needs and challenges? So I got involved in a nonprofit when I came over, I’m originally from Germany, and we moved to the United States in 98. And I was I got very early involved in the local nonprofit technology with the internet service provider, there was a movement in the States about the free nets. And I think in Germany, and in Germany, there was a movement called Bürgernetz. And so the last two years in Munich, I was part of the burger nets it’s mentioned. And I saw a similar organization here in Naples, where I have been living for the last 22 years, and called the Naples, Freenet. And I got involved in that. And it was really because I was also working on the internet. So I got my new friends away from home was through the nonprofit. And that was really interesting to learn, coming from a different culture, a different way of operating your society in the United States. And so, but I also met a lot of agency owners that are actually involved in nonprofits as a volunteer. Yeah. And I think it will be that is certainly something that gets you, at least in their nonprofit. You know a little bit more about how volunteers work, how the board works, and these kinds of things. And from there, I was ready to abstract that into a larger idea. And I also worked there in the width of Freenet with nonprofits, trying to teach them HTML, which I gave up quite fast. And then we implemented content management systems that we trained people there. And then I switch that content management system as the president of the organization to WordPress in 2010 and we’ve migrated about 40 organizations to WordPress from their previously hideously outdated CMS. So it was a personal journey that I did and then yeah, 18 years ago, I just found out because people asked me to if I would do this commercially, and would help them on a contract basis. So I had to create a company and take on some of those contracts. So I guess every journey is a little bit different, but there are you can do it in a methodical way. So there are these two organizations. One I already mentioned. One is a nonprofit technology network called Intendance And they have online community forums where you can meet up technology consultants and nonprofits and see what the questions are about. They have an online forum about data migration about IT decision-makers, WordPress, and digital advertising. And they’ll also have something that’s called local NP Tech Clubs. NP tech is a kind of hashtag for nonprofit technology. And I found it here in the local about six, seven years ago. A local tech for a good club where we had monthly meetings like a WordPress meetup just for nonprofits, with techno with a broader range of technology. And we have monthly meetings we have about 15 to 20 to 30, sometimes 50 people in the area where nonprofits and technology consultants and other consultants like a board, Board Governance and communication, and fundraising consultants come and we all talk together about certain aspects of technology and invite people speakers or have panel discussions. Organizing that do you get a broad range of contacts, and also you can in a very informal way showcase your expertise or learn. I almost had that, use that as a listening unless I do a presentation as a listening exercise, asking questions, listen to the answers, and see what are the places where we can help.

Jan Koch  20:14

That’s brilliant. So it’s essentially about who you know in that realm like getting involved in as many communities as you can while building out as meaningful relationships and not being just superficially present in those discussions. And then from what I understood, what you said is, they tell you their issues, and you are in the position to figure out a solution for them and then present it to them in one of those meetups. That’s the idea dream scenario, I guess.

Birgit Pauli  20:46

Yeah. And it’s and if you do it not as a sales pitch, which is kind of really frowned upon and give options I what I find is that nonprofits don’t trust out of, it first trust anybody. And they have a lot of people that are listened to. So whoever is a leader in a nonprofit has a lot of input from other people. It does not mean that they’re always better opinions or but there are a lot of navigational issues communication-wise. So if they can present options to the board, and you can give them options that have actually a kind of a low budget, middle budget, and high budget kind of thing. Yeah. And explain what the differences are in, in future-proofing the organization, then, it really depends on that technology adoption level, to which solution they go. Yeah, but it’s you cant talk about that is just one solution. And it’s mine. That’s really hard because I listen also to others no. Yeah, everybody, every board has somebody who has a business or had a business and has worked with consultants. Yes. So there’s always this kind of back and forth on there, which is, I think very inspiring because you learn so much from it. Yeah. We also did, um, of course, we have these two platforms that we build on. One is WordPress. And the other one is Civi CRM, which is an overall content, not content. constituent management system. CRM isn’t the name, but it also takes care of the events take care of membership, and donation profiles. It also can even have pure fundraising like you can give one of your supporters a page and they can organize how they want And the funds come in. And so they can share it on Facebook and these and all these come back to one platform. And civvy CRM is also open source, it’s also based on PHP. And they have a very good partner network. And we get quite a few leads from there, from their websites when people are looking up somebody who can help them to Civi CRM. So I found that quite beneficial.

Jan Koch  23:29

Yeah. So that is a pretty good segue into my next question. And that will be about the types of work that you can do for nonprofits. So there’s obviously the elephant in the room is building a WordPress website for them. But as we’ve talked about solving issues for them, and future-proofing the nonprofit, the organization, what is it in the projects that you see gets the most benefits for your clients?

Birgit Pauli-Haack  23:58

So most nonprofits that we work with already have a website. So sometimes they come to us and say, okay, we need to change it. This is kind of six years, seven years, two years old, but it doesn’t do what it needs to be done. So we’re doing I’m working with them in revamping the website to streamline donor experience and communication. What I see in a lot of nonprofit websites is that they have a myriad of benefits and various ways to support and give. We work with one organization that had six different Ambassador programs. nine different funds you could leave money to, and separate a joint call for volunteers, Board of Directors kind of thing. And when you got to the website, it felt like you’re immediately on decision paralysis.  What do you want me to do? So I’m thinking through. And I think it’s a part of it is also that nonprofit leader when they put this up there on the website, every aspect of the organization wants to be on the homepage kind of thing. Yeah. And it’s not what the visitors want, but that’s certainly a hill that I die on. You are not your target audience.

Jan Koch  25:28

So I’m so familiar with the times that I was building a website for my table tennis club. Everybody wanted to be on the homepage.

Birgit Pauli-Haack 25:36

Yeah. And here’s a tip between you and me. You know, the sliders that are on the homepage and there is this great website, so don’t use sliders. There is one use case where it’s really beneficial to have a slider on the homepage is when you have multiple people who want that real estate above the fold. Put it in a slider. And the discussion moves on.

Jan Koch  26:03

They can figure out who gets the first slide. Yeah,

Birgit Pauli-Haack   26:06

yeah, right. Right. Right. And, and then do data-oriented kind of decision. Why do we have a slider anyway? But it’s so it needs a clear vision. And that’s what we talk them through is kind of if you if a person comes in there to donate what you want them to do and donation. I’m just there’s another myth that all the websites need to be about donation. The latest data is that $428 billion of total charitable giving in the United States and 77% comes from individuals those were would be the target audience for nonprofit 300 and 30 billion, but online giving is only about 28 billion of them so that’s in other words, it’s only 8.5%, of annual giving by individuals, so your website is not the main fundraising tool, it’s actually the least gets the least amount of attention from the fundraisers, because it only would capture. Yeah, but 8% or 10% of the funding that they need. So. So what are the goals of the website? That’s kind of what we talked through that is, are you doing it for public awareness? Are you doing it to impress the grantmakers, a lot of organizations apply for grants? So it’s not on the board of directors that they have to listen to, but also the grantmakers and their requirements for funding. So some of the fundraising campaigns that are on the website, they only are seasonal, so why not remove them and then bring them back for another content, a rich series of blog posts, and this kind of thing. Sometimes it’s also so nonprofit organizations are very good at silo building. They have the events planner, and they have the membership chair, and they have the fundraisers, and the program managers and Facebook, social media, it’s all very easy to tat on the website most of the time is not because it’s either you need one nonprofit leader said to me, You need to have a PHP to use WordPress on your website. And, and she said this thank God in a meeting where I was there to showcase the new block editor. And she was so happy saying I can do this now. I can do this myself. And that was such a great experience for me that I said, Okay, I can work with that. But it is. So but the history of nonprofit websites sometimes is that the content management was too big for everybody to get on there to make their program or update their blog, or this kind of things. And that’s also what we work with that we may be a switch away from page builders or to Gutenberg or we say, Okay, here are the different layouts that you could use and just fill in the blanks kind of thing. So there’s a lot of work to be done there. Yeah, even on existing websites, and they are let alone creating a new website, which is in its own interesting experience, which is sometimes I don’t know how about you, but um, we could as a team, certainly do a website within two months, or even two weeks depending on how good we understand that or But the project manager on the other side understands it and has done the homework. But working with nonprofits has a time attached to it. So you need to be in. I sometimes tend to when I have a new project, I get excited. Yeah. And once I figured it out, and then I want to implement. If it’s delayed a month, two months, three months, I lose the momentum. And I need to kind of build-up that momentum again. And that also helps when you know you make an impact kind of and get your team around things.

Jan Koch  30:39

Is that something that you could prevent maybe by like, over-communicating, and setting the frame for the project, like who is responsible for what type of information on the website? What do I need by when stuff like that? I guess you would have that in some form of onboarding sequence when the project starts and you educate the people you are talking to in the nonprofit? But is that something I guess my question really boils down to? Is that something that just comes with working with nonprofits? Or is it something that over time you learn to better manage?

Birgit Pauli-Haack 31:18

Well, it’s pretty much the team that on the other side of the nonprofit determines the timeframe because of all the different things that they have to do on that, but I, yes, yeah, you can certainly have good control over how you layout your project plan. And what we do is, um, with a few of our projects, not all of them is that we have weekly, monthly, weekly check-in emails that we say okay, this is what we did last week, or the week before. And if it’s every two weeks, depending on. Yeah, sometimes we do it weekly to weekly. And this is what we want to do the next week or two weeks. And here are the blockers, what we need from you to make that happening, and then give them bite-sized tasks, or kind of you’re not past but kind of, yeah, this is what you might need to think about in the next few weeks so we can finish this part of it. And, um, deadlines really help a certain amount of people to do it at the last minute. There is a good phrase and I have it hanging here in my office. If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done. So it really helps. And the best deadlines are the ones that come from the nonprofit. So if you say when do you think you can give me that? And you put it down and you put it into meeting notes and these kinds of things? Yeah, there was there is a lot of the overcommunication part is really something that one needs to get comfortable with. And to iterate, and it’s an iterative process. But each organization has its own rhythm. And you need to be able to adapt to that, to have an M mechanical relationship and kind of get into the minds of people being kind of top of mind when there is a delivery to be a deliverable on the deadline. But we also have our contracts being a little bit more flexible, that we tell them they need to give us a timeline and we can match it. But also that’s where they cannot commit to it. And then it works better from there. Yeah, it’s the system of your agency processes that need to have some flexibility there. Because sometimes you work with volunteers. Yeah. Yeah. 

Jan Koch  34:04

And they don’t have time sometimes. Yeah. 

Birgit Pauli-Haack   34:06

Yeah. They have a life. Yeah.

Jan Koch  34:09

How dare they? So how long does do the projects take? On average? Can you put some timeframe on that so that people venturing into space know what to expect?

Birgit Pauli-Haack  34:13

Yeah, I can put it that it’s an average time. Because I didn’t have don’t have that data. I didn’t watch that. I know that we have 50 between 50 and 100 hours on our projects, and sometimes it’s divided up in three months, and sometimes it’s six months. And but we’re trying to make really sure that when that nonprofit because there’s leadership change when leadership changes, a form for you as an agency, you think the website is really important for the nonprofit because everything is online. But sometimes that’s not the aspect for the nonprofit for them it’s the beneficiaries that need to help you all out now with COVID-19. You’re not only the funds dried up, because the economy tanks, it’s also that the number of requests that the nonprofit that is in the space needs to help with food needs to help with money to pay rent of those people that don’t have jobs, but the renters do kind of thing. And so all of a sudden, that all goes into the backs in the background of the operation, and you just need to be prepared to do this and when they’re ready to ramp up and get your team together and say, okay, let’s push it through at this moment in time, so I think it’s a little bit different than businesses. Their revenue depends on your website is done. Yeah. And otherwise, they wouldn’t get any money if that’s an online business. But you also know that some other businesses have. The website is not meant to be a lead generator. The lead generator is the person that one comes into the door. And you have the same it’s it’s the shopping malls, the lead generators to speak. Yeah. And their website is definitely secondary. So it really depends on things. Yeah. We’re working now with an animal adoption service, and they do everything online. So we need and they have a wonderful website, we do data migration for them, but yeah, so that can be done within 2,3,4 months. But sometimes it takes longer. I also have all the best plans shattered when leadership changes or when a donor who says okay, I will want to fund the new website doesn’t like the outline and so it keeps a stamp on it and say okay, yeah, so then everybody scrambles and all the amount of energy and work with the organization is pretty much for naught. Yeah. can happen. Yeah.

Jan Koch  37:16

Interesting. So what I take away from this is that the pricing structure has to be somewhat flexible based on the timelines and deliverables being sent over but also, you have to make sure that you get paid. So how would you enter that? Do you charge like 50% upfront 50 on completion or do you have milestone-based charges? How does it work?

Birgit Pauli-Haack 37:40

So, if you have projects that are kind of really outlined, most of the projects that have actually time material, they are non-project based, I like to get to project-based because then we can be done a little bit better. But the time material because of the time constraints. Yeah, it’s you need to have a clear estimation because they need to put it on the budget. And everything that goes beyond that needs to be really very well documented and announced before that. Nonprofits have a yearly budget. So if there’s something that’s outside the budget, it might need to wait a year. So when you do a project plan, including estimation, do it in phases say this is what we can do now. And this is kind of and this is probably outside the current budget, but we need to talk about it because we’ve laid the foundation of it now. And so that one aspect the other aspect is yes 40% if it’s a new client if we and we do 50% upfront and then 50% on delivery or if it’s dragged out, yeah, we have that in our contract that it says or monthly billing. So we go from once the initial 50% advance is depleted, so to speak with the hours we work with, and after that, we do monthly billing until we get to the estimation point, or make a clear indication, okay, this was outside the scope. And that’s still in the monthly bill. We also, well, we have certain services that we do on project one is data migration, for CRM, that no matter how long it takes, that’s what we’re gonna do and that’s the price for it. Another structure is so, we have found that if you talk long term with the organization they actually are able to go out for grants for an Information and Technology grant that then needs to has a certain timeframe there. It’s not that you need to deliver in the timeframe, but you need to have a plan to see okay, that money needs to be spent by that time how can we make this plausible and transparent to the Grand maker or the grand maker to that’s going to happen and put that in your contract as well. So there are multiple ways to do that most of the time. So the local, asking how to get involved or how locally if you talk to the local community foundation, there also have a grant cycle to do capacitor. They call it capacity grants and everything with this technology and training and improving the operations of an organization whose increasing capacity pretty much. They have a planning grant, that’s something like between 2 and $3,000, where you can say, Okay, this is where we map out a three-year plan technology plan with the organization. And then every year, we execute on that plan. And for that, you don’t have to do the planning for free, you can use those capacity grants for it.

Jan Koch  41:33

They can pay for the discovery session essentially.

Birgit Pauli-Haack   41:37

Right? But it needs to be not so much the technology discovery but more in the reader is someone who wants to make an impact in your community. So how does that help the organization so it needs to be kind of formalized that way, but it’s also good to be on the list of pre-approved consultants for that local community foundation, which helps you also to generate leads, if you are and what helped us was the different activities that we did in a community in two educational sessions and this kind of things? So, um, yeah. So it’s on budget grants. donors. Community Foundations. Yeah.

Jan Koch  42:24

That’s a really interesting background. Thank you so much for that it was very good because just the knowledge that when you want to work with nonprofits, you need to be aware of what types of grants they can apply for, you need to be in those lists of pre-approved consultants. And then you can even if they don’t know about those grants, you can tell them, hey, apply for this application for that I can help you with this. Here’s how we finance the project. Here’s how I’m getting paid without touching your money essentially. So that is something that you cannot do with normal businesses. So that’s a really exciting perspective.

Birgit Pauli-Haack   42:59

Right. Yeah, that’s right. And there are actually in, I work with, we work with grant writers, that if we have an organization locally that needs really big help, that we work with a B, hire the grant writer to help us with that process to get through the application process, as well as the reporting. Every Grant has a reporting part. It also needs to go so most of those grants actually have the requirement for matching funds. But every nonprofit kind of knows how to handle that look. Within their organizational structure and within the community foundation, so it’s a win-win for both. It’s the community, it’s the community foundation, that has a trusted source, and the nonprofit can really benefit from it, but it’s still the communication that needs to happen now.

Jan Koch  43:55

Yeah, brilliant, and one thing that I’ve experienced myself as I think two years ago, I was working with an organization that also was eligible for grants. And then they had the CD budget, as you mentioned. And they reached out to me in November and said to me, we have X amount of dollars left in the budget and we need to spend it otherwise the budget gets cut down next year. So that’s also a benefit from working with these types of companies or nonprofits. Is that towards the end of the year, they were probably swamped with work because they need to spend the money.

Birgit Pauli-Haack  44:32

Yeah, or a new budget comes in. Yeah. If it’s not the end of the year, because, yeah, it’s the beginning of the year where they have new funding coming in at the beginning of the year. Yeah, it’s certainly it’s a different district. What’s the name? drought and famine? No, what is this feast and famine, famine, kind of famine cycle there?

Jan Koch  45:01

Interesting. So we talked about the types of projects that we can do with nonprofits. We also in the pre-chat, talked about what it takes to help nonprofits get more donations from their websites. I would love to dive into that a little bit. Talk about how to drive donations via the website and also how to increase the exposure for a nonprofit using social media.

Birgit Pauli-Haack  45:29

Yeah, I think if you have an eCommerce background as an agency, that knowledge really comes to benefit you there. Because for that’s now really okay, how do I get them to donate, click on that button and then lead them through the process? So a donation process sometimes is a very rational one and I’m married, delivered one but most of the donations are actually done on impulse. Seeing, okay, there’s a need. There’s a big explosion in Beirut and Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, they need to get in there and deplete all their funds. So they need to do some fundraising. So making the donor experience kind of quick and pleasant as the giving experience is really a goal that when you some nonprofit websites don’t mirror that. So it’s an import, and so good content strategy is definitely helpful. Also good distribution of content. Yeah, the impulse is also why direct mail still works with the generation of boomers and older people because they get a solicitation letter in the mail with a return envelope, they fill it out, get a check, and put it in the mail again, that’s how you trigger. And that’s why a lot of nonprofits still have these huge mailings that they send out because they’re still very profitable. And but for the younger generation, it’s really different. They come from arriving at the website from news from social media, ready to make a donation. But they’re not inclined to fill out all the survey or an application or before they give you money. They, they definitely, especially when they’re on the mobile phone. Yeah, they need to get it fast. If you have a keyboard the size of a brownie, you’re not gonna fill out a 12-page survey, not gonna do it. Yeah. So we’ll cut up those pieces and with minimal information that you need to verify that credit card. That’s all that needed to would need to be happening at that moment. Once the money is kind of process, then you can do your second ask and ask if they want to share this on social media or say, do you want to make it a recurring donation? or? Yeah, just say, Okay, yeah. Sign up for our newsletter kind of Yeah. But that process eCommerce strategists and UI experts can really walk a nonprofit through that and that also has pushed away all the links and all the other distractions that can be on a campaign page to or on the checkout page. That’s these are very important aspects of it, where you can make a real difference in making the donation process. It needs to be a pleasant experience and everything that you need as a nonprofit afterward, you can get them afterward get the information afterward being the address or being the birth date, or being Yeah, what the spouses are or whatever you think you need, or what the nonprofit need that needs to come afterward. And that’s one of the most critical things on if it’s about fundraising. On the website. Yeah. And yeah, eCommerce has done a lot of trailblazing there in terms of UI and user journey. Pretty much.

Jan Koch  49:37

Yeah. And I would bet that emotional storytelling also is very important in these campaigns.

Birgit Pauli-Haack  49:43

Yeah. And I think every nonprofit has that down. Do they know how to storyteller they just don’t know how to do it online, or do it online with less work? The silo? Yeah. So having information on Facebook, having information on Twitter, or in an email newsletter, but then you go to the website. And all that great information is not on the website, because it’s already the energy to produce the content on the other platforms has depleted them to think about the website because there’s instant gratification. On Facebook, there’s instant gratification on an email, you know how many people are open, you know how many people clicked on something, and you want that? I don’t know if it’s dopamine or something. Rush or Yes. 

Jan Koch  50:33

It is. Yeah. 

Birgit Pauli-Haack  50:35

On the website. So we try when we talk with nonprofits and you don’t have time to do for different. You tell me all the time. You don’t have time to do four different contents. Why not flip the script and say, okay, website first, what’s on the website, goes into the email, what’s on the website, goes into Facebook, and then comes back to the website. Not create those silos that don’t, they’re all those silos that have a goal. And that is to get people out of the silos and the relationship that you build there on to your own website and into your own email newsletter. So, social media is not a purpose in itself. It has them. It’s the top of a funnel, right? The purpose is to get them out of the rented land, into your own assets, so to speak. And in the process, that’s if nobody talks everybody through this. It’s very hard because it’s a conceptual switch. A lot of people just do what they’re in front of it. And so we need to get our email out there. But there are only, I don’t know, 15,000 people on the email list, but there are millions out there who also want to know that. Yeah. And they come to your website because they’re interested in it. And they find it on Google and but they’re not getting the benefit of the best stories that aren’t in the email newsletter or that aren’t told on Facebook on their website. That’s, I think that’s the that’s flipping that script is a major undertaking. But it’s also so much more beneficial. And you see it in, in Google Analytics, where what comes from search, and the more you put on the website, the more people come with search, and it also with Facebook. Yeah, you don’t have that. Early on in Facebook, you had a lot of organic reaches. That is kind of, that went away. Yeah.

Jan Koch  52:43

Yeah, interesting. And we’re coming into land here, but I do want to ask one more question. 

Birgit Pauli-Haack  52:50


Jan Koch  52:50

No, it’s fine. It’s fine. I really, I wish we could do like a two-hour interview but then I’d blow up the scope of the entire event here. I do have one more question on that note, though, and that is how do you train the nonprofits. So maybe that is kind of a good way to wrap it up from why even consider working with nonprofits to delivering the full experience for them? What goes into training your team that you’re working with?

Birgit Pauli-Haack  53:20

So it depends on what kind of training it is. Yeah. But what were we so if it’s a WordPress training, we work with a, we provide all our customers the video tutorials from wp 101 plugin, which kind of gets the first and that is already very helpful. Because many people learn from themselves. They want to kind of research at first before they ask somebody, especially when you’re on a time and material contract. They don’t want to bother you because of course the tickets right there. Yeah, it needs to be paid. So we have that a lot of free services. Yeah, that’s the video tutorial. We also have some documents that say, okay, this is the standard of a post on WordPress or blog post or page that needs to happen and point them to Yoast SEO plugin, and teach them how to do that. That’s one of the training. With help from Yoast SEO. They have some excellent material on the website, but we give them that outline of Yeah, these are the standards and so they can check them themselves or other people in the organization about those standards. We also point them to tools like the language tool, which is an online grammar and spell checker that can help you with things when you do your Google Docs or something. We also train them in Google Docs sharing collaborative, especially when they have to create content that needs to be reviewed by other people how to do this in Google Docs and not have to send out multiple versions of the same thing and never know what the end version is. And then obviously, sometimes it happens, publish the wrong thing. And get everybody upset in the organization. That’s all kind of friction that you have in your own organization and trying to reduce that is certainly one of our training goals. And when its own CRM, we definitely talk with the leaders in the organization. Can you guarantee when we teach data entry standards for all the different aspects of a CRM when we teach them and we give you the manual? Are you able to implement some data quality checks or implement them to re onboarding? You’re so we help them with onboarding new data entry people with our documentation, and then little tubers and videos. Yeah. We look at micro training. So it’s five to 10-minute units maximum. Yeah, to do one thing. And then we have some tutorials that we have in writing or screenshots on that. Yeah. But that’s, it’s a good point. To give them the material. We took over and organized a huge website from an organization and I asked them, Do you have documentation from the previous designer or contractor? And I said, Yeah, this is the documentation here. And I as a developer wasn’t able to make sense of it. And I knew nobody in the organization is going to read than ever. So we are now in the process and put in the screenshots in there and explaining why what and when things need to be happening. And that’s I think there are a lot of people in our field that don’t grasp that concept that users need to have documentation. Especially to see the good outcome when they put something here. Where does it end up? and make that consistently? Yeah, Yeah. So there’s a big field there.

Jan Koch  57:27

Brilliant. And that is a fantastic way to wrap up this session Birgit. Thank you so much for coming on to this summit. Where can people get in touch with you and find out more about what you do?

Birgit Pauli-Haack 57:38

Well, thank you so much for having me. And it was very interesting to talk through with you that so to meet to reach me, I’m on Twitter, my initials @BPH. I’m on WordPress slack @ BPH. You can write an email to me at even if it’s not about the Gutenberg Times, I think it’s an easier email address. Or, yeah, you find me on the WordPress Slack, you can find me on the post status on slack. Yeah. Or just ping me somewhere. The DMs on Twitter are open.

Jan Koch  58:21

And I highly recommend that you guys get in touch with Birgit because she’s such a helpful and lovely human being. I mean, we connected just a few months ago and now you are sharing all your knowledge with me. So I appreciate that. Thank you so much for coming on.

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