Ep 16: Brandy Strand: Marketing Non-Profits & the Associations Who Serve Them

This is a transcript of Erica Mills Barnhart’s interview with Brandy Strand on the Marketing for Good podcast. Enjoy!

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

nonprofits, members, benefits, Girl Scouts, learning, Utah, association, people, brain, advocacy, survey, needed, create, training, pandemic, happy, listeners

Erica Mills Barnhart  00:43

Welcome to the show Brandy. I’m super happy to have you here.

Brandy Strand  00:47

Thank you so much.

Erica Mills Barnhart  00:48

Yeah, so we met while preparing for a virtual confab, which was the technical term for the National Council on nonprofits which you were instrumental in putting on this year. And I was immediately struck by two things: your positivity and your productivity.

Brandy Strand  01:06

Oh, good, out of the gate! And then through that we chatted a bit. So you work for the Utah Nonprofits Association. And I was just struck by one, how open you were about, you know, the rethinking and rejiggering that, that your association has done in service to nonprofits in Utah. So I thought we could have a chat about that with the optimistic hope that other associations, whether or not they serve nonprofits, could parlay that into both their acquisition and retention efforts and member happiness, and all of that. Okay, but first, first, I have to ask you how you landed on what I’m going to refer to as your life’s passion mantra, which is in your bio, which is making our world a safe and happy one. That is downright delightful.  That is definitely how I live my life. So, growing up, I grew up in a neighborhood, I was born to a 16 year old mom and raised by my grandma. I was the first person to ever go to college in my entire family to graduate from high school, like that whole shebang. And so growing up and coming out of what I consider to be generational poverty, I knew that I wanted to contribute to the world and help other people realize their own inner potential as well. And that’s how I live my life. We should feel safe and confident in our world around us and I feel like we can all contribute to that in some way. And the way that I do that is by being open and honest with those around me and being also open to ideas and changes and, you know, like you said, jigging it a bit.

Erica Mills Barnhart  02:57

I I love that and I appreciate that I’ve now had the opportunity to reverse engineer to experience you. And find out that that’s what you refer to as your life’s passion. We talk a lot on the show about purpose, both personally and organizationally, and mission, vision and value statements. So when I saw that, I gave it the stamp of your “personal mantra”, which may or may not be the right word. But that is so true to who you are. And that is really wonderful.

Brandy Strand  03:31

And thanks for sharing that. I’ve had a lot of incredible people who’ve stood beside me to help me to become the individual that I am today. And I feel that it’s my responsibility to do the same to pay it back and pay it forward and help lift others up. So it’s really how I live my entire life. I find that I seek out those who are very different from me because I thrive with people who are different than me. So I find that I’m in a lot of situations where I have that opportunity to say, “Oh my gosh, you want to be a welder? I know three programs that can help you do that. And I know a scholarship program as well.” So I’m always trying to find that way to help people find their own inner passion and find their own empowerment. It’s very important to me, we can all make this world a better place by investing in each other.

Erica Mills Barnhart  04:17

Amen to that, and I can feel it. I’m sure listeners can hear it. And I just want to reinforce I can feel it through zoom which is saying something since we’re all a little zoom-ified these days, but I just feel how committed you are to that. Did that have anything to do with…so before you were Utah Nonprofits Association, you were with the Girl Scouts.

Brandy Strand  04:38

It was actually. I put myself through college and I knew that I wanted to work for the Girl Scouts, I believe in the mission of that organization. And in fact, Girl Scouts found me when I was very young, and my grandma was raising me and we didn’t have a lot of money growing up. So Girl Scouts has an outreach program and they found me and they taught me how to cook on an open fire, how to sew, how to camp, how to build structures out in the wilderness. And I just knew that when I graduated, I wanted to give back with the Girl Scouts. And I spent six years in that incredible organization before I was like, Ooh, I’m ready for a new challenge. What can we do? How can I make this world a better place, by golly?

Erica Mills Barnhart  05:22

That’s an interesting one. I use the Girl Scouts as an example when I talk about features and benefits, which actually we’ll talk about a little bit later. Because when you say, you know, what’s the first thing or what do you want to be known for? What’s the first thing that comes to mind? People always say, cookies.

Brandy Strand  05:38

Oh, the Girl Scouts right.

Erica Mills Barnhart  05:39

So I mean, there I think a cookie might be one of the rare examples of being both a feature, the cookie, and the benefit the yumminess of the cookie and how happy makes you feel. But that’s what comes to mind for folks and then they’re like, oh, but what does that represent? It’s like self empowerment and confidence and the skill building. So my daughter, she was part of Girl Scouts for a while. And then she became a dancer. And that’s that’s everything so…

Brandy Strand  06:07

There are only so many other many hours in the day.

Erica Mills Barnhart  06:11

But she loved it. And so I was a cookie mom for a year. Yes, that’s a big job, dude. Cookies were plentiful. Luckily, they were all kind of vacuum wrapped and they were for other people, so you couldn’t get too naughty about the whole thing. But the skill building was so striking.

Brandy Strand  06:35

Amazing what our girls can learn by putting themselves out there to sell a cookie. We think cookies are delightful and yummy but what the girls are learning is so much more than that. They’re gaining confidence and courage. And they’re learning that a no is okay a very young age.

Erica Mills Barnhart  06:57

Wow, I never thought about like what a safe space that creates for hearing no and not having that be bad.

Brandy Strand  07:05

Yeah, and just looking at it and saying, okay, that one said no, but I’m gonna go get the next one and overcoming and pushing through. And that’s really what that girl scout environment really creates and once a Girl Scout always Girl Scouts so as you can tell I’m an advocate and always will be for the empowerment of our young women.

Erica Mills Barnhart  07:23

Yes, me too. Although I’m not signing on to be a cookie mom again. It was too much for me.

07:28

That’s a big job.

Erica Mills Barnhart  07:30

Yeah. You said you were cookie mom. Now, for those of you out there listening and you’re, like, do you want to be the cookie mom? Sure. I mean, that sounds fun. When I say it like that.

Brandy Strand  07:38

Until your garage gets filled with pallets of cookies.

Erica Mills Barnhart  07:44

Okay, so you go from the Girl Scouts for which you have such a deep obvious mission connection. And one of the things…so I’ve worked with many different types of associations and I’ve been blessed to work with many nonprofit associations in particular and they’re kind of like capacity building. So there is a mission connection, but it’s a little bit of a different, a little bit of a different beast. So how did you go from Girl Scouts to Utah Nonprofits Association?

Brandy Strand  08:10

Well, I mean, Girl Scouts is a nonprofit, and I’ve been in the nonprofit field for over 15 years. If you saw me, you wouldn’t recognize that.

Erica Mills Barnhart  08:22

For listeners, Brandy looks mmmmmaybe early 20s.

Brandy Strand  08:28

Yeah, I’m actually 38. So thank you.

Erica Mills Barnhart  08:35

Okay, but just for the visual…

08:37

I am 4 foot 10 and I weigh 95 pounds. I haven’t aged since the fifth grade, if that helps create any kind of visual for your listeners.

Erica Mills Barnhart  08:50

Okay…

Brandy Strand  08:53

When I went through college, I knew I wanted to work in the nonprofit sector because of the contribution that our nonprofits make to our local communities. We are mission and vision driven to make this world a better place. And each individual nonprofit has such a unique focus of an identified need that I knew that as I was learning and growing at Girl Scouts and I knew I needed to challenge myself further. I knew I wanted to give back to the nonprofit community and the Utah Nonprofits Association, we’ve been around for 30 years. This is actually our 30th year operating as a nonprofit and we’re very happy about that.

Erica Mills Barnhart  09:32

Does taht make you one more like senior nonprofit associations?

Brandy Strand  09:36

Oh, I would say we’re very much an adolescent Yes, there are nonprofits here in particularly in Salt Lake City. There’s one that’s over 100 years old girl scouts is over 100 years old,

Erica Mills Barnhart  09:47

Oh I meant nonprofit association?

Brandy Strand  09:52

That’s a great question, Erica. Now I’m super curious to know what the other ages are. So when I was looking and I’ve been watching the Utah Nonprofits Association for years, and I’ve attended trainings, I’ve gone to socials. And when the Director of Operations job opened up, I just went full bore, I was like, Okay, I gotta go for this. I got to put myself out there. And I got to be a little bit courageous right now. And when I joined over a year ago, I started as the Director of Operations and soon realized that we needed to restructure my position to be more focused on our community, because that’s what drove me to UNA, was the importance of helping our nonprofits be able to make the changes in the world that they see with sound, foundational practices. That was something that was really important to me. So working with our leadership, we were able to restructure my position so that I’m much more focused on our nonprofits, our individuals, and our businesses. And that was something that happened just at the beginning of 2020. And, well, 2020 has gone just exactly how we planned.

Erica Mills Barnhart  11:01

No, I mean, just textbook, really.

Brandy Strand  11:03

Absolutely. It’s exactly what I thought it would be.

Erica Mills Barnhart  11:08

In the transcript, I feel like I’m gonna have to put in a little like <sarcasm>, and start adding those things because of course, we’re kidding. So okay, so your transition at the beginning of 2020. And then, COVID happens.

11:22

A global pandemic changes our entire world. The first week when the pandemic was announced, and everything started to really shut down, and we saw the entire world shut down. Our team really just tried to hone in on making sure the day to day stuff happened for our internal administration. It was probably within that first month that we sat down as a team on zoom. And we started to, you know, look at this going, “Our nonprofits need us, but what do they need?” We can’t just put a bandaid on it. This is a global pandemic, and we have the opportunity to help our nonprofits in an unprecedented in the most challenging time possible. So I just sat down and brought it together…

Erica Mills Barnhart  12:16

Can we pause? Because you said something, then you kept moving so quickly. But I think it’s really quite profound for all organizations and all businesses. And what you said was: I know that they need us, but what do they need? I think often times we conflate those two things. We sort of assume that if we are needed, what we are offering is what is needed. I feel like that was such an insight or maybe it’s intuition on your part and that of your team’s to sa, “we know we are needed” and sort of stand tall in that which is beautiful, but “what do they need?” So just for listeners, I wanted to go back and and call that out. Because it really is quite profound and rare.

Brandy Strand  13:03

Well, when you think about it, as a membership based organization, our drive are our members, we’re here to serve our members. And something that has always been very important to me, and what I brought to the organization when I came as a value. What is the value? Why are people going to pay? Now we have a pretty solid reputation here in Utah in Utah. And we’re very proud of that, because we follow through, we’re consistent, we’re trusted. But we also started to realize those questions that we were used to answering were not going to be the questions that were coming at us. And within three weeks of the pandemic, we were getting questions that were completely out of left field, that we were really challenged to ensure that we were supporting our nonprofits through and so that’s where we were saying we’re needed because people are asking us for things but what do you they need. We can’t just go on and do business as usual. 2020 has a different, a different year has different focuses. And that’s where we started to do pretty subsequent surveys. And we just started to survey every nonprofit that we could possibly get in contact with outside of our membership. Just the whole bore. So members and non members? Yes, I wanted to know what the full scope of potential need was. Within that first month, it was primarily revenue. It was so so fearful of losing revenue and needing PPP. So that’s where, as a leadership organizer or as a leadership team, we just started to ask people like how do you get PPP? Where do we find PPP? Our nonprofits have anywhere from three to six months of, of revenue that they can pull on, but that’s going to run out so we’ve got to get them the safety precautions that they need. And we need to start talking with funders. And that’s where we just started, was gaining and gathering data. Because I think sometimes we’re very quick to serve, especially a nonprofit community. Yeah, we just want to get in there, get that answer, get it fixed and moved on. But we needed to take a step back because we needed to create a sustainable path of support.

Erica Mills Barnhart  15:24

And so if I was to paraphrase that a little bit, it’s that you didn’t just react, you wanted to respond.

Brandy Strand  15:31

Yes, I think that’s a very adequate way to explain it actually.  I think that is actually exactly, the more I think about I’m like, yeah, that’s exactly what we did. Because we serve, you know, we have over 10,000 nonprofits in the state of Utah. They serve everything from our animals, to children, to housing to food and everything in between. We can’t possibly know what everyone needs. So we needed to ask. So we’ve actually done two rounds of surveys to gather data. And then we’ve used that data in a multitude of ways to be able to support our members. And we’re actually getting ready to do a third round, hopefully to start to support through reopening.

Erica Mills Barnhart  16:21

You know, I’m in Washington State. So our reopening looks different than Utah’s so that’s something interesting, where I feel like we can learn from each other, given where different people are and reopening, sort of that into the recovery phase of things which has a different tale and trajectory in each state.

Brandy Strand  16:44

And also realizing that not everyone is going to be ready for a full reopening plan. Yeah, and so identifying in a broader landscape as much as possible where our nonprofit are. Are there many who are going to stay remote through the end of the year? Which is looking like Utah Nonprofit association. We’ll be staying remote through the remainder of the year. Okay. And all the way to those who are frontline, and they are providing essential services every single day, every single day, and how do we get resources? So, you know, it’s always trying to get your thumb on the heartbeat. Yeah, because it’s an ever evolving situation right now. And that really needs to be respected and valued. Our members, our nonprofits in our state, have varying lived experiences right now. And it is incumbent upon us to understand and respect where they’re at. Doesn’t mean we have to agree with all decisions. All we can do is provide the best information possible.

Erica Mills Barnhart  17:46

Yes. Stay curious. Stay curious and compassionate. Yeah. But that’s super tough to do because you’re also you’re also living it, you’re in service and you’re living it and having to make a bunch of operational choices and decisions. And you know, for example, should we stay remote? Or are we going to come back together in person? So what did that mean? So you’ve surveyed and this is an ongoing thing. I just also want to say, this wasn’t a one time and then you shifted your programs. And now you’re like, yeah, we’re done. This really sounds like an ongoing staying in touch with, making sure you’re getting and staying in alignment with what the shifting needs are. In a responsive, I mean, let me just say the difference, you know, reaction means you oftentimes, we do this on a personal level, we react, which you know, is your instantaneous response, but it doesn’t actually create any space between the thought and the action. And so sometimes, oftentimes, that can be a fear based response. And I think, kudos to you and Utah Nonprofits Association for saying we’re going to take the time to respond, which comes from much calmer, a different place in our brains. To be able to do that and that response. So it’s kind of like call snf response, thr surveys being the call and then the response on an ongoing basis. So you’re constantly shifting. Has that had an influence on how you talk to and with the nonprofit’s you serve, and about both who you are as an organization, but also what you have to offer them.

Brandy Strand  19:21

Absolutely. So our mantra is, what’s the why, if you have an idea, let’s talk about the why, the why for our nonprofits, the whys for individuals and the whys for our businesses. And if we can get a really solid why based off of data, based off of experience, then it’s a viable idea. And what we have opened ourselves up to is the fact, let’s just acknowledge this, the fact that every idea is not going to go as exactly as planned, nor will every idea work. So we’re leaning into that space, we’re trying to show that we’re trying new things, just like all of our members and nonprofits across the state are. And sometimes they work. Sometimes they don’t. And we own that. And then every time there’s any type of failure, I’m always sharing it with our members, when they ask, how do you do, you know, your elearning? Then I’ll tell them what we’ve experienced and how it’s working and how we’re engaging and how we’re shifting the way we’re communicating because of the feedback that we’re getting, or the lack of feedback, that’s a thing. Maybe your message just isn’t breaking through the digital noise right now and you gotta elevate it. Yeah, that’s something that we’re always looking at. Only 5% clicked on that link. So that means that that message wasn’t strong. It’s not a detriment. It just means that we need to rethink how we’re communicating because our members, our community needs us to break through that noise.

Erica Mills Barnhart  20:57

So are you looking at like subject lines and the Calls to Action and all of that on everything that looks out…I mean that goes out?

Brandy Strand  21:04

Yes. So what we’re looking at primarily right now is through our email communication channels. We do, we’ve been working more strategically on our social media, as we all are, right? We’re like, everyone’s online. Yeah. And what we’re looking at though, is the subject line, and then also that pre prompt that you see in the email, and then you click on it, you got to read a little bit more. So we’re tracking our open rates and our click through rates. Those are our two biggest things. Also, with our calls to action, we’re very protective of our calls to action, we will only use our calls to action when we can give a clear next step, click here, contact this legislator, click here to contact this person. So we’re very particular about how we use our calls to action because our members, our nonprofits only have so much capacity right? So during the pandemic, I think we’ve sent three maybe four calls to action. So when you say calls to action that sounds like it’s primarily in the advocacy space.  It is.

Erica Mills Barnhart  22:11

Okay, so that’s how you use that terminology because when I was saying it, I meant so if you sent out something about a webinar, the call to action might be the register here or register now. Darn marketing lingo.

Brandy Strand  22:29

We call them CTAs too but it’s all for advocacy.

Erica Mills Barnhart  22:32

Okay, so see, that’s, that’s fascinating.

Brandy Strand  22:35

I know shared language or not!

Erica Mills Barnhart  22:40

Actually here to go with this. We could have CTAs in your CTAs

Brandy Strand  22:46

Oh, my gosh, Let’s peel that onion.

Erica Mills Barnhart  22:51

Oh, my goodness. Ddo you have any specific examples of things that you have, you know, just instances where things clearly weren’t working and then you tweaked them?

Brandy Strand  23:04

Yes. So I’m in our second round survey that we did, we asked specifically about things that our members need to learn about. And I ended up with three different topics based off of feedback from our members. We created a learninar, a combination of a roundtable and a webinar, because we can’t come together physically. We now have learninars.

Erica Mills Barnhart  23:31

Boy, try saying that 10 times fast.

Brandy Strand  23:33

I know right? I was told it’s a port·man·teau.

Erica Mills Barnhart  23:38

Oh, or a sniglet.

Brandy Strand  23:39

I learned a new word. Yeah, a sniglet. Now I got to Google that one.

Erica Mills Barnhart  23:45

Mm hmm. It’s when you put two words together. It’s like a port·man·teau.

Brandy Strand  23:49

Got it. Oh my gosh, that the information that we all hold in our brains.

Erica Mills Barnhart  23:54

 I will say For my part, often useless information that we hold in our brains, but for you it’s a different different basket of stuff, isn’t it?  Okay. So you have learninars going on…

Brandy Strand  24:08

We have learninars going on.. the first learninar we partnered with one of our members, and it didn’t go as well. The content wasn’t delivered very well, the learning format online, we learned it needed to be a little bit more prepped. Second learninar we held with another member, we learned that we can’t just give over the mic, because they’re also very busy human beings so they can always keep track of all the details. By the third learninars, we found that an interview style was much more appreciated by our members. So it’s like how we deliver the content is something that we’re learning. And especially with our online learning platform, I mean, we’re all learning how to stay engaged online, right? Yeah, we really are.

Erica Mills Barnhart  24:54

How do people respond to the learninars?

24:57

They love it! I ended up in conversations, which is a lot of times what I’m looking for, especially with our staff, it’s through our conversations that we’re building our relationships more and more. So when you throw out learninars, it just opens up the opportunity to talk.

Erica Mills Barnhart  25:12

It’s delightful. I was just doing some research on delight. Because we’re kind of like light on it in a lot of ways right now. And what it does, I was looking for through the lens of, actually, retention. So if you think about member retention, or donor retention or customer retention, right, whatever, it releases happy chemicals in our brain when we’re delighted. It makes us feel special. And so that’s a little bit why I was asking was, the word is so funny, but it’s kind of delightful. And so unbeknownst to you, you probably release some happy chemicals in people’s brains.

Brandy Strand  25:46

A happy side effect, happy side effect.

Erica Mills Barnhart  25:49

Okay, so you had learninars and you learned how to deliver those over time in a format that was new, but you still refer to them the same way.

25:57

Yeah, they’re still learninars and every time we end a training moment like that, as staff, we stay online and we talk it through, like, what went well, what didn’t like stick? Where didn’t we get any engagement, and then we come up with some plans, and then we re try again. And then I share all of those learning moments with our members because they’re in the same boat as us learning how to deliver content in an engaging way online, because we can’t just take what we did in person and just be like, Oh, now I do it on zoom. That’s it. That’s not how our brains work.

Erica Mills Barnhart  26:34

No, they don’t. But that feels quite brave, though. I mean, it sounds like you have a culture both that truly celebrates learning which one might, you know might be expected, but also there’s something operationalized in or in the DNA of Utah Nonprofits Association that really allows for failure and a celebration of that.

Brandy Strand  27:00

And I think I don’t know about you, but I’ve learned some of my most powerful learning moments in life through failure.

Erica Mills Barnhart  27:09

Oh, for sure.

Brandy Strand  27:10

Yeah. Right. Like, those are the moments where I’m like, yeah, I’m definitely not doing that again. And we’ve taken them. We talked about it as a staff. And I feel like that’s an important part of what we’re doing right now, is that we’re not just in a silo, we talk to each other. And because we’re all talking with our members in different facets, so that we can come together and say, why would you pay for this? If you have very limited funds? Why would you put our funds here? If it doesn’t have value, don’t do it.

Erica Mills Barnhart  27:38

What I love about that is, I work with lots of different types of associations, there is this sort of thing where it’s like we should know how to do it. And because you want to lead by example, because you’re the association, there’s a little bit of a reticence, a little bit of a sense of pulling in. And when something doesn’t go well, maybe internally learning about it, for sure. But the externalization of like, “Well, we learned that this format didn’t work and that’s how we landed on this format”, which is just quite unusual for an association. So kudos, kudos to you and the team for creating that type of culture. Because, I mean, we do. We all talk about it, and when we ask folks it’s like, yeah, of course, I learned the most from my failures. I mean, the moments when you do great, are great! That’s why they’re great moments. But there’s maybe, you know, a different type of learning to be had there.

Brandy Strand  28:39

I would agree. And I also think that if, if we can’t be honest with ourselves, how will we grow and be more than we are today? How will we contribute and be a part of something greater than ourselves? If we’re not willing to take a step back and go, this isn’t about me. This is about our members. This is why I’m here is to help and I also want to say that we’re experts in a lot of stuff. We’re not experts in everything, no. And when we start to put that hat on, I think we do ourselves a disservice to those experts in the field. Because we all have our different skill sets, we all bring different powerful things to the table. If we can’t acknowledge that we’re not experts in everything, then our network and our community doesn’t benefit from those who are experts and things that we’re not right.

Erica Mills Barnhart  29:27

They don’t benefit as much. And also it sort of gives this impression that, like, all of us should be expert in everything, which isn’t, it’s not feasible, and it would be exhausting. And it’s not fun. It’s inefficient, right? It’s also quite inefficient.

Brandy Strand  29:43

What’s the saying jack of all trades, master of none.

Erica Mills Barnhart  29:46

Yes. Good one, jack, or Jill or whatever. Hey, okay. So you’re association and I think when folks hear Association they think benefits, regardless of type of association, so I want to talk a little bit about our brains, and benefits, and a lot of this stuff comes actually from consumer psychology, which is kind of handy. So we have the logical left brain and let’s, let’s call it the dreamy or aspirational right brain. So as it relates to member benefits, your left brain is about value. And your right brain is about wish fulfillment. Let’s call it wish fulfillment. So one of the things I see with associations of all types is that they don’t necessarily differentiate between types of benefits. They sort of like lump them all together. But there are different types of benefits. So there are hard benefits, which are quantifiable rewards. So we can think of discounts or a gift card or rebate check or something like that. And then there are what’s referred to as soft benefits which are more emotional rewards like you know, special privileges exclusive access, you know, VIP access, things like that. So you want get a mix of these things because you want to be delighting, let’s stay with that word, both the left and the right brain. And then just to make things even spicier in our mix, also the brain wants instant gratification. Okay? But also delayed gratification, okay? So when you first become a member what you want, you know, that changes over time. So what you want a year from now, two years from now, may change, especially right now and things are just like, Whoa, changing all the time. So we have all these things, which is a lot to balance, I just want to say if anybody’s listening and you’re somebody who has to think about benefits, it’s a lot, let’s acknowledge that and there isn’t like a right mix. There is, like all things in marketing, a mix that will appeal more or less to your target audience. Okay, so that’s just a little bit our our brains on benefits. So I figured because a lot of this comes from consumer psychology and consumer marketing, but like if if there was one association that would have this down, it would be the Society for Consumer Marketing. Because they study this stuff. So that seemed reasonable. It seemed reasonable to me. So I went to look at their mix, and I’m just gonna read it. And then we can sort of see if they, if they, how we feel about it. So annual membership dues are $75, $30 for students. Here’s what that includes: subscription to the Journal of Consumer Psychology with online access to The Communicator, which is the society’s newsletter. And mailings notifying you of conference and special issues of journals. Oh, that’s it. Which is fine. But what was interesting if we put this lens of left brain right brain, my right brain feels very sad. My left feels like okay, you know, I get a subscription, they get online access, and that’s cool. The only kind of instant gratification presumably because you either get it right away, or you know exactly when it’s going to come. The only nod to something that would happen down the road would be these special issues of journals. So I can’t say that I was like, overwhelmed with joy and delight.

Brandy Strand  33:21

You didn’t have delight?

Erica Mills Barnhart  33:22

I didn’t have dlighted. I was un-delighted. Not terrible. It’s just really interesting, right? Cuz I’m like these people do this for a living. Now what I don’t know, though, is who their members really truly are. If they’re super left brain, folks, this may work great for them. I you know, we don’t know that. So absent that….okay, now, if you wouldn’t mind. I’d love to look at how Utah Nonprofits Association is presenting your benefits to see what your what the mix looks like. Would that be okay?

Brandy Strand  33:54

Absolutely. I will say it’s a work in progress.

Erica Mills Barnhart  33:59

Totally. I mean, that is that would be to be expected given what we have now learned about Utah Nonprofits Association is that you’re constantly, constantly looking to improve. Alright, so if I’m looking at the page of your benefits, it says you host online member benefit orientations. This is the first point to help everyone connect with the benefits of membership. So even before you pay for your membership, you get this benefit, which is finding out about the benefits.

Brandy Strand  34:28

Absolutely. We host them monthly. Anybody can come.

Erica Mills Barnhart  34:33

And what’s your conversion rate on those?

Brandy Strand  34:35

So right now, I would say on an average monthly basis, I have anywhere from 10 to 15 participants of those 8 to 10 of them are already members because we have new staff who will join a nonprofit. So then new members, like new staff can come into the member benefits so that they can access all the benefits. Average I have anywhere from two, I would say two per month non members and they always become members.

Erica Mills Barnhart  35:07

So that’s a pretty effective, high value.

Brandy Strand  35:09

So far, okay.

Erica Mills Barnhart  35:13

All staff and board members of nonprofits who are members have access to UNA member benefits. Each person has their own login information and is encouraged to get involved in our many trainings and events.

Brandy Strand  35:24

So that is something that is all about empowering everyone to be involved personally, as what we found out when I first joined UNA, we did a big big membership survey to understand where things were at when I came in. And one of the things that we found was that not everybody in an organization knew that they were a member. It’s not just an org membership for their whole staff and their volunteers. So that’s something that we’ve really pushed is communicating that we want to know everyone you got.

Erica Mills Barnhart  35:54

Yep, love it. All right, and then nonprofit members who receive free Human Resources support for limited time through Beehive Insurance.

Brandy Strand  36:04

That one is a new benefit that we are actually able to incorporate with the pandemic. So one of our really good partners, Beehive Insurance offered that for our members as a part of their support during the pandemic for nonprofits.

Erica Mills Barnhart  36:20

So that’s cool. So that’s new for folks.

Brandy Strand  36:23

Now we have a classic straight up discount benefit, say 20% on Zoom annual subscription. That one’s somewhat important right now. Yes, somewhat. I mean, it’s just like, I don’t know how much you know, I’m only on zoom like once a week. Ha ha ha I wish. And now you have what about connections. Connect staff and board members to training grounded and best practices, including your annual conference, una credential and nonprofit day on the hill. Yeah.  So that is about the individual empowerment of growing the professional skill set of your staff. That is a big piece. The credential is based at the organizational level. And that is something that is two days of intensive training that they can attend. And then they actually, they’re taught by a subject matter expert for two days of training. And then they come back for a one on one consultation with that expert to say, “This is what you said in the training. But this is what it looks like in our nonprofit.” And then that expert helps to do that technical assistance right then and there to help them meet the best practices in a way that works for their nonprofit.

Erica Mills Barnhart  37:27

Cool. I thought at first…so learning that I would change….so I’m sort of categorizing as we go. And at first, I thought, Oh, it’s about connection. So that would be a soft benefit. But this kind of fits into both categories, because it is about connection. And yet, there’s the benefit of the credential if you choose to connect in that way. Correct?

Brandy Strand  37:46

Yeah.

Erica Mills Barnhart  37:48

Let’s see. gain access to best practices, guidance and standards for your board of directors through the standards of ethics program.

Brandy Strand  37:57

Yes. So that is something that can be downloaded and then used with your board. It is not something that we as UNA come in and say, “You have to do it this way.” We provide these tools and say you are the board of directors of this nonprofit. Here is a tool to help with whatever you’re feeling right now, when you have a question, the help desk is a call away, and we will find whatever you need.

Erica Mills Barnhart  38:22

So I’m wondering if that is received as a hard benefit or soft benefit?

Brandy Strand  38:28

I would say, ooohhhh. that’s an interesting question, Erica.  Kind of tricky. I would say it’s more of a soft because it empowers. Yeah. It’s not a checks and balance. We’re not training. We’re providing a found a framework.

Erica Mills Barnhart  38:46

Yep. And then there’s the job board. Which is a big deal.

Brandy Strand  38:52

Yeah, yes. And we’ve actually expanded our job board this year based off of our members’ feedback, and we now have volunteer positions that can be posted as well as openings for board of directors.

Erica Mills Barnhart  39:03

Oh, that’s nice.

Brandy Strand  39:04

Direct for our members feedback and what they needed. Love it. All right, now here’s another classic discount, which is that members can purchase a full one your membership to GrantSTation.com for $75 and that’s a good because regular prices up to $699,good gravy. And then I love this. So what really stood out for me just from a messaging and language perspective, is that this flows a little bit between like save 20% on zoom, and, and it goes in between that and then we end up here: “in times of uncertainty, connection can be key to survival. UNA’s nonprofit leaders group tightens your bond with other nonprofit leaders from all across Utah. A group mailing list just for nonprofit leaders provides a virtual space for you to connect, create and collaborate.” And I don’t know how else to say it other than we wanted to create a safe space for nonprofit leaders to be able to connect with each other, where animal based organizations, they have a collaboration, they can pull together housing, food security. What is really complicated right now is the broader nonprofit sector. So like with PPP loans and the SBA, they needed a place to communicate with each other. So that’s where, where that one came from, specifically.

Erica Mills Barnhart  40:27

Mm hmm. That’s beautiful. There’s a resource library, which has policies, procedures, guidelines on topics covering everything from cybersecurity, to fundraising to executive leadership transitions and everything in between. So I’m reading these and there’s a little bit so that listeners can also hear this becomes more narrative as you go.

Brandy Strand  40:49

Yeah, yeah,

Erica Mills Barnhart  40:50

There’s a little more to it. It’s more like a conversation.

Brandy Strand  40:54

Every member benefit orientation is as well.

Erica Mills Barnhart  40:57

Yes, I bet it is. And then: “UNA advocates for nonprofits everywhere, promotes a strong nonprofit sector in Utah.”

Brandy Strand  41:04

 That is definitely a soft. We very much place ourselves in the position of being the advocate for the broader nonprofit sector. Whereas we may not focus on housing or food. We do focus on the needs of our nonprofits as a whole. And that’s something that we work very intentionally and strategically about, at both the federal and the state level.

Erica Mills Barnhart  41:27

Yeah, yeah, advocacy has become so much more front and center. And thank goodness, associations and nonprofits associations around the country really got on that a few years ago, because the sector is benefiting from that work, from that momentum, from that commitment to doing advocacy, which has had this very complicated relationship for nonprofits who, you know, it’s like, That’s lobbying!” It’s not lobbying, and even if it were, you can do some of that.

Brandy Strand  41:55

 Exactly.

Erica Mills Barnhart  41:55

So I you know, huge gratitude to you and all the others across the country who’ve been putting in the time in advance because it is paying dividends now, I mean, I’m really thinking of the PPP loans and all the other,you know, the cares act advocacy and that the mechanisms, the procedures, systems and the commitment to advocacy. Also the confidence around advocacy was all in place. I really wonder, not in a good way, what would have happened if that if that groundwork hadn’t been laid? So that’s a huge one. All right. So if we get back to this like mix thing, what I noted was that there were eight benefits that would fall into the category of hard benefits and five that were in soft benefits. So that seems like a pretty good mix.

Brandy Strand  42:43

Yeah, actually, I was thinking you were going to go way more on the hard benefits. And I was like, Well, it seems a little bit more balanced.

Erica Mills Barnhart  42:50

I want to be transparent. I have like, you know, it’s not a highly scientific system I have. I put  down an H and an S and I put little hash marks by each one. It’ll be interesting to again, you know, it doesn’t matter what I think it’s how your members receive these things. Now if we really had resources, what we would do is some MRI stuff to see which parts of the brain lights up and you know, then we would have some hard data to support it but knowing how much feedback you get, I’m sure you can do it without uh, without that and also this idea of time horizon, but which you know, the research around a brains and benefits would say that you want this mix of instant gratification and, and out there gratification. I’m curious what your experience has been. Mine is definitely a fear, like I need it all now. We are low on Maslow’s Hierarchy right now. So my needs are down here and they are, they are about safety. They, you know, they’re not up here in self actualization, where we would like to be and that then that actually has direct implications for how your communicating with your members.

Brandy Strand  44:02

Yes. And at that same time, we also maximized an opportunity. So we’re all online, and we’re doing our trainings through Zoom, we’re recording them. We now have an entire library of every training we’ve hosted since the beginning of the pandemic, as on-demand trainings and have been made that available to our members. And that’s something that we felt like, just because you weren’t prepared for the content when we provided it, our members can still access all that same exact content, and it’s all through their member central portal.

Erica Mills Barnhart  44:35

That’s both practical and compassionate. Right, because what I hear is, well, I can’t be in every zoom meeting and what I need to know today or what I want to know today, depending on the day it just changes day by day. And I’m in so much communication with so many folks who work for nonprofits and that feels amplified. So I think to create this opportunity where you could say maybe not today and that’s okay. That’s okay. You can be here for whenever it’s gonna work for you, it’s gonna be here is really compassionate and responsive to needs, ever shifting needs. Okay, you have touched on some of these things. But I like to ask every single guest the same final question, which is about inspiration and motivation. And I think I talked a little bit about these at the at the confab. But inspiration is about breathing in and breath. And then motivation is about action. So we need both. We need both inspiration and motivation to kind of keep going. So I’m curious what inspires you and what keeps you motivated to do this work?

Brandy Strand  45:42

Oh, wow. I am inspired on a daily basis by the passion and drive of the individuals working in nonprofits. They find and identify and then just go at issues to make this world a better place. And I am humbled on a daily basis by the contributions that they are working to make in our world. And I am motivated to get them every possible bit of information that they need when they need it. And I genuinely believe that Utah Nonprofits Association is in that same boat where we see the impact. We hear the impact. We hear the stories, we hear the struggles, we hear the barriers, and then we hear the wins. I would love to hear more wins. And I think we’re going to get there. And I’m motivated every day. Every day I turn on my computer and I think: how can I help someone today? How can I help get them that template of a policy that they’re struggling finding on cybersecurity, that template of a policy on how to manage social media, how to work with their board, how to help them feel empowered and courageous to do what they know they need to do in the world. It is not my job or the Utah Nonprofits Association to tell anyone that what change they need to make. It’s our job to help support people and to support our communities. And that is something that I am very much motivated to do whether here or in my personal life. I just feel like we can all make this world a better place if we just respect what others are trying to do to make the world a better place. I don’t know if that isn’t an entire circle there. But it doesn’t need to be.

Erica Mills Barnhart  47:27

It doesn’t need to be and whatever it was, Brandy, it was incredible. Your passion shines through so strongly, and nonprofits are on the front lines right now. They are doing so much of the hard work and hearing your love for them in Utah and I’m going to expand that to the sector because you happen to be in Utah. I happen to be in Washington. But it’s happening absolutely everywhere. And I was just interviewing somebody from Canada yesterday. Everywhere. This is the case. So thank you so much. For staying a small but so mighty force for making this world a better place.

Brandy Strand  48:08

You bet.

Erica Mills Barnhart  48:09

That little that thing that you just said about everyday turning  on my computer and I think how can I help somebody, that is gonna stay with me for a long time for sure. So thank you for making time you work for a nonprofit and you’re superduper busy right now and you carved out time to be here with me and with listeners. So just thank you so much for the work you do and for taking the time. I appreciate it.

Brandy Strand  48:30

Thank you so much for this opportunity. And my final plug is please, as your listeners are out in their communities, if you find a nonprofit that you believe in, help, ask them: what do they need? Our nonprofits are incredible organizations and they’re doing really good work, but they need us all. So thank you so much for this opportunity, Erica.

Erica Mills Barnhart  48:50

Wonderful final plug. All right, listeners do good, be well and we will see you next time. Thank you!