This is a transcript of Erica Mills Barnhart’s interview with Peter Drury on the Marketing for Good podcast. You can listen to the episode here and listen to more episodes on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you enjoy listening to podcasts. Enjoy!
people, donors, organizations, inspire, fundraising, trust, impact, feel, marketing, blank sheet, thought, hearing
Erica Mills Barnhart 00:41
Welcome to the Marketing for Good Podcast. I am joined today by Peter Drury, who is a much respected thought leader as well as a truly thoughtful leader. And he brings wisdom, smarts, and inspiration to the impact sector, what we often call nonprofit but we know to be so much more. He currently serves as Chief Strategy Officer for Wellspring Family Services he is on the faculty for Seattle University’s Master of Nonprofit Leadership program, serves as a trustee for the Bainbridge Community Foundation and is a mentor and friend to many developing leaders. In past iterations or chapters of his career, here are a few of the titles that he has held Vice President of mission advancement at Make a Wish, director of major gifts corporate and foundation at Seattle Children’s, Director of strategy at Splash, Director of Development at Sightline Institute and Pastor at All Pilgrims Christian Church, yes, you heard that right, a Pastor. Peter has three, count them, three master’s degrees. I like to tease him that he has way too many letters after his name. He has a Master of Divinity, a Master of Social Work and an MBA. It is my very great pleasure to welcome you Peter to the Marketing for Good podcast. Thanks for being here.
Peter Drury 03:43
Thank you, Eric. It’s an honor to be here, delighted.
Erica Mills Barnhart 03:46
So your, as we just heard, your career has had many iterations, chapters, whatever you want to call them. To me, there seems to be a clear theme which would be impact and I will wonder if you could just go back in time a little bit and connect the dots for us from Pastor to MBA to nonprofit strategist and fundraiser and leader and all points in between?
Peter Drury 04:11
Absolutely. I’ll try to be concise. I love that you’re asking me, I think you’re probably the first person to ever ask me this question publicly, Erica. I certainly fall into this question from time to time. Oh, for example, in the course of my career in a job interview, like what you were a Pastor, we don’t need one of those. So, you know, or like, why did you change your career so many times?
Erica Mills Barnhart 04:31
Yeah. Well, I think I am asking you one because it’s, you know, if when you listen to podcast, it’s nice to kind of get to know the guest. But also, I really feel like your journey is such an inspiring one. And, you know, partially I carry in my heart all my students at the at the University of Washington, and we’re, you know, we’re getting to May when we’re recording this, and they’re super angsty about like, what’s next and I love sharing stories of like, it can look a lot of different ways. So that’s part of why I’m asking.
Peter Drury 05:06
Thank you. Okay, that helps me good. And I’m delighted to answer. And it’s interesting because I’ve actually always felt like there’s a very consistent through line for me and it’ll be, I enjoy that you asked me this now for me to kind of share because certainly when I was to your point, like when I graduated from my undergrad, I couldn’t have spelled out exactly how it would come together. But I kept just kind of following both, I suppose my heart and my mind for what I thought I wanted to learn and where I thought I wanted to be. And it actually my whole career feels like one consistent career. It doesn’t feel like a jumped all over the place. So let me just back into that a little bit. When I was 10 years old, I told my parents that I wanted to be a minister when I grew up. And that’s pretty much because I was inspired by Dr. King and by Mother Teresa, and by a few kind of more local folks who I saw kind of doing good things in the world and they seem to be connected to the religious community. And since I grew up in a Presbyterian Church, I thought, okay, my way to that is to be a Presbyterian Minister. So like that when I was 10, that kind of felt like the way I was headed. And I still remember in junior high reading The Diary of Anne Frank, and it had an absolutely incredible impact on my life, still does today. And as I just kind of kept growing and learning about things ranging from religion, to social justice, to community to hope to healing, I knew I wanted to be in that world somewhere, but I didn’t know exactly what it looked like. So I kept kind of pursuing this path toward being a Pastor. But I have to say that in my, you know, when you talk about the 70s and 80s, that’s a different era of the faith community that we’re in now. And I will describe the church of my childhood is, you know, pretty moderate and inclusive by today’s standards. It was not conservative or fundamentalist, or evangelical or exclusive or a lot of other words that you hear used these days. So really, I saw myself following a sense of calling in to service and to your word impact, you know, to just make an impact in the world for the greater kind of social good. And so that’s really the path I was on. And my interests were really around spirituality and ethics, about nonprofit and kind of counseling and social work and nonprofit organizations. And then just being good in business smart about it, making good decisions along the way. And I had grown up in a family business. And I felt familiar with and comfortable with kind of issues of business kind of over the dining room table, over dinner, whether that was an HR issue or a financial issue, whatever else, and I want to bring those together. So to really connect those dots for you. It’s like, I first studied theology and ethics of the Master of Divinity. I did that in a joint program. I did my MD and my Master’s in Social Work and MD of MSW joint degree program together. So when I, when I went to grad school the first time, I really viewed myself more as working more in the community more like a social worker, human services person, then as a clergy person, but I was ordained and did serve, you know, in that way, but I always saw those things connected and frankly in the course of my life, I entered Seminary in 1990. And I graduated in 93. So in those years, I was beginning to perceive a shift in the role of kind of the faith community and the beginning of a lot of the polarization we all are aware of today. So I really felt like you know, I might never serve inside the walls of a church, I might always be on the outside, but boy do I believe in helping unify Jews and Christians, Protestants and Catholics, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindu, you know, Agnostic, people, Atheist people, I just, I really felt like the kind of interfaith dialogue and you know, when people say spiritual, not religious, I just felt like, you know, I’m gonna be a part of that community for social change. And so, but what do you do you know, what kind of degree do you get for that? Because that’s what I wanted to do, but there’s no degree. So an M Div and an MSW got me started. And then about 10 years into my career, I decided to go back and get my MBA Master of Business Administration. At a point when many of my friends who’d watched me grow up kind of thought I was selling out like, oh, but I thought you were social worker, why are you going to business school? But I had this sense that if I could talk to accountants, if I could understand marketing strategy, if I could do strategic planning, if I knew things about governance and law relative to like HR and boards and all that stuff, then I really thought I could be a greater use and greater impact in my own life. So my own personal question in my career was always what’s the greatest possible impact I can have for good and I wound up getting an MBA to kind of round those things out for me. And today, I just look back and call it all my own independent PhD program in, you know, kind of ethical leadership for effective organizations for impact somehow, I mean, I don’t know. But that’s my long way of connecting the dots. But I very, very happily serve in the impact sector. And at Wellspring where I am today, we’re a blend of a business and a kind of classic nonprofit and I love that, I love business modeling and planning and organizational leadership for the greater good. And so that’s what we do and I’ll maybe stop short of telling you about the mission of Wellspring, but that’s how my career piece gets me here.
Erica Mills Barnhart 09:59
Well thank you for being willing to share your path. I think that’s so interesting that people haven’t asked you about being a Pastor, it seems so central to who you clearly are. But that’s just me, with my own view of, of the interestingness of things.
Peter Drury 10:15
Yeah, I do, I mean I might just say quickly, sorry that I think a part of that’s been I think we’re just in such a polarized time now that more scared to ask the question, you know, and it’s even awkward sometimes for me to answer it, because it’s, it would be easy to assume things about me. I mean, you would not know that I worked in an interfaith context, or AIDS crisis in the 80s. You know, like, you wouldn’t know that and from that description it would be easier to imagine something different. And so, anyway, the kind of social justice and inclusion of the church is what I fought for forever. And now I do it kind of outside the walls of the church.
Erica Mills Barnhart 10:49
That makes me think, I mean, a lot about a lot of marketing is shaping perception. And one of the things that is breaking my heart right now is how perception is, is being influenced and shaped and in many, many, many different ways and I’m not only talking about a political context or religious context, you know, I look at how our kids are being socialized and, and in some ways, they are being socialized differently, but in others in really fundamental ways, it’s still the same. And I lay that to a great extent at the feet of, you know, marketers, it’s part of the reason I started doing the podcast because I just, I’m so fed up with, you know, marketing, I truly believe it can be a force for good. I mean, that’s not just like puffery that I put on the on the podcast page. But that’s also because that’s how my, you know, career has gone and that’s how I’ve used it. So I don’t know, I guess I got thinking about that. When you were saying that people could, you know, have a have an impression of you, that wouldn’t be an accurate perception and how often that happens.
Peter Drury 11:56
Yeah, I actually I’ve come to believe that perception is nearly everything. I mean, even if I talk about in terms of economics and not marketing specifically, you know, people buy things based on what they believe they’re going to get out of them, right? Or we believe what it’ll do for their life or whatever. The perception drives us all the time, whether you call that intuition or whether you’re adding up the facts or checking Consumer Reports, but your perception of quality and value drives your decisions. And so I think, I think you’re really right. Perception is powerful.
Erica Mills Barnhart 12:25
It’s so powerful. And even when we’re looking at facts, we’re looking at those facts in a frame, our own personal belief system, and our brains will not accept facts that don’t align with that frame. It’s that powerful. I mean, frame you know, there’s that Michael Porter who said, culture eats strategy for lunch or something, I think.
Peter Drury 12:47
Yes, but yeah, well, yeah, but you’re right.
Erica Mills Barnhart 12:50
I that’s I mean, I think of that it’s like frame you know, the frame is gonna beat out the facts every time and we’re so mystified by misinformation and how we can fall pray to it. It’s like how our brains are wired. It’s neuroscience. So what are the other so they’re sort of the containers in which you have worked. And that’s ebbed and flowed. In addition to impact, I would say another theme of your work seems to be that you find yourself at the intersection of things often, you know, both in terms of sectors, but also strategy, fundraising, branding, marketing, management leadership, like, was that intentional? Or do you just like that’s just where you find yourself?
Peter Drury 13:34
No, I love intersections. I really love intersections. You’re exactly right. Like, to me there’s a fine line between having some economics and financial knowledge, but also the heart for service and compassion. And I think that those things don’t have to be separate. And I in a prior role, once upon a time, I talked to a medical director of well, I mean, I guess I can say, think there’s no confidentiality on this, to Dr. Ben Danielson, who I admire greatly, for the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic in Seattle, an incredible clinic for kids that grew out of the civil rights movement. And I remember speaking with him some years ago, when I was getting involved in the campaign for that, and being able to help design that, and I said, you know, my, what I’ve learned is that even though I don’t think I need to make a business case, for hope, and justice, there are other people who do need the business case for hope and justice. And I said, if I can help you make the business case, in addition to the compassion case, then we can reach a far broader group of people And we can really build this campaign to be highly effective. And so I found that like, again, there’s there are times when we’re I am at at Wellspring now, we’re really focused on the upstream prevention of homelessness itself in our state capitol and Olympia, advocating in the legislature for why it’s less expensive to prevent, you know, eviction and homelessness than it is to respond when someone’s already homeless. I personally am more persuaded by the compassion case, which is I just think homelessness is a bummer. You know, I think it’s a terrible situation to be in. And it’s traumatic. It’s horrible, and it ruins lives. And, and so that’s compelling to me. But I can also make the case that you know that the average cost in a night of shelter for a family here in Washington State all across the states $95 a night, but the average cost of keeping someone housed, keeping a family housed is $35 a night. And so it’s a third, the cost to keep someone housed as it is to help them once they’re in shelter. And so I make that business case and many other I mean, that’s one simple fact there’s many others, but I make the business case. And I find people on the right side of the aisle nodding and agreeing of me like, oh, wow, it’s less expensive to intervene earlier. And of course, I lead more on the compassion side, and I feel like yes, and it’s the right thing to avoid trauma.
Erica Mills Barnhart 15:50
And if I might just offer that the way in which you’re talking about goes right back to we’re talking about facts and frames. And so what you have so stutely done is realized that there are two overarching frames in which we think about homelessness. There’s more obviously, but pretty fundamentally, there’s, you know, there’s the business one, and there’s the compassion one. And so you have found facts to support different frames rather than trying to use, you know, use facts that aren’t aren’t going to be compelling to somebody who has a different frame. So that is from communications perspective. So, so smart.
Peter Drury 16:25
Mm hmm. Thank you.
Erica Mills Barnhart 16:27
Do you use your own, I am going to talk about your Beyond Cash Fundraising Dashboard. Because I, I’m not going to get this quote. Right. So correct me on it, but when you were working on that, so I’d love for you to share with listeners what it is and what inspired you to create it. Because you have the the saying about money, not all money is created equal.
Peter Drury 16:48
Mm hmm. Yeah. Something like that. Believe it or not, Erica, I think I created that thing in 2010 or something. So it’s 10 years old, so I might not be on top of my talking points. I’ll start by saying, I’ve always provided that for 10 years free to anybody. And I’ll provide it free to anybody in your audience. So we can come back to that, just because I think it’s a tool for the sector.
Erica Mills Barnhart 17:11
It’s a fantastic tool.
Peter Drury 17:13
But not all, you’re exactly right, I have to think about how I used to phrase that. But let me give you the example. I’ll probably back into it. So I’ve often liked to say that if you had a gift of $10,000 from one donor, because somebody, let’s say they went to an auction, and they and they said oh, wow, you mean I can go stay in someone’s condo in Vail and I can meet celebrities and their fancy dinners and get massages, I’ll pay $10,000 for that. Okay, so there’s a $10,000 gift because someone did that, versus somebody else who gave $10,000 in a gift that was unrestricted. Let’s say it’s because the organization changed their life and obviously changed their life and they gave it back out of gratitude. That just because two gifts were $10,000 they don’t have equal value in the kinda long term sustainability of an organization, it’s very clear that the transactional gift of the auction was kind of a one and done. Whereas the $10,000 gift that was because someone was like thanking you basically elevating the organization of the status of family and saying, like, look, this is so important to me, you changed my life, I’m grateful to you, I want to give back that the value just because the cash value looks the same its value in you know, in true economic terms is not all equal. So I think I probably said something like two gifts of the same size are not necessarily equal or something like that. Or, you know.
Erica Mills Barnhart 18:35
Something along those lines, yes, yeah.
Peter Drury 18:36
Yeah. And I guess you’re asking about the dashboard. I’ll just I’ll try to just summarize it, and we can, we can certainly post this however is helpful on the podcast, but this is a dashboard of seven indicators, their lead indicators for fundraising effectiveness, that measure not the dollars in the door, but other kind of qualitative and quantitative factors that impact and indicate, you know, your fundraising effectiveness. So I don’t think I’ll describe them all here right now, because it could get pretty geeky, pretty fast. But I’ve tested this with many people over 10 years I have, I’ve always put out the offer for someone to add an eighth indicator or to take one away. And frankly, now, some of the finest fundraising consultants in the country and the world actually have looked at this, and nobody’s changed them. And so I feel like it’s a really time tested tool to say, what are you going to measure in fundraising effectiveness, to know that you’re doing the right things? Because frankly, if you only measure the cash, if you only say did we reach this year’s financial goal, and you met this year’s financial goal, you’re not necessarily being successful. I mean, I I like to share the story because it’s so true, but the year I remember the year that a board congratulated me on a really effective fundraising year, because it was 2008. Everybody was terrified when the year ended, but I was horrified because I thought it was not the most successful year and I knew that 2008 was tough and 2009 was gonna be tougher. But because somebody had died and left the organization in their will, and it left a huge gift, it looked like fundraising success, you know, we were stable in 2008, and received a huge gift. And that was lovely. But I knew the picture was bleak for 2009. And I knew that that person was not going to die a second time in the next fiscal year and leave that gift all over again. So in any event, by the same token, I’ve had years when we didn’t meet the financial goal, maybe it was close, but not quite, and the board was upset. But if you looked at the underlying data, you might say, wow, this is a really successful fundraising year because you were doing the right activities to either get more donors bring more people in, you know, there’s a variety things you could have been showing success, and that will set you up for even greater success the next year. And most boards and most Executive Directors and even those fundraisers don’t really know how to tell the difference between what’s the data for fundraising telling you kind of underneath the surface. So that dashboard was like an attempt to help people kind of measure the right things.
Erica Mills Barnhart 20:58
Yeah, it is a fantastic tool. I’ll put it in the show notes so people can get to it easily. And it’s it’s a tool that is simple but not easy. It takes a little, I mean, I’ve watched it because I recommend it pretty frequently I watch people sort of go through it and first they are like, oh, yeah, we can wiz through this. And then they’re like, oh, hey, wait a minute. So it does take, you know, take some thought. And I think that that thought is reflective of kind of a shift in mindset around money. Which is something I wanted to talk to you about. Because one of the most interesting things is, I mean, people are weird about money. In general, we sit in North America, we tend to be pretty weird about it. And I feel like right now with COVID things are just weird all around everything so weird all the time. And I mean, you’re somebody who has tracked people’s relationship with money for a long time. Are you seeing any shifts in that? I mean, what I worry greatly about how much we operate in the impact sector from a scarcity mindset and there’s some very valid structural reasons for that. And we’re seeing that resources really were scarce. So I mean, nonprofits are having to close their doors as are small businesses because there just isn’t enough but I guess I’m curious what what shifts are you seen if any at all related to help people are thinking about their money? I’m also simultaneously thinking about I think it was you quoting Kay Sprinkle. Grace, who said, people give through you, not to you?
Peter Drury 22:27
Oh, great question. Yeah. And actually that one that people give through you, not to you, I love that you just said that. I’ve always felt like I should coin that somewhere that actually was me. But I-
Erica Mills Barnhart 22:37
Oh it was you? Were you riffing on Kay Sprinkel Grace?
Peter Drury 22:38
I was riffing on Kay Sprinkel Grace because people love to say people give to people and I like to say people give through people and it’s through people who they trust to make a difference in the world you know, with them in partnership. So in but I think other people have said it too. So I’ve never tried to like make it like my quote but but you’re right. I love, Kay Sprinkel Grace is one of the most genius people in this field, so if people don’t know her on your podcast, I would give you great lengths on Kay as well. So let’s see. So your question. That’s so funny was so excellent when you were sharing it. And now because of the riff-
Erica Mills Barnhart 23:06
Let me rephrase, if people give through you and not to you, and simultaneously if we’re living in a weird time, if people are weird about money, is that shifting how they’re giving through organizations or to organizations?
Peter Drury 23:26
Thank you. Yes. And nice rephrase you, you had my back. Thank you. That’s perfect. So here’s what I would say two things. First thing is we don’t know until this plays out, right? I mean, like any data, in the we’re all watching trends, right now we’re hearing things like that, you know, one in five people who were giving philanthropic before are not now able to give, I think it’s gonna be a larger percentage than that. But I think you’re asking me more about kind of the psyche of generosity in this time and, you know, nothing like a pandemic or an incredible recession, much less both to freak you out about your own sustenance, and I think when we’re scared about our own survival, it gets harder and harder and harder to be generous. And so I don’t think that’s a complicated economic idea, but it’s it’s very real. And then you add to it now that nonprofits, I think a lot of folks are gonna go out of business just like a lot of independent like restaurants and small businesses are gonna go to business too, I’m really scared about all this. And so what’s happening is, what I’m finding is donors are doing a couple things. One, they’re asking themselves, you know, can I give or not like, I want to make a difference. How should I do that? And it probably, they probably ask themselves, well, can I volunteer? Or can I make a mask? You know, can I do something generous? Can I cheer on my friends on Facebook? Like that’s, you know, like, that’s a set of questions. But then if they say, well, I’m in a position you know they have more of an abundance mentality, like, look, I have some resources, I could be helpful, what am I going to do? So now they start to ask themselves, well, where is the greatest need and they might say, well, gosh, it’s about medical professionals in the hospitals, or they say, oh, it’s about the homeless and how homeless people are being impacted by COVID. Or oh, it’s about children or whatever, you know. So they’re asking that kind of a question. But then they’re asking, well, who’s going to be around for the long haul, because let’s say you choose, you want to help, you know, organizations helping homeless people being impacted by COVID-19. But you’re scared they’re gonna go out of business, because you’re not sure if they can sustain. Well, now you’re going to air toward maybe bigger organizations. But then you say to yourself, well, they’re big, maybe they don’t need me. And so I think people wind up in this very-
Erica Mills Barnhart 25:33
It is very existential.
Peter Drury 25:34
It becomes very existential. And so what I like to say, I mean, again, pre pandemic, but I’ll sure say it now is that when people have a moment where they want to be generous, you know, if you are like, let’s say that your aunt died and left you a lot of money, and told you like you should give some of this charity. People do not look in the yellow ages, which I date myself, but they don’t look in the yellow pages to find a charity. They also don’t just google like who’s doing this They go with someone they already trust. And so and how would they already trust you as an organization? They would if they had a volunteer experience or donor experience, it was so good that they kept wanting to give or kept wanting to volunteer. So to this whole point of what are we seeing, and what are we expecting? And what should we be looking at? I think our behavior as organizations right now, around kindness, around inclusion, around rapidly thanking donors and thanking them very, very well. All these behaviors really matter because people are going to build perception for years to come you know, about what was their donor experience or the volunteer experience with your organization? And I think people I think the scarcity thing is gonna live on I think people are gonna be very you know, there’s, there’s a thing about anxiety where like, like, maybe I’m really between a rock and a hard place, and I need to not be generous because things are so bad, and that’s fair. But there’s also just, I’m close enough to it. I can fear I’m going to be in a rock and a hard place and I might perceive, back to your word, perception, I might perceive that I’m in a really precarious place. And maybe I’m not, maybe I’m actually okay. But this pandemic has me freaked out. Right. So then I think I’m using me metaphorically now. But, you know, a donor is thinking, well, can I give, can I not, and there’s just gonna be a downward pressure to give less and less and less or give nothing, because people are scared, and they want to make sure to take care of their families. So I think that’s all going on right now. And so I think I am trying with our organization, and we just had our fundraising campaign last week, it was going to be our luncheon one week ago today. And last week, we just had it we set a $355,000 goal and I got the email right before this podcast now that we surpassed our goal and we raise more money this year than we did one year ago at our luncheon and we turned it into a virtual campaign. We shared about the need the way people could make a difference. We were not only did we raise more money, but we spent less money trying to raise it because we weren’t holding a big expensive event at a nice downtown place.
Erica Mills Barnhart 28:01
Peter Drury 28:03
Erica Mills Barnhart 28:04
Let’s just have a moment for the Wellspring team for pulling that off.
Peter Drury 28:09
Thank you. I’m thrilled about it. Oh, and I’m watching several organizations right now hopefully get really good with our messaging and our marketing, we actually are raising more money for less. We’re spending less and raising more in this moment in time. And so that’s to your point about marketing for good all along. I just feel like that does come back to perception, it comes back to words it comes back to frames. And it comes back to an invitation for a person to make a difference in the world through you, not to you but through you. And yeah, I think that’s the work.
Erica Mills Barnhart 28:40
Yeah, yeah. I really hope listeners are hearing that the through you not to you because I think what I’ve perceived when I’ve had the pleasure of hearing you say that in front of groups and seeing the room and the shift that happens for people when they’re like, oh, like if I move myself out of the way this feels much more natural and what it does from a messaging perspective is it shifts the fundraiser or the marketer onto kind of the same side of the as the donor and your, your gaze is in the same direction.
Peter Drury 29:12
Yes, beautifully said.
Erica Mills Barnhart 29:13
And that’s just so much more comfortable and empowering. And yeah, I mean, the other thing I’m really hearing in what you’re saying is like, back to basics. And that’s, you know, when I when I’m getting asked about it right now, for marketing, that’s my advice is like, be unapologetically authentic to who you are as a person and as an organization let that shine so brightly for folks because nobody wants to think harder than they need to right now or ever, really, but especially now. And just back to the basics. You know, the amount of time I’m spending just back to the basic basic Claxon Method, what does success look like? Who you know, who do you need to engage? How are you going to engage them? We’re just all pivoting all the time and what I’m hearing from folks like you and Wellspring who’ve been successful, is back to basics.
Peter Drury 30:03
It’s absolutely true. In fact, when you say back to basics, I know what you’re invoking. But I’m going to even go back and, I mean, even go more basically. I think my best kind of coaching and guidance relative to fundraising and marketing was shared by two people who never knew that’s what they were coaching me on. And that was my two grandmother’s. And well, my grandmother’s were really good at handwritten thank you notes. And they were really good at checking in with people who they cared about. And when they, when my dad’s mom would tell me, Peter, there’s nothing more important than telling the truth. I actually think that truthfulness and kindness and handwritten note and a genuine phone call or in person visit whatever it is. I think we’re all starving for that.
Erica Mills Barnhart 30:47
Yeah, I I agree with that, you know, Lulay and his always wonderful way, wrote a post in the past couple weeks, basically making the case that maybe we’re going overboard with gratitude and his point is, is one that is well taken, at least by me. And it kind of want to circle back quickly to your comments about people’s decision analysis in particular to to make donations to nonprofits right now, I really do worry that more money will be funneled into bigger sort of, I’ll referred to them as name brand organizations, not that there’s anything wrong with those organizations, but it means that the organizations serving communities of color and marginalized communities already we’re seeing that they’re being left further and further behind. This that troubles me so so deeply. And yeah, so his point is there, you know, to use economic terms since you are fond of those. Is it for every handwritten note, there is an opportunity cost. And so what’s that balance?
Peter Drury 31:52
Totally. It’s absolutely correct. I’m going to answer you in a different way than fundraising and more more to my kind of strategic planning side and our approach. So a decision we made it Wellspring that we felt was both excellent relative to kind of leverage and impact, but also excellent relative to our diversity, equity inclusion goals was that if we literally found another organization and we seek them out, I mean, we’re trying to find them, that’s part of my job, who’s doing what we believe in doing, then our job is not to duplicate or compete, our job is to lift them up and partner with them. Yes, and since we’re in the ending the cycle of homelessness for children and families arena, you can actually imagine that that disproportionately affects children and families of color by a longshot, and in particular, Black or African American families and Latinx families. And so we just said, look, a part of our job is not to become bigger and bigger and bigger. But a part of our job is to partner better and better and better with smaller organizations who know their communities are supporting them, you know, and so I probably won’t take up your time on this in the podcast now. But it transformed how we as an organization conducted our strategic planning and how we define success moving forward. It’s literally my job now at Wellspring to help connect about 2000 like literally like developed 2000 micro partnerships around the Puget Sound, a three County area, to make sure that if someone is looking for help, and they’re scared of becoming homeless, that we can get them as easily and fast as possible to the right place. And we just viewed that was a part of our job. And so one way that we want to have integrity around that was by in some cases, we offer office space to these partner organizations, not because we want to merge with them, but we want to help, you know, defray some of their costs, or there might be technology that we have, we do have that we want to make available to them as if they were in our organization. And so there are some very ethical choices we’re making in our strategic kind of planning and trajectory now that I feel very proud of in the very way you’re describing right now and I’ve several times a week have conversations with another nonprofit leader wanting to make sure they understand we’re not trying to take them over or acquire them or anything else, but we want to genuinely support them and have a win win kind of symbiosis, because we’re concerned about exactly this. So, yeah.
Erica Mills Barnhart 34:12
I love that. I love that approach. Right? I am hoping that that’s one of the things that is going to come out of this what I want I think that we can’t get around the fact that really fundamentally we’re just all human. We’re just we’re all human, you know, we’re all sharing the earth and to these professional personal distinctions that we used to have are pretty hard to keep up when like your, you know, kid is popping in behind you on your zoom call, or whatever the things gonna be. We’re just, we’re all human. And I just I love hearing the dedication to partnership. I was, I actually can’t remember where I heard this recently, and I wish I could. I’ve always been a little bit, not irked, but it’s tough when working with organizations to, you know, when you ask them questions around, what are you? What are your strengths? And somebody rephrase that recently and said, What are you uniquely great at? And I cannot wait to try this. I haven’t had a chance yet. I think that’s a much easier question. What do you great at as an organization? And then that’s what you do.
Peter Drury 35:24
That’s great personal advice too.
Erica Mills Barnhart 35:27
Yeah, it turns out that a lot of the advice around marketing and on this podcast if you just apply it to life, you know, that’s that’s the way it goes. It’s not tightly in the organizational container.
Peter Drury 35:39
That’s a nice one. I’m busy interviewing, we’re hiring a PR manager right now at Wellspring and I’m sorry, if this lives on the podcast. But we are right now. And I would love to actually ask exactly that question. You know, what are you uniquely great? And that’s a fact. You know, and some people like to ask that, like, what’s your superpower, but I feel like that can be a little too grand. I mean, that’s a fun question. But I think it’s different than what are you uniquely great at. I love that.
Erica Mills Barnhart 36:05
And actually, I added the uniquely great at part the they were saying what are you great at, but part of my thing is I truly, truly, truly believe that we are all put on this planet. And we have some unique purpose. Like, you know, things get in our way. And sometimes it can be really hard to figure that out. I believe in the deep wisdom that all of us have. And that we have sort of a universal and it can get pretty noisy and tough to connect with that. But really being invited into that and certainly, you know, my classes at University of Washington, much to my students dismay at times I want to say that they’re like, Oh my god, we’re gonna get existential again, Erica? Like yeah what are you uniquely great at there’s only one you, how incredible is that? I don’t know. We had a little back and forth recently about a term that I want to, I want to come back to which is the word investment.
Peter Drury 36:58
Erica Mills Barnhart 36:59
Right and I was sort of wondering, like is that because I, you know, I started using it, it felt more I don’t know why businessy or something and then we get into return on investment and I can’t remember what got me thinking about and sort of wonder worrying whether or not that that gives the wrong impression and could in fact, exacerbate existing power dynamics that aren’t serving us where by donors and institutional funders sort of feel like they’ve made an investment and therefore they are entitled to some sort of return, that they’re not entitled to.
Peter Drury 37:31
Yeah, you’re talking about, yeah, like to refer to donors as investors, for example, as opposed to donors.
Erica Mills Barnhart 37:36
Yeah, like does it give the wrong impression? Is it authentic, actually, now that we’re talking through I think that’s what’s been bugging me is, is if we’re meant to be radically authentic, is is that authentic?
Peter Drury 37:48
It’s a fabulous question. I think every organization probably has to ask it for themselves. I would say the investment language relative to philanthropy, I do like but I have some guardrails around it that I think are different than other people. So there are some people who will literally refer to all of their donors as investors. And I think if they build that, I mean, I think you can make a case for that if you do it appropriately in certain ways. That’s not exactly what I would do. But I will say that we’ve seen, you know, back to your questions earlier about how are donors, you know, behaving and such. I think we’ve moved from the kind of make a donation to make a difference over the last generation, like, it used to be that like, something you just do is give back because it’s the right thing to do. And I think we’ve really watched, you know, people connect their activism and their philanthropy, their donating behavior, you know, over the last generation increasingly, and so this word investor kind of came up as a profile. There’s a great book called Seven Faces of Philanthropy. I now think there’s like eight of them, but that’s for a different day. In fact, Rebecca Zanatta, who you interviewed in this, recently, she and I talked together about trying to redo a book on phases of philanthropy in some way shape or form, but but in the profiles of the different faces of philanthropists, you have kind of the altruist and you have the person who is kind of giving back. And there has been emerging this kind of investor donor profile folks who act a little bit more like venture capitalist with their donations. And so I think because there really is a group that donates with an interest in social return on investment, or what’s the thing I’m changing in the world where can I see the return, I think the investment language can be okay, but we have to be super careful about it. And here’s, here’s my guidance. I don’t personally refer to donors as investors, I might refer to a gift as being like an investment. So like, let’s say, let’s say you wanted to build a building that in the future was going to be a shelter or you want to buy some land that was going to be a food bank or something. I think you can say that let’s say a donor gave me a really large gift like $100,000 gift or they gave a piece of land, you know, or a building with a few couple hundred thousand dollars or something. I think you could say as a donor, you’re truly an investor. You’re investing, you’re giving seed capital to help us build on this foundation so that in future people don’t have to be hungry in this very neighborhood. You know, like, I think there’s a way there’s a storyline around that where you can say your gift is like an investment. It’s going to have a return not for you, but for the community or for families facing homelessness or whatever. And to include investment language and a story, as opposed to saying, because you’re an investor in Wellspring, you know, you’re our most important person to me, that gives the wrong impression. You trusted this mission so much you believe mission so much that you were willing to make a gift as you would make an investment. I approach it in that way, because of a lot of the reasons because I do find that downstream, you know, it’s not about the one message, it’s about years of the same message. And so now you have a board member, 10 years from now, who thought they were an investor all along, and now they think they can call the shots. They’re on the board. They think they’re like a stockholder rather than a stakeholder and then and they want to do something and I think you can get into complicated dynamics and governance and kind of appropriate decision making and all that. And there’s a reason why we have laws around self dealing and philanthropy and I don’t think it should happen in a micro environment in a small organizations. So, but I do think it’s powerful to think of your gift, like you would invest as opposed to investing in the market, you’re investing in the community, you’re investing in children or families or the arts. I think that’s a pretty powerful idea. If we frame it up in the right way.
Erica Mills Barnhart 41:24
Well, it makes me go back to that idea of being on you know, standing side by side with your donors and funders, and that you could be, you know, I could imagine language like together we are invested in a future that looks like XYZ. And then, I think I can, you know, I can get behind it more as a verb maybe. I see your point and I take it around, sort of breaking it down and that a gift is an investment, yeah, definitely.
Peter Drury 41:54
I know what a verb person you are. But let me tell you, you’re standing side by side thing, I just need to say this. There’s an old thing that a lot of people, they don’t understand about fundraising, you’ll hear people, you know, say why, like, if I’m on the staff, why am I being asked to make a gift to an organization? I love the fact like, I work at Wellspring. And I’m also a donor to Wellspring. If I asked, and I don’t mean like, I don’t mean like a small donor, like, I mean, I make a big philanthropy decision for myself, I make it a stretch for the place that I’m working on behalf of, because I want to ask every donor, I do want to stand side by side with them. And I do want to say, look, I prioritize this mission of ending homelessness for kids and families, I participate in this, I’m asking you to join me and join others who want to make this possible, you know, then we can together invest in a future where we don’t have homelessness for kids and family like so I feel like I have a position of integrity to have that conversation. If I you know, make a stretch and make a gift. So it’s really important to me to be a donor before I ever ask. I don’t want to ask people for money for something I’m not willing to support. And I realized that for different people in different levels of, you know on the staff, that means different things. I just say stretch because I think I think we need to challenge ourselves to give more than we think we can. And when we’ve done that, then I think we can ask people to join us.
Erica Mills Barnhart 43:11
Yeah. And also, I love that you acknowledge that not all, I mean, it genuinely it is a thing where pay for nonprofits is not fantastic. And we have some pay equity issues that are real. So whatever and I know that there is a massive debate around this. However, I sort of come down on you know, you want, we’ll go back to this term, like, what does it look like for you to be as invested in the mission as you’re asking donors or others to be? Is a definitely a worthy question. One of the things that we talked about a lot in this podcast is that successful external marketing is predicated on successful internal alignment. And you have led many teams over the years, you lead a team now. How do you get people in alignments toward a shared goal, or shared vision?
Peter Drury 44:10
Thank you, you’ve just about standing my job description, frankly. So my job as Chief Strategy Officer, and I think of that as two things, one of them is the future, and the other is alignment. That’s really my job all the time. And each one of those has kind of external and internal implications. So I really think, here’s where the power of story and storytelling, and metaphor and language and words, I think those things are incredible, and for people to have some fairly simple ideas about either what is our story, or what are our values, what are our words, and when we can have alignment between what we say externally and what we say internally, it becomes incredibly powerful and I might give just a small example of that, like, I know that in this era when people have a lot of political opinions about like undocumented workers, I don’t even like the term undocumented. I’m, I mean, I’m not sure what the better terminology is, but people for whom we’re not giving them documents. I don’t know what you would say about that. But, but in crisis, where I want to go with this is in crisis response around people facing homelessness, and in communities of color, who are experiencing homelessness, and then beyond that communities of color, who have their immigration status, or their citizenship status is somehow not gonna be respected by the federal government in a certain way, shape or form. Those folks are in an incredibly difficult place in their lives. It’s just, it’s an, I don’t even know how to begin to describe that. And so if your staff in an organization, and you’re afraid that we’re telling donors oh, no, we only help certain kinds of people. We don’t help the people who you know, blah, blah, blah, whatever. If your staff and you’re scared that your leadership or your external relations, your donors are getting a different message, it really makes you do your work in a different way, it affects your morale, it affects your mood towards the organization, everything. I mean, obviously-
Erica Mills Barnhart 46:06
It erodes trust.
Peter Drury 46:07
It erodes trust.
Erica Mills Barnhart 46:09
Trust is currency.
Peter Drury 46:10
So I found that when our CEO or our Director of housing or I or others, you know, when when when people on the staff here are saying to donors and funders or electeds we serve absolutely everybody. I mean, we have a very obvious sign in our office when you enter Wellspring that all peoples, all shapes, all sizes, all genders, all, you know, sexual orientation, race, we have a very clear kind of an enjoyable, colorful sign that makes that message really clear coming in. That sign might do more for morale in the organization than anything else and people know when we’re asked publicly, we speak really clearly about our inclusion policies and and, you know, and commitments. Well, so then when we’re in staff meetings, around our diversity equity inclusion goals internally from an HR perspective. Guess what, when there’s alignment and congruence, then all the trust can increase. And people can work more effectively together and they can believe more in the mission. So I, I just think that the congruence, the resonance between what’s external, what’s internal, and the integrity between them, changes everything. And I’ve worked in organizations where that wasn’t the case. So I mean, I’ve, I’ve seen it, I’ve seen it go otherwise and I’ve also seen the impact.
Erica Mills Barnhart 47:23
Yeah, I think it was Seth Godin, who said, you can’t just schmear marketing on it. Because schmear I mean, that’s just a funny word. But like, people know, they know. And then I forget his first name, but the psychologist or psychiatrist, I’m not sure which Adler so there’s adlerian psychology, you’re probably familiar with it. And I think, you know, he speaks you know, a lot to belonging and our need to belong, and that fundamentally, we need to be seen, and to belong. Those are like the four things as humans, and again, this gets back to like, we are just all humans who have been wandering around into these different contexts. And I have always, you know, Wellspring been on my radar for a long, long time, but hearing your commitment to partnership and to inclusion and to true deep belonging is very inspiring and to seeing all sorts of people.
Peter Drury 48:17
Thank you. I believe that.
Erica Mills Barnhart 48:18
Yeah, yeah. It’s an incredible organization. So as people look like, we’re still in the crisis, here we are. If people are looking forward, like it’s a little tough to lift up our heads, because we just don’t know when Coronavirus will not be the first thing that we talk about and think about that uncertain time horizon makes it difficult to look in that direction even. But I’m curious your thoughts about how do you motivate folks to just take moments of looking out and sort of going from crisis response to rebuilding and what they are opportunities are there?
Peter Drury 49:01
I think for me, you know, you really emphasize the word trust earlier in this conversation in relationships. And I think trust is so critical. And it makes me think of this question, you’re now asking me, which is, I remember there was a point in my life when I learned that trustworthy was a very powerful word, like what does it mean to be worthy of trust? You know, I can’t just go out there and expect trust, I can’t go and buy trust, there’s really nothing. I mean, the only thing I can do is behave in a way that is worthy of trust. And so my thinking right now, in terms of your question is, I think, for us to challenge ourselves to be trustworthy, what are the behaviors? What are the practices? What are the, you know, principles of being worthy of people’s trust? And to me that leads to a certain integrity, the answer for me is somewhere in is there a consistency between what we say and what we believe and what we do. It’s kind of a trifecta of those three are like a three fold cord of our my beliefs and my words and actions are those things consistent. And so if we say, for example, at Wellspring, one of our values is we take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others, then it means I’m not the guy who tells people to work overnight and through their weekends and kill themselves to help some family out there. But instead, I say to someone, we really believe what we say when we say we take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others. And we want to encourage that practice, even of the clients who are here, we want them to take care of themselves so they can take care of others. And so there’s a, to me there’s a consistency, there’s an integrity of what we’re saying, with our clients to what we’re saying to each other. But I really do think regardless, the organization right now, whether you’re in the arts, you know, and you’re being decimated in that respect, because tragically that’s happening right now, or you’re in hospitality in some way or you’re in homeless services, or you’re in health care, whatever else it is, I think the the fundamental question of how are you showing that you’re worthy of trust? How are you behaving with integrity, your beliefs, your words, your actions align? I think you will find, actually that a lot of things become easier. I really do. That’s another conversation for another time, if we just get rid of like conflicting messages and beliefs and behaviors, but I also think you’ll find that there’s this incredible alignment between the work we do on the ground for impact and the messages and the stories we’re telling kind of externally. And then on the other side of this crisis, when people say, who do I trust, guess who they’re going to point to? They’re going to point the organization that was trustworthy, when things were really, really down, and they’re going to remember that they trusted them, that they had, that the organization and integrity and they’ll come back, they’ll they will come back and they’re going to support the organization.
Erica Mills Barnhart 49:20
Yeah, I love that, that theme of alignment and also that you rearrange trustworthy to be worthy of trust. Because you know, I love verbs, and I also love rearranging words. Like awesome. Of course I love, I am a fan of the word awesome. But the reason I’m a fan of it is because you when you unpackage it, it means something that inspires awe, awesome. I like awe, I think it’s pretty, I like it so worthy. So be worthy of trust and that alignment. Yeah, one of the questions that I that I’ve been reflecting on a lot is , what is the essence, and there for what can fall away?
Peter Drury 52:23
Erica Mills Barnhart 52:25
Sort of in again in life, but also as a relates to how are you thinking about your marketing? How are you thinking about showing up as an organization and as a leader feels more important and yet you have to balance that with this taking care of yourself. So how can you take care of yourself so that you can show up authentically in the way that you want to? Rebecca Zanatta was on this podcast previously and she, I don’t know how we landed on this to be quite honest. Maybe, so I started journaling on like blank sheets of paper recently for because my journal ran out, I was too lazy to order a new one. And I realized I loved actually journaling on just blank sheets of paper. And so I think that was the genesis of this conversation, this idea about what we’re now calling blank sheet fundraising, which is the idea that you would, it might be the simplest direct mail piece ever. You would mail your donors, potential donors, volunteers, whoever, something explained to them and just include a blank sheet of paper and that would be an invitation to co create the future. So she was talking about the you know, the importance of bringing people into co creating the future and living into your vision. And I can’t wait for somebody to try it. Or just in like on a smaller scale, you know, what would it be like to sit down with a donor and just have you know, have a blank piece of paper and have them doodle or write or whatever, but I think there’s power right now and that it’s so hard on so many levels. This idea of you know, the clean slate is always so alluring. And so the the blank sheet is sort of a stand in for the, for the blank slate, slate. Any thoughts on that?
Peter Drury 54:12
Well, I don’t know if it’s exactly in where you’re pointed, but just it’s just a random association as you say that. So a lot of my life is in strategic planning and strategic trajectories. I say trajectory, when I’m talking about once we’ve done the plan, it’s like the work we do to get to an impasse, the planning process or in the actualization of the, you know, toward the trajectory. And I think of a blank, kind of a blank sheet, a blank slate in this way. You know, so many folks in management or in a variety of staff roles get so focused on timelines, like we have a strategic plan. They say, well, what’s the timeline? What do we achieve in one year’s two years, or three months or six months, whatever. And I’m more interested in sequence than I am timeline. So for example, some things have to happen before other things. And then other things have to happen before those things and so for me with a blank slate I love when a board, or a leadership team or a group of donors or volunteers with more of a blank slate. I haven’t used that blank sheet literally, like you’re saying, but something like this, to just say, what’s the sequence? I mean, if you know if we really want to get to this huge goal five years from now, what has to happen before we get there? And that leads you back to Oh, well, we would need X you know, like money or resources or marketing or like this, okay, well, what happens before that what needs to be true before that thing, and then keep moving and kind of back your way up to the present. And then think about timelines, I would like to start with a focus on sequence, kind of what has to happen in what order because otherwise when we get rushed, like well, I need this in three months and this and six and this and nine and this in twelve. Then we set some unrealistic goals and we start on the next phase before we’re ready for it. So I think from a quality perspective, I think we want to really understand let’s break down what’s the sequence of moving from here from point A to point B? How many like are there 100 steps in between or three. And let’s really think that through and then create the plan.
Erica Mills Barnhart 56:04
And I’m hearing a little bit in this a, maybe a plug for reverse engineering.
Peter Drury 56:11
That’s exactly what it is. I like to call it back casting rather than forecasting.
Erica Mills Barnhart 56:14
Oh, back casting.
Peter Drury 56:17
I like to go from the point of impact in the future and then cast back.
Erica Mills Barnhart 56:21
Yes. And I know Hildy Gottlieb has, has a lot about you know, she’s a fan of reverse engineering, so shout out to Hildy for sure.
Peter Drury 56:32
Shout out Hildy, yeah, she’s influenced a lot of my thinking on that. But I’m glad you mentioned Hildy because she has played a huge role for me maybe 10 years ago and thinking about this
Erica Mills Barnhart 56:41
Back casting, love it. Okay, I want to be mindful and for your time and not take up too much of it. I asked every guest this last question, which is what inspires you and what keeps you motivated to do this work and I ask it because the root of the word inspiration means to breathe in. And then motivation is about action. So you need breath to take actions. We need both of these things. And so I’m curious for you, Peter, what, what inspires you and what motivates you?
Peter Drury 57:10
Oh, wow, I love that question. I love the word inspire and, indeed, know, it’s all about breath. So I’m going to pause and answer slowly, because I want to give you a really good answer. Give me just a moment. Um-
Erica Mills Barnhart 57:24
It would be appropriate to take a breath before you take action.
Peter Drury 57:30
I literally just close my eyes and took a breath as you asked that, and I would say, you know, here’s what inspires me, Erica. I feel like we’re living in a world in a time where things are so broken, and where there are so many people experiencing either pain, in justice, you know, violence, or fear, whatever, whatever it is, there’s so much just hurt out there. And I actually believe that we can make it better. I truly do. And it would be so easy to be discouraged and feel like there is absolutely nothing I can do. But I just don’t believe in being resigned to that. So what inspires me is asking what can I do? You know, I said earlier about my career was always my question was, where’s my greatest possible impact? Where’s my greatest possible leverage of my life? And so the opportunity to be a part of healing or love or justice at a time when I feel like those things are all kind of out there for the, either for the taking in one way or another. To be a part of the healing work is really what inspires me and so I reflect on it every day, I get excited to come to work. I’m not, you know, I’m not scared to come to work or burnt out or anything else. I love doing my work. And I’m proud to tell my kids about it. Because, and I say that because it’s part of my inspiration is my children and my family, but I’m proud to tell my kids what I do for a living. I’m proud that they’re interested in the work that I do, and I feel like there’s a connection between kind of who I am as a human being and what my career is, and I feel inspired to be able to act upon it in such a way that I can just at the end of the day I actually really can sleep well that I’m doing my part to make a difference in the world rather than somehow being resigned to nothing. So I love it. I’m fired up.
Erica Mills Barnhart 59:22
Good. Good. One of the things that you are uniquely great at Peter is giving me and in this case, listeners of this podcast, different ways of thinking through things, but in a way that feels accessible. So sometimes, you know, new things make our brains hurt, but you have a little magic arounds like back casting and being worthy of trust and just small things that then you come back to them and you’re like, that’s actually huge and massive in my thinking. But it’s absorbable. So, I, so appreciate you taking time to be on the podcast. Thank you for being here today.
Peter Drury 1:00:00
Thrilled to be here and excited about your listeners, I hope your audiences really does take on kind of marketing for good in any way, shape or form. It works, you know, for them to just be inspired to be out there doing amazing things.
Erica Mills Barnhart 1:00:11
Me too. Me too. If I do my job, they are both inspired and motivated and see that they you know, they’re already doing so much good. So, yes, so thank you to you, Peter. Thank you to our listeners for joining the conversation. If you want to continue the conversation, of course, go over to the Marketing for Good Facebook group. I will be there. Obviously Peter has given us so many things to talk about. So let’s continue the conversation over there. And I will end by saying do good, be well and we will see you soon.