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How to Use Support for Non-Profits to Build a Commercial Brand
The Story of Barefoot Wine with Founders Bonnie Harvey and Michael Houlihan
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey are the founders of Barefoot, America’s #1 wine brand, and co-authors of the New York Times bestseller, The Barefoot Spirit. They started with virtually no money or wine industry experience and pioneered ‘Worthy Cause Marketing’.
They now share their innovative approach to businesses as consultants, authors, workshop leaders, speakers, and are sought-after thought leaders in entrepreneurship in both print and broadcast media. They co-author weekly blogs at www.thebarefootspirit.com & www.consumerbrandbuilders.com
Read the Interview
Hugh Ballou: Greetings, it’s Hugh Ballou. Welcome to this episode of The Nonprofit Exchange with Russell and Hugh. Russell, I hope you’re doing well today.
Russell Dennis: It is a wee bit nippy here. We had a little bit of snow. We are moving around, and life is going on here in the mountain west.
Hugh: Russell is in the pointy mountains out there in Colorado. We are in the old mountains in western central Virginia in Lynchburg. Bonnie and Michael are here to tell the story. Let’s start with a little bit of background. Before we get too far, I have a clip I want to play. Bonnie and Michael, tell us a little bit about yourselves. What led you to want to found a winery? What is your passion to connect the business with the nonprofit side? I will play that clip then.
Bonnie Harvey: Well, it’s a really interesting story. We never had a passion for wine as so many people in the wine industry have. We had a passion for the beautiful outdoors and Russian River here in Sonoma County, northern California, and the ocean. That’s why we lived here. We were both business consultants. The work that we found was working with people who had vineyards and wineries because that is the greatest thing happening in Sonoma County.
As I was going along helping a client of mine take care of his office and looking over his business, I saw he hadn’t been paid for his grapes. He was owed quite a bit of money, $300,000 for three years’ worth of grape harvest. I said, “Well, maybe I can take a look at your contract and see what we can do to get these funds coming in for you.” He said, “I don’t have a contract. All I have is weight tags,” which is how much the grapes had weighed, “and a verbal agreement.” “That’s good. We have a verbal agreement. That is a little larger than the amount I am going to try to tackle on your behalf, but I have this new boyfriend over here, Michael, who is also a business consultant. Why don’t we bring in the big guns and see what he can do to collect that $300,000?”
Michael Houlihan: So I went to the winery to collect the money for her client who was a grape grower. They had just declared bankruptcy that day.
Bonnie: The winery had.
Michael: So it didn’t look very good for the home team. But I was able to finagle a trade of bulk wine and bottling services instead of money. So I came back and I said, “I think we have it solved. I have $300,000 worth of wine and bottling services. All we have to do is come up with a name, a label, a marketing program. How hard could that be? How long could that take?” It took about 20 years, but one of the things that we had to do was we had to advertise it. We had to get people to know what Barefoot Wine was. We didn’t have any money for advertising.
What we did is we decided to support the nonprofits that we already liked. We decided to support them by providing them with wine for their fundraisers. We did some interesting things. We took their message into the store and actually gave their message to shoppers. That’s kind of a venue that they didn’t have access to. It’s a new forum. We were able to help them raise funds. We work with all kinds of groups all across the United States, including state park foundations, conservation organizations, education organizations, you name it, theatrical groups. Basically, we are conservationists, and we are patrons of the arts as well as education. We found a way to use our business to help the causes that we hold dear. That’s how Barefoot got started.
Hugh: That’s a fascinating story. Let me just play a little clip here for people.
*Video Clip about the Barefoot logo*
Bonnie: And that’s how our label was designed.
Hugh: That’s clever. That is so clever. Let’s dig in to this topic that you said we’re going to talk about today. How do you use support for nonprofits to build a commercial brand? You started talking about that. Explain what’s behind that title and why that’s important.
Michael: The topic really has to do with a challenge that every business faces. And that is how do you get the word out about your goods and services? Now, most people call that commercial advertising, and they want to see a big advertising budget. But, you know, if you are selling a product that is sold in a local area, your targeting is much better if you work with a local group that is in that same area. So in other words, the people at the nonprofit are given a social reason to buy your product, and they know right where it is. They know it’s right there in their neighborhood.
Bonnie: And this nonprofit already has a following. So many people and companies are going out there looking for a following. We worked with organizations who were already filled with people who were very excited about their mission. So we automatically got their following to pay attention to us because we were supporting their cause.
Michael: There is a lot of talk today about networking. Why not use a network that already exists through a worthy cause, a nonprofit that is trying to do something of value to the community? That’s the way we reasoned it out. We actually got started with one group in San Francisco who was trying to raise money for an afterschool park. They called us up for money because they thought we were rich. Boy, was that a mistake. We said, “Look, we don’t have any money, but we would be happy to give you some wine. You can use it for your fundraiser. Maybe it will loosen some people up, and they will write a bigger check. Maybe you can auction it up and use the money for some swings and slides for your park.” They took the wine. I am sure they were a little disappointed we didn’t write them a check for $50,000, but we noticed that the sales in their neighborhood were increasing dramatically. When we noticed that, we said, “I wonder if this would work in another neighborhood.” We went to another neighborhood doing a creek clean-up. They needed to raise funds for that. We gave them the products to use for their fundraiser.
This isn’t just giving away product to nonprofits; it’s actually a form of marketing where you have to have agreements with the nonprofit as the private company so that the people in the nonprofit can do the things they can do that will help promote your company, and you can do the things that you can do to help promote the nonprofit. Those are tangible things. We made lists of those things. Many people try to support worthy causes, and they say, “It didn’t affect my sales.” They did it wrong. They flat-out did it wrong. You have to ask them, “Would you announce we are going to be your sponsor in your newsletter?” “Oh yes, we will. That costs us nothing. We’d be happy to do it.” “Would you announce from the podium on the day of the fundraiser that we’re your sponsor?” “Oh yes, we’ll do that. That costs us nothing.” “Would you allow us to speak to your group and tell your group why we support your group and what we’re going to do to promote your group’s goals at the supermarket in your neighborhood?” “Oh no, that would cost us nothing. Sure, you can do that.” The list goes on and on. What we did for them was take little signs and put them at the nexus of our bottle. Don’t just pay me $6 for this bottle of wine, but donate $10 for this worthy cause. Here’s what they’re doing. This is why you should donate.
Hugh: The missing piece for most charities, marketing is not something that comes naturally. They shy away from telling the story. Is giving the ideas. Here’s how you do it. We had a guest a while back, Ross Halleck, who owns Halleck Vineyards in Sebastopol. He does vintner dinners. You have to have the right clientele who wants to buy a $75 bottle of wine. I am the president of the Lynchburg Symphony board, and we did a fundraiser with Viking Cruises. You don’t go to a Baptist church and have a wine dinner. You don’t go in the ghetto or to a family with children who want to go on a Disney cruise with Viking Cruises. It’s having compatibility. It’s a win for the business and the nonprofit. Everybody has a good time. The missing piece is giving them the steps to do it because they don’t know that.
Michael: It has to be a match and there has to be procedures that are followed. They have to be well thought-out procedures. You as the company have to think about what the nonprofit can do that doesn’t cost them anything. Maybe just give you permission to do things for them. What we did is we would help them set up and tear down for their events, and they would see us actually doing that, actually producing labor for them. When they saw that, they said, “Well, I have to buy some wine. I could buy any wine, but I am going to buy Barefoot Wine because they supported my nonprofit.” This is a strong way to market because you’re creating not just a customer, but an advocate.
Hugh: It’s relationship-building. You have intellectual property and product, and you want finances. The middle is relationship. You have intellectual capital. You want financial capital. Let’s put the relationship capital. It’s so important in leadership and ministry and fundraising, anything that we’re doing.
You’ve hit on some really key sound bites for people to pay attention to. You mentioned a couple of organizations. You want to highlight one or so? The Surfrider Foundation, the League to Save Lake Tahoe, the MonoLake Committee. You talked about that one. Something jump out about these you want to share?
Bonnie: When we started off, we continued to work with small neighborhood nonprofits. But there were a few nonprofits that were really larger than that one. We started with the Surfrider Foundation, who is responsible for checking the ocean for safety to make sure there are no toxic chemicals in the waters. When we started with them, they only had three chapters. We were basically only selling on the West Coast. We were both pretty small. As we grew, they grew. Now the Surfrider Foundation is all over the world. So is Barefoot. We supported them because surfers surf barefoot. There are so many people out on the beach who are barefoot. We tied that in. Another thing is we were looking to get people who were on vacation, people who were recreational. We went along the coast in southern California, which is where their first three chapters were. They had a division called the Blue Water Task Force. That is what they were looking to get funded so they could pay for these test kits they gave their surfers that would be used to test the waters. It seemed like a perfect match for us. We could put their tags over the bottle and put them on the shelf in all the towns that had coastal waters where people would go out and enjoy the water with their families. Instead, so many people say, “Take $2 off your cheese. Buy one, get half off.” They’re always offering people something, which sounds like a great idea, but we were saying, “Buy a bottle of Barefoot Wine, and donate $10 to the Surfrider Foundation to help keep the waters clean.” Even though it seems contrary to what has worked in the past, because we were asking the customers to do something, the customers felt involved. They learned about Surfrider Foundation and their Blue Water Task Force for the first time in the marketplace by reading the sign and researching what they were doing. They were able to raise over $100,000 from those tags we put out on the shelf.
This is one of the larger nonprofits. As we said, they grew tremendously as we were growing. It worked very, very well for us because really, what they’re doing is in a very small local area. It’s just many local areas that have waters that surfers are in and are being tested. They have helped us as well when we started in a new state of Florida. We had a test market, and if we didn’t pass the test and sell 1,000 cases in three months, we were going to be discontinued, and they would never take our product. We told the Surfrider Foundation who had a few of their chapters in Florida that this was going on. We asked, “Could you guys support Barefoot? When you do that, we will have wine in Florida. When you have a fundraiser, we will give you some more wine in this state.” Apparently it worked because we sold the heck out of the product and did very well.
Hugh: It’s looking for that win-win and just having that open conversation about it from the very beginning. Russell has been very quiet. I am going to let him come in with some observations. Do you have a question brewing, Russell?
Russell: I was thinking about that. We had a guest on who wrote a book for small business owners to talk about how nonprofits helped them. You have worthy cause marketing, which is different from the corporate social responsibility buzz. The premise is very similar. With worthy cause, you have very localized partners. How did you go about picking these folks? How did you really get started with those first ones?
Michael: They came to us. Most nonprofits are looking for funding. Let’s face it. That’s what they’re looking for. We didn’t have any funds. We gave them what we did have. In the process, we learned that not only could we help them, but we could help them raise the very funds they thought we had. In fact, we could help them raise the funds better than they could because we were a professional marketing organization. We had access to the store shelves. We could put hundreds of thousands of tags on products throughout an entire metropolitan area. What we did is throughout the United States, in every area, we had what we called a Barefoot. He worked for us. He was in charge of making sure the distributors were moving our product along, and that the retailers didn’t have any problem. He was also responsible for identifying the local worthy causes in that particular metropolitan area or state that meant something to the residents there, something really important. We would back all manner of worthy causes throughout the United States, hundreds of organizations. Clean Up Delaware Bay, you name it, coast to coast. It was great. We met some really wonderful people. In fact, we built the business up, and we sold it. What are you really happy about having done the experience? It’s really that. We made a difference. Our people made a difference.
Bonnie: Through supporting the nonprofits in small communities.
Michael: As an employer, you have to remember that people, especially millennials, want to make a difference. They want to work for a company that stands for something besides the product they are selling. They want to know when they go to work every day, they are making a difference. They’re not just making a buck. This was a great avenue for them to get involved. They would go to those worthy cause fundraisers and speak from the podium and help set it up and clean it up and do all the manual labor that nonprofits really need to pull off a fundraiser. Once again, it has to be done in a very deliberate fashion. It has to be done in a thought-out manner. You have to work with the nonprofit. You have to find out what they can do and can’t do. You have to make sure that the members of the nonprofit are people who would buy your product if they had the chance. They can’t be people who can’t afford your product or have no use for your product. If you are selling fishing reels, you want to go to people who are trying to preserve the fisheries and to save the fish because they are the people who will buy those fishing poles. There are marriages out there that can be discovered. It’s pretty exciting.
Hugh: Speaking of marketing, you have this audiobook. Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey. Tell us what your goal was with launching this best-seller book.
Bonnie: The audiobook really came out of the paperback by the same name with the same story. We wrote the paperback because we learned so many lessons that we wanted to share with the greatest number of people. Particularly entrepreneurs about how to start a business. Then we began speaking throughout the world at schools that teach entrepreneurship and sharing our book with the students. We saw more students coming into the room with earbuds in. They were listening to audiobooks. We asked them what they were listening to. They said, “I am learning something that will help me understand this business I want to go in better and help me succeed.” We want to get our message out of all the lessons we learned. They were such hard lessons that we don’t want people who are starting a business to be as discouraged by having all that pain and suffering we had. We want to share that with a greater number of people. If young people are listening to audiobooks, that’s what we are going to do.
We weren’t going to put it in an ordinary audiobook. We had to make it special. We hired a troupe from Hollywood, professional actors. They acted out the parts. There are 102 characters in the book. We had over 20 actors who read the conversations in the book, and the dialogue. We had an excellent narrator as well. We also had sound effects. We have an original music score. We also have Ed Asner, who is playing one of the characters in the book. It is a real winning combination.
Michael: Tell them what happened last week.
Bonnie: Last week, it was announced that we are finalists in the Business and Personal Development category for the Audie Awards. It’s like the Oscars for audiobooks. We are pretty excited about that.
Hugh: It says How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. I didn’t know that. From all we got to collect some money to being a #1 brand. The audio told us about the foot part. What’s that halo over the toe about?
Bonnie: That’s the spirit. We are not doing wine anymore.
Michael: It’s the backbone of the brand. It’s what the brand stands for. It’s what the founders stand for. It’s the purpose. It’s not just a commodity.
Bonnie: It’s an attitude.
Michael: I’m writing an article right now for the business journals on the difference between a brand and a label. A brand has got some spirit to it. It’s got some stuffing. It stands for something. It’s got principles. It has opinions. A label doesn’t. A label is just a logo that you can look at and identify and say, “That’s my soap.” When you start talking about a brand, that’s something much more comprehensive than a label. We thought our brand was the foot. By giving it a halo, we add that spirituality to the founders and to the brand, the brand purpose, and the way that the marketing program was executed to do a good job for everybody. As you call it, the win-win. We gave it a halo. We figured it deserved one. Besides, a big toe with a halo is fun.
Hugh: Russell, you want to explore this cause marketing thing or something else?
Russell: I was just thinking about that. It’s been rapid fire, how you have spread, for what you have done. Tell me a little bit about what some of the typical organizations you support look like. What sort of things are in the DNA? You picked these organizations as you go through. Tell me what kind of things are in the DNA of the organizations that make the best partners for you.
Michael: Russell, I would say they were all underdogs like we were. They were all up against insurmountable odds like we were. Because they were, we knew that we could work together and they had spirit, too. One group we worked with was the Mono Lake Committee. Mono Lake is the second largest saltwater lake in the United States. It’s one of very few. It sits at the doorstep to Yosemite National Park. The Southern California Water Company was taking the water before it got to the lake, and the lake was drying up. Another lake down the road had already dried up because the water company had taken so much water. They had the legal right to do it. Here are these guys trying to overcome this huge LA water company and their team of lawyers. And they do it. They win.
Bonnie: After many years.
Michael: It takes them about 20 years. They finally win. The way they win is they convince everybody in Los Angeles that they only need one gallon to flush their toilet, not seven. There is not as much demand for the water. Isn’t that interesting? They also get the courts to take a look at this idea of the public trust. Yes, you have a legal right to take this water, but what is the overall implications to the society? Those are the kinds of issues that we really like. The Surfrider Foundation are up against the plastic pollution of the ocean, the oil companies, all the stuff that is happening to our beaches. They are running a tough shop. Lake Tahoe, they had the contractors and the builders basically wanting to pollute the lake so that they could make their money fast. Everybody knows that a green lake wouldn’t attract anybody to buy those properties anyway. It turns out the federal government stepped in at the end. We like to choose groups who are the underdog, but they are on the right side of history. That’s why we support the LGBTQ.
Bonnie: All those letters. They added a Q to the end.
Michael: The LGBTQ, we supported them at a time when people thought if you touched another person who was gay, you were going to get AIDS. Just imagine what that was like. That was not centuries ago. That was just in the 1990s.
Bonnie: That’s when we supported them.
Michael: We said these guys and gals have a problem that is going to affect us all, and we need to step up to the plate here. And we did. It is now under control. Those are the kinds of issues that we look for as business leaders. We look for issues that maybe they are underdogs today, but they will be on the right side of history tomorrow. Try to support them and help them get there faster. I wish we could have helped more organizations. We helped as many as we could.
Hugh: You sold the winery a number of years ago. You call yourselves consultants. Is it marketing consulting or general business consulting?
Bonnie: It’s for companies who are starting out, or someone who has an idea. That’s where we like to start. Then we can help them start on a firm foundation and really point them in the right direction to achieve the goals they are looking for. We help small and medium-sized companies with company culture, how to build a team spirit in their own company. Everybody is working toward the same goals instead of butting heads with each other. That’s one of the things we were most proud of. Eventually, we were in business for 20 years. 20-year overnight success. It was a get-rich-slow scheme. The last five or seven years we were in business, we had no turnover because by that time, we learned how to have everyone working toward the same goal and loving what they were doing.
Hugh: You had no turnover? Whoa.
Bonnie: Yeah. We can help other companies figure out how they can do that themselves so they have better company spirit.
Hugh: That’s critical.
Michael: The thing is, our clients are all entrepreneurs one way or another. Many of them are on the front end of entrepreneurship, and they suffer from the same misconceptions that we did, which are popularly held misconceptions. The biggest one is my product or service is so great that the world will knock down windows and kick down doors to get to me.
Bonnie: It won’t happen.
Michael: You will have to go the other way. That’s an example of a popularly held misconception. Another one might be, “When I am the boss of my own business, I will do that.” That’s a misconception. You are fortunate to find good people, and you would be wise to figure out how to keep them and engage them.
Bonnie: Turnover is the #1 hidden cost in any business.
Michael: When you lose somebody, you lose all your training. You might even lose your customers. You lose your relationships with your vendors. Those relationships can take years to develop. Some people won’t even talk to you for the first couple years. That’s a long time. They say, “Okay, I’ll give you a break.”
Hugh: Start-ups. You’re looking at entrepreneurs. We work with business start-ups and nonprofit start-ups. They’re both entrepreneurs.
Michael: All entrepreneurs face the problems. One of the problems we’re addressing with what we call a business audio theater, you heard the clip. We took the book and had the Hollywood actors acting it out. That’s because we’re living in a mp3 generation. These are folks who want to listen to it. They want to listen to a story. They don’t want to be lectured to. They want to be immersed in a story. They want to draw their own conclusions. What we’re doing for businesses and nonprofits is we’re taking the founders’ story and we’re breaking it down *audio issue* of their history. Then we’re breaking that out into scripts. Then we’re getting characters and actors to play the characters. We’re having action and music and sound effects so that you’re able to be the fly on the wall and see how this person came up with this great idea or how this great company or great nonprofit organization was founded. What were their founding principles? Where did they come up with all this? It gives people a chance to identify with the organization for whom they work. We believe it makes them more engaged and less likely to live.
Bonnie: *audio issue* and present that in a very entertaining way in story form for the employees or their vendors or customers as well. When people know the story, that’s like the spirit behind it. You understand the principles. You understand the struggles. You understand how it was developed and how it grew into what it was today. When you have a story, you become more loyal to that company or product. That’s what we have to offer our audiences today. Keep the spirit alive of the founders.
Michael: That’s why we call it “hardship, hustle, and heart.” It is hardship. You don’t know if you’re going to make it. It’s not like Johnny Paycheck. You are risking everything. You have your credit cards all the way out. Maybe you’re a nonprofit. You don’t have enough money to make your payroll. That’s hardship. To overcome hardship, you have to become creative and resourceful. It’s that human creativity and resourcefulness that is the magic. When people hear scenes and listen to stories where solutions are discovered because of hardship, people tend to say, “Oh my gosh, look at that. They solved it. Look how they solved it.” It opens up your own intellect. It makes you feel like maybe I could solve a problem like that. It’s empowering.
Russell: People love a good story. It gives us a chance to relate to one another. Story is important. I love audiobooks. I am in my car a lot. It gives me a chance to connect. This is how SynerVision gets its message out by this broadcast. Having a podcast where people who may not have time to sit still. Everybody can’t join us at 2pm Eastern. But they can go in and subscribe and listen to us at any point in time. It’s there for them.
Bringing all the pieces together, I remember Ed Asner very well. Some of our younger listeners might not know who Ed Asner is. How were you able to convince him to become a part of this project? How far in were you when you decided to do this absolutely remarkable production? That’s what it is, a production that tells a story. How were you able to pull that together? What made you decide that this would be the venue that would really get recognition for Barefoot?
Michael: We were out there speaking at colleges and universities. 60 of them across the United States and around the world. They all teach entrepreneurship. The people in the audience are all ages. Many people are corporate executives, but want to start their own business, so they decide to go to school to find out about entrepreneurship. Here is Michael and Bonnie talking to them about hard-knock experiences. We realize people like story. When a person listens to a story, if I say to you, “John walked into the office and pulled up a chair,” your brain goes out and grabs a chair from your own memory. Your brain grabs a picture of an office from your own memory. Now you have participated in the story. You are creating the scene in your mind.
Bonnie: That helps you remember it.
Michael: We got really excited when we saw some of these old posters from the RCA Victory days where the family was sitting around in the living room. This is before television back in the 1940s. There is a radio program on. There are some actors. Every actor has a mic. They are all reading scripts back and forth, going through these scenes. There is a guy making noises. There is a band playing music. It’s quite a production. We thought to ourselves, Look at how these people are transfixed looking at the speaker on the radio box. There is no video there. There is just a pattern of material. They are starting at it like it is the only thing on the planet.
Bonnie: Because they are so involved in the story that is taking place right in front of them. It’s like 3D audio. The 3D is your own participation in the story because you’re seeing it in your mind. That’s what helps you remember. If you have good lessons you want to share like the founder’s story, the people you want to share it with, you have to present it in a way that they are going to remember, the best form they can remember, and that’s story. That’s how we decided to put it in story form.
We were talking about hardship and how everyone has this hardship. When we were talking to these students, I was surprised to hear them come up and say, “No one has ever talked about their mistakes before. You talked a lot about your mistakes.” Well, we would say, “Yes because that’s how you learn. You learn from your mistakes. Nobody does everything right. They said, “You make it sound believable. You make it sound doable.” It’s not like the Cinderella story where the fairy godmother taps you on the head and you’re a princess. It’s a lot of work. By sharing the hardships with people through *audio issue* in their own minds, they can open up their minds and investigate how they can solve their own challenges or whatever challenge their company has. That’s what really makes it exciting. It’s stimulating.
Michael: We were driving across the desert one time from Phoenix to Tucson. I don’t know if you’ve ever made that drive. It’s the Southwest desert. Some people think it’s beautiful, but it’s rather stark. What do you do? It’s a straight line. You’re doing 70 miles an hour. It doesn’t seem like the mountains are moving at all around you. We turn on the radio. We turn on PBS. Here comes Prairie Home Companion. They are doing 1940s radio skits. We’re thinking, This is an amazing way to communicate with somebody, especially on a road trip. Give them an audio story. It’s a great way because you’re not going to be watching video while you’re driving or while you’re jogging or changing your baby’s diapers. You could be listening to a story.
Those are all the reasons why we chose it. We think it’s the future. We think it’s the way things are going to go. It is involved. You have to think it out. It’s one notch below a movie. You don’t have to set up the sets or the makeup. You obviously don’t have a wardrobe. You do have the skits. You have the dialogue. You have the intonation. All of that stuff. We were very fortunate to have met up with Matt Weinglass of Sherwood Productions and his team who are experts at this. They produce real movies and have received awards. Animation as well. Animation is interesting, too. That’s all intonation and voice. We felt that we were working. We had a good team. So we did it. We are just thrilled to be one of the five nominees in the world for Best Business Audiobook of the Year.
Hugh: That’s a great story. We are winding down to our last seven minutes of the interview. Russell, it jumps out to me that these folks are primarily problem-solvers. Here’s a problem. Here are some assets. How do we put it together? It also jumps out to me that we spend a lot of energy helping people overcome the name “nonprofit.” It’s a lie. We really need to learn some good business principles. What you have discovered is there is abundance, where you have a lack of imagination. We have this asset and this asset. When you put them together, you have abundance. Help us share with nonprofits how could they benefit from some worthy cause marketing as they are rethinking their presence in the world and fundraising?
Bonnie: If they open their eyes and minds to how everyone in the community is touched by what they’re doing, how it improves everyone, and find arenas to put out that information to people and make it more enjoyable. Oh gosh. If they can find a way to bring in more young people. Michael and I support a lot of nonprofits. We go to their events. I’m telling you, those people are getting older and older, and I don’t see their kids or grandkids at this event. That has to be a key. As we said, we love nature. Any organization who supports nature and animals, we’re right there in our own community. There are a lot of kids in Sonoma County who haven’t been out to the country, who have never been camping. Some have actually never been to the ocean. We have some nonprofits that are working with schoolkids, and they are introducing them to nature. That is important to bring more young people in.
Michael: Another piece of advice I would give nonprofits is yes, they need money. They tend to filter out companies who can help them in ways that might be more important than money just because they can’t get money from them. I ask that the nonprofits be a little more open-minded and realize that there is a lot of work to do out there to really raise funds, to really run a nonprofit organization, and you need all the help you can get. As Bonnie says, looking for new venues to get the word out. Imagine, we took the Surfrider message to moms who had two kids, who were pushing a cart in a grocery store. That’s access to a whole venue they never had access to before. She’s going, “Oh my god, my kids are in that water they are trying to keep clean. I should support them.” What we did for them is give them an opportunity to take their message to a new potential group of donors. Actually opened up the field of donors for them. That’s what I would suggest that nonprofits do. Open their minds and be a little bit more flexible about the kind of help they are getting.
Hugh: Wow. Russell, do you have a short question?
Russell: I wanted to say you are looking at that younger audience. I find them in art galleries. You can’t have a First Friday without wine. The way young entrepreneurs like to network is at happy hour. You are remarkable brand ambassadors for Barefoot Spirit. That’s remarkable. Keep doing what you’re doing.
Bonnie: Thank you. If nonprofits were more open to working with each other, they can join forces and have a larger event and maybe get more people involved. As Michael said, it’s not always cash they need. I don’t know exactly why, but there was a group here in Sonoma County who was helping support animals, primarily pound animals. A friend of mine offered to give them a lot of canned dog food. Maybe they were in that business. They said, “No, we only want money.” Well, maybe you guys know more about the reason that would happen than I can think of, but certainly they need people on their staff who realize that they need a lot of things. Yes, money can buy, but a lot of people have things, like a home we have here. We have had nonprofits host their fundraisers at our home. If someone has dog food they want to give to you, and you are taking care of stray cats and dogs, I think it’s a good idea to take it in. It’s not just the cash. There is a lot of support that people have. They want to support their communities.
Michael: Another thing I should mention is that nonprofits should look at companies who are starting out. They have a lot of energy and are desperate. They don’t have the money for advertising. This can be a great opportunity for the nonprofit to say, “Look, we have 2,000 members. Maybe some of them would be interested in buying your products. Won’t you help us out with what we need?”
Bonnie: It’s open-mindedness and an open heart.
Michael: And a big picture.
Hugh: Those are rare attributes, but they are so critical. So many good ideas. We want to thank you so much. *Sponsored by Nonprofit Performance 360 Magazine and Wordsprint*
Bonnie and Michael, this has been inspiring today. What do you want to leave people with, a tip or a challenge today?
Bonnie: Just as you have said, people love story, and they remember story. Everyone has a story to tell. For the founders and leaders out there, we want to help you preserve your legacy. Connect with us at www.TheBarefootSpirit.com.
Michael: I would like to leave people with the idea that if they get The Barefoot Spirit and listen to it on their next road trip, I guarantee they are going to get a lot of great ideas that they will be able to apply to their organization, be it a for-profit or nonprofit. We would love you to come back and tell us some of those ideas. Again, this is not a list. This is not a lecture. This is not a textbook. It’s stories, and they’re fun and surprising.
Bonnie: That’s at BarefootAudiobook.com. You can get a sample.
Hugh: ConsumerBrandBuilders.com as well. Russell.
Russell: It’s been a remarkable journey. Thank you both for joining us and sharing the work you do. Thank you to all the nonprofit leaders out there who listen to us every week.