[Podcast] Carly Berna on Raising Awareness via Broadcast

This week’s episode of The Modern Nonprofit Fundraiser Podcast is about the art of nonprofit marketing. Host Gabe Cooper welcomes Carly Berna, the Director of Marketing at Jewish Voice, a faith-based organization that provides humanitarian aid and medical care to impoverished Jewish communities and their neighbors in Africa, Asia and Israel.

Gabe and Carly discuss juggling multiple marketing channels, coaching colleagues within an organization through changes in marketing and media, and the increase in digital engagement across platforms. Carly also shares how Jewish Voices analyzes their acquisition channels to address their demographics more successfully.


Highlights from this episode:

  • Carly’s shares her experience in creating effective online giving experiences, and which best practices nonprofits should keep in mind to create successful experiences moving forward.
  • Changes in the media landscape and the benefits of producing a television show to raise awareness.
  • Why it’s imperative for nonprofits to analyze their data sources (and then let the data speak for itself).
  • Insights into Jewish Voice’s donor acquisition strategies, and how it’s shifting from broadcast and mail to online (including content marketing and social media).

Full podcast transcription is below for those who can’t listen to the podcast.

[Intro] Welcome to the modern non-profit fundraiser podcast, where we help non-profits re-imagine generosity and put the joy back in fundraising. Hear from leading non-profit fundraisers and marketers as they reveal strategies for strengthening donor relationships to propel your non-profit forward.

[Gabe] Hey everybody welcome the Virtuous podcast today. I am so excited to have Carly Berna with us, Carly is a friend, actually a local here, in Phoenix, close to the virtuous team and she’s the Director of Marketing at Jewish voice so Carly welcome to the podcast

[Carly] Thanks for having me.

[Gabe] Yeah, absolutely, so Carly id love to hear a little bit of your background, you have such an interesting background, kind of with Jewish Voice and even your responsibilities within that organization.

Tell us a little bit about how you got to where you are today and how you got interested in generosity.

[Carly] Sure, so actually, I graduated from Pepperdine with my MBA, a handful of years ago, and after that I tried to start my own business. And spending about a year trying to raise capital and just didn’t raise enough that we needed, so I started working at Jewish voice because it was in Phoenix, that’s where I’m from. I started doing social media and then from there, my role kind of expanded and I took on the online marketing department, we have an in-house, online team that has email, web developer, social media and then I just continued to kind of grow in all of the different areas that I was responsible for at Jewish voice. I took on our CRM management and anything that had to do with data analytics and then eventually kind of came into the Director of Marketing role, which is responsible for marketing, all of the different channels, we have a television show that’s on Christian Television lots of direct mail, and then the in-house online team.

[Gabe] Oh that’s great. So a huge amount of responsibilities. So tell us a little bit about a Jewish voice in general. And then more specifically, what your different marketing channels look like just to give people a little context.

[Carly] Sure, so Jewish Voice is a Messianic Jewish ministry. Our goal is to transform lives and see all Israel saved. We do that by proclaiming the Gospel, growing the Messianic Jewish community and engaging the church, concerning Israel and the Jewish people. So to boil that down, we reach out to Jewish people all over the world and tell them about their Jewish Messiah, Jesus, and then we also engage the church here in the United States and across the world which kinda leads into the marketing channel.

So we have a television show that’s on Christian Television called Jewish voice with Jonathan Bernis, that’s our CEO and he’s been in the Messianic Jewish movement for a very long time, so he teaches on that show. We have guests come on the show with different backgrounds and books, and we reach hundreds of millions of people who watch Christian television. Just a few channels, like Day Star, God, TV. We air on all of those channels, and then of course online through YouTube and other video channels.

Then we also have a quarterly magazine, quarterly newsletter, monthly direct mail appeals. We do a lot of email marketing, we have millions of people on our lists that we do fundraising through… We have a pretty large Facebook audience, over a million likes on Facebook that we reach out to engage with them about why Israel is important, and what Christians can do today to support Israel. So that’s kind of our main marketing channels.

[Gabe] That’s great, so helpful. One of the things that’s been fun to watch is as you guys are a traditional sort of immediate driven, non-profit and media has changed so much, even sort of what that word means has changed so much in the last few years. It’s been fun to watch you guys sort of adapt to… “Hey, we do stuff on TV and radio” to… “Hey, what does it look like to push content over the wire” or “what does social media look like?” “What does media look like more broadly… ” how involved have you been in coaching the organization and working through that change with everybody there?

[Carly] Yeah so our demographic definitely watches Christian television and that has always been one of our main acquisition channels and still continues to be. But it’s been really exciting to try new acquisition channels like digital, specifically Facebook and a few other Christian websites where we acquire names. And while our audience still watches television and reads magazines, but they are engaging on digital channels too, so we have been able to use Facebook as a tool to acquire more partners who agree with our mission and wanna support our cause. We haven’t seen a huge shift, but it’s definitely kind of an up-and-coming channel for us and for a demographic.

[Gabe] That’s great, that’s awesome. So I know you and I have both been a part of, or at least read a lot of the same leadership around online giving and creating a beautiful online giving experiences and how important that is. Can you tell us a little bit about how you think about online giving experiences at Jewish voice, how that’s changed over time, and some of the best practices you guys see around maximizing online giving?

[Carly] Sure it’s funny to think about what Jewish voice was like, when I started. We actually had three websites because we have three different countries and we had Canada, US, UK, and when I came, we wanted to do something more mobile, so then we had six websites three desktops and then three mobile sites, so every time we had a change we had to make it across six sites then we moved to three dynamic sites so that they were adjustable on mobile screens. And now we just have one dynamic website that’s for mobile and desktop and adjust based on your geolocation. In what country you’re in.

So just kind of looking at that you can see the evolution as we tried to figure out what software and what different programs to use and just the digital space, in general. We also have a mobile app that we launched this year. And I would say that kind of the best practices to think about who your online demographic is I think we often think according to who we are and how we engage online, but our demographic engages differently. They still engage online and they still use Facebook and websites and mobile phones and all of that, but they just engage differently. So we use our data, whether it’s Google Analytics or Facebook engagement or our website engagements to really figure out what our demographic is responding to.

And one of the things we did when we changed our website, to one is we reduced the content to about 25 percent of what we had. Because again, the things that you think people are looking at aren’t always what they’re looking at. So we were able to look at all of our pages and say, “Oh look, they really only care about these specific things”, so let’s make sure we really promote those things and put those on the home page and allow them to have easy access to them. And we don’t need all this other content that people aren’t really engaging with.

[Gabe] That’s great, that’s something I appreciated with you guys. It’s hard to become a data-driven non-profit, to sort of let the data speak for itself, but I’ve seen that a lot. With you guys it’s rather than sort of going with your gut or what your preferences are or what you like, really digging in and letting data speak.

I’d love to hear you kind of talk about what’s the, and I know there’s sort of a Virtuous bias sort of built into this so I don’t want to hear about Virtuous at all. What I do wanna here about is the other tools that you’re using to think about data analytics. And how do you think about within your marketing department, how are you thinking about data and analytics and what you do look at to help you make those decisions?

[Carly] Yeah, so because we have so many different acquisition channels, we look a lot at all of the different acquisition channels. Where people came in and how they engaged. So, especially because we have a TV show, people often come in through the TV show and then they engage in different ways whether they engage online or they engage through mail, whether it’s the magazine or the newsletter. So we look at all of those different acquisition channels and how we can tweak them to address our demographic better.

For digital same thing, we look at different ways people come in and find us. Did they do a search for something and they landed on our page? Did they come in through a Facebook ad? Did they come in through some type of information we were sharing? So we have a lot of different data sources to. So just this past year, we’ve been using a data tool that most people are familiar with, which is Tableau, to kind of wrap all of that data and put it together. Because before that we were kind of looking at it off-line, verses online, so we weren’t getting a totally full picture of how someone was engaging with all of our different channels. So that software has helped a lot for us to get a bigger picture of what is the data telling us. What’s the story that it’s telling?

[Gabe] Yeah and I’ve loved seeing that approach. I kinda wanna back up to one thing that you said in there which is, hey, if somebody’s coming in off of Facebook, versus if they came in off of let’s say a day start TV program. You don’t have to give me the secret sauce, but give me some insights into how you would think about treating those two people different. Do vary the content? Do you vary the channel or medium of the next message to them? How do you work through how to treat those folks differently?

[Carly] Yeah, so one thing besides just different acquisition channel is channels is people come in on different interests, so they might be interested in the television show and then we start talking to them about Holocaust survivors. That’s a disconnect.

We try to segment our audience based on what their interests are. So if they come in through an ad on Facebook that’s about clean water. Then we try to put them down a funnel that’s about all the different things we do with clean water and of course, introducing the other things that the ministry does in case they’re interested in that.

Same thing with mail. If someone comes in through a certain interest, we try to put them down a path that’s targeted to that specific interest. And I think one thing we’re trying to figure out right now as many non-profits is, when people come in off line, do they like to only engage offline should we try to bring them online or do they just wanna stay in the channel that came in on. And vice versa for online. If they come in through Facebook, do they wanna get direct mail? Will they respond to direct mail or will they respond to email? So I think that’s something we’re looking at right now and trying to figure out, should we do that cross-channel promotion. Does it work or do people wanna stay in the lane that they came in on?

[Gabe] Yeah, that’s a great question, and so important to let the data speak for itself. So I’ve heard so many assumptions made about some of the points you brought up just now about being patient and letting the data speak for itself is huge, that’s really helpful.

So one of the things I know you guys are doing right now is really focusing on new name acquisition, not just new donor acquisition. So just something as simple as getting somebody’s name and email address. Talk me through a little bit about why you have initiatives just to grab people’s name off social and other channels and sort of how that works out and what you’re expecting out of those people.

[Carly] Yeah, so the Ministry in the past has always been really mail and television-driven which is really donor acquisition. The first touch point is fundraising through having them either engage with the television program and get a book or engage through mail and give to whatever offer they were presented with. But with online, it’s just a little different landscape. People aren’t going to click on an ad, usually to immediately give to an organization that they don’t know a lot about. So we’ve been doing a lot of name acquisition, so we often offer a downloadable e-book that is produced by us or an infographic that teaches them something about the Jewish roots of their faith. So we’re really giving them content, and we’re trying to get them to engage with us which gives us a little bit of a hint of what they’re interested in, too, because we have all sorts of different online funnels like that and then from there we engage with them about that. So, whether it’s… “Hey, these are ways that you can support Israel” and you know “please use your social platforms and share with your friends about why it’s important and what they can do” and then eventually if they decide they wanna partner with us financially, that’s great.

But it’s kind of a shift because the mindset has always been immediately get a donation. Where we’ve seen this name acquisition work really well, even though we’re getting a lot of names and emails and engaging with them, it takes a little longer for them to convert to financially partner with us. But once they do, they’ve kind of been bought in, they understand who we are through the funnel, we introduce them to who we are, who our CEO is all the different ways that we do humanitarian aid and reach out to Jewish people, and I think that it’s like building an online relationship with someone, we’re telling them about who we are and learning about their interests. And then coming to the financial partnership later.

[Gabe] Yeah, I love that and we’ve had that conversation before, that is so much about the drum we’re banging here. But the idea with a new name collection, you’re really forced to think about, “How do I give to this person before they give to us?” it sort of flips generosity on its head, because your not just saying “give me money” you’re saying “I’m going to give you something”, which I think is such a healthy place to start. And then it gives you guys the ability to use best practices in content marketing, it allows you to start thinking about things like marketing automation to begin to personalize conversations with each donor around the thing that they’re passionate about. So by the time they’re ready to give, they’re saying, “Heck yes I love what you guys are doing, this is awesome.” They feel like it’s connected to their passion. So everything about that is great. You see so few organizations do it, but I love the approach there.

[Carly] Yeah, and marketing automation I think is something we’re just starting to look at as well and trying to see what people’s interests are. And then market to them based on that, because we do so many different things our partners are interested in different things, so we need to talk to them like we know them, we do know them. And marketing automation helps with that a lot.

[Gabe] Yeah, absolutely, I love that. Well, I know I’ve watched you lead over time, it’s been fun watching you sort of lead your team. I know that’s one of your big passions is leadership. So we have a lot of non-profit leaders who would listen to this podcast. You have kind of one piece of advice or a couple of pieces of advice for them on best practices for leading an on-profit marketing team or growing a team?

[Carly] Sure, so I think one is looking for the strengths in your team. I am not a developer, for example, and can’t talk in the technical way. I just know enough to talk to the developers, but just looking for what are different people’s strengths, and then using them and empowering them within that specific field. So that they feel like they are the experts and can make decisions within their realm. And then I think the other thing is connecting their jobs to the cause of the organization. Often the marketing department feels more like a secular department. We’re not out there on the field sharing the gospel or giving life straws, but our jobs are just as important. So finding ways to connect what we do every day and show that it really is having the same impact, just like the people who are on the feel.

[Gabe] Now, that’s great, I love that. And it is true, I mean, generosity in particular is sometimes gets the raw on the deal because it’s not the real work of the organization, but at the end of the day, it really is. I mean, so it’s not just that generosity powers the mission and to what degree the marketing team is doing to inpsire that powers the mission, is that it is part of the mission, it is that you’re getting to engage an army of donor to wrap their heart around this mission. Which is, in many was just as important as the mission itself, so I love that approach.

How do you approach hiring? Like, how do you find the right kind of people that align with you in that way?

[Carly] Yeah, it’s definitely difficult. But I think we really look for fit first. Do they fit with the ministry? Do they align with who we are? Are they dedicated to the cause? And then from there we look at different skill sets. We’ve just been really blessed to have an amazing team, I mean we have incredible skills on our team. People who are great developers, email marketing, social. It’s just been really interesting to see how all of those people have come together for our team. But I think in the hiring process, is we really start with, do they connect with the ’cause first because that’s not something you can really train someone to do. Of course, you can train skills and develop them later.

[Gabe] Yeah, yeah, completely agree. Well, that’s super helpful, I love that.

One thing we typically do at the end here on these podcasts is do a quick little lightning round where I kinda ask you a few, just sort of quick answer questions. And I love these questions, it provides so many fun insights into people. But can I ask you a few questions just to finish out our time?

[Carly] Yeah, sure.

[Gabe] Okay so the first one is, what’s the last book you read or what book have you read in the last year that has had the biggest impact on you?

[Carly] So I think that would be “Leading Change” by John Kotter. I know this is supposed to be a lightning round, but we’re going through our CRM conversion. So it’s a big change in the organization and there are so many good takeaways about how to lead people through that change.

[Gabe] Yeah and that’s great, it’s funny. We need to give all of our customers a copy of that book. I think that’s so helpful, I think that’s great.

What about podcasting? And I know you’re not a podcast kind of person, I don’t even know if you have a super long commute, but if there’s any sort of even Netflix shows or documentaries that your super-into?

[Carly] Yeah, my favorite podcast is School of Greatness with Lewis Howes. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, but he interviews all sorts of people. Whether they’re business leaders or athletes or musicians or whatever. And just talks to them about in different insights they have into their area and what they define as greatness. And he has his own kind of incredible story too. So I just like the diversity of the people on the podcast.

[Gabe] Yeah, that’s great, I’ll check it out. That sounds like a really good one.

Finally, last one here is personal habits. I know you have a crazy schedule, you’re running a big high power team, you guys are going through a lot of change, you have a lot on your shoulders, what do you do to keep from getting burned out? Do you have kind of patterns and practices in your life to keep you energized?

[Carly] Yeah, I love to run. I run multiple days a week. It’s just a great stress reliever. I love to be outside, I also go to the gym, and I just think both of those things combined just  allow me to just kind of blow off steam, and it’s also just great for yourself, personally.

[Gabe] Yeah, I can’t tell you how much I agree with you. I feel like running at the pace that I think you and I probably both do, that the hour of exercise in the morning, for me is more, it’s almost more medicinal than it is about losing weight or being healthy, it’s literally just the ability to blow off steam and clear your head is so helpful. I love that as a practice.

[Carly] Yeah, and it’s just a great way to start the day.

[Gabe] Absolutely, so Carly, It’s been a pleasure talking to you, thank you so much for joining us today. I love your insights, I love what you guys are doing around marketing. There’s some really cool, sophisticated stuff there that hopefully a lot of our listeners will learn from. So, thanks again for joining us.

[Carly] Yeah, thanks again for having me.

[Outro] We hope you enjoy today’s episode of the modern non-profit fundraiser the podcast is brought to you by virtuous the CRM and marketing automation software, helping charities raise more money and create more good be sure to rate can subscribe for more resources and to virtuous CRM.

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