July 1, 2020

Donor Appreciation & Virtual Opportunities

2355 Productions
2355 Productions
Donor Appreciation & Virtual Opportunities

Show Notes

Episode 03

Karen is the Chief Communications Officer at Riley Children’s Foundation. Previously, she served in various roles in the Gift Development Office at the Indiana University School of Medicine and ended her time at IUSM as the Director of Strategic Communications. 

Riley Children’s Foundation is an independent non-profit dedicated to raising funds to support children’s health through patient care programs at Riley Hospital for Children and pediatric research that primarily happens at the Indiana University School of Medicine. It is through the combination of research and patient care that they can help make healthcare better for children in Indiana. Follow them at @RileyKids on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Click here for more information on their current fundraising campaign that Karen mentions. 


Responding to Needs

Riley Children’s Foundation is a healthcare organization, and we are in a healthcare crisis. They wanted to respond to immediate needs, and donors wanted to be a part of that. Many of the families with children receiving treatment are already struggling, and the economic impact of the pandemic made the financial strain that much greater on these families. The RCF team started sharing stories of those in need with donors to see if they were able to help. They found that some of their donors gave at an even bigger level than normal, because they realized the gravity of the situation. They had incredible empathy for the families and responded. Here is a link to one of the posts for this campaign.

Many times, non-profit organizations can respond to immediate needs of those they serve. These giving campaigns must be pulled together quickly and don’t have to be 100% perfect! Do the best you can to try to fulfill the need right now.


Going Virtual

Relying on phones 

RCF usually has a team in the hospital that can connect with families and facilitate capturing professional video footage and photography. Since that’s not possible right now, they are relying on families to share cell phone videos and photos. They have used these to keep their social media feeds active, and engagement has been great. People like seeing these “slice-of-life” videos and can relate to them. Here is the video Karen mentions.


Reimagining Events

Normally, gift officers would be out meeting with donors, but that’s not possible at this time. To help fill this void, RCF hosted a Zoom webinar where donors heard from the COO of Riley Children’s Hospital and CEO of the Foundation. It was well-received, and while in-person events will definitely resume when it’s safe to do so, Karen expects virtual events to also be a part of RCF’s future.  They can bring people together who couldn’t attend in person and are less of a time commitment, making them a short opportunity for donors to engage and connect more deeply with RCF’s mission.



The pandemic has pushed us to change the way we do things. It has forced us to be innovative. Karen encourages us all to try new things and be willing to take risks and fail. The world is so different right now, and our approach also has to be different. 


Focusing on Stories

Storytelling has always been critically important, and it will continue to be vital to make sure people want to join RCF in their mission. When their communications center around a child’s story, people respond — they want to do more to help kids who need it. Sharing stories engages your donors like nothing else can. 


Combating Burnout

Virtual fatigue is very real. When do people get burned out, how do we overcome it? There is no question that we will have to rely on virtual communications, especially in the event space, for a while. So, how do we get people to show up? How do we make them feel like they are part of a community while they are in separate spaces? Karen is exploring technologies, formats, and creative ways to bring people together virtually.


Building Donor Relationships

Communicating with donors is all about building a relationship with them. Right now, many donors are going through a difficult time with health or financial concerns. Donors will remember how organizations treat them after they come through this, and RCF wants their donors to know that they are there for them whether they can give at this time or not. They’ve been calling donors more than ever just to thank them and see how they’re doing. It’s about a relationship, not a transaction — every communication shouldn’t be an ask. Sometimes we need to be communicating just to build relationships.

Episode Transcript

These transcripts are computer generated

Ryan Sarver 0:09
Hello, and welcome to the marketing and engagement podcast brought to you by 2355 Productions. This podcast is all about exploring different tactics for marketing, but also strategies and techniques to create lasting engagement with donors and customers. I’m your host Ryan Sarver and this is episode number three. I’m really excited about this week’s episode as we get the opportunity to chat with Karen Spataro. She is the chief communications officer at Riley Children’s Foundation here in Indianapolis. Before coming to Raleigh Children’s Foundation, Karen served in a variety of roles at the Indiana University School of Medicine in the gift development office. And then she finished her career there at the IU School of Medicine as the director of strategic communications. As Riley Children’s Foundation is a nonprofit that relies on the gifts of donors. Karen and I discussed some of the ways that they have continued to raise funds, and how they as an organization that typically holds quite a few fundraising events a year is using digital interactions to help fill that gap during this pandemic. At the same time, we discuss the reality of digital fatigue with these online gatherings. I’m an extrovert. And I think even some introverts out there are getting a little tired of being cooped up in their homes and just interacting with each other through a computer screen. So we talk about ways that Riley’s thinking about creating more out of these digital events than just watching someone on a screen. We then take a few minutes to discuss the importance of being nimble during this time, and the need to take risks if you’re going to have momentum, as well as how and what an organization should be communicating. It’s a great conversation, and we think you’ll really enjoy it. With all that said, let’s jump right in. Thanks so much for joining us today, Karen.

Karen Spataro 2:02
It’s good to be here. Thanks for having me.

Ryan Sarver 2:04
Absolutely. So as we start this conversation, Karen, can you tell us a little bit about the Riley Children’s Foundation. I know if you live in Indianapolis, everyone’s heard of Riley Children’s Hospital. But tell us a little bit about what the foundation does, who the donors are. And the work that foundation helps support?

Karen Spataro 2:21
Sure. So first, the

Riley Children’s Foundation was started nearly 100 years ago is the Riley Memorial Association. We’re actually the organization that raised the money to open Riley Hospital for Children. We are a separate independent nonprofit. And we’re dedicated to raising funds to support children’s health primarily through Riley and supporting patient care programs there and then affiliated associated research. So pediatric research that primarily happens that I use School of Medicine. And it’s really with those that combination with the research and the care that we’re able to help make healthcare better for children right here in Indiana. So because we’re Indiana focus, most of our donors are here in Indiana, or have lived in Indiana or have a strong connection to Indiana. We certainly work with individual donors, we also are part of the Children’s Miracle Network. So that was a network that supports children hospitals nationwide, of corporations. And we have a lot of just community members who support us with with their events of schools that do dance marathons. It’s really I think everyone feels connected to children’s health. And so we have donors that range from the youngest kids who were patients themselves up to people who have been supporters for a long, long time.

Ryan Sarver 3:35
Yeah. So you have donor sources from a lot of different places

Karen Spataro 3:40
we do we definitely do. We have people who do the events, the walks, the runs, the dances, we have corporations and people who that when you go in and you give it the register, we have people who give online and in response to sort of events and through direct mail, it’s a wide variety of people who give through a number of different means.

Ryan Sarver 4:00
So tell me a little bit about the conversations you have, or had, as we’re coming out in the world is kind of opening back up a little bit. But you have events where there were a lot of people at them that were huge fundraisers and then you had things to the grocery store, but people are going to the grocery store differently, like everything’s changed. So what what are the conversations been like? And how have you pivoted on what you’ve done? Or, or thought about how do we need to be engaging this donor base a little bit differently? Because it’s overall a large swath of the population people giving? What were those conversations like?

Karen Spataro 4:34
Well, I think first and foremost, we understand that just like everyone else, our donors are going through a difficult period right now, whether it’s because they’re nervous about health, or they have someone in their family who maybe has been affected, either economically or by the disease itself. So more than anything, we really wanted to make sure that our donors know that we appreciate them and that we are going to be there. You know, With them through this and, and whether or not they can give at this moment or not. So again, you know, we’re almost 100 years old. And we have been through some of the toughest times in the history of our state in our country. And, and we are going to be here for 100 more years. And so we really want to take the long approach here that, that if if donors need to sort of pause a moment or need to put a gift on hold or can’t do something that that doesn’t mean we’re going to walk away from them or abandon them, because we really appreciate the long term relationship. Having that we’re a healthcare organization. And this is a healthcare crisis. And so we know that many donors want to do something, one of the first things we did was really look at how can we be part of the immediate response. And so we launched a relief fund to help families at Riley who are economically affected by this already more than 60% of Riley families receive Medicaid. So these are folks who struggle financially in the best of times, there’s a there’s a stress and expenses and just challenges associated with having a kid who’s fighting a really sick, a big illness, parents who have to take time off from work, kids who can’t go to school. And so this is already a vulnerable population. And then you layer on top of it a health pandemic and an economic downturn. And so we started just sharing the story of at first one family of a little boy named Teddy, who had been at Riley waiting for a heart transplant since September, and his mom worked in the restaurant industry. And like so many others, when the restaurants were forced to close and go just to carry out, she lost her job. And so, you know, she was relying, waiting for unemployment to kick in, and you had this little boy. And so we shared stories like that, and asked our donors if they were able to, to help support these families through some of the most difficult days and to also provide the hospital the resources that it was going to need to respond to whatever was coming up, then which we couldn’t even anticipate fully at that time. And, and it was really quite amazing people who gave people there was one family that gave their their stimulus check, because they said they just didn’t need it. And it needed to go somewhere better. Lots of people who gave that, you know, at some, in some instances, bigger levels, and they had normally because they just realized the gravity of the situation. So people recognize the need that for, for for quality health care during this time. And I do think a lot of people recognize that if it from the the care point of view, you know, cancer doesn’t stop, it’s not going to slow down. Because there’s a pandemic, when you have diabetes, and you need dialysis, you still have to be at that hospital, but it doesn’t matter what’s going on in the outside world. So it was it was really overwhelming it just to see the community kind of rally together for Riley. And it was really fantastic to be part of it. So that was really our initial conversation is what’s the immediate need? And how do we play a role in it? And how do we share that with with our donors, so they know, you know what, what that what that great need is?

Ryan Sarver 8:12
Yeah, and I think what’s really interesting is that, you know, your donors are always giving to healthcare, but you just switch the positioning to the parent that was needing to provide that care there. And that help people engage and pull into the story because they could be an active participant and still providing relief, maybe just in a different way than they had done before.

Karen Spataro 8:36
We always do have a fund to support families who are sort of struggling social support social work. And but this was a really we magnify that. And we said, you know, when we first started having the conversations of how could we help as a foundation? And then what would we be asking our donors to help with that was what really just bubbled up? Certainly all of the regular health care needs continued. And there was going to be these new needs because of COVID. But when you really started looking at on a pediatric level, especially why were people suffering the most, so you know, COVID is mostly a disease that affects adults, certainly there are children who are affected by it. Certainly there are children who had underlying health conditions for whom it’s a significant concern. But But when we started looking at kids really and talking to our colleagues at the hospital, it was it was the, the financial aspect, you know, that many of these families were just barely hanging on any way. And then you rent or mortgage or car payment or electricity just, it’s all out of their reach. And then when you think about helping a kid get healthy, and the stress that already puts on a parent, and then you know, laying on top of it that they can’t make that payment, they can’t provide those. You know, there’s necessities and while there was you know, certainly there’s been a government response, and there’s other resources available, you know, either one, they’re not immediate or two, you’re asking a parent who’s already got a kid who’s really, really He’s sick to like figure it all out. And that mean, I think of myself and imagine myself in that situation and already just feeling maxed. And so I think a lot of our donors just heard that and appreciated it and had incredible empathy for the families who are going through it.

Ryan Sarver 10:19
It’s incredible. So that was a, you had a great response to it was this part of the matching grant that you had originally,

Karen Spataro 10:26
we did. So we had $100,000, matching gift. So we were able to double the impact of individuals gifts, and then we exhausted that. And so there was a new day of giving, giving Tuesday now. And we had some other, you know, corporate sponsor of PwC. And they, they put forward a gift, and then we had another matching gift. So we were able actually to triple on that day. They came in and it was it was really exciting. And, and I think some of that, you know, the generosity of individual donors and corporate donors really made that possible and and made people know that their gifts were going to go especially far.

Ryan Sarver 11:03
So what was the way that you kind of rolled that out? But during this time, how did you? How did you get the word out? I mean, there’s a lot happening out in the world. How did you get how did you pull these people together? What was your marketing tactic out there? Yeah, so

Karen Spataro 11:16
we we really tried to do a multi channel comprehensive campaign. So we had earned media, we used our own chat our own channels, so social and leaned heavily on email. We did do paid media. And then we also did the good old fashioned, get on the phone and call people and talk to them. And that I think you can’t, you can’t undervalue the effectiveness of those one on one conversations. But we did it really quickly. And we said many times, you know, this is a campaign that normally would have taken five to six months to plan and we spooled it up in a week and a half. And we iterated and we fixed and we kept pushing out. And it was definitely the minutes before you were supposed to send an email and you were still tweaking it. But But ultimately, I think that time demanded that right, like, there’s, this was not a time to say, let’s get it 100% perfect and do it exactly the way we wanted, it was, you know, there’s a need right now, right now, there are people who need these dollars. And so we, we need to do the very best we can. And we didn’t really know what to expect to be honest. But it was it was it was really tremendous. And I’m really proud of that the colleagues they work with for their passion and their hard work. And certainly a good deal of the ability to turn it around so quickly, was just the relationships that we already had at the hospital. And, you know, the the little boy, Teddy, whose family was one family that was affected, our team already knew them, and already had footage of him in the hospital. So we were able to turn around some videos and some other assets like that, that maybe we wouldn’t have been able to.

Ryan Sarver 12:49
It sounds like you did quite a bit of work to, to get it going.

Karen Spataro 12:52
Yeah, you

know what, though, I

think that if you think back to mid to late March, we all had gotten sent home. from work, we’re all working from home for those of us with school, kids school was cancelled, or had switched to elearning. And there was, I think, a feeling of helplessness as you watched the news. And you started seeing footage out of New York City where it was really bad. And, you know, if you remember, you know, Italy was still really bad at that time. And and this gave purpose. I mean, I felt like I had purpose because of it. And I remember saying to friends, I was so grateful that there was something I could direct my energy and effort to, because otherwise I just felt like I was you know, like, what could I do sit on a couch. I think we all felt that way. This was like, positive momentum, that we could contribute to the real problem in a meaningful way. And that was just, I was just grateful for that opportunity.

Ryan Sarver 13:47
So what else have you done? I think there is always there’s always that initial energy, you know, this is happening. We’re all in it together. And then afterwards, like, wait, we gotta, we gotta keep going on some of this other stuff. And so some of that initial inertia just in the world of like, we’re all chipping, in, kind of wanes away. How have you been having the continued conversations as the world is? You know, I think, again, you have a lot of events, and who knows, when all that’s gonna happen? What are those further future conversations look like? What are the kind of how are you looking in the future?

Karen Spataro 14:18
Yeah, so I mean, first, just through through this one thing, we have a team that’s typically in the hospital meeting patients, telling their stories, we haven’t set foot in the hospital since maybe the first week in March. And that’s a challenge when a big part of what we do is share family stories because we know that they’re the reasons these patients are the reason that that people give and so we’ve had to find new ways to do that just first off and so we’ve worked with some families who’ve been impatient and they’ve just sent over short video clips on their cell phone, then we’ve been instead of sort of all highlight polished and highly produced videos, we’ve been sharing some more just authentic moments, you know, a little boy who’s tuned in for a stem cell transplant, lowing bubbles with his nurse that his mom shot a video of or coloring on the windows at Riley with dry erase markers. And we’ve really been amazed at the reception that we’ve gotten to those just these very real sweet slice of life moments inside the hospital that just some very generous parents have agreed to send to us. We’ve also stayed in touch with Riley kids who we’ve known through the years. And you know, one who has a birthday, maybe it’s somebody singing happy birthday, or just, you know, chopping their sidewalk at home and those sorts of things. And so that’s been a way for us just to keep our social feeds active to remind people that the impact Riley has day to day and on these these kids lives. And frankly, the the number of engagements has just been extraordinary people really like to see that just the realness I guess, then, you know, we we are an organization that has a lot of events, our dance marathon team has really done a tremendous job of working with with schools and organizations, both schools and universities to pivot to at least have some of their fundraising or events go online instead. So we had 56 dance marathons that would have happened during this Well, I’m sorry, 56 out of 856 out of a believe 88 had to, you know, couldn’t happen because of the pandemic. And several of them were able to move online, or parts of it online. So St. Mary’s College, they actually had a they took their whole event online, and they actually raised more than they ever have before. So that was really amazing. And you know, it’s it’s just a spirit, this energy dance marathons are a fascinating phenomenon. I’ve

Ryan Sarver 17:06
been to a couple, I don’t even know wild

Karen Spataro 17:09
bird, right? They are and just the spirit and energy of these students and the dedication. And so you know, that they had to just throw the plans the playbook out completely, and do it all differently. And what I think is so cool about it is like, right for No, they get no benefit from it. This is really all for the kids, which is the big, the big expression with dance marathons. And and they did, and it’s and we’re so grateful for that, you know, certainly we’re already looking ahead or the team that works on that is, is looking ahead to you know, what might the fall look like what can happen in person what might have to be virtual might there be Hybrid’s all sorts of questions surrounding that, and that’s a big, big thing to, to figure out. We also just for our donors, you know, we we normally work gift officers would be out meeting with people, just having those face to face conversations and having some regular events. And so we did have a virtual event, where we invited some donors to hear from the CEO of the hospital and the CEO of the foundation. And we just sort of did a zoom webinar showed a little video of sort of life inside Riley at the moment, which looks very, it looks very different, you know, it’s still very quiet compared to the sort of normal hustle and bustle. And it was just this really interesting conversation, you know, parts of it were certainly serious about COVID parts of it, were just getting to know each other, and people could get a little bit of a glimpse of the the people, you know, one of the people who’s critical to running the hospital. And it was it was really delightful. It had to be honest with you. And and I think one of the cool things is people who maybe couldn’t have participated before, you know, somebody in Florida, it gives people who might not be able to come to an event in downtown Indianapolis is a chance to do it or to if they’re not sure if they’re donors who’ve never been before and are kind of like I don’t know, if I want to invest this time, and it does give people this new chance to engage with us and, and terms that maybe they feel comfortable with.

Ryan Sarver 19:10
You’re able to engage people in a totally different way. And they might be even more receptive because they can be in the comfort of their own home.

Karen Spataro 19:17
Yeah, and it’s less of a time commitment to right, you’re not talking about like, get Yeah, whether it’s you know, getting dressed in something for an event, and then coming downtown and parking and all that. It’s, it can be sort of a, a short opportunity for engagement, but that during that time, they can really connect more deeply with our organization.

Ryan Sarver 19:41
So what do you think maybe you’ve learned through some of this, I’m a professional video producer, but you’ve had this great engagement from these little slice of life videos, and you’ve had this zoom webinar where you had 60 people there and, you know, you’ve you’ve changed this and you’ve seen some some Good reactions to it. So do you think there’s anything that it’s making you rethink as even as life goes back maybe to normal? Maybe we need to think, a little differently about the way that we had been operating?

Karen Spataro 20:13
Yeah, you know, I think regardless of what industry you’re in you, you know, people are, are, are experiencing this, right, like, there are things that maybe we should have done, and then this pushed you into change again, you know, there’ll be parts of it, we go back to normal and parts of it. Well, that will keep. And I think, you know, this, this has forced our hand and made us be innovative, whether or not you want to be I mean, you have no choice, you have to innovate. So we’ve had a lot of conversation about, you know, certainly there is something about bringing people together, and a community of people who share a passion for children’s health that, that we would never want to do away with, right, when we can safely have events, we will want to resume them. But boy, it is kind of neat to also be able to engage people who are not close, to be able to pull people in for a conversation, to meet some other researchers who are doing the research or meet some of the caregivers, in a sort of low pressure atmosphere, you know, they can log in, they can learn, they can ask questions, they can talk, they can find out a little bit more about people and then sort of decide, you know, maybe, maybe that’s enough for them, or maybe no, I, you know, I would really like to come to this event at the hospital. So, you know, I would I think that virtual events are going to be part of our future. Now, I think the big question is, we’ve all been sort of in this odd state since March, when do we have virtual burn out? And are people like, if I don’t need to be on my computer for one more minute? I’m not doing it? And how do you overcome that? Because even though the world is starting to open back up, even though, you know, stores are opening, and people are out, I think, you know, events are still very difficult space, because, you know, how do you have a party where people social distance and wear masks, and certainly we’re a healthcare organization, we’re affiliated with the healthcare organization, we have a major, we have a responsibility to make sure that whatever we do we do in the safest way possible. And so, you know, looking into the fall, as we will certainly have to rely on virtual, how do we make people still want to show up,

Ryan Sarver 22:25
if you will, digital fatigue is real,

Karen Spataro 22:28
digital fatigue is real. And so what’s gonna set you apart? That’s a really, you know, that’s been on my mind a lot. And how do you make it not just, you know, a face on a screen? Is there a way to bring it to life? You know, is there something that arrives at your doorstep an hour before the event, you know, that, that allows you to feel part of a community, even though you’re in separate homes, you know, and what could that look like? And I know some organizations are doing that already. And it’s something we’re, you know, I’m very interested in our first event we did as a webinar, so people could see the presenters, they could submit questions, but there wasn’t, you know, I, they couldn’t see each other. Is that the best format? Do we do it in a different format? You know, what are the technology so far, we really relied on to technology, zoom, and then forgiving Tuesday, we had a Riley kid interview, Tony Lauren cannon, at carpenter and Cody Zeller, as part of our day, and that was, you know, that was fantastic. And it was great. So we used a different technology for that. But that was more public facing. So what else is out there? And we have a lot of learnings to do as well.

Ryan Sarver 23:40
So with that in mind, and staying ahead of the curve with digital marketing, if you will, and engagement with the world? How do you see storytelling playing an important part of that, you know, you talk about the slice of life videos and Riley trends Foundation, as you guys know, a lot of stories. What do you think the role of storytelling is going to be as you combat digital fatigue as the world is still kind of positioning itself and figuring out what we’re doing? going ahead?

Karen Spataro 24:10
Yeah, I think storytelling has always been critically important. And it will continue to be vital for us to make sure that people want to sort of be part of our story. You know, at the end of the day, you can give people facts, you can share why it’s important, but there’s nothing that is going to move people to either give or to consider you an organization that they they want to continue to engage with. Then by showing them in vivid ways and real ways that people who are affected. So you know, every time we we can share the story of a child who has been helped, or a child who is sick and needs help that that does more than Anything else we can do? I think one of the the interesting questions through this is going to be, you know, what’s the platform? Is it? You know, is it social? Is it through these sort of virtual events? What’s the length of the time? And how do people want to engage? And I think I keep saying any data we had in the past, you can almost throw out, right? Because people’s behavior are so different right now. But of everything we do, when it’s when it’s centered around just a child’s story. People respond to that, because it’s really frankly, it’s hard not to it’s, it’s, you want to do more to help kids who need it. So we have a lot of looking at, you know, how does our video chat and again, as we don’t have access to the kinds of videos that we would normally film? How do we do it differently? How does, you know, we used to talk, it wasn’t that long ago, right? where it would be hard to imagine taking a cell phone video and and using that as part of your sort of premier storytelling videos for our urine campaigns and things like that. Now, I mean, we know we’re going to be using that. And I think people have people accept it, embrace it, and maybe even like it, you know, because again, it they know, it’s not heavily edited, and they this is what this is what’s really happening in a hospital room or in a home and it maybe brings them closer to these families in it in an interesting way. And so it does throw out some of our assumptions. Now, you know, obviously, we still need to bring it together and edit it in a compelling way that, that has a narrative, but that, that just sort of almost the straight off my iPhone, look, I think we’re gonna be doing a lot more of that too.

Ryan Sarver 26:37
It helps people be part of the story, because they can see themselves shooting that it’s not there’s no big camera or anything else there. It’s, you’re there with them. you’re experiencing it with them. Yeah, there’s

Karen Spataro 26:48
no lighting, there’s no props, there’s nothing right. It’s just, you know, here’s a, here’s a family that’s letting you like peek inside there, either hospital room or their home.

Ryan Sarver 27:00
So Karen, tell me what encouragement or philosophy that you can share with someone else that might be running a nonprofit that might be the marketing officer, and some philosophies that you can share with them about how they should move forward? You know, and it doesn’t have to be just about what you’ve done it Riley, you’ve been a communications for a long time, what what would you share with with them that you’ve learned through all this and in your career?

Karen Spataro 27:26
Sure, I think the first thing that I’ve learned is, you know, this is absolutely a time to throw out the playbook and be willing to try new things, be willing to take risks and fail. Because if you don’t take risks, I almost guarantee you’re going to fail right now. So you know, we’re getting ready to plan for our year and campaign and philanthropy year end is one of the most important times of the year forgiving, it’s when many people give, we could do exactly what we’ve done for the past several years. But but we’re not going to and we’re not we’re gonna go into what the different approach because the world is so different right now. And we need to be cognizant of that. The other thing, and I don’t think I can overstate the importance of this, it’s, you know, donors, care about you to your, your, your organization, your mission, they share a passion, in our case for improving children’s lives. And that’s, you know, that’s not a transaction. That’s not, you know, may we have money, yes, here it is, right? This, it’s all about relationships, and we want these, we want our donors to, to feel good about us. And I think, you know, donors are going to remember how organizations treat them during this time. And so, you know, we’ve been calling more donors than ever, just to say, Thank you, and reaching out to people just to say, How are you both in person and, and just sharing stories? You know, every communication shouldn’t be an ask, because as a person, that’s not how I want to be treated. And I guarantee you, it’s not how donors want to be treated. So I do think this is a time where it’s just, it’s vital to build relationships, and to think about, you know, where your donors are, and what, what maybe they need from you for change, and instead of just what you need from that,

Ryan Sarver 29:21
well, that’s really powerful. I mean, the thing that, you know, sometimes we need to be communicating, just to be communicating not to be asking to help promote ourselves or push us to, to our objectives and an organization to we want to do this, but just to communicate and create relationship, as you say, because engagement is based upon relationship.

Karen Spataro 29:41
Yeah. And I think, you know, fundamentally, my view on philanthropy is yes, my job is marketing. But I don’t like to think about marketing because I don’t think I you know, I’m not trying to sell something to a donor, you know, this isn’t some product that I want them to buy. I really do view it as a conversation. Sometimes that conversation is one on one. Sometimes it’s through a magazine, sometimes it’s through a video. And sometimes it’s through an email that’s going out to 200,000 people, but it’s still part of a conversation about Riley Children’s Foundation and Riley and why? You know why they care about it. And I think that’s truer now than ever. You know, it’s not about sales. It’s not about marketing, the latest, greatest thing. It’s just having time and taking time to have conversations with people who care.

Ryan Sarver 30:33
Absolutely. Well, Karen, thank you so much for taking the time today. Tell us where we can find out more about Riley Jones foundation. What maybe do you have some latest and greatest I got going on that someone could participate in and give to Charlie Jones foundation? Can you give us some that information?

Karen Spataro 30:48
Sure. So you can find out more about Riley Children’s Foundation at Riley kids.org. We are in the very final stages of a campaign to support maternal and newborn health care and research. And then sort of some of those wraparound services that support families like our child life specialists. And, you know, it’s all tremendous need. And we’re just so grateful to the folks who continue to give during this time.

Ryan Sarver 31:17
Excellent. So can they so someone could find all that information on ryla? kids that org? They

Karen Spataro 31:20
can Yes.

Ryan Sarver 31:22
Excellent. Well, thank you again, so much for your time. I appreciate the conversation. I think you’ve said a lot of great things for folks to think about, especially his I love what you said talking about building that relationship and it’s not transactional. But even in trying times, we need to be communicating not just about ourselves, but just developing a relationship. So really appreciate it. Thanks so much for your time.

Karen Spataro 31:42
Thanks for having me.

Ryan Sarver 31:43
Absolutely. Take care. Well, thanks so much for listening to this episode of the podcast. If you’d like to find show notes and links to Riley Children’s Foundation, they can be found at marketing and engagement calm. Please don’t forget to subscribe on your favorite platform to continue to get episodes delivered to you as soon as they are released. In our next episode, which will be coming out next Wednesday, we will be talking with Laura Buckner, a communication specialist and storyteller. Laura was the marketing director at the Indianapolis Children’s Choir in 2008. As the economy was crashing, and we had the opportunity to discuss what she did during this time to help develop and grow the program. We hope you will join us. Until then, take care


The Marketing and Engagement Podcast by 2355 Production

Stay Connected

New episodes

We publish every two weeks.

Be our guest?

Want to Be A guest?

We would Love to chat

Fill out the form and tell us about yourself.