On January 21, 2020, Givsum CEO Shawn Wehan was joined by Erin Culbertson of the Westlake Village Rotary Club to learn how they utilized the Givsum PRO Services to seamlessly jumpstart their online giving initiatives.
Since 1972, the members of the Westlake Village Rotary Club have represented a diverse group of people who share the goal of working together to do good in our local community and internationally.
Shawn Wehan: Let’s go ahead and get started. My name is Shawn Wehan and I am the CEO of Givsum Inc. Givsum stands for “giving summary.” Givsum is an all-in-one tool that helps manage your donations, ticket sales, item sales, memberships, volunteer management, all in one excellent product. I’m very excited today to have Erin Culbertson with us today. Erin is a member of Westlake Village Rotary Club. She also owns her own company called the Erin Culbertson Agency, which is an insurance agency, and she’s been so generous to spend some time with us today to talk about the PRO Services that her club has been utilizing with Givsum over the past several months. Let’s start with you as a Rotarian: how long have you been a Rotarian? How long have you been a member of the West Lake Village Rotary Club, and what’s your role with it?
Erin Culbertson: Yes, I’ve been a member of the West Lake Village Rotary Club for about three years now. I’m super happy to be a part of this club. We’re about 60 members strong and I am the president-elect nominee, which means that I’ll be president in 2022. I’m currently on the board of the club and also our street festival chairperson, so those are currently my roles with the club.
Shawn: You’ve been a member for the last several years. How have you seen Rotary change over the years and what may have inspired you to become a Rotarian?
Erin: I was actually introduced to Rotary through my daughter, who went to RYLA. I was so impressed by the organization that, when my kids went off to college, I looked at a few different Rotary Clubs. I love what they do within the community, they’re super active, especially out here in the Canejo Valley, and Westlake Village Rotary was a really good fit for me. It’s a nice medium-sized club with an extremely active, funny, and engaging amazing group of people. I’m really fortunate to be part of the Rotary Club and doing a lot of fundraising events and supporting a lot of organizations here in our area and internationally.
Shawn: That’s great! Just so our audience knows, RYLA stands for Rotary Youth Leadership Association or alliance or activity or, as I understand. It’s a youth retreat leadership program for potential young Rotarians, right?
Erin: It is, and it was a game changer for my daughter. She loved it. The leadership qualities that she received from it, the training and the interaction, it was just a weekend of good leadership, community, and everything.
Shawn: So, you became a Rotarian and it sounds like you’ve very quickly gotten into the leadership of your Rotary Club. Somewhere along the way, this past year, you came across Givsum. Share with us a little bit about how you learned about Givsum and what ultimately led you to having the club participate with our PRO Services.
“I don’t know how we could have done it without you and the PRO Services”
Erin: Yes! About a year and a half ago, the club asked me to chair our 26th annual street festival, which is a very big event with about 150 street vendors and five bands. We have the wine and beer tasting area, lots of food, lots of vendors – it’s quite the undertaking. It’s probably a good nine months of work, with a really dedicated team of Rotarians to make it happen. I think most of you that are in organizations like this, that take on events of this size, know it’s a lot of work, but it’s of course a work of love. When I told them that I would do it, they handed me these six thick binders and said, “Okay, here’s your information.” I looked at it all and thought, “I’ve got to go through all of that to get the information? Where’s the database?” We didn’t have a database at that time and pretty much every time we were doing an event it was almost reinventing the wheel. The board started discussing looking at software and one of our members came across Givsum.
That’s how I was introduced to you, Shawn, and then you met with a few members of the board. You and I met one-on-one so I could really understand it and drill down what the software provided. Because, as we all know, as far as an organization like Rotary, every dollar that we earned is a hard-earned dollar. We don’t want to spend our money frivolously because it just takes away from what we’re working so hard to do. Shawn, you were wonderful at really drilling it down and explaining the benefits of Givsum. It was a perfect fit, so I went back to the board and we discussed it and decided to move forward. Initially, they wanted to move forward with the Basic, but I went back and said, “A majority of us are all working so you take something as beautiful as the Givsum software, but it’s only as good as you can build it up.”
So, my fear was that we’re going to purchase this software or sign up for it and then it’s going to sit because some of us don’t have the technology, we have so many things going on, and most of us again, are working. We went back and discussed the benefits of the PRO Services and they were all on board, so we elected to purchase the PRO Services. I am so thankful that we did right out of the gate. I think maybe a month after we got the Givsum software, we decided to do our very first drive-in movie event with Elf. We only had six weeks to get it going and I think you guys had our website up in two days with all the visuals and the ticket sales lined up. We ended up selling out within like two to three weeks. It was a super big hit and I don’t know how we could have done it without you and the PRO Services.
Shawn: We love to hear that when you were considering the PRO Services with your other board members and they were leaning towards the Basic. They were just looking at the price, but you came at it from a different angle. It sounds like you were saying to them, “If we’re going to enter 21st century technology and not have these massive binders of information, have all the data in one place, if we’re really going to make that transition, then we don’t have the time to do it. We’re going to need Givsum’s team to help us do that. If we’re going to run all these digital events or run these events digitally and be out in the world, we’re going to need a software to do that and so let’s go with PRO.”
Erin: Yes, and it takes money to make some money. Let’s look at the ROI with our investment with Givsum: based on how you guys do the opt-in with your donations or ticket purchases rather than going through PayPal and the archaic systems that we had before that were extremely cumbersome, it saved us a lot of money with credit card purchases and again just getting the information out there. I know I told you what I really loved about it was, because of COVID, we had to change a lot of things with the drive-in event at the last minute. I was able to email every single attendee, multiple times, giving them updates and everything. Just having you guys build it up so quickly allowed us to do an event within six weeks.
Shawn: There were some other things about the PRO Services that I think your whole team was excited about, and that was creating a profile that would be outward-facing for the public. Tell us a little bit about this landing page that we’ve been working on that your club is going to be sending people to that we’ve been setting up through the PRO Services.
“You listened to our needs”
Erin: So, I know we’ve all got Club Runner and Club Runner is a great system, but it’s inward facing. It’s nice for our club, but it’s not really outward facing. Working with Givsum and your team, like Carolyn [Givsum Account Manager], she’s been fabulous, and you, Shawn, and your software engineers – you are fluid and proactive at listening to what we want. We want something a little more relevant, a little more fun, that really showcases what our club does as far as ongoing, past, and future events. We’re all able to have it in one spot and what I really liked about your PRO Services team is that you listened to what our needs were. It was a collaborative effort to help make our club’s website really interactive and engaging to the community at large. Like when we had our Elf event, people go in to buy their tickets, but they’re also going into our website, which I think is cool. They can go in there, click around, and look at everything that this Rotary Club does. If interested, they can click another button and get more information about us, and then share the love with social media. We’ve got that beautiful little button that we could share the event and we can share information about our club. It’s just putting everything in one location and it’s seamless in the database.
Shawn: In terms of data, what do you see, from your standpoint, is the most valuable part of the data? Especially as you’re doing something like a street fair or a drive-in movie event, in terms of having binders that hold it all?
Erin: Can we have a bonfire with the binders? That would be great. I don’t even think we’ll ever reference them again, to be honest. We’re looking at hosting another event, a big one in lieu of the street fest. It’s going to be a European holiday market. Just having all the information in one place, we don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel. Just having the database of customers and being able to reference it year after year and being able to email our sponsors, customers, and vendors – what would normally take probably days or weeks we can do it in a couple of minutes because it’s all right there.
Shawn: The data is valuable. It’s going to be there for your club year after year. You’re going to be able to re-invoice potential sponsorships and re-engage with them on new events that are coming up. How do you think this is going to equate to potential new members for the club?
Erin: I think because we’re a club of 60 people right now we’re all pretty diverse. Even in the time of COVID, we’ve actually increased our membership by I think four new members in the last couple of months, all under the age of 40, which we think is pretty cool. I think just having everything more interactive and looking more youthful, more advanced, and more seamless is going to help us.
Shawn: More modern.
Erin: Yes. I think what a lot of our clubs are really working towards is trying to get away from that stigma of Rotary just being the retired gentleman’s club, you know? Our club isn’t alone in trying to introduce these clubs as more youthful. Most of us work and want to give back to the community, but maybe we’re not retired and we can’t do it full time. That allows us to have more diversity and having something like the Givsum website that also can assist us in building it out and making it fit what our needs are is huge.
Shawn: Let me ask a little bit about how you guys navigated COVID and what you’re thinking about as you’re moving into this year. What are going to be the big fundraising initiatives or projects that you’re going to be doing to navigate the changing environment over this year, as vaccines come out and people are feeling safer and hopefully the numbers drop down?
“The event was a huge success”
Erin: With every organization like ours, we’ve had to cancel everything live and re-navigate how we stay relevant as a club and stay connected, not only with members, but with the community. The Elf event was a huge success and it was beautiful. We’re looking at doing another one there! What’s cool about that is that we’ve already got it pretty much set up. We can change a couple of graphics with you all and still email everyone that attended last time. We’re looking at continuing that with maybe one or two other drive-ins during the time of COVID. Then, we’ve also got our Conejo heroes that is an ongoing event that’s on our Givsum website. That’s been a huge success and so well received by our community. Again, we have the European festival and we’ve also got an event in July, called Hot Summer Nights, that’s an international hot sauce event. In fact, we’re having a meeting about it next week. It’s July 27th!
Shawn: It’s going to be a busy schedule for 2021! Let’s just briefly share how the process worked once you guys decided to go with the PRO Services, so our audience understands. Your club decided to go with the PRO and then we assigned you an account manager. You got our customer success team member, Carolyn, and then we set up a team meeting to learn the needs of the club, particularly related to any events and fundraising campaigns, what you wanted the outward facing profile page to look like, and all the different ideas that you guys had around that. We brainstormed with you and then we helped co-create with you to make sure that everything was up to your standard and in the way that you wanted. It was actually Carolyn who designed most of the pages or put them together and then worked in coordination with you directly to make sure that you were happy with it. That whole process has been really what the PRO is – Givsum does a lot of the heavy lifting and the work so that you, Erin, didn’t have to learn about it. How has that experience been working with an account manager? Has it been positive or a challenge?
Erin: Carolyn’s been fabulous. It’s nice having a one-on-one relationship with an Account Manager like Carolyn. She also helps keep me on task, which I appreciate. Carolyn really listened, went back to your design team, and came back with these amazing buttons and graphics for our webpages. You click one of those pages with the button and then it goes to “Who we are.” With “Who we are,” you can take a look at our members and our socials that we do. We’re big on socials! We do a social once a month, whether it’s Zoom or hopefully it’ll be more in person. Then, “What we do,” which shows all of our events and all the organizations that we support. So, Carolyn was super responsive and we couldn’t ask for anything better. It was great.
“Givsum has saved us so much time and moved us into the 21st century”
Shawn: If you’re a club and you’re considering going Basic or PRO and you’re leaning towards the PRO Services – knowing what you know now, what would you share with your club about the idea of going PRO?
Erin: If we’re going to purchase a software, like Givsum, we need help building it out, because we don’t want to purchase something and not really have the technology to help build it up. When you get something like Givsum, you really want it to be outward facing. You want it to help with all these events. You need to have a good base and a good platform, which your PRO Services offers, to make it happen and really bring it up to the level that you’re envisioning. That’s what Givsum is doing.
Now we have this beautiful club website that showcases who our club is, based on all the information that we’ve given you and that you’ve listened to and you’ve built up. I mean, it’s a custom page. You could go Club Runner, but it’s all the same. With Givsum, you’ve been able to help us design what we think is the best for our club and then the ongoing events – this is huge. I mean, this Hot Summer Night we’ve got going on, more drive-in movies, and then this other big European Festival…that’s a lot of work and information, and we want to do well because there’s a lot of people we want to give back to. Givsum has saved us so much time and moved us forward into the 21st century rather than rely on big boxes of binders.
Shawn: We’ve really enjoyed working with West Lake Village Rotary Club and working with you and your team. More than anything, we want you guys to be successful, have great events, and to be able to showcase who your club is to a larger public, which ultimately leads to new members and gets more people involved with Rotary and its great mission and vision.
Erin, thank you so much for spending time with us, sharing a little bit about your experience of the PRO Services, the process upon which you got the club on board, and how we’ve worked together. It’s okay that you’re selling us – we appreciate it!
Erin: I’m a big fan and truly anybody that wants to reach out to me or any member of my club for a reference or some one-on-one personal information, they can call or email me anytime! I’d be happy to. We’ve been so happy because you put it out there initially and you’re hoping it’s going to work. Shawn, you and your team made us look really good and we are so happy with our investment!
Shawn: That’s great! Again, helping with your membership, helping with your campaigns and events, helping with your profile, which can very much become a website for you just like it is for West Lake Village, and for more information, we can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.If you haven’t claimed your organization yet on the platform, just do a search for your organization and hit the claim button. That will allow us to give you administrative access to your club or to your charitable organization. We are here to help you and to serve and to advance your mission and vision. Thank you again, Erin!
Erin: Thanks, Shawn!