Dan discusses the origins and possibilities of the new GiveSmartOKC platform with Kelley Barnes and Rachel Mouton of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation's programs team. Our experts share insight into the platform's expanded functionalities and different ways to leverage them this giving season. Later in the episode (13:22), DesJean Jones, Executive Director of OIC of Oklahoma County, provides powerful testimony to the platform's potential, and Dan chats with Steve Agee, OCCF Trustee and philanthropist, about why every donor and nonprofit should be using GiveSmartOKC to grow their impact.
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Dan Martel: You're listening to Creating Impact Through Giving, a podcast brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation providing you with the stories, techniques, and tools around impactful giving. On this show, we'll talk to donors, professional advisors, nonprofit leaders, and our team of experts to identify charitable strategies that have resulted in some of our most impactful gifts.
I'm Dan Martel and welcome back to the pod. You know, Giving Tuesday is coming up quickly, and for some of our nonprofits, that means gearing up for one of the most important seasons of the year, which is the holiday and giving season. Well, today I'm excited to welcome a great group of guests to discuss a free tool that organizations can use to set themselves up for success throughout this season. Stay tuned until the very end for some important announcements about upcoming grant opportunities too. You won't want to miss that, but first let me welcome our in-house experts on smarter giving, Kelley Barnes.
Kelley Barnes: Hi Dan.
Dan: ...and Rachel Mouton.
Rachel Mouton: Thank you, Dan.
Dan: Later, we're also going to be chatting to someone who has given smart in the past, former trustee and Dean of the Minder School of Business, Dr. Steve Agee. Also on the pod later in this episode, we're going to talk to DesJean Jones from the Opportunities Industrialization Center of Oklahoma County, better known as OIC, who has a great pitch to fellow organizations this giving season. But we're going to go ahead and dive right in with Kelley and Rachel. So I want to start with you Kelley, tell us a little bit about what your role here is at the Community Foundation.
Kelley: Sure. So first thanks for having us on. This is exciting. I've never been on a podcast before, so it's a new venture for me. I am part of the community programs team. Our community programs and grant area has different areas, parks initiative, the GiveSmartOKC platform, the Keep Moving OKC initiative to get everybody in our community up and moving and having a healthy lifestyle. We have grants in the areas of opportunities for children, elderly services, access to healthcare. And we're not only about giving grants away. We're really about providing a community leadership role and that means convening and providing expertise where we can.
Dan: Fantastic. Kelley, you mentioned GiveSmartOKC. I want to really talk about that today. That's really what the podcast is going to focus on today. So I'm glad that we have the head of the GiveSmartOKC platform. Miss Rachel Mouton. So Rachel, if you could, in maybe a short synopsis, tell me a little bit about what GiveSmartOKC is.
Rachel: So GiveSmartOKC the very short answer, is it's an online database of charitable organizations here in central Oklahoma. Currently, there are just over 300 charities featured on the platform. One of my main roles is getting to work with each of those charities to help them present their organization, the programs that they have, the individuals they serve in the best light possible to community users.
Dan: I think our listeners, as we get into this, we're going to find out exactly how this platform works. And it's really exciting. Especially this time of year, as we get close to the end of the year and people are thinking about, gosh, what am I going to do to make an impact in our community? So we're going to get excited about that. So, I want to kind of back up just a little bit and Kelley, I want to start with you too. So tell us a little bit about how GiveSmartOKC started.
Kelley: Sure. So the organization was really looking for a platform, a database of sorts to hold all the information that we were collecting about charitable organizations. So we didn't really have a repository to keep it. And then we also wanted to share that information with our donors. About that time, the Minnesota Foundation was doing something and, and the Kansas City Community Foundation developed the platform and sold it to a company called GuideStar. And probably in 2011 or so, the head of GuideStar was driving through Oklahoma City with his son on a trip from Washington DC to California, and happened to stop at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. A man by the name of Bob Ottenhoff. And so when the head of GuideStar stops by how do you say no? And it was the perfect solution to what we really needed. So that has kind of helped the platform get its initial start at the Community Foundation.
Dan: I want to talk a little bit, Kelley, and then I'm gonna come to you, Rachel, on the idea of how GiveSmartOKC fits in the overall role in the community. I want to talk about things like transparency and stewardship. And if you could maybe elaborate a little bit on that whole, you know, relationship between donor and charitable causes.
Kelley: Sure. I think because we're a Community Foundation, we work with a lot of donors. We work with a lot of charitable organizations. So it's a great platform to bring all of those worlds together. It's a way for us to collect due diligence about the charitable organizations that we work with. And also one of the things that we were finding is that charitable organizations, most of them have a website, right? So they don't have a common way that they have their information available. You go on to XYZ organization and they might have a lot about their programs, but kind of hard to find their board list. Maybe there's not any financials on their website. So this is a repository that's vetted by the Community Foundation and has the same formatting. So it's easy for donors or people who are looking at organizations to compare the information and it all lives there in one profile.
So, you know, depending on what's important to a donor or a granting organization, they can find that information on GiveSmartOKC. To me as a donor if, for instance, it's really important to have a diverse board, I can look up their board, and then oftentimes we can see what the demographics are of that board.
Dan: That makes sense. So, Rachel, I'm going to come to you just for a second cause that, you know, from my understanding a lot of good things have been happening with GiveSmartOKC and it's kind of new and improved this year. Right?
Rachel: Yes, very recently.
Dan: Let's talk a little bit about that. So what are some of the key differences between the old GiveSmartOKC and what's happening right now on it to make it even more consumable, if you will, to our people out there that are listening.
Rachel: Right. So actually in March of 2020, we rolled out the new GiveSmartOKC. It is actually in partnership with Thriving Cities group. So we're no longer hosted by GuideStar. That's kind of a whole background story, but we are now at Thriving Cities and it has opened the door to a lot more functionality of the platform. So as Kelley mentioned, the profiles have very robust information and it's all displayed in a very clean and consistent formatting across the website.
But now the site is more than just a database of organizations. It is actually becoming a city data hub. It has an interactive map feature, but now if you are, so let's just say, you're really passionate about children's causes. You can filter by children's causes and then you can even dive deeper. So say, you know, I really want to help a specific area in Oklahoma City Metro that serves children who are in poverty. Where are these kids and what organizations are in that area working? And it filters down on this interactive map to color shade, the map and show where out in the community, this population is. And then our map has an overlay of all the charitable organizations. So now, not only can they see where are those who need that service, they can see what organizations are actually fulfilling that need and providing solutions.
Dan: Well, that sounds to me then like it doesn't it matter where you live in the central Oklahoma area here, right? If you live on the Southside and you say, well gosh, I'm really interested in a particular charitable organization, but I know that they are probably out of my area. They're probably too far North for me. I can go on GiveSmartOKC and find out where there is a charitable organization that I'm really interested in close to me.
Rachel: Yes you can even dive as deep as census tract, which is even smaller than zip code since it has synced with the census, but yeah, so you're able to get down to that neighborhood level. So if you want to impact your neighborhood, you can see who's in that neighborhood. You can see what charities are there helping to provide solutions.
Dan: Very exciting. That is really exciting. Who are you imagining? Will find these new functionalities really useful and who would you consider to be our audience?
Rachel: So our two biggest audiences are obviously our charitable organizations. It's not just about creating their profile. As Kelley mentioned, they can use their profile to do board onboarding for new staff member training, for new volunteer training. They can use this tool as a communications piece and a fundraising piece. Obviously, the donors with whom we work with, but not just us CPAs and attorneys. This is a critical tool for them, especially now that GuideStar's, as we mentioned they have kind of changed their structure and it's no longer free to see those financials. So we're providing all of this information in one location. And the 990s and audits that are provided on these profiles, you can see them for free. So this is a huge tool for our advisors in the community, our attorneys in the community who are working with clients who are considering a charitable contribution.
Additionally, you know, student researchers can use this tool to determine the need in the community when they're working on a thesis and how to solve problems. One of the other things I didn't mention with the census data on there, that means the system is able to process geo-coded information, which is a really deep level. But what that does is it opens the door for in the future, additional geo-coded data to be added to the platform, say wellness information. So this has the capacity to reach city planners. This has the capacity to reach healthcare officials. I mean, the possibilities are really endless.
Dan: Why would a charitable organization want to be on GiveSmartOKC versus not wanting to participate?
Kelley: The advantage of having a gift smart profile is that you are alongside 327 other charitable organizations that also have their profile. So we've got some critical mass. It's also, we're the only organization in Oklahoma City who has this kind of a database. We really hope that the charities see this as a benefit to them for promoting themselves. There's lots of reasons. When I worked at the Myriad Gardens, Oklahoma City Community Foundation chased me around a long time to get my profile for the Myriad Gardens up and going on Give Smart. And I thought, Oh my gosh, these people are calling me. They're bugging me again. I really need to do this. So one day I just decided, okay, I am going to do this. And so I shut my door, and really within a couple hours maybe, I had the profile up and going. And what was advantageous to me as a development director is that I had all the information at my fingertips that I absolutely would ever need to write a grant, to talk to a board member, to talk to anyone. I had all the information that I needed to have right there on the GiveSmartOKC platform. So I was a big believer in it before I even ever got to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.
Dan: Is it difficult to sign up for this, Rachel, if I'm a non-profit or a charitable organization, is it difficult to sign up for this? And I understand you do like some tutorials too.
Rachel: I do tutorials. It's not difficult to sign up. There are some requirements to having a profile. You do have to have three years of board-approved financials, a current board list, your 501(c)(3) tax determination letter from the IRS, and then operate it within 11 County region here in central Oklahoma. So to start a profile, you can go to www.givesmartokc.org and you will simply click the 'add my nonprofit' button, fill out a short form. I will receive that notification and then, you know, if you've met those other requirements, we'll get you started.
Dan: Yeah, well, that's great to hear. I mean, right now at this point, it sounds like if you're a charitable organization out there. And I hope the people that are listening to this podcast that are involved with some of these organizations will really consider if you don't have a profile on GiveSmartOKC, go to www.givesmartokc.org and find out how your charitable organization can be part of this unique platform. So I want to thank Rachel and Kelley for sharing your insight with us today. We hope to see you guys both back on the pod real soon.
Rachel: Thank you so much, Dan.
Kelley: Thank you, Dan. Thank you, podcasters.
Dan: Alright. My next guest is DesJean Jones and I want to say a couple of things about DesJean Jones. First of all, I've known DesJean for several years, so I'm glad you're on the show, DesJean, welcome.
DesJean: 13 years now, since 2007.
Dan: Isn't that crazy, time goes fast. Thank you for being on the podcast today. And DesJean is the executive director of the Opportunities Industrialization Center of Oklahoma County, better known as OIC. Did I get that right?
DesJean: You got it right. And it's a mouthful. That's why we call it OIC because it's a whole mouthful.
Dan: Well, let's just dive right in then. So first of all, tell us about OIC and what do you do there?
DesJean: Oh, you know, I am the head of lettuce at OIC. We have this great big salad where we motivate and inspire adult learners through academic and career education. What does that mean? That means that we help adults who need to get a high school diploma. We help people who need to learn how to use computers, who need to learn English, who need to learn how to read. You know, most of us never think about there being people in our midst, in our neighborhoods, in our churches who don't know how to read, but 20% of the population in Oklahoma reads below a fifth-grade level.
So what we do in our halls is really try to kind of right the wrongs of educational trauma and help adults get to where they want to be. We want to snatch them out of survival mode and make sure they know that it's a dream friendly environment, and they don't have to let not reading or not knowing English or not knowing how to use a computer or not having a high school diploma, they don't have to let that stop them. We can help.
Dan: That is a beautiful testimony to what you do.
DesJean: Thank you.
Dan: So I want to talk a little bit, you know, what this whole podcast is about, this platform we have here called GiveSmartOKC. And I know that OIC is profiled on GiveSmartOKC. So why did you decide to join GiveSmartOKC and how has that experience been so far?
DesJean: You know, I will tell you when you are a nonprofit we all talk about stakeholders. There are always so many people that we have to speak to with the mission of our organizations. We have to speak to the customers we serve. We all have to speak to funders and other philanthropists and benefactors that we want to give to our mission. And the thing is, what GiveSmartOKC has allowed us to do is to have credibility. When you have an organization and a profile set up on GiveSmartOKC.
When you're telling a funder about the incredible work you do and the statistics and about how responsible you are with their seed, when they can go onto that website and see it with GiveSmartOKC, it really adds tremendous weight and depth to not just the mission of the organization, but the organization itself. And it distinguishes you from all of the other 'give money to this' 'support this cause.' It reminds the community that, you know, it kind of has a 'you're here to stay' kind of feel to it. When you have a GiveSmartOKC profile, you feel like this organization is going to be here a year from now. So when the whole program first started, we were really excited to be a part of it.
Dan: So how has it been working with the Community Foundation through that process when you were kind of getting ready to get everything set up? How was that whole process?
DesJean: If I tell you that, OIC that we are fans of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. That in times of celebration, in times of peril, they have been so supportive. Three years ago when I became executive director of OIC, we were in a little bit of trouble and it wasn't trouble from mismanagement. It was trouble from change where I inherited an agency that was 50 years old, that needed to become more relevant. And in doing that process, you know, there were a lot of things that hadn't changed. And we were really about to go out of business. I turned to our friends here at Oklahoma City Community Foundation, and they immediately went to work, you know, kind of helping us to stabilize while some of the ideas that we had took hold.
So anything that the Oklahoma City Community Foundation says they want us to do, let me tell you, I want to do it. So when they reached out to us and said, now all of our organizations are required to have a GiveSmartOKC profile, I thought it was an excellent idea. They were yoked right with us to help us set it up and teach us where to get the information so that we can have a solid profile.
Dan: Great news. What benefits do you see in using the site and have there been any particular success stories that you're aware of?
DesJean: Absolutely, and not just from funders. We have a benefactor to our organization. He really likes to do things completely anonymously. But one of the things he did, he looked us up on GiveSmartOKC. Someone had shared an experience with us, shared information about us. And he looked us up on GiveSmartOKC before he met us for the very first time. As we sat down and talked, it amazed me that he knew so much about our organization. I thought that was pretty cool, but he started hitting me with some numbers and some data. And I'm thinking, who is this guy? Where did he get this information?
And he told me, by the way, it's a really smart idea for you to put that GiveSmartOKC profile at the bottom of your email addresses. And I realized right then what an impact being on GiveSmartOKC was for us. We made it a part of our global email a long time ago, where everybody who gets an email from us, they can just click that link and it takes them right to our profile. I realized then that more than just us is seeing this information. It's great for our graduates. It's great for our board members, people who are interested in serving with us, but to know that it turned into a whole benefactor for OIC, it was wonderful.
Dan: Man. It can't get any better than that. That's exciting. So, okay. Like many other charities, I'm sure that OIC is probably also gearing up for Giving Tuesday.
Dan: Okay. What kind of strategies are you trying to implement this year, and how does GiveSmartOKC play into that?
DesJean: One of the things we're going to do, of course, because of COVID everybody is trying to be super careful. Last year, we did a kind of an open house thing where we wanted to reach out to our neighbors and have them come to OIC and learn more about what we do. We had a little food, a little something to drink. This year with the social distancing requirements, we've made the decision. Of course, we're going to do some virtual stuff, but we're really going to move some of our giving links, our Amazon profile and things like that.
In conjunction with that, we'll have our GiveSmartOKC profile link attached to it so that people will understand we're not a fly by night organization. OIC has been doing this work in this community for 54 years. I can rattle that off because that's how old I am. I'm the same age as OIC. So as we do Giving Tuesday, what GivesSmartOKC is going to do is complement our efforts so that people understand that OIC is a really solid investment.
Dan: What would you say to another organization or organizations perhaps, that are out there that don't have a profile yet? Why would they want to do that?
DesJean: What the profile does it tells the story of the organization. When you have an active and vibrant GiveSmartOKC profile, you have an active and vibrant organization. What we all need is as nonprofits is not just that we be able to tell our story better, but we need other people to be able to tell our story for us. That's what a GiveSmartOKC profile does is that it puts the information out so that you can have ambassadors of your organization to share that with other people in the community. It takes a lot of time on the front end, but the staff of Oklahoma City Community Foundation is super helpful. There's nothing that they haven't done to help us pull the information together and get it in there. And I have to say, Dan, this new platform is so user-friendly. And so if an organization really wants to create those ambassadors, not just locally, but nationally, then a GiveSmartOKC profile is really the way to go.
Dan: Well, we really appreciate you talking so highly about this platform. I mean, it's an incredible platform. It's new and improved. It definitely is user-friendly and much easier to use.
DesJean: Much easier to use.
Dan: If you're an organization wanting to increase your profile in the community this giving season, there's still time to get with Rachel to get your own profile set up. And I want to thank our guest DesJean Jones of the Opportunities Industrialization Center of Oklahoma County, better known as OIC.
DesJean: Thank you so much. It was my joy to be here.
Dan: I'm now welcoming a man of many roles here in the community college Dean, philanthropist, a leader in the energy and banking world, and a longtime friend of the Community Foundation, Dr. Steve Agee. Hi Steve.
Steve: Hey Dan, it's a pleasure to be here with you.
Dan: We are glad you are here. And before we get into some of the business on GiveSmartOKC, I want to talk a little bit about you. So why don't you tell me a little bit about yourself and how we got so fortunate to have you involved with the Community Foundation?
Steve: Well, I have to say I'm fortunate to be involved with the Community Foundation because it's one of the best organizations I've ever been involved with. They found me, so to speak, many years ago because I had served on other boards. I'd served on the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Board of Directors. And I have served on the Petroleum Club Board, became president of the Petroleum Club. I've served on the Allied Arts Board. I've served at the Federal Reserve Board here, the branch office of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, and became chairman of that board. And so I think that I'm active as a board member. And so anytime you're active, you kind of move up into the leadership role, which I've done on many different boards. And so I've served now as chairman of the Community Foundation Board. So I think I've been fortunate in my life to be asked to serve on wonderful boards.
Dan: Well, I can tell you that everybody at the Community Foundation is really glad to have you. So we've talked a lot today about the functionalities of GiveSmartOKC. From a user standpoint, that's kinda what I want to talk to you about. From a user standpoint, what do you appreciate about this particular platform?
Steve: So if you're philanthropic at all, and you're looking for some organization to make a gift to, this is a great array of different organizations that you can really research before you make your contribution. And of course, if you want to set up your own endowment or a gift or donor-advised fund, you can do that too. So there's so many different avenues you can pursue. And then you could post on GiveSmartOKC yourself if you have an organization.
Steve: We established the Economic Research and Policy Institute endowment here, and we contributed $300,000. And the Kirk-Patrick Family Foundation matched that with a hundred thousand dollars. And then we posted this on the GiveSmartOKC platform. So individuals, if they're interested, could make a donation to the economic research and policy Institute through the GiveSmartOKC platform, and they can read about what we do. And it's just a wonderful way to get the word out about what you're doing in terms of philanthropy.
Dan: That is excellent. You know, Giving Tuesday is right around the corner. And I guess the big question I would have for you is why should donors consider using this platform to support these charitable organizations?
Steve: Well, first of all, it's easy to use and it's free. There's a lot of information about these organizations. There's more than 320 local organizations vetted by the Community Foundation which should give donors peace of mind. So there's lots of good reasons to use this resource.
Dan: Outstanding. We'll Steve, we really appreciate your sharing your GiveSmartOKC experience with us today. And I hope that other donors will find this compelling as well. And will consider giving through this platform. GiveSmartOKC is where to go, www.givesmartokc.org, check us out. We want to thank you for joining us today.
Steve: My pleasure, Dan. Always happy to see you.
Dan: Quick update on our Rebloom Oklahoma campaign. So in case you've missed the news last month, we've opened up applications to neighborhoods, parks, schools, and other organizations to receive free flower bulbs to plant this fall in preparation of spring. Applications are closed as of this recording and we've received more than a hundred applications for some really exciting projects. By now, you should have been notified if you're eligible to receive the bulbs and how you can pick up your package from us. Please reach out to us if you haven't heard from us or if you have any questions about this.
Next up, we have two grant informational meetings coming up in December. Those are meetings to help you ask the right questions for your project ahead of time, and also prepare your organization or neighborhood with the information you need to submit a successful grant application.
The first one on December 2nd we'll discuss the spring cycle of our Parks & Public Space Initiative grants. We've talked to Brian about park grants on a previous episode. So make sure you check out that if you haven't already. And I think especially after the ice storm we had this past month, a lot of neighborhoods are looking to rebuild their parks and medians, and we can definitely help you achieve that. So you have the option to attend this event virtually or in person. And the sign-up can be found on www.occf.org/parks.
The second grant opportunity is for organizations to strive to increase the accessibility of healthcare options for the underserved communities here in central Oklahoma. Interested groups can sign up for the all virtual meeting on www.occf.org/ifunds/healthcare. Deadline to request access as January 7th and, fittingly, you have to have a current GiveSmartOKC profile to be eligible. Another reason to get on there today. And again, that's www.occf.org/ifunds/healthcare to get all the information and sign up.
Finally, a friendly reminder that we're in the middle of scholarship season and students can apply for one or more of 150 awards available through our site. Head over to www.occf.org/scholarships for more information on all of our scholarships and how to apply.
That's it from us today. Get your organization up on GiveSmartOKC if you haven't already and let us know how your organization is preparing for Giving Tuesday and how we can help you as your Community Foundation.