011: Customer Success with Michelle Ames

In episode 11 of Women in WP, we talk to Michelle Ames, head of customer success for GiveWP about her role in helping GiveWP customers succeed at fundraising, as well as her role in organizing WordCamps and Meetups.


About Michelle: Michelle has over twenty years of experience in higher education; ten years of owning a web design and marketing company; and currently serves as the Head of Customer Success for GiveWP.com and WPBusinessReviews.com.

Michelle is a veteran of teaching and public speaking. She’s been an instructor for a wide variety of topics including Using Quantitative Data Analysis Software, Meditative Drawing, Intro to WordPress, and Marketing and Law for Massage Therapy. Michelle speaks at conferences all over North America. You can find many of them recorded on WordPress.tv including “Little Things That Make a Big Difference,” “Hidden Features of WordPress Revealed,” and “Use Your WordPress Powers for Good,” as well as panel discussions on WordPress, marketing, and women in technology.

Michelle loves attending conferences, exploring photography, serving on non-profit boards, and mentoring people in her local community.

Michelle is the author of “A Good Firm Handshake and Other Essential Business Tips” available on Amazon.com. She holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy (Roberts Wesleyan College) and an MBA in Marketing, E-Commerce, and Information Technology Management (Simon School, University of Rochester).

Follow Michelle on Twitter and Instagram at @michelleames and check out her thoughts about life on thedailybedhead.com.

Find Michelle Ames: Website | GiveWP | Twitter | Facebook

Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
011: Customer Success with Michelle Ames
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Show Notes

People, places, and things mentioned in today’s podcast:

  • GiveWP.com – WordPress donation plugin.
  • Famous 5-Minute Install -Before WordPress installers existed, you had to manual install WordPress on your hosting account following
  • WordPress Salts – Encryption the information stored in the browser’s cookies that are stored for your logged in session.
  • wp-config.php file – One of the most important files in your WordPress installation is the wp-config.php file. This file is located in the root of your WordPress file directory and contains your website’s base configuration details, such as database connection information.
  • CSS – Cascading Style Sheet – Styles the HTML of your site.
  • Inspect Tool – Allows you to see which styles are being used on your site, so you can change them.
  • SiteGround – A popular and respected web host for WordPress.
  • Gutenberg – The new text editor for WordPress.
  • Page Builders – A way to easily layout complex pages with a drag and drop interface.
  • GiveWP blog – A great blog on how to increase your online donations for your nonprofit.
  • CRM – Customer relationship management (CRM) is a technology for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. Popular CRMs include Salesforce, Hubspot, MailChimp, Aweber.
  • Zapier – Can be used to connect data you gather in WordPress to populate data in another app.
  • Gravity Forms – Easy-to-use forms plugin.
  • WooCommerce donation upsells – Use GiveWP to upsell a donation when people purchase a product/service on  your site with WooCommerce.

Transcript

Speaker 1:

Welcome to Women in WP, a bimonthly podcast about women who blog, design, develop and more in the WordPress community.

Amy Masson:

Welcome to Episode 11 of Women in WP. I’m Amy Masson.

Angela Bowman:

I’m Angela Bowman.

Tracy Apps:

And I’m Tracy Apps.

Amy Masson:

Our guest today is Michelle Ames, head of customer success at impress.org. She’s built hundreds of sites as a freelancer, attended 26 WordCamps and spoken at 16 of them, and she’s also the coordinator of the Rochester WordPress meetup. Welcome, Michelle.

Michelle Frachette:

Thank you. Thanks for having me on board. I’m excited to be here with you guys today.

Amy Masson:

We’re so excited to have you. So if you’ve listened to the show, you know our first question is what was your path to WordPress?

Michelle Frachette:

I love telling my WordPress origin story because I think it’s wonderful to hear everybody’s. We’re all so different in how we found our way into this great community. I was 20 years working in higher education. And my last job in higher education, I ran a massage school here in Rochester, and one of my best friends was a graduate of that school. And we realized that massage therapists didn’t have enough support after they graduated. They’re not taught how to run a business. They’re not taught about why they should have a website or any of that good information.

Michelle Frachette:

So we actually started a nonprofit for massage therapists to get better education and to have support in their careers after they graduate. Originally it was called the Rochester Massage Alliance. Then we went statewide with it and it was the New York Massage Alliance. Don’t look it up. It doesn’t exist anymore, but that’s another story. But we said to her husband, who was a WordPress designer/developer, we said, “We need a website.” And he said, “Oh, I can do that for you.” So he built the framework of a website. And he said, “Here’s your logins. Now you have to populate it.” And we were like, “I’m sorry, do what? We have to do what with it? We don’t just get to send you stuff and you’ll build it for us?”

Tracy Apps:

That’s funny.

Michelle Frachette:

So I logged into that first website and I was like, “Oh man, I’m going to break this. I just know I’m going to break this.” Right? Because I’d never done anything like that before. Within about five minutes, I was like, “Oh my God, I love this. This is so cool. And if I make a mistake, I can just hit that back Revision button and I can see all these things. And I uploaded a picture and I hit Preview and it’s actually there for the rest of the world to see.” And I was just so freaking excited about this one little website that we were building.

Michelle Frachette:

And so we got it all set up and people started to see it, and we built this Massage Alliance and we had people coming in. It was awesome. And I said, “Oh, I want to do this on the side. I can maybe make a little bit of money or help some organizations out.” And so I bought a URL and I downloaded WordPress from WordPress.org, and I was like, “I wonder how you make those things talk each other because I have no clue.” I didn’t know what hosting was. I didn’t know any of that stuff.

Michelle Frachette:

So I said to my friend’s husband, I said, “Will you teach me how to use WordPress?” And he said, “Well, we’re really busy in this house.” They had five kids. She worked nights because she was a massage therapist. He worked days. He said, “Tell you what, if you come over and cook dinner for me and the kids, I will teach you WordPress afterwards.” So I went over, I made this big spaghetti dinner. We all ate together. The kids went off to do their homework. And he said, “This is how you do it.” I had one little paper, like five by seven type paper, that I had written down four steps on how to do it about salt keys and none of the things anybody does anymore, because we’re all doing that one button install, right? But back then it-

Tracy Apps:

A one click install. Exactly.

Michelle Frachette:

That’s right, yeah. But back then you had to know the salt keys and you had to change your WP config files and all that, which I actually appreciate knowing all of that now because I get it. I know how it works. So at the end of that day, I went home, I bought hosting. I registered my first domain and I started building a site from scratch. And from there, I like to say I drank the Kool-Aid. I have been a WordPresser ever since, so much so that eventually I quit my full-time job in higher education and started my own freelance business. So, that’s how I got into WordPress.

Amy Masson:

Wow. I love the origin story that you just wanted a website and that’s what got you there. It wasn’t that you had this desire to build websites. Before this website, did you have any experience in any kind of design or development or anything like that?

Michelle Frachette:

So I did. I have an MBA from the University of Rochester Simon School. And right around 2000 when the whole e-commerce word was even being coined, we introduced one of our majors or concentrations in e-commerce. So I already was a marketing concentrator and I already had a concentration in IT, information systems management, but I didn’t know what this whole e-commerce thing was. So we introduced that. I did a concentration in e-commerce. I graduated just in time for the bottom to fall out of that market before it rebuilt itself. But I had to build a website in HTML and, oh my gosh, it was the year 2000, so we’re talking almost 20 years ago now.

Amy Masson:

My year 2000 websites are on the Wayback Machine.

Michelle Frachette:

It had little GIFs that moved and danced. It had music that auto played when you first came, and it had a lovely gray background. But I had built an algorithm into it so you could input certain things and have an output at the end. And I mean, I look back at it now. I wish it still existed because I would love to go back and just… It’s only in my memory, which actually maybe is a good thing. But so you can’t actually pull it up at this point in the show and say, “This is what she was talking about.”

Amy Masson:

Have you checked the Wayback Machine?

Michelle Frachette:

I have, actually.

Tracy Apps:

The Wayback Machine might have that.

Michelle Frachette:

It actually doesn’t. Well, this is like-

Tracy Apps:

Yeah, some of mine are too, so don’t look them up either.

Michelle Frachette:

It was a classroom project. So it was actually just on an in-house server. So luckily, it’s not out there for the rest of the world to laugh at. But I think back on it and I laugh at how it actually looked in my memory, but in reality it’s really what got me into understanding what e-commerce was. And back then it was all e-commerce, right? You had a website that was e-commerce. It wasn’t about selling things, necessarily. It was like, we have this way to just put your pin on the map, so to speak. And that was kind of what got me into it.

Michelle Frachette:

So I had that understanding and then I really didn’t ever want to do anything with that because writing a website from HTML code was not easy, and this, we’re talking 20 years ago too. And so I was like, “Well, that was nice and the bottom fell out, so I’m never going to do that again. Just do my marketing thing and go on with it.” And then the whole thing with the New York Massage Alliance and starting a website and understanding what WordPress was.

Michelle Frachette:

And then Rob, that’s his name, he invited me to come to a meetup. So the very first meetup I ever went to was all about CSS, and it was all about, I want to say, DigitalOcean maybe was the host. And I sat there thinking, “I am out of my element.” It was like everything was just flying over my head. And it was a year before I went back to another meetup because I just felt so little in the space. I didn’t really feel like I belonged there because I had no idea what coding was. I knew how to use a theme. I knew how to do all that stuff.

Michelle Frachette:

About a year later they said, “We don’t have anybody to organize this. We’re all too busy.” And at that point it had all been like on a Friday it’d be like, “Hey, is everybody free next Tuesday to do a meetup?” And so 10 people would show up. So I took over organizing the meetup and put out topics that people could understand. I found people to speak. And so now it’s a regular first Monday of every month kind of meetup, actually third Monday of every month kind of meetup, and people come. We have an average attendance, 25 to 30 people. Yeah. So that one little website kind of thing has grown into growing a community, which has been an exciting adventure.

Tracy Apps:

What are some of the subjects, especially the more popular ones? I love hearing about these. Yeah.

Michelle Frachette:

So some of the more popular ones are, believe it or not, how to use CSS, but not like dive into it at such a level where people feel like they don’t know what they’re doing. So when I present that topic, I say, “I was in your seat one day and I didn’t know what I was doing. And I don’t want you to feel like I’ve just railroaded over you with this information. So let’s talk about what inspect element means. Let’s talk about what browser you’re in and what the inspection looks like, and how you can change sites, and how it’s only changing in your view and at one time, and as soon as you hit Refresh, it goes away.”

Michelle Frachette:

And I’ll usually pull up a site like coca-cola.com or something big, and I start making changes. So the red at the top is suddenly black, and people are like, “What did you just do? They’re going to think you’re hacking their site.” And I’m like, “Watch this. Refresh.” I said, “And that’s what it’s all about.” I said, “It’s just about a way to experiment.” And so at the end of that, I had people working with each other, kind of like a little mini workshop, to see what it was all about. So, that one was kind of popular. Security is always a popular one. At least once a year we do one on security. We do one a year on backing up your website and how to make sure that you don’t run into the… If you run into the white screen of death, how can you fix it?

Michelle Frachette:

I did one, oh, this is a terrible story, I did one on… I had put out a call for, “Does anybody have an experience or can talk about what to do if your site’s been hacked?” And nobody came forward to be able to do that. But people really wanted to see it. Well, that week I got hacked. And it was on a shared server, and it resulted in 20 websites all being hacked with the same thing. And I fixed it. SiteGround is the host that I use, and they had sent me that message that said, “These are all the files.” And there was over 900 files that I had to go through and try to clean up and delete and everything. And I fixed it.

Michelle Frachette:

And actually, I was on my way to WordCamp Montreal, and I’m starting to get text messages from my clients saying, “My website’s down.” I said, “Well, I’m in transit. I’ll fix it tonight.” So I actually stayed up all night that night. I got 45 minutes of sleep. I had it all fixed. All the sites were back up and running. I went to WordCamp Montreal. I gave a talk on 45 minutes of sleep. It was awesome. Actually, I was delirious, so I thought it was awesome anyway. The next day I got another message saying, “You have 950 more sites to clean up.” Because I’d never been hacked before. I didn’t know what that meant. And I realized that they had created users on all of those sites. So I had to go and clean them all up again, get rid of the users. Three days later, it happened again. I finally found the Trojan horse, the sleeping virus, whatever you call it, in the CGI-bin, which none of us ever looks in.

Tracy Apps:

Oh, yeah. I remember that.

Michelle Frachette:

Yeah. Okay? Like, “What’s a CGI-bin?” Well, that’s where it was. It was in one of those. Once I got rid of that and I put some different software on, I was using one security, I switched over to a different security, and, knock on wood, wherever there’s some wood here, I haven’t experienced it again. But be careful what you ask for.

Angela Bowman:

Yes. We’re doing a security talk. It’s so funny because the first WordCamps I ever presented at, I’ve done three security talks at WordCamp, and I am not a security expert, but I came from your position, and the security talks that were out there were really for developers and coders, and no one was giving… It was kind of like, security’s the big secret in WordPress, like no one really talks about it as an issue. And so that became my PSA, my public service announcement all the time is security. And this month, we’re doing a security talk and then I’m doing a more advanced security talk on how to clean up.

Michelle Frachette:

Right. And I’ll tell you what, what happens is people expect that their server they’re hosting-

Angela Bowman:

The host, yes.

Michelle Frachette:

Yeah. Their host has that backup capability, and they do, and they go back 30 days. But guess when that sleeper virus or whatever gets injected? At 35 days or 50 days. So by the time that you’re looking at that 30 day backup, it’s already an infected file.

Angela Bowman:

Yeah. The PHP backdoors I’ve found have been on the site anywhere from six months to two years. They’re not going to go back that far.

Michelle Frachette:

Exactly.

Angela Bowman:

So I always tell people, “Backups are for more like immediate disaster recovery. They are not for cleaning up the malware on your site. That’s a completely different process.” In terms of like running meetups, one challenge that we’ve had in teaching WordPress and running meetups… So I organize two meetups as well. You and I are definitely twins.

Michelle Frachette:

I know. I know. We have to talk later.

Angela Bowman:

100%. So the challenge that we have, and we were talking about this on the Gutenberg Times podcast last week, which is going to be many months from now when this actually airs, but we were saying like, “When we’re teaching people, people are coming from such different environments and different themes. And they’re using the classic editor, the Gutenberg editor.” And so this idea of WordPress 101, it’s like, what is WordPress 101 when you have all these different people coming?

Angela Bowman:

And so we have a lot of people coming to our meetups with a million different scenarios. And we’re just going to start this month doing what we’re calling a Happiness Hour, the Denver meetup does this, where people can come in for an hour before the meetup and we’ll just assess their situation. People who are self-hosting, WordPress is not easy. It is in terms of the dashboard. But you have server, PHP versions and themes and page builders and plugins and a lot of things that people don’t understand how to even begin to update. So is there anything you feel like you’re doing through your meetups or work to help people understand their own websites? Does that come up for you very often?

Michelle Frachette:

It does. And I will say, so for some of it, in December, I did a intro to Gutenberg, and I’ll be honest with you, I hadn’t used it at all. So at two o’clock that afternoon, I was experimenting with Gutenberg. And we had a snowstorm that day, so I didn’t even go to the meetup. I actually set up a Zoom meeting. We had 10 people looking from the outside and we had people in a room watching on the TV screen, et cetera, and I demonstrated Gutenberg.

Michelle Frachette:

First of all, people need to understand, it really is easy to use. I want people to walk away with that. Gutenberg, it’s a different process. And, yes, there’s some growing pains, mostly because we don’t want to let go of what we’ve always used, but Gutenberg is not difficult to use. And if I could learn it in two hours and then demonstrate it to a room full of people that had no idea I’d just taught it to myself that afternoon, anybody certainly can pick up Gutenberg and use it. It’s just a matter of learning a different style. And if you’re learning WordPress from a starting point, learn it from Gutenberg because then you are at the best case scenario.

Michelle Frachette:

So basically what we do at our meetup is the first hour we have our topic and the second hour we have general discussion and open questions. And so we have those questions about Gutenberg. We have the questions about, how do you start up a website? And actually, our talk next week is, how do you start a WordPress website? What do you do? How do you know those things? And I can’t be there this time, so I’ve got other people running it for me, which is wonderful. Because it’s not about me, it’s about the community. And when other people can step up and run those meetings and show everybody what it is that they’re using, it’s a much richer, better environment and better community all over. So, that was what people wanted. And then the next month we’re talking about SEO, and we have somebody who does that as their primary responsibility with SEO with WordPress. And she’s coming in to do an hour on SEO.

Michelle Frachette:

So to get back to your question, though, some of it is just those general overviews in that hour. And then I also actually just teach classes here in Rochester. I am an altruistic person, but I do charge for those classes because my time is worth something, obviously. So if I’m giving up a whole Saturday, I’m going to charge a nominal fee for somebody to come in and learn from me. And I start in the morning with nothing. I give them a sandbox. By the end of the day, they have a website they can transfer over and use someplace else.

Michelle Frachette:

And so we talk a little bit about the classic editor, we talk about page builders, we talk about Gutenberg and how those things can all work together. We talk about choosing your theme, how to import media and all those different things that are important to getting started with a website. Because, honestly, the content does come later a lot and you do have to have that framework set up. But you have to have the content in mind to set up the framework. And so we talk about all those different things. And it’s an eight hour class I do. So they come in the morning, get eight hours. And then part of what I do is I charge $100 to come to that class, and then I promise them each an hour of my own time outside that they can book with me in the evening or on a weekend. And then I sit down with them and answer their specific questions on how to move that site forward.

Angela Bowman:

That’s very generous. And I think I was trying to get to that point. So my colleague is the one who does the six hour class on the same thing. And she has been giving people an hour of time to help them understand their own sites, because they aren’t coming fresh.

Michelle Frachette:

Right.

Angela Bowman:

They’re coming with an existing site that now they don’t know what to do.

Michelle Frachette:

Exactly.

Angela Bowman:

So, that’s very generous of you.

Michelle Frachette:

And there’s only so much happiness of our time you can give away though, right?

Angela Bowman:

Yes.

Michelle Frachette:

So if somebody needs more time than that, I have an hourly rate that I charge, and I will sit down with them and work with them that way too.

Amy Masson:

And are the people that are coming to your class, are they typically more the business owner that wants a website, or are they more somebody that wants to become a freelancer or work in this industry?

Michelle Frachette:

It’s more people that want to build their own website for their own business. And I’ll tell you, that’s another way to get business, because by the time they’ve sat through their eight hour class, they’re like, “I don’t want to do this. This isn’t my area of expertise. How much do you charge to build a website?”

Amy Masson:

Oh, yeah. Sure.

Tracy Apps:

Yeah, I’ve heard that too.

Michelle Frachette:

And we get them from the meetups.

Amy Masson:

The stories of the people that say, “Oh, we tried to do this on our own and it went awfully. And so can you please take it over?” Yeah, sure.

Michelle Frachette:

Right. Right. Yeah. And my answer usually is, “No, I can’t take it over, but I can start you from square one again, because I’m not going to inherit your mess.”

Amy Masson:

Right. [inaudible 00:18:08].

Tracy Apps:

Yeah. The fire there, we’re just going to leave it and we’re going to start a new one.

Michelle Frachette:

Yeah. “So leave that there while I build something else and then we’ll just replace it later.” Exactly.

Amy Masson:

Well, I’m really interested to hear about your work with Give. And I like it because it’s a plugin I’ve used for several nonprofits to set up giving through WordPress. It’s super easy. So can you tell us more about that plugin and what you’re doing with the company?

Michelle Frachette:

Absolutely. So Give itself, as you said, it’s a donation plugin. It’s free in the repository, so people can use Give with PayPal. It sets up a beautiful donation form. You collect all kinds of great data. You can set up goal bars and images, and there’s a lot that comes free with the free plugin. It is a freemium version, though, so you can actually pay for some add-ons that do some amazing things as well. And what I do with Give is I’m the head of customer success, and a lot of times people say, “What is customer success? I know what support is. What does success mean?”

Michelle Frachette:

And so about a year and a quarter ago, so January of last year, I started with Give with Impress. So actually, we do have more than just Give, but that’s our biggest plugin. And it was kind of a, “Let’s figure out what your department does, and let’s figure out how to make it work, and let’s figure out how can decrease churn.” Right? So we’re hoping that people will continue their subscriptions past year one and two. And, “How can we make them happy and make them want to continue using the platform? And what can the platform do? What can we do for them?” So we do a lot. Actually, it started with just me. Within three months, I’d hired somebody to be a manager for customer success. So I’m head of customer success. She’s the customer success manager. And now I have another person who is our subscription recovery specialist. So when somebody’s credit cards don’t work at that annual renewal, he’s reaching out to people, calling them, emailing them, helping them continue to have the subscription that they want.

Michelle Frachette:

So what we do is we demo a lot. So if you’re interested in working with Give and you want to see what it does before you download it or purchase it, I will get on a screen share with you, walk you through that whole process, show you what it can do, show you how you can import, export, how you can set up the forms that you want. If you’ve recently purchased Give and you say, “Now what?” You’re actually working for the organization and you’re not developer and you’re not a designer and you have no idea how to do this, I will get on a screen share, and now you share your screen with me, and I will walk you through the process of setting up that Give form or walking through the process of any of the stumbling blocks that you might have.

Michelle Frachette:

Sometimes people don’t understand how to connect to Stripe, or how to connect to PayPal, or how to turn off the sandbox mode, the test mode, so we walk them through some of those things as well. And then we touch base with them frequently. So as soon as you’ve purchased Give, we’re calling you or sending you an email offering that kind of assistance. And then we also go out, we do WordPress talks at WordCamps. We talk, we do some remote presentations to different organizations. We’ve actually just started up a TechSoup meetup here in Rochester for nonprofit technology. And so we’re actually spearheading that. So Amanda, who works with me, and I will be running those on a monthly basis. We have our first one in two weeks, so we’re kind of excited about that.

Michelle Frachette:

And the other things we do is just, I accept phone calls from customers. I challenge you to find another plugin in the entire WordPress ecosystem that says, “Here, let me get on a screen share with you and show you how to use the plugin.” “Oh, you need a phone number. Here’s my phone number. You can call me and I will help you with that.” I think we’re changing the way that plugins actually interact with their customers and their consumers. It’s not just, “Oh, you have the free version. Sorry, I can’t help you.” No, I’m going to help anybody that needs it and make sure that you’re receiving all that you can with Give so that we’re trying to help you move forward and make the most of your donations.

Michelle Frachette:

And then I also blog. So I write a lot for our blog and try to come up with different innovative ways that people can use some of what we do. One of our paid add-ons is called Tributes, which I’m sure you’ve seen in different things where I can give in honor of or in memory of somebody. Well, I figured out how to hack that sucker, and it didn’t even involve any coding. It’s just a way of changing some of the features of it. And I turned it into a, thinking along the lines of, remember the ice bucket challenge and how people would do a video and they’d challenge the next person?

Tracy Apps:

Oh, yeah.

Michelle Frachette:

Well, this is a way that somebody can give money, and instead of saying, “Hey, I’ve given money in honor of somebody,” and you send it to the person whose kid or parent or whatever has experienced something in their lives, now it says, “I gave this money to the organization and I’m challenging you to do better, to meet me or do better.” And it forwards it to somebody who hasn’t given and who doesn’t have a stake in the game. And I also hacked it to do e-cards. So now I can pay to do an e-card and it’s a donation. So with my own church, for example, I set up six Valentine’s. So you can pay a dollar and have a Valentine with your message and with an image go out, and have an e-card Valentine go out. So there’s lots of fun ways to do things like that. And I’m glad I get to play with it, blog about it, and help other organizations raise money to make the world a little bit better.

Tracy Apps:

So dealing with a lot of nonprofits, lists are huge, donor lists and such. How does Give manage that? Does it integrate? Is that something that integrates with WordPress with, or any of the other platforms out there that are focused on nonprofit lists like that?

Michelle Frachette:

I’m glad you asked because one of my favorite things to talk about with Give is how all of the donation and all of the donor information sits in your WordPress databases. So it’s not accessible by a third party at all. The only thing that is part of a third party is your payment processing. So you have to use PayPal, or you have to use Stripe or Authorize or one of those things. And of course, they’re going to have that information to process, but they’re not reaching out to your customers.

Michelle Frachette:

With some of our competitors that are processing offsite, they actually own your data. So they own all of that information. They know who’s giving, they have email. They’re using that information to their advantage. We don’t have that. We don’t have access to it. We don’t want access to it. That’s not what we’re about. We also don’t take a percentage of it. So if you’re using some of those offsite builders and ways to collect payment, they’re taking a percentage of it, not just for payment processing, but that’s their fee. We just charge an annual subscription fee and that’s all.

Angela Bowman:

But do you integrate with CRMs so that people can do those mailing list mailings, like either Mailchimp or any of the other CRMs?

Michelle Frachette:

Yeah. We have add-ons for our Mailchimp, Constant Contact and AWeber, so that when somebody makes a donation, automatically, they can opt into the list on your site. So they can be part of that. And then if you’re using another one like, let’s say, Salesforce, and you’re using that to go after donors… That sounds terrible. We’re not predatory about it. To connect with your donors. That’s much better.

Tracy Apps:

That is better.

Michelle Frachette:

Yeah. To connect with your donors. We have a tool for it that uses Zapier. So you can use Zapier to create those Zaps. And any CRM that has a Zap and a Zapier endpoint, you can make that happen very easily so that all of that information is being fed in. Also, QuickBooks, the online version of QuickBooks, has a Zapier endpoint. So you can have all your donations be Zapped right into your QuickBooks as well. So I like to say we’ve thought of pretty much just about anything. And as soon as I say that, our developers come up with something new and incredible.

Tracy Apps:

Yeah. And how long has Give been around? Because I remember for years.

Michelle Frachette:

Yeah, it’s been over four years it’s been in the marketplace. About last month, I think, we had an international pizza party. So we’re headquartered in San Diego. Jason Knill, Matt Cromwell and Devin Walker are the owners and originators of Give. And they used, I think it was Grubhub to send out pizza to all of our different remote locations. So in Florida, in North Korea, in Pittsburgh, in Rochester, in India, all the different places, we all got pizza and we all had a hangout to talk about our success. Because in the very same day, we hit 60,000 active installs at the same time that we hit-

Tracy Apps:

Wow.

Michelle Frachette:

… over 300 five star reviews.

Tracy Apps:

That’s awesome. And such a great idea too.

Michelle Frachette:

It was fun. It was a lot of fun. Yeah. So we’ve got to do that more often. It’s fun to see people and not just always in that meeting that you always have to have, the state of the whatever address and those kinds of things, but to just have fun and talk to each other. It was chaos, but it was fun chaos. And it was good pizza too.

Angela Bowman:

That’s fabulous. Oh, Amy, do you have a question? You go ahead.

Amy Masson:

I was just going to make a comment about the quality of the pizza. So it was very important information.

Angela Bowman:

I did have to upgrade the pizza quality for a meetup, I do have to say. Once I took over the meetup, I had to scale up.

Michelle Frachette:

Well, my coworker is vegetarian. And I told Matt, I go, “Whatever it is, no meat on it.” And he did well by us. It was a delicious pizza.

Angela Bowman:

Okay. Can I say something critical about Give?

Michelle Frachette:

Please do.

Angela Bowman:

Okay. And maybe, hopefully, our listeners may appreciate this. So I have a Gravity Forms developer license, which means I can use it on a million, gazillion websites. And so what happens to me when I have nonprofits, especially ones that maybe, I mean, they can be a substantial nonprofit, but maybe they’re not like the United Way, right? They don’t have deep, deep pockets, but they have staff and things like that. Everyone wants recurring donations, but the price point for recurring donations with the Give plugin is pretty high at $30 per month.

Angela Bowman:

And so I find myself tending to just install Gravity Forms for them and setting up their recurring donations that way. I feel like it’s not as fun and pretty an interface as Give, and I’d rather use Give. And I did notice that you do have a five license pack for $40 a month. And so then I’d have to find maybe five nonprofits willing to spend $100 a year, approximately $96 a year, to have the GiveWP interface, but then if they use my Gravity Forms license, they’re kind of getting it for free. I’m not going to charge them extra for that. So what do you feel like, if I really wanted to sell my clients on GiveWP, and I realize you’re not the salesperson, but-

Michelle Frachette:

I’m qualified.

Angela Bowman:

… yeah, what could I say to them that might say, “This is worth your spending,” if I can get it at that lowest price point of $96 a year for them, “This is worth you spending $100 a year on versus me setting up Gravity Forms form for you,” because why? One is, I imagine, it would even be simpler for them to set up by themselves. They wouldn’t have to pay me that initial setup fee, I imagine, for the recurring on Gravity Forms. But what else can I entice them with?

Michelle Frachette:

So when you are looking at that $30 a month, which we do charge as an annual fee of $360, but it averages out to $30 a month, when you are buying that you’re getting every single one of our add-ons, not just the recurring donation. So you’re getting the fee recovery. And most nonprofits pay, let’s say, Stripe, okay, most nonprofits pay 2.2% plus 10 cents per transaction. So they’re paying a little bit over $3 per 100 to process that money. If 60%, which is about what we see, of your donors are covering that subscription cost, it’s going to start to pay for itself pretty quickly. So, when you look at that.

Angela Bowman:

Can you guys hear me okay?

Amy Masson:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Angela Bowman:

Okay, because my thing showed I was muted. Sorry. But basically, what it’s doing is when the customer checks out, they’re actually seeing that transaction fee on top. So they’re paying for that. So like, it’s a $25 donation, they’re going to get the 3% plus whatever.

Michelle Frachette:

Right.

Angela Bowman:

Yeah. Okay. Yeah.

Michelle Frachette:

Yeah, exactly. And not only that, but they’re going to get the tributes functions. They’re going to get the recurring, like you said. They’re also going to get the Form Field Manager, which allows you to add extra fields to your form. Oh, they get all of the different payment gateways. And we just launched a new add-on, which is Annual Receipts. So anybody that’s donated through your site, they don’t have to have a login to be able to see their donation history.

Michelle Frachette:

There’s a place on the website. You just put your email address, it generates an email to you with a single use, or I think it lasts for two days, link that’s live for two days. They can click that link back and then they can see their donation history. On that same donation history now we have the Annual Receipts. They can click the Annual Receipt. You styled it to look your logo and your text and all of that. Now they have their annual receipt for their tax season and they don’t even have to wait for you to be able to generate those for them. So, that’s one of our new ones.

Tracy Apps:

That’s pretty cool. Yeah.

Michelle Frachette:

That is a cool one, right?

Angela Bowman:

That is wonderful.

Michelle Frachette:

Yeah. And then last year we also launched a new add-on for WooCommerce, Donation Upsells. So if they’re selling something on their website already, like T-shirts, or they’re selling whatever widget as an enticement and also to make some extra money, you can say, “Hey, would you like to also donate while you’re checking out?” So they don’t have to go to one page to donate and another to make a purchase. You can suggest that they give more than their purchase at that point in time.

Angela Bowman:

And that would be a big selling point for some of my clients.

Michelle Frachette:

Absolutely.

Angela Bowman:

And if you could do that with MemberPress, that would rock. Because I work with a lot of associations, tennis associations and ski associations and those kind of club-like things. And so they have their annual membership fee, but they also want to get a donation on top of that. And the membership plugins right now don’t do that. Well, one membership plugin does do it, but it has a few bugs. And so if you guys did that, that would be so fabulous.

Michelle Frachette:

We actually have quite a few people that are using Give as their membership fee collector on an annual basis, because you can set up the recurring donation to be an annual donation. So they have it set up that on an annual basis that credit card gets hit over and again. And you can actually set up Give to generate a login. So you can have them create a user account at the same time that you’re having them do that initial donation with the Form Field Manager. Then you’ve got your complete entryway for them to have an account on your system and a way to have that recurring donation.

Tracy Apps:

That’s really cool.

Michelle Frachette:

Yeah.

Amy Masson:

I’ve used both Gravity Forms and Give for different websites, but doing recurring donations, and I think there’s a lot of benefits that you get from doing the recurring donations with Give that you just aren’t going to get with Gravity Forms, like the ability to change your credit card number if you want to change that, which you can’t if you’ve set it up in Gravity Forms. They have to go through Contact Me and then I have to go into Stripe and do that whole thing. And you can also buy it just as a single add-on without the whole pack as well, correct?

Michelle Frachette:

Absolutely. You can, for sure.

Amy Masson:

And so that makes it a little more affordable for the end user.

Michelle Frachette:

Absolutely. Thank you for mentioning that.

Amy Masson:

I was just looking on the website, so I thought I’d bring it up.

Michelle Frachette:

I appreciate that.

Tracy Apps:

She’s an expert because she’s cheating right now.

Michelle Frachette:

That makes it easy. There’s three of you and one of me. I can’t be looking things up when you’re talking to me. No, but it is true. There’s just so many different ways that you can use it. And that’s one of the things that’s exciting to me is I have people contact me all the time and say, “I want to use it for this, that, or the other. These are my needs.” And I say, “Let me show you how to do that.” And that’s an exciting thing to be able to do. And then I go to speak at WordCamps and people come up to me and like, “Hey, we use Give.” And I’m like, “Oh, that’s really exciting. Can we get your story? We’d love to tell your story on our blog.”

Michelle Frachette:

We just had a blog post go out last week. There was an organization outside of Toronto, a tragic situation where a child was killed. And the community has their own website and they keep track of what’s going on in their community through the website. And they wanted to raise money to help that family with burial costs and whatever else needed to be done. They had had a similar situation with a child that got injured, luckily the child survived, where they had used GoFundMe. And with GoFundMe, they had raised, I think, just under $3,000. And it took six months for them to get the money from GoFundMe, and GoFundMe took a percentage of it.

Tracy Apps:

Wow. Yeah.

Michelle Frachette:

With Give, they installed it and they used the free version. They used the free version. They installed it on Friday after Valentine’s Day. They closed that form the following Wednesday. They raised over $43,000, and all of that money went directly into their account, into their PayPal account, as it happened. They didn’t need permission from anybody. All they had to do was move it. And they were able to give that family money in real time. And to me, that’s what it’s about. Yeah. We have Give installed on dog shelters and Save the Lions and just all these other wonderful… And I’m not belittling any organization. I think it’s wonderful how you can use Give on such a diverse amount of different nonprofit organizations and for-profit organizations and political organizations and whatever around the world. But when you can see the real impact in a four day turnaround, to me, I mean, it brought tears to my eyes. It really did.

Michelle Frachette:

And I’ve used Give on my own sites. I mean, that’s how I found out about Give. I did some research on how to use it. I had actually presented a conference, used it on a site, and I was really excited about the website I used it on. I met some people from Give at WordCamp Ottawa, and I said, “Oh, I use it on the site.” They said, “Oh, can we write a story about that site?” I said, “Sure.” At the end of them interviewing me, I said, “If you ever have an opening, I’d love to work for you.” And six months later, I had this job.

Tracy Apps:

Nice.

Michelle Frachette:

The WordPress community is just a phenomenal thing. I like to say we’re global, but we’re so small. Because we’re tight-knit, we know each other. And if you don’t know each other, you know about each other, you know who the person is at their core, because we all really do want to help each other. And we have to put food on our own tables as well. So there is that balance, but balance is good.

Tracy Apps:

I really like what Give has done, because, you said, you do tell the stories. I see Give representing and sponsoring WordCamps and really about the community and giving back. And, yeah, I totally support and I love that group of people. Really good people, really good product. Yeah. So it’s really great. I love that you’re there. It’s so cool.

Michelle Frachette:

Thank you. And the fact that we’re like, so… what do you call it? … dispersed all over the world, but I love Slack. I don’t know if you guys are in Slack. Slack rocks because we have so much-

Tracy Apps:

A lot of them.

Michelle Frachette:

Ah, right? I know. I have way more panels than I should. And I’m on the WordCamp US organizing team now, so my Slack goes crazy 24/7, which is why I shut it down before I came on with you guys today. And so it’s just, Slack is amazing, but our team itself, we have fun. I’ve worked in places before where you have to be in somebody’s physical space to enjoy that camaraderie, but Slack makes it possible for us to joke. I like to say, I went to WordCamp Boston last year and I met Sam Smith for the first time. And it was like I’d known him my whole life because of Slack and being able to joke around and do these things.

Michelle Frachette:

And we have this wonderful thing that I absolutely love is we come up with status challenges. And I will tell you, I am the biggest one to throw them out there. But like I said, a couple weeks’ ago, it was, “I want you to use board games.” It was all about board games in your status. And the challenge is always to work in the queue, or tickets, or all the things that we work on, demos, things like that. “And just go directly to the queue. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200,” those kinds of things people are coming up with. And then Taylor Waldon, who’s our content marketer, she just put, “Sorry,” which made me laugh a lot.

Tracy Apps:

They’re loving it.

Michelle Frachette:

Yeah. So those kinds of things are what make it so much fun to be part of the group. And then every year for WordCamp US, we’re in the same space. It’s just like we’ve known each other our whole lives, and it’s just a lot of fun. It’s a good group of people, I agree. I’m really happy to be part of it.

Amy Masson:

That’s awesome. Well, it has been so great to have you on the show today. Do you want to take a minute and let everybody know where they can find you online?

Michelle Frachette:

I would love to. So I have a website called worksbymichelle.com. Very soon it’s going to be allthethingsbymichelle.com because I just love that little icon, but there you can find my Twitter. You can find the talks that I’ve given. You can see me on WordPress.tv. I wrote a book last year on small business and entrepreneurship. There’s a link to that in there. You can see all the little selfies that I take and all those fun things. So worksbymichelle.com. And let me know if you have any questions about anything, anytime I’d be happy to help.

Angela Bowman:

So great to meet you, and I can’t wait to see you in person and we can just talk and talk and talk.

Michelle Frachette:

I know. I could keep you guys here all afternoon, but I know that’s not the point.

Amy Masson:

Yeah. I look forward to the possibility of meeting you at next year’s WordCamp US.

Michelle Frachette:

I do too. Thank you. Yes, for sure.

Amy Masson:

Well, thanks for being on today.

Michelle Frachette:

Thanks for having me. It’s been a blast. You guys are awesome.

Amy Masson:

Thanks a lot, Michelle.

Speaker 1:

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