Skip to main content Skip to footer

Jonathan Goldford and David Hartstein, co-founders of Wired Impact, chose to forego a large chunk of their potential client base and cater strictly to a specific section of the market, namely the non-profit sector. I chat to David and Jonathan about what inspired this decision and what the ongoing process looks like. It is truly inspiring to hear a story of a passion directing the way a business progresses and leading to particular success. The story of Wired Impact is a great lesson in doubling down on your beliefs and strengths and relinquishing baggage to achieve your ideal business model. David and Jonathan have a wealth of insight and reflective wisdom to share that we cannot wait to impart to our listeners, so tune in.

Jonathan Goldford

Jonathan Goldford is a partner at Wired Impact, a web design company that makes websites for nonprofits. After years of making large, custom websites, he's excited to be helping Wired Impact roll out its website platform built solely to meet the needs of nonprofit organizations.

Jonathan spends most of his time hunkered down with code working to make websites load faster and work more simply. He loves pouring time into improving donation pages, volunteer management tools and event systems so they drive more engagement from the community.

He founded what is now Wired Impact after working to implement a mobile technology network for an NGO in Karnataka, India. Prior to that he delivered disaster training for the Red Cross and helped United Way develop training for local branches.

David Hartstein

David Hartstein is a partner at Wired Impact, a web design company that makes websites for nonprofits. After years of making large, custom websites, he's excited to be helping Wired Impact roll out its website platform built solely to meet the needs of nonprofit organizations.

A firm believer that great web design can be simultaneously powerful and simple, he loves thinking through strategies to help Wired Impact reach as many social impact organizations as possible and create lasting change in their communities. Simply put, he loves helping good people do good things better.

He spends a lot of his time these days talking to nonprofits about their marketing needs and how to amplify the awesome work they're doing in the communities they serve. His path to nonprofit marketing work included time facilitating social justice training for youth, interviewing young South Africans about their lives and teaching elementary school in Brooklyn, NY.

Listen to the episode

Tune in to find out:


  • The agency’s focus on non-profits and how this came to be
  • Jonathan’s experience in India after college and the impact this had
  • Technology’s role in the non-profit sphere
  • The scarcity of time for most non-profit organizations
  • Being brave and following a passion despite the loss of prospective clients
  • The transition period to a more specialized and clearer target audience
  • Balancing a passion for helping and the need to be profitable as a business
  • How recruitment plays out and their expectations for prospective employees
  • The evolution of the company and how their strategies and projects have reflected this
  • The challenges that this evolution and constant growth has provided
  • David and Jonathan’s vision for Wired Impact for the future
  • The support that the company offers its clients

[0:00:05.8] ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to Happy Porch Radio. The podcast for progressive
agency owners and web professionals. Season Three is focused on the growing number of
agencies who are making the world a better place.
We explore what this even means, why is it different from any other agency and how can it be
reconciled with the real-world challenges of running a profitable agency? Join your host, Barry
O’Kane as he speaks to leaders of agencies who are driven by verify use to positively impact
the world around them.
[0:00:43.8] BOK: Hi, and welcome back to season three, this week, I have the honor of
speaking to Jonathan and David who are cofounders of the Wired Impact. This conversation is
one of my favorite of the season. First, we talk about how the agency moved from a fairly
generalist agency to having a clear specialization and this is such a smart move for any small
Much of what we talk about echo themes from back in Season One. Of course this current
season is about connecting that specialization to a deeper mission and we hear how Jonathan
and David did that, despite some advice to the contrary. We also discuss a more recent
transition their agency has undergone with the move away from custom web and cut marketing
services to a more platform approach.
There is even more value in this part of the conversation, especially if you are considering a
similar journey with your agency. Let’s meet Jonathan and David.
[0:01:42.0] JG: This is Jonathan Goldford and my background is in web programming and
[0:01:46.2] DH: Yeah and David Hartstein. My background is more on the content strategy and
analytics side of things and these days I actually spend a lot of time working with potential
clients and talking to them about what they’re looking for in a project and if we might be a
mutual fit and then assuming we are just kind of at least kicking off the process with them before
potentially handing them off to an internal project management.
Yeah, in terms of Wired Impact, we simply put, build websites for nonprofits. Historically, what
that meant is doing a lot of custom development, we’ve been using WordPress for years, we’re
big fans of it but you know, doing a lot of pretty sophisticated, larger websites for generally kind
of mid sized organizations and what we found is those projects generally speaking, for a lot of
organizations, we’re cost prohibitive and also time prohibitive.
They just took a lot of time to work from start to finish and so what we’ve actually done more
recently is distilled down a lot of the best practices that we’ve seen over the years, just really be
effective for nonprofits and help them move the needle on their missions and built that into a
platform that is built solely for nonprofits.
A lot of the features that we’ve seen really be key to the organizations fulfilling their missions,
they’ll write in to some themes that we can make available on WordPress and everything is
really tailored for nonprofits so that they can get a site that is still really robust and powerful but
also pretty simple and affordable and they can get something launched faster than they would
have been able to at least when we were building custom sites and so instead of something
taking five to six months and costing thousands and thousands of dollars, we can get something
built in a matter of maybe –
Somewhere in the ballpark of six to eight weeks and at a fraction of the cost just because we
can use these themes that we’ve developed and delve them on our platform.
[0:03:38.4] BOK: Outstanding, yeah. I’m really interested in the platform approach, something I
hopefully we can dig in to in this conversation. You know what I’d like to start actually is stepping
back a little bit and talk a little bit about what led you to focusing on nonprofits and if that’s
something that was a very conscious plan early days with your agency or if that’s something
that’s come about over time?
[0:03:59.1] JG: Sure, I can kind of take you back through the history a little bit. This is
Jonathan, when I graduated from college in 2009, I was actually in to go to the peace corps abut
when you’re accepted to go to the peace corps, you usually end up with kind of nine to 12
months off before you actually leave to go.
In that time, I actually went over to India and did a fellowship there working with a nonprofit to
help build the communications network and when I came back, I just felt really invigorated and
excited about the technology and the work that could be done there.
In 2009, I actually founded what was called JG Visual which is really kind of a marketing
company and I thought, you know, hey, if this works great, I’ll stick with it and if not, I’ll go to the
peace corps which I would have loved too. After about six to nine months, I decided, hey, I want
to stick with this.
At that point, we were just doing kind of general marketing and then a year later, David actually
joined me as a partner. We co-owned the company at that point and that was in 2010 and then
as we moved along, we were kind of doing all different types of marketing, we were offering
photography and video work and web design development and social media marketing, we
were just kind of a general marketing company but as we kind of learned, we really wanted to
focus more and more on online marketing and more and more specifically on web design and
We actually kind of began to focus on that but the other thing we did is continue to ask
ourselves kind of two major questions, this is kind of how we always evaluated the work that we
were doing. The first question was, when I come in to work every day, do I really enjoy the work
that I’m doing day to day basis and then that question, we always felt like yes, when I come into
my work, whether I’m doing web programming or content writing or strategy.
Or working with clients on their own online marketing, we felt like yes, the day to day work is
great, we really enjoy that. The second question is really where we struggle and that question
was, do we really feel like we’re having the impact on the world that we want to have and at that
time, we were working with all different types of organizations, for profit, nonprofit, big, small and
we felt like we really weren’t having the impact that we wanted to and so that was the point
when we really start having conversations about do we want to make a transition to focusing
specifically with nonprofit organizations.
Then in 2012, we actually made the switch from what was JG visual to wired impact which focus
specifically on doing online marketing for nonprofits and at that time, a lot of people honestly
said it was a pretty bad idea and that we really shouldn’t focus there but both David and I have a
real passion for the nonprofit space and that’s what our background was in.
It was honestly just what we really cared about and so that’s really what prompted us to kind of
make the switch and then I can say six years later that we are very happy and excited about not
only the direction we took them but also where the company continues to head.
[0:06:42.3] BOK: Yeah, outstanding. I really like the sort of genesis for you, that’s really cool.
Do you mind if we really quickly touch on the – you described that experience in India and then
you mentioned the impact that technology can have. Can you talk a little bit about what you
mean by that and specifically by the impact that the technology can have in those sort of
[0:07:03.0] JG: Sure, yeah, I mean when you’re talking about compound marketing a lot of
times, especially when you’re talking about nonprofits, I think one thing that you can always hit
on is efficiency. When you’re talking about capacity for an organization, you know, almost
always, nonprofits are short on time and staff and a lot of the online marketing tools now
obviously, not only serve to benefit them in terms of obviously reach and getting people involved
with the organization.
Just also serve to do a lot of work in an automated way or save them a lot of time. An example
of you know, technology benefiting you that ways, let’s say something like an event system, you
know, which we have built in the platform which a lot of the systems have is you know,
previously, if you wanted people to RSVP for an event, you might say hey, email me at this
address if you want to join.
Well but, every time somebody emails, you have to record that, you have to respond to that
person, you have to send them a reminder when the event is coming up and what allow this
tools do, you know, just like any typical event system is, it allows people to register, it allows
people to pay, it automates a lot of that process for them and it in turn really saves a lot of time
and you can see that across the board with a lot of technology.
You know, volunteer systems, donor management systems, event systems. I mean, they all
have these ways of not only concerning as a great marketing tool and allowing people to get
involved but also really helping kind of alleviate some of the time constraints and nonprofits
normally have.
[0:08:24.5] DH: Absolutely. I mean, I would also say on that front that it’s been really
transformative in shaping the sense of community and so you know, it used to be that
organizations worked in a particular community and they had a certain support system in that
community and everything was much more local, obviously you had large organizations, we’re
able to do things on a national or an international level.
But now, the world is just – it’s a lot smaller than it used to be because we have technology that
can allow us to not only serve a community that maybe halfway around the world but it also
allows us to take supporters, whether they’re donors, volunteers, just kind of support as
whatever they may be into those communities that we serve and really showcase impact that
may be happening literally on the other side of the world and made people feel very connected
to those missions and very connected to the sense of community that we’re trying to build.
I think it is less important for many organizations at this point that they’re in a particular
geographic area because they’re able to actually cultivate this sense of community using
technology in a really elegant and beautiful way.
[0:09:31.8] BOK: Yeah, couldn’t agree more. Especially like what you're saying about, you
know, obviously you understand and you’re the market you’re focused on in the nonprofits and
the terminology and the examples you’re giving is very focused.
When you describe this journey of doing that specialization and the sort of early stages of the
agency, that’s always the advice you get, you know, we got specialize, you got to have issue out
of a clear definition of who and what your company is.
And then the challenge I often or hear agencies talk about is what about – we need this work,
we need to take this work right now, there’s kind of a perceived risk in that specialization, means
saying no to things, means basically saying no to money coming in right now, yeah?
I thought, I was also particularly intrigued when you said that you were getting sort of people
saying, hey, nonprofits is a terrible idea. I assume a lot of that was, or I guess my question is,
how much of that was the commercial or the financial aspect of doing that specialization and
picking the nonprofit niche?
[0:10:31.4] DH: Sure, I mean I think in terms of the apprehension that folks were telling us in
terms of – they were communicating to us in terms of going into the nonprofit space, I think that
was pretty much all driven by a belief that there wasn’t, that these organizations wouldn’t have
budgets basically.
It wouldn’t be able to dedicate the necessary funds to their own marketing and that you know,
we would end up not being able to keep the lights on and the doors open after a few years of
focusing in a nonprofit space. Obviously we have found that not to be the case, generally
speaking, it seems like – I mean, obviously there are organizations that are in the process of
trying to fund raise and don’t necessarily have huge budgets when it comes to their marketing.
But generally speaking, a lot of the organizations that we’ve worked with time tends to be a
scarcer resource than a lot of times the funds to actually pursue marketing just because I think
in a lot of ways, the cost of at least a lot of basic marketing has come down so much over the
years that it seems like something that nonprofits really struggle with is making sure that they
have the internal capacity to be able to adequately dedicate to their own marketing.
Just because they’re so busy serving their community and actually doing the good work that
they’re doing and so that tends to be a more common challenge that we run up against.
[0:11:50.0] BOK: Was that process you described being very personally connected and caring
about and the passion as those are the words you use. Was that process of doing that
specialization, was it scary, what was the – was it difficult, did you feel like you were going out
on a limb?
[0:12:05.1] JG: Yeah, I think in some ways we did, I mean, it’s hard to hear a lot of you know,
advisers and people we lean on to for support tell us that you know, we were cutting gout a
huge market, I mean, I think that’s really what you are doing when you specialize like that but I
think like we talked about, that’s really always where our passion was and I think it was almost a
very natural transition for us in a lot of ways.
Because that’s really what we cared about so much. I think too, in a lot of ways, when you
specialize like that, while it is scary, it also makes your job a lot easier, you’re not trying to
market your own company to the entire world, it’s much easier to say, you know, for example, if
you’re writing a blogpost on your website, it’s much easier to say, I’m going to write a blogpost
that’s specifically catered to executive directors at nonprofits versus I’m going to write a
blogpost that’s supposed to cater to every CEO president, executive director and leader of
every nonprofit and corporation in the entire united states.
That is a very difficult challenge and I think what specialization allows you to do is really hone
everything about your work, hone your marketing, hone yours services, hone the way you
describe what you do and the services that you’re offering. I think in that way, it made it a lot
easier for us and it was also that every time we talked about or wrote about it, it wasn’t just,
here’s what we offer, it was –
This is how we feel like we’re playing a part in making the world better and I think that that also
was a lot easier for us too.
[0:13:24.0] DH: Yup absolutely. I think we also – I feel like we’ve talked a lot about the advice
we got that said, don’t go into the nonprofit space, I do think there were quite a few people that
also said, yeah, I know about you guys and this is a very logical – you know, I don’t know a
whole lot about whether or not it will work out but just from my personal kind of passion
standpoint, it makes sense.
It seems like a fit and you know, even just hearing us kind of talk about the move, there is
definitely a certain element of nerves involved but I think we also just got really fired up talking
about it and we clearly were both very excited about the move to the point where lot of people
said yeah, give it a shot, you know, see what happens and take it from there.
[0:14:03.4] JG: I also want to add too. I mean, David kind of touched on this a little bit. You
know, I think what has made specializing like this a lot easier is the fact that organizations and
individuals are feeling a lot more comfortable working with companies that don’t exist directly in
their city or region.
I think if – I don’t know if we had made this transition 15 years ago that it would have worked
because I think a lot of companies still felt very nervous or sorry, organizations felt very nervous
about hiring a company that that wasn’t in their city that they couldn’t go meet with face to face
in a room and I think what we found now and the fact that most of our clients are not in the city
that we’re in is that people are feeling a lot more comfortable with that.
I think there are still some hesitations but I think people are – you know, ask themselves the
question, is it worth it to try to find the company that’s the best fit for me even if that means that I
can’t sit in a room with them and I think a lot of people are answering that question yes now or
maybe in the past they wouldn’t have.
[0:14:56.0] BOK: Yeah, I think that’s a really insightful observation as you said about timing or
the changing in needs or impressions of people who have. You made this leap or you made this
decision to narrow down and focus and rebrand. Did you see the positive impacts of that
immediately? Was there a tough journey to go through in that transition period?
[0:15:14.5] DH: Sure. I think maybe the answer is, a little bit of both, I mean, I think that from an
internal standpoint, we saw the benefits immediately in that it just got a lot easier to talk about
what we do and feel like we had a much clearer picture of the direction we were heading as a
company, we had a much clearer picture in terms of our target audience, you know, just who
were we trying to reach.
I think our – especially the content, we started creating, became a lot more focused, you know,
we were able to write articles and think purely in terms of what is going to benefit nonprofits. You
know, there was definitely a bit of an adjustment when it came to repackaging sort of how we
talked about what we do and who we are just because folks knew us and not like we had a
global reach or anything like that but people who were familiar with us and knew us in a certain
context and you know, there was certainly a period where we had to shift the conventional kind
of thinking around what we’re offering but I think internally, we saw that benefit very quickly.
As we ramp that up externally, I think we started to see the benefits relatively quickly as well to
the point where I don’t think we – Jonathan, correct me if you remember this differently, I don’t
really remember a point where we said this was not the right move. You know, I think pretty
quickly, we felt like the benefits outweighed whatever costs we had during the transition and that
you know, we had just sort of been building on it since then.
[0:16:44.2] JG: Yeah, I mean, I think that you know, what we – it was nice that we did have
going for us is that we’ve already been in the marketing space for a couple of years and we did
have some nonprofit clients already.
It wasn’t in that way like we were starting from scratch which I think made the transition a little
bit smoother just in terms of you know, you’re not starting from zero dollars in revenue and
trying to make it enough to pay your salaries, I mean, we had a base at least of a couple of
years that we could work off of so I think that at least helped ease the transition in some ways.
[0:17:13.4] DH: Yup, that’s true. During the transition, we actually continued to serve clients,
especially clients that had social missions because there quite a few organizations we were
working with that weren’t necessarily entirely nonprofit but had a social mission of some sort
and continued to work with them. I mean, for a long time there after and so that definitely was
helpful too in terms of the risk associated with the transition on our end of things.
[0:17:38.8] BOK: That’s really interesting, did you go through a period when you had to say no
to clients or how newer came in or opportunities came up where you’re saying no and was that
process difficult?
[0:17:48.1] JG: Yeah, I mean, we’re still dealing with that, I mean, we still have clients that we
worked with from years and years ago that still come back and want to work with us and I think
in some cases, it just depends on the project, they don’t know that we have any really kind of
set policies on that front, I mean, I think we love to help out older clients just because we know
how stressful it can be to go find a new organization to work with in these kinds of ways.
It has been a struggle, I mean, we’ve definitely seen projects that we were interested and
thought were really cool and we love the people that we’re working on them but maybe it just
wasn’t a fit for the organization or our mission internally.
Saying no is definitely difficult but it’s also – I think David would speak to this too, I think saying
no as a service based business is such a critical component of success because like you
mentioned earlier Barry, you can’t spend so much time chasing work and always saying yes to
every project that doesn’t fit you well and every moment you spend on work that doesn’t align
with your vision, that’s time away from whatever you could be doing to improve your foundation
or further kind of build your base in your own market or just to further the organization and so I
think that saying no is such an important part of actually being able to grow an organization.
Which is kind of a funny thing.
[0:19:00.9] BOK: Absolutely, yeah. If anything, it’s one of the toughest things that’s why the
advice is so difficult sometimes to follow but that specialization and that focus, totally. One last
question before we talk a little bit about the transition to this sort of platform setup, throughout
that conversation and throughout you describing your own personal interest and motivations, at
no point was there a lot of agency and talk about hey, you know, I’m building up an agency to
sell or there’s a financial motive and front and center of what they’re doing.
Do you find or have you found that there’s any conflict between the passion and desire to help
and work with these organizations that you’re describing and the need to do more than just keep
the lights on but actually have to be comfortable?
[0:19:45.6] DH: Sure. No, it’s a good question and I think that you know, we have been
intentional over the years about being very thoughtful about the work that we’re able to donate
because we obviously get requests for that a lot only being in the non-profit space and we do
volunteer outside of work, it is something that we do take very seriously and feel like it is an
important part of just our kind of personal fulfillment but in terms of donating work through the
organization, through WiredImpact, it is something that we have historically just basically told
folks, “You know we only work with non-profits” and literary everyone that we talked to would
qualify for pro-bono work.
Would have a very just cause to say, “Hey, can you donate some work my way?” And so it is
something that we’ve been pretty intentional over the years about being pretty careful about not
donating a tremendous amount of time just because we’ve wanted to be very thoughtful about
what the future looks like for the organization and make sure that we are not only doing what we
feel like is best but also what’s best for the organization overall and for everyone that works for.
So we actually involve folks within our organization a decent amount in those conversations and
had a lot of conversations about what is in scope, what isn’t in scope and a lot of conversations
about those moments where we can go above and beyond. Obviously we want to over deliver,
we want people to be delighted and continuing to work with us and feel like they are getting a
tremendous value in working from us but in terms of being able to donate a bunch of services
and things like that is something that historically we haven’t been able to do a tremendous
amount because by virtue and effect, we only work with non-profit organizations.
[0:21:32.1] BOK: Yeah and actually that being able to be I guess sustainable by not giving
away. You know that’s I think really important to be able to meet the mission that you guys are
[0:21:42.6] JG: Yeah, absolutely. Well a lot of it comes down to equity too. I mean we want all of
our organizations to feel like they are important to us and they’re front and center and they really
matter and if we are consistently donating a lot of services to different folks, it makes it we only
have so many hours in the day and we want to make sure we give everyone sort of their time in
the sun and what they deserve when it comes to working with us and what they have come to
expect in working with us.
[0:22:07.4] BOK: You mentioned your team there, how important is the mission of the company
to the team that you have and the recruitment process and the retaining people in the whole
team aspect of your business?
[0:22:18.7] JG: It’s incredibly important. I don’t see a situation where we would ever hire
somebody who didn’t have a deep passion and commitment to the non-profit space. Everybody
that we brought on is very passionate about the work that we’re doing and about the
organizations we work with and I think that generally, those are the people that are going to
apply to work here anyways. I mean I think they kind of find us and then we obviously want to
work with those people.
But in a lot of ways you almost don’t have to search for it because nowadays they are the ones
applying but they’re also the ones who are spending more time in their resume and cover
letters. They are also the ones in the interview that has that passion that really comes out and
those are also the ones who can draw on personal experiences whether that’s volunteering or
working for a non-profit that can say, “This is how I’d bring those experiences into my day to day
at Wired Impact”.
And I think that makes it just so those people kind of end up being the people that we hire just
because they end up being the best fits anyways. I think if even when someone came home
with a lot of knowledge, if they have never volunteered a work at a non-profit in a lot of ways
they might not understand a lot of the challenges that non-profits are dealing with on a day to
day basis and so it would make it harder, not impossible but definitely harder for them to
contribute immediately when they join the team.
[0:23:30.2] DH: Yeah, absolutely and I would say over the years we have explicitly started to
even prioritize that more in the hiring process. We have a different road brick we’ll use when we
do interviews and things like that and we started to explicitly reward people for passion in the
non-profit space, experience in the non-profit space just because like Jonathan said that is so
central to our feeling like being able to come on to our team and from day one being able to
really put themselves in the shoes of the folks that we are working with and ultimately, make a
meaningful impact.
[0:23:59.1] BOK: Yeah, that’s something that I hear quite often as well as a benefit almost of
this specialization part and impacts and the recruitment, the team, the motivation, everything. It
is amazing.
[0:24:07.9] DH: Yeah, definitely.
[0:24:08.5] JG: Totally.
[0:24:09.2] BOK: Okay so let’s shift gears slightly. So then you describe what is very common
challenge again in agencies of the custom build and the custom marketing campaigns and the
costs and I am trying to juggle all of that, what was the journey like to make to the conclusion
that “Hey, we’re going to kind of,” – I guess what I am hearing is a kind of productizing of the
[0:24:32.3] JG: Yeah.
[0:24:32.8] DH: It’s been a long time coming.
[0:24:33.6] JG: Yeah, it really has. I mean it has truly been an evolution. I think to say that we
just woke up one day and had this conversation instead of like, “Let’s do it”, I think that that
would be completely unfair and false. We overtime, we went from doing general marketing to
specializing an online marketing to getting you more focused into web design and then we’ve
also gone from you know when we first started as an organization, we were working with really
small organizations.
You know we were doing maybe websites that are one to five, one to $10,000 and then over the
last couple of years, we’re doing much larger sites. You are building large websites that are 50
to 100,000 and now we are coming back to this platform which is actually kind of a monthly
service and I think there’s a couple of things that really drove us. I mean from a business
standpoint, there are two kind of big benefits from this kind of platform approach.
The first is just the reoccurring revenue and the predictability of the business. So the fact that
we know exactly how much will be coming in from a revenue standpoint on a monthly basis is
just incredibly beneficial from a planning standpoint and from the standpoint of looking and
saying, “Okay well, we did this in the past. So let’s go ahead and kind of predict out what our
work and revenue is going to look like in the future” it just makes that an incredibly easy process
compared to doing a ton of custom work.
The other thing is scalability. You know what we are finding is that we were able to carry over a
lot of the work or some of the work that we did on custom sites but a lot of it was just that. It was
very custom and so we would do work on one side and then we wouldn’t be able to take that
into another site and another site and so in terms of the return on investment on that work, it
impacts that one organization but how do we build something that will impact every organization
when we make a change or improvement and that’s really what this allows us to do.
So that when we build a new theme or we make improvement to the donation system or the
volunteer system or any of the tools that we have built into that platform, it not only benefits one
non-profit but it benefits all the non-profits that are not only on the platform now but will be on
the platform in the future and I think that those things have just made this kind of again, a
natural evolution in terms of the point where we said, “This makes sense in so many ways”.
This is going to be so much better not only for us as a business, not only for our team but also
for the organizations that end up working with and so from that, once we fell to that and had that
conversation it was an easy decision.
[0:26:54.5] DH: Though I think some of it too, honestly we just talked to a lot of folks that came
to us and said, “You know I have a budget for marketing, we’re just not enough for a full custom
build. What do you recommend?” and we sort of got tired of not having a recommendation there
honestly and the fact that we couldn’t find a recommendation that we felt really proud of and
really competent in sending folks to made us feel like there was a hole in the space that the
more we talked about it, the more excited we got about potentially filling.
[0:27:26.0] BOK: So how did you actually make the move? Have you found that you needed to
change to different clients? Was there a big shift of internal operations? Was it a big step or was
it just a subtle process?
[0:27:39.2] JG: Sure, I would say it’s a series of large steps and small steps that is honestly still
ongoing in a lot of ways. What we basically did was we soft launched the platform in a lot of
ways. We worked internally on building it and we started to talk to folks that would reach out for
a custom site but maybe didn’t have a budget for a custom site about this platform offering. So it
was a way for us to almost do some one off market research just in talking to actual non-profit
And what we heard from more and more folks is it really started to feel like a fit for them and at
least there was some interest whether or not they ultimately felt like it was the route they were
going to go forward. There was certainly enough interest to the point where we felt like we were
sold on this being the future of where we are heading as a company and so about the middle of
last year, the middle of 2017 we decided to actually adjust our website to really focus on the
And really have that be our core offering and we still offered both ongoing engagements, so kind
of larger retainer based marketing engagements to folks and then also, we’re still doing custom
websites but sort of on a one off basis a lot less than we have previously and over the last
quarter of last year, we started talking pretty seriously about phasing out the custom website
work all together to the point we were just doing the retainer based work and the platform
And here in the New Year, that’s really the approach we were taking moving forward. So we are
not taking on anymore large one off custom websites and we are really focusing all of our efforts
on certainly serving the clients that we still have moving through that pipeline of custom sites
and then the platform clients really becoming our sort of primary focus moving forward in
addition to all of the engagements we already actively have working with us.
[0:29:33.0] BOK: So is that a sort of 12 to six months process of getting to this point where
you’re saying, “We only take on this type of new work?”
[0:29:41.6] DH: Yeah, I would say start to finish that process is going to end up being more in
the ballpark of 12 to 18 months just because our custom websites take so long to move through
the system but we are actually now in the process of working on what will ultimately be our final
one off project that’s set to hopefully launch some time kind of late summer-early fall and then
we won’t be taking in on anymore one off custom projects from that point.
It will be all platform and all engagement and over the course of that next call it eight to nine
months, we’ll be slowly transitioning to focus more and more of our time on engagements and
platform work.
[0:30:19.2] BOK: That’s really cool and I am quite impressed. That’s a relatively – I mean not as
an experience that I’ve been through but that is a relatively smooth and efficient process. Was
there any bumps and hurdles or challenges during that time?
[0:30:31.9] JG: Yeah, I mean I think one thing that we have struggled with internally is just
planning for our own team and planning for our own capacity. So you know what’s been
challenging is we are basically trying to build a platform that in terms of the business aspects of
it is not generating a lot of revenue early on but you need the resources and the people to
actually develop it and make sure it is really great and that it will do and deliver the results that
we wanted to.
But on the flip side of that, you have to make sure you have enough internal capacity to manage
our existing custom website builds and manage our existing retainer clients and that has been a
difficult transition. I mean it’s been saying that we’ve worked a lot on and continue to work on in
terms of how to kind of manage that transition and make sure that the team doesn’t feel
overwhelmed and it’s definitely something that we’ve had a couple of times.
Where it’s come up that people are feeling really overwhelmed and then we have to have
conversations about how we can off load some of that work, how we can get support and I think
that that – I mean that is a challenge for any agency but especially one where you’re rolling out
a new product or service that is not generating enough revenue to where you can say, “Okay we
are going to hire a bunch of people to help develop it,” and so you have to make sure to feed
working hours and time.
Into your old work but then also feed working hours and time into the foundation of what it is the
new service or product.
[0:31:49.9] DH: And I think that honestly in a lot of ways comes back to what Jonathan
mentioned before about the team we have in place. We’ve always really pushed honesty and
openness and that comes back both ways. So we definitely want to be honest with the team in
terms of the direction we’re going as a company but we also really value them coming to us and
saying like, “Hey guys, you know I just have too much on my plate right now,” or “I feel like this
is a little bumpier than I would like it to be.”
And then it turns into a sort of a brainstorming session about what we can all do to alleviate
whatever pressure maybe going on at the moment and how we can address that both near
terms to make sure that people are having amount of work that is sustainable and also in the
long term, we want to make sure we all have a shared vision of where we’re going as a
[0:32:32.4] BOK: The really interesting point for me there is that I would always say, “Don’t mix
service and product,” kind of thing. But what you’re describing isn’t a mix. It’s a transition from
one almost to sort of almost as a safe productized or platform which does sound really powerful
and is really clear and as you said, it gives you a clear vision and a goal rather than a conflicting
trying to do two or three things at the same time.
[0:32:53.1] JG: Yeah, absolutely. I think one thing that everyone on the team is really excited
about is to just have more focus. I think that has been something else that we have struggled
with is you just feel like you have a lot of balls up in the air. You know we’ve got this big custom
websites and we’ve got this retainer clients and we’re trying to build this new platform. We are
trying to market the new platform. I think that it just creates a lot of things you have to keep track
of and a lot for the team to manage and consider all the time.
I think everyone on the team is really excited to just focus in on, “You know here is our vision,
here are our goals, here’s what we are shooting for, here’s the plan” I think that that has been
something else we have struggled with and we are really trying a lot better to outline that and
eventually get to the point where we can really focus on a couple of things once we phase out
on these big custom websites.
[0:33:36.3] BOK: So tell me a little bit about that vision? What is the vision for the future of I
guess the platform, the whole thing?
[0:33:41.6] DH: Sure, well honestly I think that gets us the most excited about it is just the
scope, kind of the breath of impact we feel like we can have in the non-profit space just because
it is so much more scalable than building off this one off websites and so we never want to be
one of these companies that build a tremendous number of themes and ends up with a sort of
an outdated library of a tremendous number of things that can’t really be supported and it
becomes this pick your template.
We’re just going to churn it out for you. I think it will always be a little bit more hands on than
that because selfishly really like working with non-profits and getting a lot of face time with nonprofits
and actually talking to them and so I think for us, it’s about finding that middle ground of
we like to expand it out, have some more themes than we do now certainly but make it
something that is just laser focused on what we’ve actually seen be beneficial for non-profits in
the past.
And make sure that the decisions we make are dictated by feedback we’ve actually gotten from
the non-profit space and from non-profits we’ve actually worked with directly. So that we can
make sure that if we’re say adding a new feature or rolling out an adjustment to a feature that
already exists on the platform that it’s something that we know there is a hunger for in the nonprofit
space and that it’s likely to ultimately help them do the work that they are doing even
[0:35:04.2] BOK: Something that really intrigues me about the service you’re on, the way that
the website describes it is as well as the platform, the actual website and themes and the
features and functionality you’re describing, there is also the marketing ally or there is kind of
additional helping part to that service. Can you tell me a little bit about that because that seems
to be a really important part of, from a non-profit’s point of view of getting success from
whatever they are doing with their own line?
[0:35:31.3] JG: Yeah, so this was just – I mean we are very excited about the Marketing Ally
program because I think everyone can relate to whether it’s your financial services or your
website services or some other aspect of a product that you use, there is always that moment
where you reach out to support or you reach out to somebody at the company and you just get
either no feedback at all or you get misinformed feedback or you get information that is really
not helpful.
Or it takes a week to hear back or the other side is that you need help with something and you
just have no one to reach out to and that is what really what we are trying to fill here. So let’s
say that you build a great website and you are all of a sudden thinking, “Okay well I want to do
social media marketing and I want to do email marketing and I want to have a form on my
website to help me with this scenario or that” but you don’t have anyone to reach out to that you
can ask for just marketing advice.
You know, give me some strategic feedback on what I’m thinking and give me some direction
and that’s really what the marketing ally program is. So it’s not technical support, it is support on
specific questions you would have about your non-profit’s marketing. So at any point, anyone
that is on the platform can reach out with the question like, “You know I am interested in
garnering more advocates on Facebook. What do you guys recommend?”
Or something as simple as, “Hey, I am looking at an email marketing tool. Can you guys make a
recommendation of three tools that you think would be a good fit?” Or, “Hey, we actually just had
a new logo developed. I’d love for you guys to just take a peek at it and just give us some
feedback.” And so what we are really doing is kind of being again that marketing ally, someone
that you can reach out to when it’s just nice to have either the marketing expertise or a second
set of eyes on it.
And that is something we’re really excited about because we feel like in so many services and
products that kind of feedback and help is just so lacking.
[0:37:15.2] BOK: Yeah, I am really impressed with that because exactly like you said because
when you see platforms quite often it feels like it is just focused on the raw wire, the raw metal
so to say of the service or the product rather than something that can actually really compliment
the mission of the organization.
[0:37:33.2] JG: Yeah, absolutely and you know if you think about any kind of website, the really
popular website services like the Wix or a Squarespace or even GoDaddy’s website tool, you
just will never going to get that level of feedback where you’re talking to someone who just
works in the non-profit space, just works in the marketing space and has a really specific skill
set. You know the other thing that we’re really proud of is that we don’t have anyone on the
support team.
There is no support folks here so if you reach out for on the marketing ally program, you were
talking to somebody who has a specialist in some area whether that person is a content
strategist or a designer or a programmer and that again just I think furthers the level of trust and
comfort you have that the response you are going to get is actually going to be beneficial to you
versus kind of reaching out into the abyss and hoping that whatever comes back is actually
going to be helpful.
[0:38:21.3] BOK: Yeah, totally inspiring. Cool, so unfortunately we’re starting to run out of time
but thank you so much for sharing all of that. I am really genuinely inspired there, you are talking
about sort of that transition and the specialization and focusing on your passion and caring and
there is so much in there that is really interesting and I hope inspiring and interesting for our
listeners as well.
[0:38:42.0] JG: Great, thanks a ton for having us. We really appreciate it.
[0:38:44.5] DH: Yeah, absolutely. We appreciate you taking the time.
[0:38:46.4] BOK: Just before you go, for anybody who wants to find out a little bit more about
you guys and about Wired Impact, where shall we send them?
[0:38:52.3] DH: Sure, so they can just google us, Wired Impact will come up but you can just go
to You will be able to read the Marketing Ally program about the platform in
general and a bit about who we are and what we do.
[0:39:04.2] BOK: Outstanding, thanks again.
[0:39:05.7] JG: Awesome, thanks a ton Barry.
[0:39:07.1] DH: Thank you Barry.
[0:39:13.5] BOK: You can get all the links and notes from this episode on
where you can also find out how to send us questions, feedback and get involved in the
conversation about this series. If you enjoy the show, please share with anyone else who might
enjoy it too. Thanks for listening.