Empower Your Donors Through Text-to-Donate with Gnosis Media Group
Text-to-donate is a powerful, yet simple, way to increase donations for nonprofits. Eric Bryant describes how he got started with this technology, and how he’s expanding it to a world-wide audience.
Read the interview below to learn more about text-to-donate, and Eric’s advice for social entrepreneurs.
Tell me about your company and the work that you do.
Gnosis Media Group offers a text-to-donate service for smaller, successful nonprofits, and we offer some complimentary services that go along with text to donate. We provide a keyword, a short code that can respond with text messages to collect donations, and we have different packages that can offer other features and benefits like Facebook fundraisers, QR codes, text blasts, etc.
How did you come up with the idea to start the business?
The business went through a lot of changes and permutations over the years. It didn’t start off as a text donation service. But I was always interested in SMS programming and applications, and I did a lot of tinkering with that stuff. It was something that I learned how to do, and I learned how to do SMS programming. It just made sense to combine that with my desire to want to help, my desire for social enterprise in general, and to do something meaningful and useful for other people. It married the two together, and that led to the eventual creation of a text-to-donate service.
What was your background originally?
My background has been in digital marketing. Prior to that I was in journalism. I was a reporter, and also worked in public relations for a time. I’ve always been in the digital communications and technology space. I always had a passion for programming, (not by any stretch would consider myself a programmer) but I tinker around with code. So you put all that together, text-to-donate and Gnosis Media Group bubbled up out of that.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far throughout your career?
In my career what I’ve learned is that you have to find your center. I would say try to find your unique strength, or your unique center from which you can position yourself for the best opportunity for success.
I found that for me, I use the chameleon as a great illustration, or an example. A chameleon is really a gentle creature, he’s got a soft underbelly, he’s not very fast, he’s not very aggressive, he’s kind of docile, so he can easily be swallowed up by adversaries and predators. But his big advantage is that he adapts to fit his surroundings. And I’ve learned to use that, because I think my natural default is not conducive for me to be super successful in corporate America, because I have a trailblazer, entrepreneur, quirky, idiosyncratic side to me that many corporate environments like to just crush or kill.
I’ve had to learn how to be a chameleon and to use that strength. I’m very good at adapting to my surroundings and merging well in different environments. I used to see that as a weakness, but it’s actually a strength, so that’s what I’ve learned in my career.
There are 3 lessons I’ve learned, as far as being an entrepreneur. One is to do something that you’re passionate about, not just do something that you think there’s a market for. Because if you just do something that has a market but you’re not passionate about it, you’re probably going to burn out before it gets off the ground. I was very passionate about entrepreneurship. Something set a fire in me once I started in SEO and I learned how to tinker with websites, and then I started to learn how to build websites. When the thought hit me that I could build a business on my own, it was a passion that just drove me. I didn’t stop to think, “Oh, who’s going to be the buyer?” Or, “What’s the business plan?” And so forth.
Later on as I matured, that would lead me to the second lesson, which is try to figure out a product or service that would have good product market fit. And that actually took me many years to arrive at. I went to a business accelerator for social enterprises, to help figure out what exactly that meant and how to do that.
Then the third big lesson would be to think about your branding. Try to figure that out before you start and get too far down the road, as opposed to letting it be an afterthought. Rebranding can be a real challenge, and poor branding causes friction and confusion for your market
What advice would you give to other social entrepreneurs?
Do your market research, and don’t think that market research has to be the traditional kind where it’s really expensive. Google has a whole host of tools, many of which are free, that can give you a pretty good sense of whether there’s a market for your product, and the likelihood that you would achieve product market fit.
Take advantage of those tools. Basic tools like Google Keyword Planner that anybody can use for free, or even Google Trends, the free version of SEMrush. There are a lot of tools that have market intelligence built into them that people don’t really think of when they hear the word market research, that can give you some idea, “Is there demand for this thing? How popular is it? Is there a need for it? What’s the demand?” This stuff that used to cost thousands of dollars, you had to have a firm to do it for you, and do all these focus groups.
After you build your website, you can use sites like UsabilityHub where you can pay a small amount of money and get people to actually visit your website and give you a critique. That’s like a focus group for very cheap, and it just used to be thousands of dollars.
What’s your vision for the future? Either for your business, or for the world, or both?
My vision for Gnosis Media Group is to help more nonprofits that are outside the US raise funds. We’re doing that through integrating text-to-give with WhatsApp, as opposed to just native SMS or traditional SMS. I built that because I was getting a lot of inquiries, even though my target market is in the US, I was getting a lot of interest from nonprofits outside the US that can’t text to a US short code. Short codes are specific only to the country that they’re activated in. A person in Germany can’t text a US short code. It’s just not the way that technology is built.
People can use a mobile messaging application like WhatsApp, which is actually now the most popular mobile messaging app in the world, no matter where they are all over the world. It combines artificial intelligence with our business WhatsApp account, and it automates the process of completing a text message donation, the same way you would through regular text message process.
What action do you want readers to take?
Visit my website and read the blog post that I wrote that treats the subject comprehensively of how text-to-donate empowers your donors (click here to read the post). That’s usually a good starting place for people getting familiar with text-to-donate.
Find Eric Online
Gnosis Media Group: https://gmg.cm
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