"We're SheJumps, not SheStandsStill."
Today we're joined by the incredible Claire Smallwood, co-founder and Executive Director of SheJumps. After 14 years of running a nonprofit, Claire has plenty of insights to share about leadership, managing a team of volunteers, and partnering with brands the right way. Claire is our first guest to speak on Level 3: Level Up Your Community and she embodies that spirit wholeheartedly. Take a listen!
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Episode 5.2 Transcript
Iris: Hello, hello.
Lisa: It's our first guest episode of season five and we are kicking this season off with a bang.
Iris: Yes, we are.
Lisa: I'm super excited about who we have on the podcast today.
Iris: Who do we have on the podcast today?
Lisa: We have the honor of having Claire Smallwood, the executive director of, SheJumps on the podcast today.
Iris: I'm so excited.
Lisa: I love Claire. I met Claire in like 2012 when we were both living in Salt Lake City and SheJumps was a lot newer. Um, but now SheJumps, which, go to the website, SheJumps.org. You can check it out as you listen to this, you can see that they’ve blown up. And she's been running this nonprofit for 14 years. So Claire has tons of amazing information.
Iris: Yeah. This is gonna include some great advice for brand managers on working with nonprofits. And Claire also talks about being a leader, leading a nonprofit organization. So there's so much good stuff in here.
Lisa: Yeah. The last 10 minutes are packed with nuggets of advice and information for brand managers who are trying to, uh, you know, bring a nonprofit into their experiential marketing initiatives. So if you are a brand manager, I definitely urge you to listen to this whole thing the whole way through.
Iris: Well, should we get to it?
Lisa: Yeah, let's do it because Claire is awesome.
Lisa: So Claire, thank you so much for being on the podcast today.
Claire: Well, thank you for having me. I'm honored to be here.
Lisa: And where are you? That's the first question we ask everyone. Where are you and what are you looking at?
Claire: I'm actually not too far away from you, assuming that you're in Whitefish, Montana. I am in Fernie, British Columbia, so just on the other side of the border, about an hour and a half.
Lisa: Yup. And you're working from home, I'm assuming, like the rest of the world.
Claire: I am. Yeah. Yup. Working from home. Um, my office window looks out at our neighbors roof, so that's not that exciting. But if I just do like a 180 degree turn, I can look out the windows and see the Three Sisters. So I should probably change that setup so I can just look at that. But as for now, that's how it's all set up.
Lisa: Amazing. Amazing. And you're the executive director of, SheJumps, um, I think you and I met in Utah years ago. Um, but you've been doing this for a while, so I'm excited to hear kind of for our audience, like what SheJumps is doing and, um, kind of your journey with that as well.
Claire: Yeah, we did meet in Utah, which is where I lived for 12 years, and basically during that time, you know, we started SheJumps, uh, yeah, it's going to be 14 years ago in November, which is nuts. Long time ago. It feels like. Um, I always like to tell folks that the first five or six years of SheJumps was just so grassroots. I mean, certainly was no one's full time job. It certainly was… um, yeah, it was just, it, it was a passion project and it was started by myself, Linsey Dyer and Vanessa Pierce. And you know, the long and short of it is basically, we all had gained empowerment and confidence from the outdoors.
And we also all saw that there were women that were just like these token one female in a group of dudes that were going outside and getting after it, and rarely, if ever, were they featured in magazines. So it actually started from a desire to have more visibility in the outdoors for women. And SheJumps, has gone through many iterations. Um, but all of that has always come back to giving back and making the outdoors and more accessible place.
So I was living in Utah for, um... I went to college in Oregon at Lewis and Clark in Portland, and then moved out to Utah. I was trying to be a pro skier. I was like, I'm going to do the freeskiing world two. And it turns out I didn't really have the mental, I think, edge to go point, you know, mach-10 down anything. But anyway, regardless, I have fun time and it really solidified my relationship with community. And, um, during that time was when we started SheJumps. So yeah. So the first five years or so, I was just, I was working as a private chef and doing SheJumps stuff on the side and then, um, gosh, it's crazy it's 14 years later, but…. You know, we've slowly just leveled up, I guess, every single... every single year it seems like we're chasing, you know, a little bit more structure and more impact and all that kind of stuff. Sorry, I kind of went on a little rant there.
Lisa: It's beautiful. Yeah, it's... and that's another reason I'm excited to have you on here is you have been at this for a long time. Um. You have, you know, I've, I've watched SheJumps, grow and grow and turn into something with massive impact and beauty. And, um, I'm really excited to talk to you about - at WHEELIE we started, um, kind of framing our services into three levels. So level one is level up yourself as a leader. Level two is level up your brand, and then we're excited to talk to you about level three, which is level up your community. And so like, what does that mean when you hear the phrase level up? And, um, we'll just, yeah, let's start there.
Claire: When I hear that phrase, I mean, it's funny, we actually, SheJumps is structured really similarly, I guess great minds must think alike, Lisa. We, um, one of our founding board members, uh, Liz Cunningham actually was, you know, we were sitting around a campfire years ago - over 10 years ago in Zion National Park. And I remember like, she looks over at me and she goes, “I get it! It's jump in, jump up, jump out.” So it's jump in, try something new for the first time. And that's what we really try to encourage people to do with SheJumps programs. And then jump up, which is, you know, challenge yourself to get better or challenge yourself to, to just go that extra mile or what have you. And then jump out is giving back. So it's kind of similar. It's how are you, how are you taking what you've learned and sharing it with the world to make it a better place.
So. When I think of Level Up Community, um, I'm really thinking a lot about inclusion. And I think that when we started the organization 14 years ago, uh, which thank you for your kind words, it has been a long journey. When we started the organization 14 years ago, our question was kind of simple enough, and based on our experience, it was straight forward enough to say, okay, well, we just really think that there needs to be more women in the outdoors.
It was pretty, like, just general. But as our society has evolved, you know, we've had to, you know, to use the phrase “level up” our definition of what that means, what the community means. Not all women identify the same. Not only humans identify the same. So we're in this process right now of constantly looking at our programs and saying, are they inclusive? Like, is everything that we're doing really helping the community as a whole? And on top of that, of course, there's the added layer of the outdoors being really expensive, elite, um, you know, kind of concept, right? Like, Oh, I'm going skiing. Like, who can afford to go ski? Who can take their whole family on a ski vacation? Not a lot of people, right?
So we're kind of trying to look at everything that we're doing now through that lens of inclusivity. Um. And understanding that, you know, what the end of the day we want it to be so that anyone, regardless of where you live or who you are, you can, like, live an adventurous lifestyle and SheJumps can help you do that.
So we're in this, um, you know, interesting, I think transitional period of looking at how our growth is, is powered by that newfound freedom that people have as individuals in this country and in our communities. You know, we're just always evolving and changing. So I like to tell our volunteers we’re SheJumps not SheStandsStill, so we're constantly trying to evolve.
Lisa: Oh, that's amazing. That's amazing. And how, I guess, how do you work? Because SheJumps is a national organization. How do you guide all these different branches and like make sure that they stay in line with the vision, but also let individuals bring their own unique flair to, um, I guess the chapter that they're running or the event that they're running. Like, what does that look like for you and how does that leadership come into the whole community?
Claire: Oh, I'm so glad you asked that, Lisa, because you know, it has been a huge learning curve. I mean, I certainly did not graduate from the university being like, I'm going to be the executive director of a national nonprofit organization. I had no experience. Right? I mean, I was literally reading the Nonprofit for Dummies book. Like, no shame there, totally honest. That was how I was figuring it out. Googling stuff, asking people, attending, you know, seminars. And now there's so many resources online. But. I think the easiest - I would love to paint a realistic picture of what this looks like, so that anyone listening can, can understand kind of like, I think a lot of people think SheJumps is maybe bigger than it really is, which is great. It's a, that's a great compliment to what our team has grown.
Put it this way. So for a number of years, you know, people would say like, especially in those, that first period of time when it was grassroots, “Hey, I'm, I'm so and so, and I live in California and I love the mission of SheJumps. I would love to host an event for you.” Okay. That sounds great. What are you going to do? “Oh, well, I'm going to do a, uh. Uh, a women's ski day.” Okay. That sounds fun. Do you want some stickers? “Yeah, that, that'd be great.” Okay, cool. Here's some stickers and then that was it. It was like, are you getting women outside? Right. But of course, as you start to develop more of a brand, you want to be protective of that. You want to make sure that someone that's going to have an experience on behalf of the name SheJumps is having this like kind of baseline, professional, um, you know, organized - and of course, most importantly, safe - situation. And so how it's kind of now changed is that we offer, we have an onboarding for anyone that wants to be an ambassador. You apply. Really the application is more about figuring out that people have the bandwidth to host about four events per year. And then from that we have organized program sets.
And so people are like, okay, I'm going to host three outdoor education events, which is, you know, anything that has to do with just a hard skill, some kind of techniques. Maybe it's just learning new trails in the area. It could be anything from a happy hour or to an actual like compass and navigation event. And then we're giving them like, kind of some tools, then they can put their own flair on it that matches their community, et cetera. But when it comes to the protective layer of it, um, that's certainly been something that's been a bit of a moving target.
I mean, you know, we have these ambassadors that sign up and they're just so excited. But the reality is, is hosting events is hard. It's scary. It's nerve wracking. Um, you know, and, and what we found is the best way to do it is that you have to just - at the risk of being repetitive - you just keep offering support to these people. So you're kind of like constantly reminding them about the brand of the organization. So a big part of our training, which is two emails per week for six weeks, that's kind of sets the baseline. And then these people that all have these different backgrounds and experiences with the outdoors. You don't have to be - I want to make this super clear. To be a part of. SheJumps, you do not need any previous experience. If you want to sign up to be an ambassador, which we, we offer, um, applications a couple of times a year. You don't have to have had any previous experience. You just have to want to be a part of it. Right?
And it's interesting because people are like, wow, I had no idea SheJumps has hosted so many events and they're trying to get it going in their area from scratch, and at the end of the day, we just are, it's kind of exhausting, Lisa, but in order to protect it, we just are constantly reaching out and saying, Hey, like what do you need? How's it going? We're tracking this. Looks like you didn't have that many folks come to the event. That's okay. Let's talk about how we can make it better for next time. And unfortunately, the reality is the result of that is that a lot of folks get overwhelmed and they quit. Or they kind of, you know, it gets too much. And so our challenge right now with leveling up, like in a more internal sense, is that we're cleaning all that up. We're taking this pause that's happening right now with the global pandemic to say, okay. We love that we're giving people this creativity to put all this stuff into their community, but how can we make this surgical like the hedgehog concept? Um, I can't remember the guest's name is blanking off the top of my head. Um, From Good To Great is the name of the book. If you've ever heard of it. And this whole idea of like, find one thing that you do well and just hone in on it. We're thinking about that right now.
So it's been kind of a fun situation to learn, but it's certainly been a lot of trial by fire and figuring out how to chase people down and, and motivate them on a, on a regular basis. But, you know, being volunteers, you know, it's, it's really... we have 130 volunteers on our roster, um, that are across the country in 22 States. So yes, a lot of management of volunteers is, is a part of my daily, my daily basis.
Lisa: I cannot even imagine managing that many people. That's amazing.
Claire: It's a lot, but it's fun. And I will say that what we're thinking about right now, and you're all about storytelling, is storytelling. We're trying now to go inwards and remind people that whatever reason that they clicked on that link to say “I want to volunteer for SheJumps.” We need to know what that is or was there a moment at an event when that happened?
Because then all they have to do when they go to an event is say, hi, my name is so and so and I want to tell you a story. Boom. They're, they don't have to stumble across the mission statement. They don't have to, like, list off a laundry list of things that half the people in the event are going to forget about. They just tell a story. As humans, we are… we love to hear stories and we're ready. When someone says, “I want to tell you a story,” we're waiting to hear something. So we're kind of using this again as a time to say, maybe we've been doing it all wrong, which I hope we don't, you know, kind of.... paint ourselves into a corner. But always looking to see better ways to do it, because certainly managing a nonprofit is a little bit of a beast sometimes.
Lisa: Oh, certainly.
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Iris: Lisa, can you imagine managing over a hundred people remotely?
Lisa: Right. Or just having that ability to like, oversee the experience of over a hundred human beings throughout the nation and just, um, you know, let… let volunteers kind of take it, take it from there, and give their events legs underneath the SheJumps brand. It's amazing. It's like a big exercise in trust and communication and support. So I think that's beautiful. I can't even imagine.
Iris: Yeah. What an incredible network of people. Well, Claire's about to drop a bunch of knowledge. So brand managers take notes.
Lisa: And I'm curious, because you've spoken about the volunteer side of it. How… and, and, uh, I guess, let me frame that question. A lot of our audience is, um, comprised of like marketing managers and photographers and brand managers, people who work at outdoor companies in a leadership role. Um. So what is, what's your experience working as a nonprofit director with brands that want to create like a branded experience and do some experience experiential marketing and, and give back to SheJumps? What's that like?
Claire: Oh, no, we have had such a great experience with that. So we have, just to kind of paint a more realistic picture, I have three staff members for, SheJumps, um, and we have a marketing manager and then a program director and myself. Um, we'd love to have more. And in that, in that experience, I've definitely learned a lot about working with brands because initially it was me that would kind of manage all these relationships and, and I have a lot of great, like big picture ideas. And then I could kind of sometimes get in the weeds, but I have to say that what's been the best has been that I've actually held us back. I think sometimes when it comes to working with brands, because I'm... does this make sense? If you're, especially since you are, you know. You're a big picture leader, I think, like I am.
So sometimes you can kind of like, you get stuck in an old narrative of like, “Oh, I don't really like, okay, well we'll just, okay, well we'll create this thing and we'll hope that maybe like a couple people see it,” you know? And like you kind of can be like kind of imposter syndrome-style. And I've loved involving more people. A lot of times we have these great volunteers who have brand experience and maybe work as marketers in outdoor companies or something. And so then all of a sudden I have this like kind of small like minor league idea, and then I let it go to someone else. And these brands are just so authentically excited about what our mission is and I've really learned to let go.
And it's kind of interesting ‘cause it's counterintuitive. You want to be protective of your brand and you want to make sure something like really aligns. But then letting it go and like letting other people that see it from a new angle, um, has been really, really positive. And I think there's so many ways that nonprofits and corporate partners for, you know, for-profit partners can work together. And I'm a part of so many of these nonprofit groups where they get all their funding from grants and, and, you know, federal grants a lot of the time or, or private foundation, and they don't do a lot of stuff with corporations. Um, and I just want to say that I think that, you know, from a for-profit brand side to align with the nonprofit is to give your brand legs in like an authentic light that you really can't do any other way. Like, uh, these days, especially millennials, they want to have this experience, like you said, experiential marketing. They want to know that they're getting more than just this product. They're getting like, a movement in the product, you know? And it's, it's interesting to me how, yeah, I mean, how more brands maybe aren't as active on that front. Um, so if any brands listening out there, if you want to work with SheJumps. But I, I definitely love that there's so much creativity space there and yeah, from an experiential marketing standpoint, I mean… we don't have, we want to be serving as many low income and at risk and, and you know, under- underserved populations as possible. But at the same time, everyone needs access to this stuff. So you don't have to be just limited on that, on, on that lens of impact.
So yeah, there's a lot to be explored there. And I just, I encourage people to, to find a cause that resonates with the brand and, and, and let, let the ideas flow, so to speak.
Lisa: Have you ever experienced, and you don't have to name like names of a company, some type of a disconnect in the brand's value and SheJumps value and trying to like come to an agreement of, of what the partnership will look like.
Claire: Yes. Actually. I've had this happen a few different times. Um, surprisingly with one major company that is in the outdoor industry that I won't mention, and then with like a kind of skincare brand outside of the industry, and both times it comes from these siloed approaches of like... companies that like one person has a good idea to say, “Oh, we should work with this great nonprofit. It aligns perfectly with this initiative.” And then, you know, all of a sudden them just kind of being like, “Oh, that could be great. Yeah, maybe.” And then it's like 25 meetings that are taking away from us doing our work of impact. And then at the end of the day, they're like, and “we'll give you $1,000 for this”, you know, and you're kind of like, um, that was a lot of time and effort and only to then at the end them going, “Oh, the client wanted to go a different direction.” You know? And I think what I learned from that is, you know, as much as it's awesome to meet people with where they're at until like. You know, I think it's just great, like one on one conversations or small groups that get together and be like, alright, well let's just like, let's actually like play this out and see if this actually works. Let's, let's work backwards from what we want our end result to be. And I wished I had learned that earlier. But of course there's no way you can because, um, again, it was imposter syndrome for so many years. I think, Oh, well, I don't know what I'm doing, so I just have to play along with whatever they're doing. Even though there was something in the back of my head going, this does not seem like an effective way to be using my time, or is it going to be impactful at the end of the day for what our mission is? Um, so I think that there's certainly sometimes some imposter feeling of like, Oh, they’re the corporation, so they must be right. You know? And I think in a lot of ways, as a nonprofit. World is so much used to being more like nimble and adaptable, like all these kinds of things. So yeah, I would definitely say I've had that experience and hopefully have learned from it.
Lisa: Yeah. And do you... Did you come up with some type of like evolution within yourself where it suddenly became easier to talk about money more quickly or sooner in the conversations? Or what did that look like for you?
Claire: Uh, yes. I definitely, and I think I've, we, we undersold ourselves for so long. And like, and I think, you know, to a certain extent though, there was a part of me for a long time, like when we first first started where I didn't even, we didn't want to fundraise because we were like, well, what are we raising money for?
And like, you know, I think that one thing that someone once told me before was like, “well, it's not like you're curing cancer.” You know? And it was kind of like this sense of like, well, what we're doing isn't valid. Because, you know, obviously there's all these other great causes out there and what can we do? And at the end of the day, I think that, you know, it takes so much more work than coming up with like the generalized concept. You have your output of a product that someone wants to experience or have in their hands, and then you have to have this, like, underlayer of a driving force that is almost just like pure determination. Um, and I think that like kind of just understanding, and I think that this crisis that we're in right now is certainly something where I look back and I go, “wow, all the times I ever thought that I had a crisis before, all the times before when I was ever panicked.” I was ever had this experience too. All the times when I was stressed out about a meeting, I had to have or hard conversation I had to have. And then realizing that it was all training for what's going on right now, and understanding that it's time - you know, and this isn't something that has happened as a result of the pandemic But, um, even prior to this - it was just kind of this, you can't have what you want unless you name it.
And that kind of sense of manifest- manifesting. And Linsey Dyer, our co founder. She is such a huge proponent of this idea of this manifest game, and it's so fun. It's just, you know, don't let anything stand in your way. Um, yeah. So I would say that it's, it's an evolution that's happening, but I'm certainly, you know, I mean, it's, it's… elbows out. You know, you've got to survive and you've got to think about what value you're really bringing to a brand, I think, and also to individuals. And I think that's important for an individual to support SheJumps or any nonprofit, you know, what service are we offering that would be completely lacking and, and the community would be worse off without it. And how can you make that argument from the, the importance, from the standpoint of impact, and then how can you make that argument to your 87 year old grandfather, you know, or to, you know, to anyone that doesn't have any kind of frame of reference. And so I think that that is what drives that financial kind of comfort level is just kind of, you know, knowing your stuff.
That's where a lot of confidence comes from, I think, with business is just saying, I put the work in, I put the time in. And now I know. Um, you can't, you know, you don't have to fake it. You're, you're past that level.
Lisa: Absolutely. And, and are you finding that brands are - I certainly hope the answer is yes - that brands are receptive to, SheJumps’ intention of inclusivity and leveling up communities from all different angles?
Claire: Absolutely. Um, you know, we just actually started a new partnership with Sierra Designs and they, um, contacted us because they've created a new initiative called Reach Out. And I think what's really nice about this is Sierra Designs was saying, look. You know what? We've looked at everything that we've done in the past and we have not done enough to make the outdoors a more inclusive place, both from a, you know, a racial standpoint to a gender equity standpoint. I mean really from all these different levels. And so they've reached out with a bunch of, they worked with a few different nonprofits this year, and SheJumps is one of them. And you know, I love the idea that they didn't come to us going, okay, well how many Instagram posts will you do in exchange for this? They're like, we're going to give you X, Y, Z to just keep doing what you're doing, but like, let's make sure that we're definitely both going towards this level of leveling up for inclusivity. So, you know, this kind of idea that it was like... I love it when people come to you and they say, we want to support you. Keep doing what you're doing, not, we want to support you. Now, can you create this whole separate new program for us? That's definitely happened a lot before.
Um, and I think that that's, you know, when it comes to, you know, you asked if companies are being receptive to this. We're not really interested in working with any companies that wouldn't consider that to be a top priority for their own, you know, personal, their own, you know, organizational workspace. You know, this is, there's so many resources out there now to look at, um, justice, equity, diversity and inclusion work, JEDI work. So why wouldn't, you know, that should be the driving factor in like some of our decision making of, of whether or not we want to work with someone. Which sounds strange to say maybe we would like turn down money, but at the end of the day, like SheJumps again, was built on this really, again, strong determination, passion of like you said, we can't do this. Watch us. You know, I think that that's kind of going to be one of those driving concepts that will hopefully help us succeed and differentiate us from, from others.
Lisa: I am loving hearing your perspective on brands coming to you and, and the different offers and like, come up with this new program for us versus like, here, we're just going to give you XYZ. Um. So I'm I'm loving this perspective. I don't get this perspective very often. And I'm curious, what's your advice to VPs of marketing or brand managers who do want to approach a nonprofit? Like any do's or don'ts or like hot hot tips for anybody?
Claire: Yeah, I think that. One example I had is, is just, you know, I was talking with a company about sponsoring one of our programs and just, you know, it was a kind of a backcountry skiing program, and we're just like going on for like a few weeks in meetings and then, and then somewhere they're like, “so it's an alpine climbing event. What kind of…? “You know, or something. And I was like, no, it's not an alpine climbing event. So I guess, you know, kind of know the, know the room, uh, do a little bit of research on the website. I know that, that seems pretty obvious, but, um.
And I think that at the end of the day, the best conversations are the ones that are impact driven. So we're actually starting a new partnership with Tender Corp, which is a company that has a bunch of subsidiary companies, uh, brands such as Adventure Medical Kits and SOL Outdoor Gear as well as, um, uh, I'm blanking. They've got dozens and dozens of different little small companies that they, that they manage or they own.
Um, Tender Corp came to us and said, we want to get 1 million girls outside by 2025. How can we do that together? And like, that's great. Like, I mean, you know the idea that we're not having to say they're like, Oh, well, you know, we'd really love to start a series of events that are doing X, Y, Z. Can you make this happen for us? We're already going in the direction of trying to get as many women and girls outside as possible. So we're moving in that direction. And I think it's great when a company can say, what direction are you going in and how do we make that happen faster? Um, as opposed to, um, we think it's great that what you're doing, but we actually have this one specific product we want to have featured, you know, let's find how to do that while we're like, you know, building the plane while flying it.
I think it's totally fine to approach a conversation with a nonprofit and, and, and maybe just to have that flexibility of understanding like, okay, you know, what? They have a lot of other- they have like low resources, like high, you know, kind of stress and like need of, of what they're doing. And this is for any nonprofit across the board. An executive director is kind of constantly wearing 10 different hats. You know, come to it with like maybe a little bit more grace of understanding that they're really keeping their on that bottom line. um, which is not always financial. It's also impact driven. So I think, yeah, just having some grace and some flexibility and saying, how can we help?
Um, but I want us to conversely say that when I talk with brands as well about new partnerships, I also asked them the same thing. I don't think it's fair to think that you should only go one way, and that's how partnerships can last longer. Right? You know, it's not just a, okay, let's just do this one off thing. And while it makes sense, um, and also trying to get as many people involved as possible. So, you know, one, in a perfect world, I think if, uh, if a brand manager wanted to work with a nonprofit, you would actually, you know, kind of have some initial smaller group meetings and then schedule some time for the executive director or someone from the organization to come and speak to your group about, you know, the story, right? What's their, what's their story? And then you have a little bit more of an army of engaged people that are, okay, cool, that's great. My company is doing this initiative with XYZ, but maybe now you're going to like follow them on your own social media channels and all those little things add up a lot for nonprofits.
Lisa: Man. That is a beautiful perspective. How, how do you measure impact-driven? Is there any type of ROI that that you guys at SheJumps use for that?
Claire: We measure ours based on, we'd love to get to, like, you know, add onto this. But right now we're based on actual number of, of unique participants at our events.
Um, and so, and then we're also now, of course, you know, looking to the virtual space currently with our events on hold at the moment, um, we're looking to, uh, see how we can be driving impact as well from people downloading and experiencing our virtual courses. So, you know, how many people are going to be saying like, you know, and can get to the end of the video and like, Oh, cool. I learned how to use a compass from SheJumps, or I learned how to tie a sling or, you know, whatever. But for the moment, we look at unique participants and then we also look at like, numbers of communities involved. So, you know, say we have, um, a program and, uh. Charlemont Massachusetts will. Can we get another one in Worcester - Worst sister, worstchester? I can't pronounce that one. [laughs] I probably should have chosen a different location example. I’m obviously not from Massachusetts, but you understand my point. You know, how are we looking beyond just the major strongholds in a state and looking to make sure that we're expanding our programming into other smaller communities as well?
Because I think, again, it comes down to this idea that, you know, you might not be based in Seattle, but you might really want to be joining SheJumps events and do we not have a group in Olympia, for example? And so we're always kind of trying to look at how we're expanding into those different geographical locations as well as obviously growing the number of unique participants.
Um, we'd love to expand on that with doing more studies. Well, we do a lot of community partnership, um, work. So for example, in Salt Lake City, we work with, um, um, an afterschool program that's for immigrant and refugee girls. And we'd love to be, we're constantly looking for grant funding to expand that program to other locations.
But then once that happens, we would love to be tracking, um, ‘cause we already, we know it through anecdotes, but tracking how those young girls are then continuing to participate either in their own personal lives, outdoor activity-wise, or continue to produce bait as they're adults in our SheJumps adult programs. So then that would be another way that we want to be driving that impact.
Lisa: Wow. That's incredible Claire.
Claire: It's a lot, but it's fun and it's, you know, it's, we're thinking about building more powerful, courageous people, which I think the world needs more of, um, people that aren't afraid to stand up for what they need and what they believe in. And, um, I think, you know, you love the outdoors. You live in, you live in Montana, you probably get outside as much as you possibly can. You understand - a lot of people that do - what those benefits are. And I guess, uh, you know, we're always looking for studies about that because I think that there haven't been enough studies done on the effects of outdoor activity, and that doesn't have to be defined as like, mountaineering, right? It can be like going for a walk. It can be, you know, going for a bike ride in your local park or something. Um, on specifically on women and on confidence and leadership. Because we all know that we have that experience, that mountains have taught us to do these things to be stronger and more confident. But, you know, we, we need some more backups and stats are always, are always helpful. So we're, we're keeping our eyes open for how we can contribute to that as well.
Lisa: Wonderful. Well, if anyone is listening and has a way in on that, give Claire a holler.
Claire: Please! Yeah, holler. Holler at me.
Lisa: Yeah. Cool. Um. One thing I was thinking about with all our event-based organizations is - because we're all scrambling right now with ,with COVID-19 kind of like forcing change on events and one thing I'm noticing is not working is like… you'll probably enjoy this reference because you're a chef. Um, I'm a vegetarian and sometimes when I tell people I'm a vegetarian, they're like, “Oh, we'll just pull the meat out. And now it's vegetarian.” And I'm like, “no, this is marinara and noodles.” And so, like, you know, brands are scrambling to throw their events online, but it's like this really just like noodles and sauce and you take away like that meat of personal interaction. Um. So I guess, have you guys come up with a solution for your events to sort of like build them as their own proper little vegetarian meal, if you will, like build them proper from the ground up to have an online experience?
Claire: I love your description of that. That's 100% correct. And I will admit that in my early career days of cooking, I probably would have been guilty of that, but I certainly actually love to cook vegetarian food now.
So. Um, yes. That's interesting. Okay. So a couple things on that. What we've done, ‘cause, you know, resources are tight. And I think what happened was when we kind of were like, Oh, Whoa, we have to cancel all these events. And we didn't just have to cancel like, some events, like, we really put all our eggs in the March basket. Like, that is our biggest month of the year. We host about 20 different events. Um, you know, it is like $40,000 of our revenue. Like it was a big screeching hall for us, and as it was for everybody, right? When we're all in the same boat here.
But with that in mind, what I was, what I put my attention on first and foremost was like, I mean, of course we love our community, but I was like, all of these ambassadors, these volunteers that have put all this time and effort into hosting these events. Then they just were canceled and maybe there's all this other upheaval in their lives. We have to focus on being there for each other right now, so we kind of like put a hold on everything and just started hosting virtual happy hours for our team.
It was just like, okay, this is the most important thing to do right now. I just want to see the most embarrassing photo of you as a small child and you're going to hold it up to the computer screen. We're all going to have like. This is... and it was like, that was how we were building that special sauce, you know, like in- internally, because who would we even have to serve if our team was just like feeling totally, um, you know, unsupported and like just kind of scattered and like, “Oh, I put all this work and now it's all canceled and who knows when it's going to start back up again.” Because the inertia would be really hard as a volunteer if you're feeling like you're completely disconnected from what you originally signed up to do.
So we started there and then of course now all these other things wonderful nonprofits are putting, are putting tons of virtual resources online. So we're kind of like, okay, like, we don't have to compete with that. Like the Mountaineers, for example. Anyone that's listening, check out mountaineers.org. Uh, they're a nonprofit based in Seattle. Um, they do all sorts of wonderful outdoor education events, and they have this awesome virtual event hub, virtual education center online that has tons of different resources.
And so like there's other people that are doing that stuff. And so now what we thought about is, Okay. We've, we've regrouped internally or like, we all know we're actually going to have a bowl cut, uh, uh, March madness kind of bracket of like, who had the worst bullet cut growing up? I don't know. This is a new thing that we're doing, so it does nothing to do with our mission, but it's fun and it's, that's what SheJumps all about, right? It's about having fun.
Anyway, so we've, we've looked internally, we kind of like keeping everyone like, you know, checking in, you know, supporting one another. And then now we're like, okay, let's like, let's recreate March. What are all these events that we had to cancel and then let's show up for those people.
So instead of trying to like be like, okay, now we have to do everything from scratch. Let's just like host that event for those people that missed that and just kind of taking it like building block by building block. And our hope is that by doing it in that regard. We'll be able to... you know, nothing can really like take the place of giving someone new a high five when they like finished a great bike ride or you know, learning something or overcoming a fear in person. But our hope is that by just at least putting our effort into, again, showing up for those folks, and specifically, so many young girls, we had to cancel at least nine junior ski patrol events in March. So we're like, how can we do virtual junior ski patrol for all these young girls that missed it? So. We, we hope that that honest approach and just saying, we want to just. be there for you to make up for what you've missed is a way to create that special community. I don't think anything ever really will make up for that, but we're loving the challenge and like that's where SheJumps all about, right? Like challenging yourself. Get outside of your comfort zone. Take a risk. Like, this is uncharted territory for everybody.
We just today launched a gratitude rally campaign on our website. So, we've got all these templates you can download, print out in color, you can make thank you flags or health care workers. You can put it up in your front window just to have some positivity, um. Coloring, you know, coloring is great. So anyway, we're just, we're loving this kind of opportunity to be like rethinking what we're doing. And then as well, being humble about it and saying, all right, let's just start simple and go from there. ‘Cause that's how SheJumps was built. Just, we started with a simple concept and somehow made it... kind of an overwhelming nonprofit, but Hey, we're showing up every day. [laughs]
Lisa: Oh, awesome. Well, thank you so much, Claire. And, um, is there anything I didn't ask you that you want to tell our audience?
Claire: Uh, no. I mean, I can't think of anything right off the top of my list. I think, you know, actually there was one thing, um, coming up soon in the next…. So it’s middle, middle of, uh, April. Now, I'm not sure when this will air, but, um, we're going to be actually doing an open nomination for board members. So the board member, board of directors for jobs, opportunity to, you know, be of service to our organization, uh, give your professional expertise and skills and, um, and time to our mission and we're going to be doing an open online nomination so you can nominate yourself, you can nominate someone else. And our hope is that this will also help us to be a more diverse, uh, organization starting with our leadership. And, uh, it'd be a great way for folks to get involved and we will also at some point in the next couple of months be offering new ambassador applications.
So just follow SheJumps on social media or check on our website, join our newsletter, and you can find out about all those great opportunities.
Lisa: Awesome. Well, thank you so much Claire, and um, I'm a huge fan of you and SheJumps and it’s an honor to have you on the podcast.
Claire: Oh, Lisa, thank you. I think what you have built with WHEELIE is very impressive and I will be there supporting you guys in any way, shape, and form coming in the, in the months to come. I know we got a long road ahead of us, but you're crushing it. So keep up the good work. Thank you for having me on.
Lisa: Thank you.
Iris: Thanks so much for being here, Claire. We loved having you on the show and if you loved having Claire on the show, uh, you can check out our show notes that we have links to SheJumps’ Instagram, their website, and you can check out those board member applications as well.
Lisa: Yeah. Open nominations. You can nominate someone to use their voice.
Iris: And also in the show notes, you can find the WHEELIE website with the rest of our podcast episodes and transcripts, as well as a link to our Instagram where you can DM us and let us know who you'd like to hear on the show. And lastly, we like to ask if you enjoy the show, please leave us a review on iTunes. It helps us get the show to more people.
Lisa: Thank you so much. And thank you everyone for listening and supporting WHEELIE and um, we have some super exciting stuff to drop in the next couple of weeks that I am working on nonstop. So please, um, stay tuned cause we are cranking away over here.
Iris: Yeah we are.
Lisa: Well, party on, stay safe.
Iris: Wash your hands.
Outside By Design
A business podcast for people who love the outdoor industry.