I recently had the pleasure of talking to Marty Kinrose, who runs some great programs for an affiliate of United Cerebral Palsy called UCP WORK, Inc. This affiliate doesn't get government funds, and Kinrose has had to raise money any way he can in order to keep these programs afloat. Getting people who are part of the program to feel a connection to others is very important to Marty, and recently he started a UCP WORK channel on YouTube to try to better spread the word. I asked him about the challenges he faces and what he hopes to accomplish with video moving forward.
ReelSEO Interview with Marty Kinrose of UCP WORK, Inc.
ReelSEO: Tell us about yourself and what you do.
Marty Kinrose: I run programs that don't benefit from government funding for an organization called UCP WORK, Inc. I provide programs and services and some pretty awesome experiences for kids and adults with a variety of developmental disabilities.
We are a UCP affiliate. There's a lot of UCPs across the country, but they're all independent. But my department is different from the other departments within our organization, because the other programs do benefit from government funding as do most charitable programs. But the programs that I operate are not typical sorts of programs so I've always had to raise all the money to keep the programs going versus receiving tax dollars.
RSEO: I imagine that's a pretty challenging aspect of your job.
Kinrose: It's the most challenging aspect of my job. For me it's all about providing the direct service which I've done for almost 4 decades. But having to get down on my knees and figure out ways to raise money is a major, major challenge and always has been.
RSEO: So I imagine that's why you decided to get into YouTube and using video?
Kinrose: It is because one of the big frustrations for people who do what I do. You always feel like, if people could spend an hour with you, having an experience with the folks we serve, within seconds they would get it. They would understand why you do what you do, and why you are inquiring that they support you. Charities put on these old-fashioned funky events, you know, rib-eating contests, auctions, and all these things to try to bring in money. But it doesn't really make the connection with the people served. With social media and YouTube, it's an opportunity to actually paint a really accurate picture of what it is you do, and get it out there to a lot more people. So I'm jumping on this and praying it works.
RSEO: What is your strategy for using video?
Kinrose: There are so many stories. I start working with kids in my programs often when they're 3 and 4 years old. Many of them stay with me throughout their lives with the different offerings that I have. So my strategy is to pull from the stories that unfold within their lives. And of course with a video you have the advantage of adding music in the background which helps quite a bit. It helps draw out emotions and helps people get people to really feel. That's what you're trying to do: just trying to connect an audience with what you're really doing and the people you're serving. And I think videos give the greatest opportunity to do that.
RSEO: Do you have a particular schedule for releasing these videos?
Kinrose: This whole process started many months ago, so I'm going to see how it goes, see if it's successful. And if it can bring in some revenue to the programs that I operate, then you can be sure this will be a regular thing for me. And it could open the door...if I have success with this, it could open the door for other charities who are using the old techniques to come into the new ways. It could also give the social media world a greater opportunity to do good.
RSEO: What are the old techniques?
Kinrose: The ways we've had to do it in the past...we've had these fundraising events and mailing campaigns. We put on an annual rib-eating contest with firemen and policemen who will come and eat 40 giant beef ribs in a half hour. It's grotesque! We basically do anything we can to try and bring in some money to keep it all going because the people in our programs are all low or poverty-level income individuals. They could never afford to have the experiences we give them. So we would put on rib-eating contests and movie premieres and testimonial dinners and put on these auctions, where you have to go out and beg people to donate hundreds of items. It's like opening up a retail store for one day.
Because my department doesn't benefit from any government funding, and we have to bring it all in...when I'm not planning the event and meeting with the committees to put on the event, I'm driving the bus and picking people up. After every special event, I'd get sick for about a week just from all the stress of quarterbacking this monstrous event and the hundreds of details associated with it. These old ways...they aren't the best uses of anybody's time, and you do what you have to do. But when you put on something like a rib-eating contest, you're not connecting these people who are powering down these ribs with anybody in your organization or anybody you serve.
Social media and these videos give them an actual look, an actual feel, for what you're doing, and connects them with the people and your stories. So I'm excited about this, but I hope it works because if I don't bring in the money then I'll have to cut back programs...and my programs are awesome.
RSEO: What are some programs that you're proud of?
Kinrose: We offer a free field trip program to over 500 kids where we go into these special ed classes and we take them whale-watching, we take them to museums, we take them out to these accessible hiking trails. We give them real experiences and connect them with their community. As far as I know, I don't know anyone in California that's doing what we're doing, let alone the country. We do it for free!
Because schools, the kids, and the parents don't have any money...we raise the money somehow to give them these awesome experiences and it doesn't cost them anything. We also have yoga classes, we have unbelievable adult and youth mentor programs.
I don't think there are too many people doing this. We're connecting people with disabilities who have like interests, and we're helping to create friendships among these people. And for a lot of disabled people, that's the missing element in their lives. So many of them are used to having these health-care professionals, therapists, and social workers who come in and out of their lives for a few months or a year or two and then other people take over, and they just have this rotating door of people who come in and out of their lives and for so many they never know real friendship. Stuff that you and I take for granted.
RSEO: I saw that in one of the videos...just seeing people who are like them is a big deal.
Kinrose: It's a very big deal, and finding people who can share in their experience and who have like interests. And so we're forming these mini-communities of people who are now experiencing friendship. It's basic. It boils down to making connections happen, and I think that's where we do better than most. And that's what we're focused on is connecting people with other people and their local communities so they can belong.
RSEO: Who do you hope to reach through YouTube? I guess 'everyone' is the obvious answer.
Kinrose: We want to give the opportunity to as many people who are caring as there are out there. So yeah, 'everyone.' We want anybody who is interested and believes in what we're doing to have the opportunity to support what we're doing.
RSEO: Are you trying to submit these videos in key places?
Kinrose: We're reaching out to blogs to pick us up and embed our videos and our stories. That might be the reason more charities aren't going for this because there's a lot of rejection in that process. There's a lot of large blogs out there that get hit up constantly, and a lot of them just don't want to take the time to take a close look at what it is you're sending them, and others just aren't interested, so there's a lot of rejection involved. But if you get one 'yes' out of 50, you're still a little bit ahead of the game. So you have to get past the 'taking the rejection' stuff personally.
I had a buddy back in my dating years who used to say, 'If you ask out ten people, and one says yes, you're still ahead of the guy who didn't ask out anybody or asked out one person, got rejected, and just gave up.' I've carried that one for a long time. With rejection, I'm lying if I say, 'It doesn't affect you,' because the people I'm trying to support are people who have been in my life. I've known many for almost 40 years. So when I send out an appeal and I get rejected, there's a lot of them where I feel, 'They have to go for this,' and they don't. But you just got to keep plugging along. I think when you have something that's really good, and is bringing meaning to people's lives, somehow things work out for you, and that's certainly how it's gone for me through all the years I've been in this line of service.
We'd like to thank Marty for his time. We'd also like to thank Brendan Gahan at Fullscreen for getting us connected to Marty. If you'd like to learn more, here's the UCP WORK, Inc. website. Also, here's UCP WORK, Inc's YouTube channel.