Learning Series | Meetings for Impact with Jay Allen & The Influence Board

March 24, 2022


We chat about how senior executives can leverage their time and expertise to help deliver social impact. Learn the latest with Jay Allen from The Influence Board.

In this video, we discuss:

  • How executives can think about social impact and skills-based volunteering
  • Social impact
  • Corporate volunteering

Looking for more insights and conversations around all things social impact? Check out WeHero Learn for more videos and blogs. WeHero designs and executes social impact programs through strategic partnerships, CSR & ESG program design and execution, and engaging volunteer programs. Our team works day in and day out to develop new solutions to create better cultures, better brands, and a greater social return. Our mission: To build innovative solutions that empower organizations and individuals around the world to maximize social impact.

Interview Transcript

Ben - WeHero: Welcome everybody. Thank you so much for joining into another session of the wehero learn series. I'm very excited to have Jay Allen here from the influence board, Jay, how you doing today?
Jay - Influence Board: Doing fantastic. Thanks for having us on.
Ben - WeHero: Absolutely. You and I were talking before this call just about how we're always looking for new and innovative ways for CSR, our professionals and companies to create social impact. And I think sometimes there's things that we do in our every day in our work lives, sometimes in our personal lives that we can use to create that kind of impact. And so I was really excited to bring you on if you could give us just the, the breakdown of what the influence board is and how you thought about this idea to get us started, that would be wonderful. Let's hear what you do.
Jay - Influence Board: Yeah. I I've spent the last 22 years building and running some of the largest networks of influential people in the mountain west states senior officers from just about every billion dollar company in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, et cetera. All of these executives were struggling with a common and that was, they get 30 to 50 vendor calls and emails a day people wanting to meet with them and, and they had readily admit, they know there's probably 1% of those they should have taken.  You know, there were things that they needed to hear in problems. They could have solved the, but they don't have a filter. And so they just say no to everybody. And so they were really trying to figure out how can we turn, how can we create a filter for all that noise? But so that they can get access to relevant innovation, but they wanted to do it in a way that had a social impact as well, that an, an asset of some kind that could be valuable. And so the idea they came up with was became the influence board. It's a way for them to get meeting request filtered for relevancy and take one or two relevant meetings each month in a turn for a meaningful donation to a worthy cause of their choosing. So they get access to relevant innovation and they have a meaningful social impact every time they do.
Ben - WeHero: It's so cool. And just to feed it back to you to make sure I understand, and the audience understands. So let's say I'm just an individual. I'm very interested in speaking with executive at a big company. Let's say her name's Michelle. I can reach out to Michelle through, through the influence board and I can pay a certain amount of money to have that connection with her to have that conversation. And that money is getting donated to the nonprofits that Michelle and her company has set up to support. Is that correct?
Jay - Influence Board: Correct. Yeah. Michelle will tell you in her per profile, Hey, an hour of my time is $300. Here are the charities that will benefit if I accept your meeting request. And by the way, here are topics I'm interested in meeting on and here are topics I'm not interested in meeting on. So everything is very transparent. If you fit Michelle's meeting interest and you're willing to make a $300 donation in that case to one of Michelle's charities, then she will consider the meeting. You don't pay anything unless she accepts the meeting. But at least she'll look at your meeting request and thoughtfully consider it. And if she accepts your meeting request, you make the donation and you have the meeting.
Ben - WeHero: So I'm so curious for folks that are considering doing this. What are executives and leaders putting right now as meeting topics that they're interested in? What kind of conversations are typically happening on the influence board?
Jay - Influence Board: A lot of it has to do with the executives often don't know what they don't know. And so a, a lot of what they're willing to meet on is, Hey, if you have something that can reduce our operating cost in a certain area, by at least 20%, I'm curious what it is. Or if you have a new in innovative idea that can help us customer service in a meaningful way, you know, I'm interested in that. And occasionally they'll get more granular, they'll say, Hey, we have a cybersecurity initiative right now. You know, if you're if you have something innovative in the cybersecurity space that's something I'm open to taking a look at.
Ben - WeHero: And I'm so curious as well, Jay, because you know, the influence board is so cool because as you know, executives, leaders, whoever it is it's, so time is their most valuable resource. And so even considering something with a social impact piece like this, they're probably still in the back of their head going, how long is this going to take? How much time should I plan on giving? What do you see right now? Like how much time are people dead? How many meetings are they doing a month? Would love to get a sense of like what those numbers look like right now.
Jay - Influence Board: Yeah. They, so on the platform, it's always one hour meetings. So we, you know, the executives are committing to a one hour meeting. Every time they accept a meeting most of them are limiting the number of submissions each month, five. So they'll consider five meetings. They may only accept one of the five each month. They may accept all five, really. They it's based on the merit of the meeting request. They are truly not taking these meetings just to raise money for charity. They want to take relevant meetings and have a social impact as well. So they, they don't want to waste their time they to waste the vendor's time either. But so, you know, typically we're seeing one to two meetings a month by the executives on the platform, which is perfect.
Ben - WeHero: It's a very reasonable amount. And for folks that are going like, oh, am I going to get bombarded? Like, I love that there's limits. It's very controlled. You can set those limits yourself. Which makes that really easy. Jay, walk me through the setup to do this, because I think this is pretty easy for like a company to get started so fine, Michelle, and I'm an executive at XYZ Company. How do I get started with the influence board and get this set up?
Jay - Influence Board: Yeah, there's a couple ways as an executive to get started. One is you may be part of an executive association that's already joined the platform and, and they'll offer you a free profile. If, if they've joined the platform as an association, a lot of executives just go to influence board.com and they can create their own profile. It's free. And you know, it takes 90 seconds and you're up and going on the influence board, we're starting to work with large enterprises as well, who want to incorporate this more formally as a corporate social responsibility tool in the mid. And in that case, the organization would also be providing their leadership access to the platform.
Ben - WeHero: I'm curious about the other side of this, which is the nonprofit support. What are you noticing in regards to trends of the kinds of nonprofits that are being supported by the influence board? Do executives and teams tend to change those nonprofits quite often? Is it easy to change? Would love to get a sense of like what that piece of this looks like?
Jay - Influence Board: Yeah, it's interesting. When we started the influence board, we didn't, we as a company, didn't go pick charities to go beyond the platform. Every executive who joined could nominate a, an organization that they wanted the funds to go to, to it. It had to be a, you know, qualified charity. But so every time an executive would join early on, we were getting a new charity nominated. We, we would vet the charity and, and get them active. As an executive, you can pick, you know, five different charities or nonprofits that you want money to go to. And every time you accept a meeting, the platform will ask you where do you money to go for this meeting? And you pick which organization is going to receive the funds for that particular meeting. So you can kind of spread the wealth a little bit. The nonprofits love it. This is a whole new bucket of money to draw from. It's, it's a conversion of vendor marketing dollars into charitable funds and fact that their supporters can dramatically increase the amount of funding they're giving to the organization without having to write a check themselves or twist a friend's arm to, to write a check. It makes it real easy for their supporters to increase their, their giving.
Ben - WeHero: I think this is interesting because at WeHero, we work so much, much on crafting social impact strategies, trying to increase employee engagement, but getting executives involved in that can sometimes be really challenging. But this seems like a really attainable way to actually do that through actually get executives and leaders involved, to take that time, to make a very meaningful amount of impact right out the gate with something as simple as just having a phone call with someone. So I think just getting engagement from the top level within companies, this is going to be really powerful
Jay - Influence Board: And what's nice is really anybody inside the enterprise who's fielding vendor calls could be manager level, could be the CEO can really convert that noise into meaningful impact. So you, you don't have to be a top executive in the company to be able to part, to participate on the platform. You know, as, as long as you're fielding vendor calls, you're a candidate to leverage the influence board to, to do some good.
Ben - WeHero: Yeah. Taking like a, a big step out just because you've been in this space for so long. And, and now that you're like in this world of social impact, I want to get a sense from you. What is exciting you about the industry right now? What are you noticing outside of the influence board? Whether it be a trend, a theme that you're noticing, something of interest just want get that out to the audience like what's really getting you excited right now.
Jay - Influence Board: Well this, the whole trend of social impact in general is exciting to see you see the, what I think was frustrating early on is the, the enterprise would say the word social impact, but really, you know, it wasn't getting pushed down. It wasn't being lived by all the employees that has changed over the last few years. Now, the employees are very much involved in ensuring that the organization is delivering on the, the promises and the vision of social impact that that they're, that they're making. And this is one more tool to deliver on that promise. So the, the organization can, you know, they may have those foundations and, and corporate approved charities that they already engage with. Now tools like the influence board and others are really handing the power back to the employees to say, okay, now you know, go make an impact in, in any way they, you want to, and in the areas that you want to, and just having the employees have all the tools they need to drive that process themselves, instead of having it push down from the top is I think the right direction to go.
Ben - WeHero: Yeah, I couldn't agree more. Yeah, I working with existing systems and again like you, you and I were talking about just doing things that are already being done, just creating a social impact lever to that is so interesting. I was speaking with the company recently that they do corporate insurance. But they really focus on making sure that they're supporting nonprofits through that insurance program, that those premiums are going to investments like 1% for the planets, so on and so forth. And, and so it's, there's so many things that we're spending money on that we can just flip to a social impact solution cost the same amount of money in your case. It's totally free. Which I just think so excited about our industry and how creative people are getting. Jay, are there any other final thoughts you want folks to have or that you think people know they're listening to this?
Jay - Influence Board: The one thing I would add is we have tried to make this as simple as possible. I mean, it's free for the executives to join. It's free for the vendors to join. You know, no money is exchanged unless an executive accepts a relevant meeting from a vendor and good things are happening. The only fee we take. So if it's a, if it's a hundred dollars meeting there's a 17% utilization fee when the transaction happens. So it'd be $117 paid and the full hundred goes to the charity and the 17% is revenue to us. So, so we only succeed as an organization if we're succeeding and having an impact with nonprofits. I mean, so we're, we're only making money if the nonprofits are succeeding as well.
Ben - WeHero: I love that. One the things you and I talked about earlier, Jay is just the ability to report. I know that's something that's like in the roadmap, but what can people do today? Can, you know, if I'm an executive, can I see how much money I've raised for an organization? Can I get that kind of like level of detail?
Jay - Influence Board: We do have data in their dashboard that they have access to. Like you said, in our roadmap, we want to be able to feed that information into other CSR tools that exist today that the enterprise might be using. But today that's all visible in the dashboard that the executive has.
Ben - WeHero: Perfect. I absolutely love this Jay again, I just love ideas like this and just a new and unique way of how to create social impact a company. We just need more ideas like this, and we're hoping you the best of success. Can you say it again, Jay? Just how people can find you, how people can find the influence board. And of course, we'll link this in the show description as well.
Jay - Influence Board: Yeah. If you go to influenceboard.com, you'll see everything right there. And if you need to reach me, I'm pretty easy to reach just Jay@influenceboard.com. I field questions all the time. So if you have questions, shoot me an email and I'm happy to respond.
Ben - WeHero: Perfect. Well, thank you everybody for listening, Jay, thank you so much for being generous with your time. We wish you the best of luck and we're going to do everything we can to support you all and love what you're doing. So thank you for being here.
Jay - Influence Board: Thanks for letting us participate. Ben.
Ben - WeHero: Awesome. Jay, I'll talk to you soon.

Your Hosts

Andy VandenBerg
Andy VandenBerg is the co-founder and COO of WeHero where he works closely with hundreds of companies to help them reach their social impact goals. Andy speaks actively about the importance of aligning strategy with social responsibility and how companies can pursue both purpose and profit. Andy’s past experience includes private equity and family office investing. If he’s not in front of his computer, you can find him in the Pacific Ocean or Lake Michigan.
Ben Sampson
Ben Sampson is the co-founder and CEO of WeHero where he works closely with hundreds of companies to help them reach their social impact goals. Ben speaks actively about corporate social responsibility, volunteerism, sustainability, and how companies united with activism drive powerful change. Ben’s past experience includes leading product teams, building startups, and studying sustainable business strategy at Harvard. In his free time, he’s an avid outdoor enthusiast focused on skiing, surfing, and mountain biking.

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