If you are overwhelmed, you aren't alone.
It’s what I hear day in and day out . . .
“There’s SO, SO much to do.”
“There is never enough time to do everything we need to, much less what we’d like to.”
“We are spread so thin already and our workload is increasing.”
“We are feeling overwhelmed with all the possibilities and different things we could be putting energy into.”
“There are so many channels to consider, evaluate, and decide to pursue (or not) – it is overwhelming.”
But you are excited, too!
I hear something else too . . . and I’d sum it up in this single word: EXCITED.
Nonprofit communicators are also an optimistic lot, excited by the potential to do some meaningful work for the causes they care so much about, especially in this exhilarating communications environment fueled by social media.
“We are reinventing the way we connect with our donors and prospective donors.”
“I am creating content that excites our donors in new and inventive ways.”
“We’re starting to get momentum with Facebook and Twitter, and it will be fun to see what this yields as we’re increasingly more strategic with both.”
“We finally have a team of staff and board members to focus on marketing!”
“For the first time ever, we are going to plan out our communications, and stick to that plan!”
Can you be both overwhelmed and excited by your job simultaneously? Of course you can!
It’s kind of like being a first-time parent. You are completely overjoyed about the little bundle of love and see a great future ahead, only to by stymied by the weight of responsibility for managing every little detail for someone who is completely dependent on you for every single thing – on three hours of sleep a night.
Nonprofit marketing is like that too . . . you are expected to be a superhuman with the skills of ten different professionals (writer, editor, designer, psychologist, IT geek, volunteer manager, PR maven . . . ) while juggling a constantly shifting and ever-growing to-do list. But you stick with it, because you know it's so important, and because you love it!
I get it. I’ve been there.
I learned nonprofit marketing on the job too.
My college degree is in environmental sciences and city planning, not nonprofit management or marketing.
When I started my consulting business in 1998, I thought I’d make a living as a freelance writer and editor for environmental organizations. I’d worked for the federal government, for a small foundation, and had served on boards and volunteered with numerous nonprofits. I saw plenty of need for a good writer who understood both the issues and the nonprofit world.
But within a matter of months, clients were asking if I could not only write their newsletter, but lay it out too. And could I get bids from the printer while I was at it? And convert it to a PDF and put in on the website? Could I not only whip up a press release, but call a few reporters too?
Before long, I was updating website copy, digitally cleaning up photos, and designing web pages. I went from reviewing The Elements of Style to setting styles in PhotoShop, PageMaker, InDesign, and DreamWeaver. I thought more about the rules of HTML and PHP than the rules of good grammar. Soon I was not only implementing tactics for clients, but also creating their marketing strategies, drafting their communications budgets, and attempting to calculate return-on-investment for all of this work.
For a few clients, I became their entire communications department. I either had to do it myself or, in a few cases, find very reasonably priced subcontractors to help me out, or the work wouldn’t get done. It certainly wasn’t a perfect solution for me or for my nonprofit clients, but we made it work, because it was the only option.
Over the next decade, I learned how to be that nonprofit marketing department of one. I experimented all the time, producing both successes and failures, but always learning. I spent more money than I care to admit on software, handbooks, and training courses to learn all I thought I needed to know, some of which was priceless, some of which was a complete waste of time and hard-earned cash.
In 2007, I decided to transition from primarily consulting to primarily training. I launched NonprofitMarketingGuide.com, which led to the publication of the book, The Nonprofit Marketing Guide: High-Impact, Low-Cost Ways to Build Support for Your Good Cause in 2010. My second book, Content Marketing for Nonprofits: A Communications Map for Engaging Your Community, Becoming a Favorite Cause, and Raising More Money, was released in September 2013. We are in our seventh year of our webinar series, and I write one of the top blogs on the web on nonprofit communications.
I love nonprofit marketing -- and sharing that love with you.
I’ve done it myself. I’ve taught thousands of nonprofits how they can do it themselves. I wrote two books on it. I have a huge network, so if there is something I haven’t done, I can always find people who have done it, and who are willing to share their advice. I'm also a Certified Executive Coach.
Training is great, but it's not enough.
You are left to figure out how to apply what you've learned on your own.
Thousands of nonprofits have attended our webinars, and we know they are helpful, because the reviews are overwhelmingly positive. But there's a problem with training alone.
Figuring out how to take a best practice and make it work in your unique situation can be difficult. I know that taking that next step after getting our training can be challenging, because you've told me so . . .
"It's hard to move beyond the great training you provide . . . what I really need now is help applying it."
"It's not enough to know the best practices. I need someone to show me how to implement them and how to deal with specific problems within my organization."
"I understand a lot of what you are saying, but I don't know how to prioritize my workload."
"After I get training, I always think, Is this right for us? Should we do this? What's most important?"
Consulting isn't the right answer either.
You need to learn how to do this yourself.
You might think that hiring me or someone else as a consultant is the answer to this dilemma. That sometimes works, but for many nonprofits (yours?), it's not the right answer either. First of all, it's expensive. My bare minimum consulting engagement is $5,000, and depending on what you need done, projects can run up to $30,000 (and many nonprofit marketing consultants and agencies charge much more . . . much, much more). You'll get some great work done, but hiring a consultant doesn't solve the fundamental problem:
You need to learn how to make strategic decisions, and to build marketing into the core of your nonprofit's operations.
That's not something a consultant can do for you -- you have to build your skills as a nonprofit marketing professional and do that yourself. But you've told me how hard that is to do on your own, especially as a one-person communications shop.
"I need an extra pair of experienced eyes to review my work critically and to take me to the next level."
"I need the guidance of a professional to give me suggestions on how to keep moving forward."
"I want someone to bounce ideas off of, and a system to help me keep on track."
What you really need is a mentor.
I think of mentoring as a combination of training, advising and coaching. Through training, I tell you how to do it. With advising, I share suggestions for how to apply that training to your specific situations. Through coaching, I help you find your own insights and solutions to your marketing and fundraising problems. Via this Mentoring Program, I do all three with you.
"As a person who is constantly coming up with ideas but not always great at executing them, I was thrilled at the prospect of working in the Nonprofit Marketing Guide Mentoring program to help achieve some of my goals. As the completion of the program nears, I can't say enough good things about the expertise Kivi provided and the wonderful camaraderie I experienced during these past few months. Being able to have an eclectic group of other nonprofit communicators as a sounding board has been really empowering. In addition to the great group calls, the individual calls allowed me to tap into Kivi's wealth of experience. Kivi is able to see the forest for the trees, always helping to keep me on track. The step-by-step outlines, the continuous feedback, and Kivi's keen insight have all helped give me the confidence to take our communications strategy by the reins and take the necessary steps to accomplish our organization's goals!"
~ Samantha Lee, Communications, Media and Marketing Coordinator, National WIC Association
Here's how I define my job as your nonprofit marketing mentor:
- Providing an experienced set of eyes to help you see more clearly . . . often the answers are in front of you, but you are so buried in the details that you can't see them
- Giving you concrete feedback on your work -- where it is falling short of the best practices, and constructive advice on how to make substantive improvements
- Helping you prioritize and focus on what's most likely to work best, and what's most important
- Showing you how to customize best practices for your unique situations
- Encouraging you to think more creatively about your nonprofit marketing approaches
- Challenging you to experiment, so you can find what genuinely works for your nonprofit
- Providing a framework that keeps you moving forward, instead of getting bogged down
- Identifying ways to work smarter and faster, without burning yourself out
By participating in this group program, you not only get me as a mentor, but other experts I'll bring in, and the other participants in the program too.
Look what we can accomplish together . . .
"I can’t recommend Kivi and her Mentoring Program highly enough. Kivi is uniquely smart, savvy and perceptive. She encourages self-reflection tempered by new perspectives and challenging ideas. Kivi is not only a good teacher, but a good facilitator and group leader who works effortlessly with diverse personalities. In our group, she gave each participant as much attention and time as requested. No joke – this is coming from one who took up quite a bit of her time and she was always available when I needed her. If you want to learn and become a better advocate, Kivi’s Mentoring Program is the place to do it."
~ Jennifer Jordan Hall, Founder and Director, KYK9 Search and Reunite Services
"I can’t tell you how helpful the Mentoring Program has been in getting our communications in order here at Food & Friends. You can tell that there has been a shift in the way everyone in the department thinks about their audience and messaging. Thank you."
~ Christopher Copley, Communications Manager, Food & Friends
I can help you grow into a smart, savvy nonprofit marketing department of one -- all while loving your job.
I picked six months for the length of the program because it is long enough to provide a quality, customized experience for you and short enough that you can see the end – with all that we will create together -- in sight.
We'll work through these six core topics over the course of the six-month program, focusing in-depth on one topic per month. This will include additional training for mentoring participants only, "Quick Kits" that include downloads that focus on the essentials, with links to more in-depth reading should you want it, as well as worksheets and checklists to help you apply the knowledge to your particular situation.
1. Defining and Understanding Who You Are Communicating With - July
The biggest time waster in nonprofit marketing is focusing on the general public. There is no such thing. You need to focus on the specific groups of people who are most important to your success. We'll work together on defining who those people are by creating personas, and then we'll get to know those groups even better.
2. Refining Your Messaging and Calls to Action - August
Unclear and confusing messaging is a plague that spreads quickly, because we often try to be everything to everyone. With specific audiences in mind, we'll work on creating compelling messages and clear calls to action so you know exactly what you are supposed to be saying in your communications.
3. Finding the Right Personality for Your Communications - September
One of the easiest ways for your nonprofit to stand out is to stop acting like a monolithic organization and start acting like a band of passionate people working toward a mutual goal. We'll work on letting your supporters see who you are and what you stand for by getting your style, voice, and tone right.
4. Mapping Out Your Communications Plan/Editorial Calendar - October
We'll figure out what kind of content you should be producing to best serve your target audiences and your nonprofit, and where and how often you should be distributing that content.
5. Using Online Marketing Tools Effectively - November
All the beautiful words and visuals in the world won't help you if you aren't using online marketing tools effectively. We'll get into the nitty gritty details of your website, email, and social media to make sure you are using those tools as effectively as possible.
6. Building Your Marketing Team - December
Try as you may, you can't do this job alone. We'll focus on ways to build and tap into your social capital -- the network of people around you who can help you get the job done faster, cheaper, and -- most importantly -- better.
"I have a social work background, not marketing experience, but my new role at our small nonprofit requires me to lead our marketing efforts. Kivi’s mentoring program has been the perfect investment—offering relevant and accessible tools and strategies. The monthly individual calls with Kivi meant that I could get into the specifics of our organization and she could coach me in my new marketing role. Having a cohort of peers provided another avenue to learn as they shared what worked or didn’t work, struggles they had with getting buy-in for their marketing efforts, or gave feedback on something I was doing. The course is structured with the perfect balance of accountability and self-directed activities so it can be tailored to your current workload and priorities. I have already recommended this to peers in other small nonprofits."
Karen Williams, Program Development Director, Trillium Employment Services
Here's how the mentoring program works.
We'll be in regular communication with each other, and with the larger group, ensuring you get the personal attention you need, when you need it, for six months.
- "Get to Know Each Other" Introductory Calls
Sometime in June, we'll schedule calls to get to know each better (one private call with you, and one group call with everyone together). During the private call, we'll discuss your personal and professional goals for this program. This is where you can explain to me in what ways we need to customize the program to work best for you and your nonprofit. During the group call, you'll get to know the other participants in the program so that we can get started on the work together.
- Monthly 90-Minute Group Calls
On our monthly call, I'll provide about 30 minutes of training and discussion on our monthly topic, tailored to the participants in the mentoring program. The remaining 60 minutes of the call will be led by participants. We all have something valuable to share with each other, so this time is often used to share experiences or expertise, or to ask for advice or feedback from the group. This allows you to offer your knowledge and experience to others, while also tapping into the group to help you work through your own marketing and fundraising challenges.
All group calls will be recorded so you can review them later.
- Monthly 60-Minute Private Consultations
In addition to the group calls, once a month you and I will talk privately abut your work and your progress, addressing any specific issues that are coming up, answering any questions you have, keeping you on track with the program, and making any personal adjustments that may be needed. If two 30-minute calls work better for you, we can do that instead.
- Unlimited "Quick Questions"
I'll be here for you in between our scheduled calls too. Participants can send me unlimited "quick questions" via email, phone calls, or direct messages on Twitter or Facebook. I'm happy to take 10 minutes to look over a draft, to answer a question, or to help you find a good resource, whenever you need it.
- Private Facebook Group
We'll use a private Facebook group where we can network, share, motivate each other, and problem solve together, as a group. I'll open the group in June so we can start getting to know each other before the official start of the program in July.
- All-Access Pass to the Webinar Series and E-Books
Your mentoring program registration includes six months of the All-Access Pass to our Weekly Webinar Series and E-Books too, so you can keep learning. (Already paid up on the Pass? We'll discount your registration fee accordingly.)
- Quick Kits for Each Core Topic
For each of the six core topics mentioned above, you'll get a downloadable Quick Kit that includes everything you need to make progress on that particular topic quickly. In addition to the live training we'll do on the Monthly Group Call and what you'll get through the All-Access Pass, you'll also receive additional training videos, links to additional reading (should you want to explore the topic further), and worksheets and checklists to help you apply what you are learning to your nonprofit's situation.
- Free Copies of The Nonprofit Marketing Guide and Content Marketing for Nonprofits
You can customize the program to meet your needs.
"Part confidant, part mentor, part tour guide, part teacher, Kivi is an amazing resource for nonprofits of all sizes. She’s one of the recognized leaders in the nonprofit marketing space and combines her experience and network to benefit each member of her Mentoring Program. Kivi’s class lets you know you are not alone and how you stack up to others, and to many, that’s the most important takeaway of all."
~ Sean King, Director of Marketing and Communications, Youth Education in the Arts
If you don’t like the schedule above, you can customize your own.
I've run this program five times, and the schedule outlined above works well. But if this schedule just doesn’t make sense for you, or your situation changes, don’t worry. We can shift some topics around on your personal agenda.
While the group training and discussions will follow the schedule, I am happy to provide materials, direction, and personal mentoring on the specific topics you need, when you need them.
What if we cover something you don’t need?
I’m not going to waste your time forcing you through something you really don’t think you need. But let me say this: Nonprofit marketing is always changing, and you can always learn more and do better.
On those topics where you excel or where you think you’ve done enough, you can share your experience and expertise with the others (They’ll do the same for you during other parts of the program.) Helping others solve their problems is a great way to reinforce your own skills. The application process for the program ensures that everyone will have something to learn, and something to teach.
What’s this really going to be like?
This mentoring program will help you learn ways to do your job better, to avoid being pulled in so many directions, to have more confidence in your decisionmaking and implementation, and to ultimately love your job even more.
But what I really hope is that it develops into a wonderful sisterhood – with a brother or two! 75% of Nonprofit Marketing Guide’s webinar participants and Facebook fans are women, but men and women are equally welcome in the program. In each of the previous sessions, one or two men have participated. This can be a lonely and frustrating job, where you often feel like you are wandering alone in the wilderness. Working together, we'll not only draw some great maps for moving forward, but I suspect we'll make some great friends along the way too.
Is this just for communications directors or one-person communications departments?
Yes, mostly. I want to work with the one person within your nonprofit who is primarily responsible for marketing decisions and implementation. I realize that this work is often shared by several people, but this mentoring program is really designed for a person whose primary job (and career goals) are centered on nonprofit marketing, and who doesn't have much additional, consistent help on staff. If you are an executive director who does it all, you are also welcome. Regardless of the size of your organization overall, the program is designed for the very small communications department. If you have a staff of several people helping you do this work, this is not the right program for you. Instead you should talk to me about private mentoring/consulting for you and your staff.
You are certainly welcome to share materials with others on staff, and co-workers are welcome to sit in on our private monthly consulting calls. However, to keep the group focused and cohesive, I ask that just one person from your nonprofit participate on the monthly group calls and in the private Facebook group.
"Kivi’s insightful and responsive guidance has opened my eyes and created a paradigm shift in how I think about and approach marketing and communication. While I have much work to do, I can say without hesitation that the program has not only helped me recognize areas that need improvement, but more importantly has shown me the path and provided essential tools for success. It’s been an honor to work with Kivi and I would highly recommend this program."
~ James Eirkson, Director of Education & Community Outreach
Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations
"The mentoring program was like scaffolding for me: it not only helped me get to the next step,
but helped me to see where I needed to go. I'm planning on implementing more of your tips and suggestions in the coming year."
~ Sharon Strong, Program Coordinator
International Primate Protection League
How much does the Mentoring Program cost?
I’ll be honest with you . . . it’s not as affordable as our All-Access Pass to our webinar series and e-books. But it’s much less expensive than working with me one-on-one. For what you will receive during the six months of the mentoring program, I would charge an individual organization at least $20,000, and probably more.
But because of the way the program is structured, I can provide this six-month mentoring program to you for just $3,000, which can be paid online in 6 monthly installments of $500. If you can pay your full fee upfront, you can save $500 and pay just $2,500. Either way, a deposit of $500 is required to hold your place when your application is approved, and that will be applied to the payment due in July.
This six-month program is all or nothing . . . to ensure that we establish a solid working relationship, that you get the support you need, and that the group builds continuity and trust, each participant must commit to the full six-month program. No partial registrations will be allowed.
This is an investment in you, and in the future of your organization. The return on that investment could be ten-fold in less than a year, because you’ll learn how to work much more efficiently, how to make better decisions, and to more wisely spend the resources you do have. I bet you'll also be much happier in your job, saving your nonprofit the high cost of replacing you.
As with everything we do, your registration comes with a full money-back guarantee. If after completing the full mentoring program, you decide it wasn’t worth the money, simply request a refund within 30 days and we’ll process it right away.
Are you ready to apply to the mentoring program?
I’m going to spend a great deal of time and energy with each participant, so I need to know that this is a good match, for both of us. Because the participants will also be working together as a group, I need to ensure we have a good blend of people. The quick application simply gives me some additional insights into whether this is a good fit for both of us.
I will accept applications until all spots are filled, and I will start offering spots to people in early May.
I can't wait for July, and hope you'll be there with us!
Not Ready to Apply Because You Have Questions? I'm happy to talk with you or anyone else involved in your decision to apply to this program. Please feel free to call my office at 336-300-8394 or to email me. If you need references, I can put you in touch with anyone who provided a testimonial on this page.
Not Ready to Apply Because There's No Way You Can Afford It? The All-Access Pass to our Weekly Webinar Series and E-Books is your next best option.
Work Outside North America? I welcome applicants from the around the world with two big caveats: (1) My experience is primarily with organizations based in North America, or international organizations with large North American donor bases. The content and advice will reflect this experience. (2) The monthly group calls typically take place between the hours of 12:00 - 4:00 pm Eastern (GMT -4/5, same time zone as New York City). If that means you can't make the live group calls because it will be the middle of the night where you are, you'll need to invest extra time into connecting with group members in other ways (e.g. Facebook Group). Individual calls with me can be scheduled in early morning or evening Eastern time.