Today I’m introducing a new series of posts on this blog that over the next several months will take you behind-the-scenes and into the marketing and communications decision-making of a small nonprofit called NCGives. NCGives, with just three full-time staff, works statewide in North Carolina to redefine the way we think about philanthropy.
Philanthropy is not just something that wealthy individuals and foundations do — in fact, that’s really a small piece of a much bigger giving pie. Instead, NCGives urges us to think of philanthropy as something we can all do, and actively recognizes, celebrates, and encourages giving of all kinds, at all levels — what they call the “philanthropy of community.” NCGives focuses on women, young people, and communities of color and helps them see the potential in this approach to philanthropy, by for example, encouraging the formation and growth of giving circles.
Why focus on NCGives in this series? NCGives was founded as a project of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation five years ago, and is now in the process of being becoming an independent nonprofit. As they do that, they have many marketing decisions to make, both strategic and tactical, much like any other small nonprofit.
Over the next several months, I’ll be mentoring Melinda Pearce, NCGives’ communications director, and she and I will be sharing many of our discussions on this blog with you. We hope you will contribute to the conversation and learn from our experiences too.
Here is how Melinda describes this partnership in her own words:
“NCGives is a small-staffed, statewide nonprofit on a mission to help our communities get stronger through inclusive philanthropy. With five years under our belt (and a 3-year-old communications department), we’re moving from an “infant stage” to a “toddler stage,” and with that comes many opportunities to grow and change for the better. I’m excited to work with Kivi as we explore many of the marketing challenges that come with transitions like these, from tightening our overall messaging to refining the day-to-day operations of a one-woman communications department. But not only that . . . we want to draw back the curtain from the inner workings of this process, so that you too can benefit from NCGives’ real-life exploration. Here’s to stronger nonprofit marketing!”
Here are just a few of the topics we expect to cover:
- Translating foundation-speak into plain English
- Wordsmithing a mission statement
- Turning a list of programs into a clear, meaningful elevator pitch
- Developing a tagline
- Tweaking a logo design
- Helping supporters talk about the organization, e.g. give speeches when staff are unable to attend events
Let’s start the conversation now. Immediately after this post, I’ll add another asking for your perspective on the role of a board communications committee. It’s a challenge that Melinda is wrestling with right now.