Leili Khalessi

Leili Khalessi

I’ve had a wonderful time getting to know Leili Khalessi over the last six months as she participated in our Communications Director Mentoring Program. I think I learned as much from the experience as she did!  I see too many nonprofit communications directors who are treated like gophers, or the catch-all dumping grounds for work no one else in the office wants to do. But what if you could transform your role away from that and into something much more valuable to your organization and fulfilling for you? Something more like a Chief of Staff to your executive director or senior management team? Explore the possibility in Leili’s guest post. ~Kivi

Guest Post by Leili Khalessi of RedRover

As a nonprofit marketer, you’re tasked with tuning in with your organization’s supporters, partners and influencers. But did you realize that with these same skills, marketing is the new HR?

Let me introduce you to your new role: Chief of Staff.

A chief of staff plays a critical role as counselor and advisor to the chief executive. Chiefs of staff are responsible for ensuring high engagement from staff and board members, and work to solve issues before they reach the Executive Director.

So what does this have to do with you? Depending on your organizational structure, nonprofit marketers like us often serve as a central spoke between program staff, membership teams and the Executive Director.

The same social listening skills and sensitivity you use toward donors can strengthen your relationships with your Chief Executive and fellow staff.

Interpersonal leadership and nonprofit marketing share key similarities. Whether you’re engaging with supporters or employees, you are:

  • Inspiring people to contribute to your cause
  • Listening for problems and concerns
  • Sharing feedback and results
  • Continually driving your mission, brand and culture

This is the magic of marketing and human resources coming together: When you tap in to what your staff is thinking or feeling, you are organization’s most valuable counselor.

With this internal marketing knowledge, you’re in a position to reduce friction, help develop trust across the organization’s structure, manage change, and advocate for activities that will excite and delight your supporters.

What would it mean to wear the Chief of Staff hat within your organization? In what ways can you use your nonprofit marketing skills to build trust and strengthen your relationships with your team and your Executive Director.

Leili Khalessi is the Director of Communications, Marketing and Development for RedRover, a national animal welfare nonprofit, where she has the best coworkers in the world. She earned her bachelor’s degree in human resources before discovering that marketing is way more fun. Connect with her on Twitter: @LeiliXO