A few weeks ago Katya Andresen sent me a review copy of her new book, Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes. I enjoyed the book so much I asked her if I could interview her about her work at Network for Good, her book and being a social marketer.
Describe the work you do for Network for Good.
My job is motivating people to give to their favorite charities through www.networkforgood.org – a nonprofit that was started by Yahoo!, AOL and Cisco in the wake of 9/11 with the vision of generating more money to charities online. Just as Amazon wants you to buy all the books you like at their site, we want you to donate to all the charities you like at our site. You can give to any US-based charity at Network for Good (there are more than one million), all in one credit card transaction. Because we process so many donations for charities - $32 million worth last year – we can do it incredibly efficiently, which keeps costs down for the charities you support. We then store all your giving records for you so you can access your donation history any time. No hunting for canceled checks when you’re desperately finishing your taxes on April 14th! It’s our belief that if we can make it as easy to give money online as it is to shop online, more people will do it more often, and, as a result, more charities will get more resources.
What do you enjoy the most about your work with Network for Good?
Network for Good is the perfect hybrid working culture – we’re an organization that runs like a business but retains the heart of nonprofit. We have a business plan that has us on track to operate without philanthropic support within a couple of years, and everyone in our office is paid on a bonus structure. If you do your job well – defined as measurably contributing to the advancement of our mission -- you are rewarded. I’ve never worked at a nonprofit that is so results-oriented, and it’s very refreshing. At most nonprofits, if you care, that’s considered enough. I don’t think that should be enough – if we can’t show we’ve made a difference, as staff, we should not be rewarded and as organizations, maybe we should not be allowed to preserve the status quo.
What are the biggest challenges in your work with Network for Good?
People typically give to charity when there is a crisis (like the horrendous tsunamis or Hurricane Katrina), and they give money at the end of the year. And that’s about it. My biggest challenge is figuring out how to encourage steadier support. We’re approaching this in two ways. First, we ask people to consider monthly giving, with automatic credit card payments every month. This has been incredibly successful – this month, around 40% of donations are coming from this recurring giving. This ensures a steadier stream of resources for charities. Second, we’re forging some partnerships that encourage charity at other times of year. For example, we partnered with Organic Bouquet, an online florist with environmentally responsible practices, to establish www.flowersforgood.org. We ask people to send flowers at Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day through Flowers for Good, and we contribute a significant amount of money for each purchase to the charities people choose (there are nearly a dozen to choose from).
What keeps you motivated and energized to do this work?
I am profoundly impatient. I spent seven years living in developing countries, and the poverty and tragedy I saw on a daily basis left me with an acute sense of how important it is not just to help people, but to do it really well and really quickly. The child sex slave in Cambodia or the cyclone victim in Madagascar doesn’t have time for us to wordsmith our mission statements or waste time with lackluster fundraising efforts. We have a moral obligation to be extremely efficient and effective at what we do, right this minute. What gets me motivated and energized is to help well-intentioned people to do that every day, through innovative marketing. I do this at Network for Good, and I tried to do this in writing my book.
Why should nonprofit workers read your book? What will they learn?
If you’re impatient, too, read the book! The book is for anyone who’s frustrated that donors, partners or beneficiaries just aren’t listening or are failing to take action. It lays out ten sound principles (I call them “Robin Hood Rules”) behind some of the most successful marketing campaigns in history, and shows how anyone can use them to advance their cause by leaps and bounds. I wrote the book to demystify marketing so everyone from a PTA mom to a nonprofit executive could use marketing to accomplish more good in the world.
What tips, resource and advice would you give to someone who wanted to do marketing for nonprofits as a career?
First, I’d say “thank you – the world needs you!” We need more marketing people in the nonprofit world. Second, I’d highly recommend getting some solid marketing experience, even outside the nonprofit sector. In the nonprofit world, we too often hire people because of their passion for a cause. It’s okay to have passion, but you need skills, too. If you want to do public relations, you should get some journalism experience first. If you want to do marketing, go sell something first. It doesn’t matter if it’s soap or sandwiches, it will help you see that we market best when we’re somewhat dispassionate. The key to motivating people is not to preach at them, it’s to see the world from their perspective and then position our cause accordingly. That requires a dose of dispassion, because we’re putting our audience – not ourselves – at the center of our marketing efforts.
Katya will presenting a 90-minute webinar about Robin Hood Marketing on Thursday, May 18 at 10:00 am Pacific. It's $60 for N-TEN members and $85 for non-members.
You can register at: http://www.nten.org/webinars
If you know a Solutionary Woman who works at a nonprofit or NGO who you think I should profile, please email me at britt at brittbravo dot com with their name, organization and contact info.