Interview With Author Sybil F. Stershic -- Share of Mind, Share of Heart

09/07/2012

Sybil Stershic_3It is with great pleasure that I have the honor of introducing our Diva Marketing community to a dear friend, Sybil Stershic.

Sybil's second book, Share of Mind, Share of Heart, explores the world of nonprofit marketing. The book takes a different slant from other books about NPOs; it focuses on the impact that employees and volunteers have on brand perception.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Sybil, Right from the start of Share of Mind, Share of Heart it’s clear that this is a book that you believe in and that comes from your heart. The Forward sets the direction that nonprofit marketing holds an additional element that may not be as prominent in other industries.  It’s often based on a personal and passionate commitment.

How do you walk the fine line of believing passionately in a cause while maintaining business objectivity?

Sybil Stershic: It can be a challenge, Toby. Passion for the mission is what attracts nonprofit employees, volunteers, donors and other supporters. It helps connect them and keep them engaged with the work of a nonprofit.

But passion for the mission without a bigger picture perspective can be dangerous – it can lead to burnout and a condition known as “mission creep” that dilutes organizational focus. Effective oversight by nonprofit leadership, via the executive staff and board of directors, is needed to maintain a dual focus on both the mission and the organization’s viability. While a strong mission helps drive financial support – i.e., “no mission, no money” – these leaders understand the reverse is also true – “no money, no mission.”

Toby/Diva Marketing:  Your book is full of practical, creative ideas that at first glance seem so simple; however, we know too well that implementation can be a challenge. 

Would you talk to us about what you refer to as “After The First Day” (P 59)? After the initial orientation and excitement about the organization has waned how can we help remind staff and volunteers of the mission and goals and keep them on track?

Sybil Stershic: New staff and volunteers get a lot of attention when they first join the organization. Even in smaller organizations that don’t have formal orientation or on-boarding programs, there’s still an effort to “imprint” the new person with the organization’s mission, values, and goals.

After a while the newbies blend in with other staff and volunteers. If the collective group is not kept informed on an ongoing basis as to what’s happening in the nonprofit and how it’s responding, the people within the organization tend to hunker down and lose sight of the big picture. Job descriptions become outdated; members of the board turn over, yet the staff doesn’t know who the new board members; the strategic plan is updated, but not shared with staff and volunteers; etc.

  • In the absence of ongoing communication, people start to disengage.

What’s amazing, Toby, is that the remedy to this isn’t all that difficult. It involves being intentional in proactively communicating with staff and volunteers. For example, the Jewish Family & Career Services of Atlanta (Whom you introduced me to, thank you! My pleasure Sybil. Bloggy disclaimer: JF&CS is a client.), holds an all-staff meeting the day after each  monthly board of directors’ meeting to share board meeting results along with updates on grants and special events. JF&CS also recognizes and shares volunteer accomplishments in its monthly e-newsletter.

Another great example is the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute that starts staff meetings and board meetings by reading aloud its mission statement to keep everyone focused. These two examples illustrate that keeping the people who help fulfill the mission “in the know” doesn’t require a Herculean effort –  it’s basic communication and engagement via staff meetings, volunteer meetings, internal newsletters, training, staff/volunteer recognition, and special events, as needed.

Diva Marketing/Toby: “So the degree to which you capture and keep consumers’ share of mind and heart is directly influenced by their interactions with your staff and volunteers.” (P 33) I really like this statement ... a lot.

Since Diva Marketing is focused on social media I’m wondering how much of a nonprofit’s online engagement in social networks, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. influences share of mind and heart?

Sybil Stershic: The degree to which a nonprofit uses social networks depends on the organization – its culture, mission, key audiences, etc. That said, social media is a wonderful way to grow share of mind and heart with mission-inspired content.

Sharing stories and pictures of how people benefit from the mission (while not breaching confidentiality) Max reading Sybil's share of mind share of heart … volunteers or donors sharing their experiences supporting the mission (also reinforcing the ways people can get involved) …  staff members offering a behind-the-scenes perspective of a special event … these stories help bring the mission to life. A nonprofit can also write blog posts and share links to content that educates people about its mission and programs.

While social media advocates say “content is king,” I’d go even further to say “careful content is critical” in that nonprofits need to consider sensitivity in how they present any and all messages that reflect on their mission and brand. A negative impression can easily go viral.

Toby/Diva Marketing:
  What are your thoughts about involving staff, who are not in the marketing department, and also volunteers in participating in social media/networks? Let’s take these two ways.  The first is as one of the “voices” of the nonprofit.

Sybil Stershic: I know this seems like an oxymoron, but any “voice” speaking on behalf of a nonprofit needs to be authentic to be credible, yet carefully managed to ensure the wrong message isn’t put out there. That’s why social media guidelines and training need to be part of both Human Resources and Marketing policies.

Toby/Diva Marketing: The second ... how would you encourage nonprofits to interact with consumers in the digital world?

Sybil Stershic:  The answer to this depends on the organization and its target audiences’ access to and use of social media.

For example, I know a health-related nonprofit that combines both high-tech and low-tech approaches in building share of mind and heart. To broaden its outreach efforts, the marketing director produced a brief educational video as part of an “ambassador portfolio” that also contains a list of frequently asked questions and updated brochures for use by board and staff members. Employee reps show the video when meeting with outside groups or hosting on-site facility tours.

Marketing is also in the process of updating the website to be more engaging. Yet because many of its older board members do not use email, this nonprofit communicates with its board primarily by phone and regular mail.

Toby/Diva Marketing: You’ve worked with many different types of nonprofits, and you’ve also worked with for profits. For me your book provides a roadmap that can be easily modified and used by both.  One challenge that both nonprofit and for profits face is opening lines of communication across the organization .. or “de-siloing.” What suggestions can you give us to help that critical process?

Sybil Stershic: The best way to start is to ask employees for their ideas on what works in bridging these silos. They can also help identify which departments or divisions are already doing with well with inter-organizational communications; these areas can serve as role models.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Sybil, as is the tradition of Diva Marketing interviews, you have the last word. What would you tell our community, especially those marketers working in the nonprofit world?

Sybil Stershic: Recognize your marketing team includes everyone who works in your organization, regardless of the department or function they are assigned. So you need to effectively engage the minds and hearts of the people behind the mission (your employees and volunteers who impact your brand) as well as the people in front of the mission (your consumers and the public).

Thanks, Toby!

Continue the conversation with Sybil!

Quality Services Marketing - website and blog | Share of Mind Share of Heart |Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Emplpyee Customer Care |Twitter @Sybilqsm

Stories From Smaller Nonprofits: Ben Massell Dental Clinic

12/29/2011

Stars
 As 2011 comes to a close, some people may sigh with relief and then smile with the thought of a new year beginning. If your dental care has been neglected those smiles may be few and far between. However, there is a unique Atlanta nonprofit that is giving smiles back.

Today's Diva Marketing's Shine A Spotlight on smaller nonprofits goes out to the Ben Massell Dental Clinic. Although, it's parent nonprofit organization, JF&CS, might not be considered "small", BMDC is a stand alone entity with it's own staff and budget .. so in our book it counts as a smaller npo.

The Ben Massell Dental Clinic is the only resource for comprehensive, quality dental care available at no cost to Atlanta's neediest population. The clinic provides the most advanced dental care available to thousands of patients each year.

Its 140 volunteer dentists dedicate their time and expertise every month to people who otherwise would not have access to the services it offers. In 2012, the clinic will celebrate its 100 year anniversary. Jf&cs sam massell sign

The BMDC, part of Jewish Family & Career Services of Atlanta, provides people with basic care not only for their mouths but for their overall health – from general health screenings to counseling. Its dentists come from a variety of backgrounds and faiths, as well as all the major dental specialties, including endodontics, periodontics, orthodontics, dentures  and oral surgery. In the last fiscal year, they provided nearly $2.5 million worth of procedures that restored smiles and literally saved lives.

Joseph L. Smith, LMSW, the social services program manager at the BMDC, is our story teller. He graciously takes us behind the scenes and shares his experiences of what it's like to work at the Ben Massell Dental Clinic.

A graduate of the University of New Orleans with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology, Joseph was part of the wave of residents forced to leave the city by Hurricane Katrina. He knows what it’s like falling on hard times and then being picked up by the generosity of others. 

After receiving a master’s degree from Clark Atlanta University in social work with an emphasis on mental health, Joseph joined the BMDC staff in June 2007. He is responsible for connecting the clinic’s patients to social services in the community and facilitates mental health testing, support groups and psychoeducational sessions at the clinic.

Rachel Simons, JF&CS Program Manager, asked Joseph what inspires him and this is what he told her.

Joesph Smith_BMSC ManagerJoesph L. Smith - As the social worker at the Ben Massell Dental Clinic, my job is to help connect patients with sometimes life-saving resources.

Over the past five years, I have had the opportunity to help thousands of patients, but their perseverance and fortitude in the face of economic, mental health, health and other adversities have helped me the most. They constantly remind me of the power of the human spirit. 

I admire each and every one of the clinic’s patients. One of the patients who I admire the most is fighting the battle of her life -- stage four cancer. This patient faced eviction, hunger, cancer and the six to 12 months her doctor gave her to live.  We were able to connect her with food, resources to improve her life circumstances and a counselor to whom she could talk to help her through her tough situation. 

It is now a year later and she is in remission.

This patient’s life-altering experience has truly changed my life. It has caused me to look deeper inside of myself for the fortitude to continue to fight and advocate for the clinic’s patients.

I am generally a happy person, but she has taught me the true value in smiling in the face of adversity, never giving up hope and living each day to its complete fullest. Patients like her are the reason why I love being a social worker at the Ben Massell Dental Clinic.

Bmdc logoJFCS-logo
More From Ben Massell Dental Clinic

Website JF&CS 

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Bloggy disclaimer (and brargging rights!): I was honored to be highlighted by the JF&CS as a volunteer of the month

Stories From Smaller Nonprofits: Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative

12/28/2010

Stars This December the winds blew colder than usual and for many their winter wonderland turned life into a world of isolation. For nonprofits, who depend on the kindness of strangers, this year especially, with the challenges of the economy it seemed to feel as thought they were fighting the battle for their cause alone.

During this month Diva Marketing is shining the light on a few smaller nonprofits. It is our hope that stories you read will inspire you to help in ways that fit with your life .. be it a donation, an hour of volunteer time, a Facebook status update or an extra tweet.

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative is as unique and personal as its name. Alzheimer's can impact the lives of its victims and their families in much the same way as the winter blizzards can wrap you in isolation and fear. However, through the works created by Ami Simms and a group of gifted quilters there is hope and warmth.

The story of the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative is told by it's founder Ami Simms.

I am a quilter. I founded Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative in the midst of my mother's 7-year struggle with Alzheimer's disease because I had to do something. I don't know how to cure disease, but I do know how
Mom&Ami to quilt.  I have a voice in the quilting community and I thought this was the time to open my mouth. Photo of Ami and her Mom. 

More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's, a neurodegenerative disease that destroys brain cells. With cell death come memory loss and cognitive decline. Alzheimer's isn't forgetting where you went on vacation in 1997, it’s the gradual loss of every memory you ever had, every skill you ever learned, and every relationship you ever held dear. You lose yourself, bit by bit. So far, there are no survivors.

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) is a grassroots, Internet-based effort to raise awareness and fund research through art. We sponsor a nationally touring exhibit of quilts about Alzheimer's called Alzheimer's Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope. Fifty-three small format art quilts explore the disease from a variety of perspectives. They are shown with 182 "Name Quilts," each a 6-inch by 7-foot quilted panel of names of people who have/had Alzheimer's or a related dementia. There are more than 10,000 names in all, written by family members and friends.

The AAQI sells and auctions donated quilts, more than 6,100 so far. The Priority: Alzheimer's Quilt project offers a way for quilters to grieve the loss of a loved one with needle and thread. Those who can't thread a needle can open their wallets to honor their efforts and fund research. (See our Quilts For Sale page.) 

Since 2006, our all-volunteer charity has raised nearly $500,000 for Alzheimer's research, one quilt at a time. The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative auctions small quilts the first 10 days of every month. Please visit us to see the quilts in the January auction and to participate in the online auction. AGI _ umbrella of hope  

Social Media Does Social Good

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative does not maintain a traditional "donor list" of names and street addresses. Instead, we rely on virtual "word of mouth."

1. Every donated quilt gets its own web page that includes a photograph of the quilt, information about the quilt, and a place for a dedication if the artist wishes. Donors are encouraged to email, blog, facebook, and tweet when their quilt is up for auction or available on our web site to purchase. We facebook and tweet the number of every quilt sold.

2. All news about the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative is disseminated via email, facebook, and/or RSS feed to our AAQIUpdate blog. Donations are accepted through our website and through 3,000-member facebook causes page. We are listed and reviewed in GreatNonprofits.com 

3. Supporters help us by placing our logo (linked back to our home page) on their blogs and web pages. 

The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative auctions small quilts the first 10 days of every month. Please visit us to see the quilts in the January auction and to participate in the online auction.  

AQI Logo Learn More About Alzeheimer's Art Quilt Initiative

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