The next season of my career trajectory took me out of the local church and into the local not-for-profit scene. I remember wondering what I would do next as I began to realize that I wanted to work in a different setting. I spent several weeks putting together lists of hard and soft skills I had learned over the years, researching some different career paths, and having some introspective conversations with friends.
This is what led me into a communications role.
Strategic and Creative Leadership
As Youth Unlimited grew in size and scope over the previous decade, the need for central communications support increased. With over 65 diverse initiatives, 70 staff, and 400 volunteers spread out across the city, my role was largely strategic in nature. An early part of my role was to envision a brand refresh that included a way of gathering this largely decentralized organization under a common language and story to better share with donors.
This involved creating a combination of digital and print resources to help communicate Youth Unlimited’s impact as well as offering support to our front-line staff in helping them root their work in the organization’s vision.
Big Fundraising Events
A major part of my job was giving some strategic oversight to our larger fundraising events in terms of key messaging and creative elements. We ran two of these events every year — a golf tournament in the Spring and a banquet in the Fall. It was a lot of fun collaborating around these events and coming up with a compelling theme/idea for each one as a way of inviting others to partner with our work.
Branding a Strategic Plan
I had the joy of participating in a discernment process to envision the next four years for Youth Unlimited (2019-2023). The whole thing was a testament to the character of the Executive Director, Scott Moore.
The process took about 6 months and at the end of it there were four clear directions that Youth Unlimited has discerned as their focus for the next 4 years.
My responsibility was then to come up with a compelling brand for communicating it to stakeholders.
Supporting Staff In Their Communication Needs
With such a large and decentralized team, the communications support needs were diverse and many.
One of the unique challenges of this charity was that every team member needs to raise part or all of their salary through personal fundraising efforts. This was often a combination of building a network of support partners and some sort of crowdfunding effort. Part of my role involved resourcing and assisting our team in best practices, tools, and new opportunities in communicating their needs.