You May Call Us Evangelists


Philanthropy411 is currently covering the Communications Network Fall 2013 Annual Conference conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a guest post by  Jorge Cino, Creative Writer & Nonprofit Communications Specialist for the Levi Strauss Foundation.  Follow Jorge on Twitter – @jorgecino.

Cino1From the struggle many nonprofits face in engaging elusive millenials to the complexities of navigating the fragmented media landscape, much (good stuff) has been written by my peers about last week’s 2013 Communications Network Conference.

But the more I reflect on it, the more I return not to the “latest lessons and best practices,” not to the “new tools and resources,” but to a desire to reflect on us, communications folks.

David Simon, creator of the HBO drama The Wire, advised us to “look at the fault lines” and share more of those uncomfortable but illuminating narratives.

Journalist Maria Hinojosa called for us to be reliable resources and educate journalists and bloggers so that they can in turn inform the public on the pressing social issues of our time.

The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta emphasized the importance of maintaining our messages and subject’s integrity, and novelist Junot Diaz urged us to relinquish (partial?) control so that our audiences can own their narratives.

In times of constant change and uncertainty, perhaps the greatest benefit of coming together at a conference like this and hearing from revered “outsiders looking in” is to remind one another of why we love doing what we do, and to renew our commitment to the people and issues we serve.

When designing an innovative or untested communications strategy, are we daring to ask ourselves, “Why not?”

When we finally get a seat at the table with our program peers, are we asking precise (and sometimes tough) questions? How about offering precise (and sometimes tough) answers?

When culling the most impactful stories from our grantees, are we equipping them and our program colleagues with the necessary tools and resources they need to better help us?

Does our passion and enthusiasm to amplify their good work shine through? Are we sharing updates and results along the way with all key stakeholders? Are we modeling transparency and adaptability?

And if not… Why not?

Yes, at the conference I was reminded that us communications folks are, above all, evangelists. And as any good evangelist knows, to inspire others we must first inspire ourselves.

Kris is a sought after philanthropy advisor, expert and award-winning author. She has helped over 90 foundations and philanthropists strategically allocate and assess over half a billion dollars in grants and gifts.

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