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5 Details Not to Overlook When Planning A Nonprofit Marketing Campaign

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Get the most out of your nonprofit marketing campaign by using these tips.

By Kyle Schnurbusch, Strategy Director

Over the last four months, I’ve been talking with leaders about developing nonprofit marketing campaigns that build awareness for their organizations. The thought is that as our world “normalizes,” supporters’ sentiments about our world will continue to become more optimistic and stable. Because of this, causes that are visible and can best define their position have an opportunity to gain attention from new and familiar supporters. I agree with this thinking and believe that nonprofits that can create strategically creative, well-targeted awareness campaigns will be most successful in reaching their programming and fundraising goals over the next year.

So, as you consider an awareness campaign for your nonprofit, here are five details you don’t want to overlook in your planning and execution:

1. Determine the perceptions surrounding your nonprofit’s brand before building a marketing campaign strategy.

When was the last time you asked your donors, clients or partners to share their perspectives about your cause? It’s important to gather and learn from these perspectives as you develop your campaign strategy and message.

What do they know? What do they wish they knew more about? How does your cause make them feel? Do they know your organization’s why and where your mission is headed? How is your organization solving a problem differently? Why do they trust you?

Once you’ve gathered interviews, look for consistencies and determine how to best use those insights within your nonprofit marketing campaign strategy. Responses can help shape personas and direct targeted content for each audience. Knowledge gaps that are uncovered can spark ideas for educational content that can help people develop a deeper understanding of the problem you’re working to solve, and why your solution matters. Finally, responses should provide insights on ways to keep audiences engaged so that you can eventually move them to action, be it advocating, volunteering or donating.

Extra tip: Ask supporters ways they like to receive communications from your organization. These insights can help inform your campaign’s channel strategy.

2. Build understanding of your mission in rich and diverse ways.

As mentioned, interviewing your supporters can help you uncover knowledge gaps about your organization’s mission. These gaps are opportunities for your organization to bridge education-focused content during your marketing campaign. Your plan should consist of various types of content that can provide people with multiple perspectives of your mission, work and impact. Here’s a list of great educational content to consider:

  • Q&As with program and leadership team
  • Client stories and testimonials
  • Process and service comparison infographics
  • Campaign case for support video
  • Facebook and Instagram stories that share the “behind-the-scenes” of your mission at work

It’s important to showcase your diverse educational content in one central place, allowing people to easily navigate and access contents. Consider how different types of educational content can live and scale on your campaign’s web page.

Tip: Infographics continue to be a strong way to visually educate supporters about an organization’s mission and facts about a problem it’s trying to overcome, differentiation in the market and organizational successes.

3. Create usable campaign content that empowers your board and staff to spread your message.

Your organization most likely has turnkey brand ambassadors, consisting of board members, junior board members and staff. Most likely, they just need a clear roadmap on what to say and when to help evangelize for your campaign. So, develop a campaign guide that includes a timeline, agreed upon goals and milestones, key talking points and shareable content like client stories, campaign graphics and videos.

Tip: During your nonprofit marketing campaign, remember to recognize those that are participating by acknowledging them with public and direct “thank you” messages.

4. Leverage strategic partners to expand your campaign’s reach.

Your organization is probably connected to local corporations and other public organizations. These relationships are strategic assets for a nonprofit marketing campaign. Evaluate your relationships and determine what your organization can do to recognize them and engage their stakeholders in your campaign.

Can you speak at an upcoming employee lunch and learn? Can you provide educational materials to employees? Can you share how your organization’s cause is impacting their organization?

Tip: Modify already-produced educational content to accommodate the interests of your partners’ audiences rather than starting content from scratch.

5. Have a plan to track performance, advance successes and pivot on failures.

When it comes to execution, your organization must have a plan that identifies your nonprofit marketing awareness goals, audiences, content, budget and channels you’ll need to be successful. Your plan should have a timeline that includes content development, channel setup and asset launch milestones. You need to include times designated for evaluating your campaigns performance as well. Is your campaign tracking towards goals? Are all of your target audiences being reached? What content and channels are most effective in reaching them? What’s not working?

Not everything in your nonprofit marketing campaign is going to work as planned, but with the right data, you can make decisions on when and how to pivot your plan for the best results.

Tip: Project management tools like, Asana or Basecamp are great for creating a collaborative workspace that makes your plan’s timelines and tasks clear for all involved. These three offer discounted or free versions for registered nonprofits.

Interested in learning more about awareness campaigns? Check out one we did with Lutheran Family and Children’s Services called “Faithful Promises:” ​​

Three Nonprofit Marketing Trends for 2022

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The pandemic has changed the world; nonprofits are changing too.

By Kyle Schnurbusch, Strategy Director

Nonprofits have had to adapt since the beginning of the pandemic, and many of those adaptations have served to allow nonprofits to not only survive but thrive over the past two years. As we’ve adjusted to the new normal, there are emerging marketing trends that not only serve to address the unique challenges of the pandemic, but allow nonprofits to leverage the new landscape to successfully market themselves and build community among donors. Here are the top three nonprofit marketing trends for 2022:

Increasing nonprofit brand awareness

Past years, nonprofits have prioritized engagement and conversation within their existing donor base. However, they have minimized the importance of awareness strategies that introduce nonprofits’ brands and impact to new people. Moving into 2022, nonprofits are looking to grow and serve more people and realizing the need for awareness to expand their donor and client audiences. Define your message for key audiences and elevate your brand creative to share in a variety of media channels, including digital, traditional and in-person, to reach your target audience. Create a media plan, structured by flights focused around key events. People need to see your message six to eight times to build familiarity and trust, which can move them into more meaningful engagement paths such as volunteering, donating and becoming clients.

Building community from a distance

It’s important to ensure that donors stay connected to your nonprofit’s mission and to each other virtually, even as things reopen and people adopt the mindset that the pandemic is over. The successes we’ve had during the pandemic creating digital opportunities will not go away. Nonprofits will need to continue hosting digital meet-ups to provide updates, recognize donors and have fun with their community. They will also need to include first-hand client testimonials in communications to further their impact. Finally, nonprofits need to provide value through resource sharing for donors and supporters to stay involved even if not fully in-person.

Reaching young audiences

There are new and compelling opportunities and channels through which nonprofits can reach young audiences. One thing nonprofits will prioritize is presenting advocacy, ambassadorship and volunteer opportunities for younger supporters not ready to give financially but interested in activism and volunteerism, which has changed shape due to social media. Nonprofits will need to prioritize in-platform giving tools on Instagram and Facebook, along with utilizing video fundraising through leveraging “stories” on social media such as TikTok, Instagram and YouTube.

Let us help you navigate these evolving trends; contact us to discuss how we can help you.

Ways to inspire board members to be mission ambassadors

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By Kyle Schnurbusch, OrgStory Partner & Director

“How can I better inspire my board members to promote our story to others?” is a question I hear frequently from organizational leaders, especially as the holiday giving season nears. Leaders recognize the importance of board members’ personal financial contributions during this time, but their ability to share the organization’s messages with others capable of giving is significant too. A board member’s evangelism could push an organization over the top of its annual fundraising goal.

So before the final board meeting of the year, try these tips to educate and inspire your board members to become better mission ambassadors this holiday:

Education and Expectations

If you want to inspire someone to do anything, you must first make sure they have a basic understanding of a challenge or situation and the results if it is solved or changed. With that in mind, it’s surprising that when year-end approaches, many board members have little idea of where the organization’s fundraising efforts are projected in relation to its annual goal. Furthermore, they don’t know how the yearly fundraising success can impact the organization’s mission. As a nonprofit leader, it’s important to be prepared to educate board members about their responsibility to contribute financially, the implications facing the organization if financial goals are or are not achieved and ways their gifts and outreach to others will create a direct impact.

Education on fundraising outreach is important as well. Most board members are not accustomed to asking for money, so resources and training are valuable. You might provide an outline that guides them on techniques to make the “ask” and encourage members to role play with each other, so they feel confident in their pursuits.

Help them stay on brand

Brand messaging is important any time of year in communications to stakeholders, but at the end of the year giving time, brand authenticity can make people act. By staying on brand, there’s a much higher chance to evoke emotions among existing donors in your communications because they are familiar with your message and mission. For communications to new friends, being on brand creates a consistent experience across touchpoints and reduces feelings of confusion that might discourage further consideration.

So, as board members reach out to family members, friends and colleagues, providing them with brand elements like key talking points, donor brochures and other communications like the latest annual report or newsletter are essential for their success.

Don’t forget social media

There’s a good chance that about 50% of your board members don’t use social media platforms frequently. However, that shouldn’t mean that you ignore the other 50% that do. For those members, you have an opportunity to provide them with social assets that tell your organization’s stories and impact.

For the holiday season, create a social media toolkit for board members that includes client stories, key messaging, videos and images as well as general branding graphics that they can use for their member profiles (profile image and cover photo). By presenting these assets, your social-savvy board members will have tools to build awareness of your mission, either independently or along with their testimony of the organization’s influence on them. Social media is a very powerful tool for peer-to-peer influence.

Recognize Board Members

Board members make a profound impact on any organization. It’s important to recognize that throughout the year, but especially during the holiday giving season. As you ask board members to evangelize your mission during the season, don’t forget to tell their stories and share an appreciation for their voluntary contributions. A simple thank you in the public square goes a long way.

How is your organization helping create mission ambassadorship during the holiday giving season? Share in the comments below.

Why we do what we do

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Our work focuses on the nonprofit sector

Sometimes this work is really hard. But in moments of stress and long hours, we are reminded why it is that we do what we do. For us, it goes beyond just getting it right the first time, or making a client happy — in our hearts; at the soul of why we do this work, we want to do good for good.

We’re reminded of why we do this work when we get to tell the story of a little girl who found a family through her Foster parents and siblings. It’s conducting a focus group with patients touched by a terminal illness and hearing their stories of hope and resilience that can stop us in our tracks. When we see the look on an elderly couple’s face during a photoshoot, beaming with hope and pride as they show us around a beautiful, state-of-the-art senior apartment community they never thought they’d be able to afford.

Our work is more than design, it’s meeting people where they are to amplify their voice and educate audiences about their perspectives.

This work is all about the people and their stories, not ours. They’re why we show up every day.

We are so lucky to get to do this work.

OrgStory was created because we believe that in order to create the powerful, lasting change so many nonprofits are working toward, they need and deserve quality communication and design. We’re talking the exact same caliber of strategy and marketing consultation that for-profit, typically larger budgeted clients, receive from your average marketing agencies.

They’re clients like…

Hoyleton Youth and Family Services who assists children and families in Illinois address the mental health challenges caused by COVID-19 by expanding their behavioral health services to 30 community-based clinics.

All Secure Foundation that offers special operations active duty members, veterans and their families facing PTS free counseling services — from one-on-one therapy to family weekend retreats.

United Church of Christ, a Christian denomination focused on God’s Word to create impactful ways to unite people of all backgrounds, helping them build equity in their communities and across the world.

We know that quality communication can be a catapult for change, fundraising essential dollars and ultimately providing help to so many people in our communities that need it most. We believe in the power of these organizations — whether it’s healthcare, housing or access to other services. And we want to be one small part of it.

That’s why we do this work.

Communication Ideas to Help Reignite Your Work Culture After COVID-19

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By Kyle Schnurbusch, OrgStory Partner & Director and Rob Kessler, Partner & Operations Director

What to do now that we’ve adjusted to a new normal.

In early 2020, the global pandemic caused disruption to work offices everywhere. Employers had to react and adjust to a remote workforce, and employees had to equally adjust to this “new normal.”

Fast-forward to late 2021, and a new disruption is about to take place. Organizations must figure out how to safely and effectively bring employees back together in the physical workplace, following over a year and a half in which employees adjusted to a remote work environment.

Employers have many perspectives when it comes to what their future workplace will look like. Some have given a definitive date to bring all employees back into their physical office. Some are allowing employees to choose where they will work (remote, in office or a hybrid of both). There are pros and cons to each, and this article is not meant to advise on logistical procedures. But, for those choosing to bring employees back under one roof, there will be challenges to acclimate them back to the “old days” of being together. Communication with employees is essential in the process, and for most organizations, it will determine success or failure for transitions. Here are a few considerations and suggestions for effective internal communications to help reignite your work culture.

Focus on your mission and values

When COVID hit, the primary social fabric for the vast majority of workplaces, face-to-face interactions, changed completely, putting work cultures at risk. Organizations did their best putting new processes and software tools in place to keep employees informed and connected.

But even in PC (pre-COVID) times, keeping a strong, consistent culture could be difficult. According to Gallup, only 23% of employees strongly agreed that they could apply their organization’s mission and values to their work every day.

So when we talk about culture, “how we do things around here,” this should be the focus of your communications moving forward. Regardless of whether they are remote or together, connecting employees to your purpose and culture is more imperative than ever.

This is the time to reinvigorate your purpose. The stories might have changed a bit, but the same important message needs to be consistent – “Now more than ever, our purpose and mission is imperative to those we serve.” Remind employees of why you exist and what you bring to the world. And through storytelling, show how the mission is brought to life through the work of your people.

Recognize and connect with meaning

Another key ingredient to culture and the employee experience is recognition. This remains one of the most effective easy to communicate cultural expectations at a local level. Celebrate wins and great work with team-building events to strengthen morale and to remind employees of the benefits of working together.

Instead of shooting off email updates, meet your people in person. Present them with the opportunity to acclimate back to an in-office setting and reform office relationships that were lost when they went to remote work. Allow employees to work on cross functional projects as a way to learn something new, form new relationships and expand their skill set. Any chance to interact (safely) will bolster your culture and raise engagement across the organization.

Prioritize safety and a non-judgemental environment

The lack of social interaction has taken a toll across the general adult population. A 2020 study by JAMA Network reported that COVID tripled the rate of depression in adults across all demographic groups. Though software tools helped connect people to a small extent, they don’t match the organic connection created by grabbing coffee, heading to lunch together or catching up on the latest by the proverbial water cooler.

Ensure you have an open pipeline to listen and understand the needs of your employees, especially around the topics of comfort, safety and health. This won’t be a simple flip of the switch to go back to how it once was. To successfully transition to the next phase of work, organizations will need to beef up their people strategies around flexibility, safety and wellbeing. This includes a strong mental health program as anxiety will remain high.

Communication timeliness

If you decide to go forth and bring people back together, plan carefully and consider transitional periods if possible. Communicating early and often about the overarching plans will give employees the information (and flexibility) they will need to feel that the organization has their best interests at hand.

Based on a recent Glassdoor study, fully remote teams have financial and recruiting benefits, but also suffer from lower spontaneity, more challenges forming bonds and lower innovation. Again, remind your employees that great work comes through interactions and relationships. This is the time to unite under your mission and values.

It’s still unclear when life will return to normal (whatever that will even look like), but one thing remains certain, the workplace has been changed forever. So we might not ever get back to “how things used to get done around here,” but that might not be a bad thing as we continue to evolve and strengthen our cultures and the overall employee experience through effective communications.

5 Must-Have Strategies for Your 2021 Marketing Plan

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By Kyle Schnurbusch, OrgStory Partner & Director

Expand your organization’s awareness and engagement in the new year.

If you’re apprehensive to read a blog about essentials for your organization’s 2021 marketing plan, I don’t blame you. 2020 has proven that no amount of planning can adequately prepare us for what could come in life. However, challenges make people and organizations stronger, more inventive and aware. In fact, Oprah Winfrey once said, “Turn your wounds into wisdom,” which could be a candidate for 2021’s mantra. So, as nonprofit marketers, we must ask ourselves how to best apply the practices and ideas undertaken this year to strengthen our marketing strategies for 2021 that build mission awareness and energize engagement.

Here are five must-have strategies that can help expand your organization’s awareness and engagement in the new year:

1. Focus on high-quality content

The value of content online has become apparent in the nonprofit space in recent years. In fact, 65% of marketers, many nonprofits, say they’ve increased their production of content in the last year to expand their digital footprint. However, this means that nonprofit content is crowded, and simply developing it will prove ineffective. Content must now be high-quality content with an associated marketing goal.
This could be:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Ranking well on search engines
  • Improving click-through rates
  • Generating leads
  • Getting social shares

Your organization’s high quality content shows that your mission is alive, has perspective and values community. These are all characteristics of an organization that people want to support in 2021.

2. Segment email campaigns

Email marketing continues to grow in importance for organizations; however, the focus is no longer on monthly newsletters. Sending general emails to your entire database is ineffective in breaking through the hundreds of emails your supporters get daily.

Each email your organization sends should be personally relevant to the supporter receiving it. Email segmentation management within your donor or customer database is critical to creating relevant campaigns. Begin segmenting by focusing on the most important groups to the success of your mission. It might make sense to start with groups like monthly donors, first-time donors or lapsed donors. Group lists can also be segmented by demographics or behaviors (i.e. opened an email campaign).

As COVID-19 has limited financial abilities, people will support institutions they’re already familiar with, and whom they know can make a difference. So, it’s important to use your data to segment groups and present the right message to a defined group of supporters in order to capitalize on the tendency.

3. Regularly schedule virtual events

2020 was the year of virtual events, but 2021 will require them as well. This is not only to ensure people’s safety and confidence, but because they’ve proven to be effective means for meaningful, low-cost communication and engagement.

Virtual experiences and events should have a permanent place in your marketing plan, and the list of engagement possibilities that leverage our new virtual behaviors are endless.
Some ideas include:

  • Receive organizational updates from leadership
  • Witness testimony from clients and community partners
  • Tour facilities or receive a first-hand account of programs
  • Attend special programming
  • And more…

What ideas can your organization create to have quarterly, or even monthly, virtual events and experiences that engage supporters in your mission?

4. Build on your social media fundraising

In 2020, more time has been spent online than ever before, and people representing every demographic are becoming more savvy with digital tools. Communication tools like virtual meeting platforms and social media networks account for much of this time.

With this trend, 2021 should focus on building your organization’s online—and specifically social media fundraising—presence. It’s a great time to enable supporters to donate to your mission without leaving the platform. Supporters on Facebook can easily set up peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns benefiting your organization when it has fully registered and set up its fundraising tools as well.
To get started with Facebook fundraising, visit:

5. Create more opportunities for video storytelling

As you’ve probably heard before: nonprofit organizations have the ability to be incredible visual storytellers, producing videos that evoke emotional and personal appeals, when they dedicate time for planning and use adequate production resources for their efforts. Well, that statement continues to be true, and 2020 proved that great video storytelling will keep supporters engaged and compel them to act.

Video is expected to make up 82% of all online traffic in 2021, so it’s crucial that your organization find visually rich ways to share your work and impact with supporters. Get creative, be authentic and find room in your budget to hire a professional videographer.

Tip: If planned well, a large amount of footage that accommodates multiple narratives can be captured in just one day of shooting.

How did 2020 shape, or reshape, your vision for how your organization communicates with its stakeholders? We’re interested in what key take-aways from your organization’s 2020 communications and outreach efforts that you’ll put into practice in 2021. Email them to We’ll share the list of key take-aways we receive early in 2021.

Donor-Focused Story Ideas for 2020

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By Kyle Schnurbusch, OrgStory Partner & Director

Four elements of your story that tell donors how your organization became even stronger in 2020.

Regardless of why your organization exists, 2020 has been a challenging year. As you consider how to summarize the past year to your donor community through year-end appeals, letters, emails, phone calls or even annual reports, consider changing the narrative from describing only a year filled with challenges to one that also helped your organization become even stronger.

Consider sharing one or all of the following with your donor community:

1) Reflect on lessons learned, but focus on how it’s made your impact stronger. 

Your organization undoubtedly learned important lessons in 2020. Maybe there were blind spots in your mission or programs that neglected certain needs of your clients; or, maybe you over, or under, communicated with your donors as critical changes and challenges occurred. Whatever the lessons learned, use them to let donors know your organization created new solutions to further strengthen your mission.

It’s important not to let 2020 “hijack” your organization’s ongoing purpose, vision and mission — be sure to not only share what your organization has become, but more importantly, what it is becoming.

2) Recognize and celebrate long-time supporters and first-time donors that make your organization’s work possible — especially through a pandemic.  

The rapid outbreak of COVID-19 in late March and the economic turmoil that followed left nonprofit leaders scrambling. For most organizations, client calls for help were exploding while at the same time, stay-at-home orders created challenges to serve those in need. Some organizations were forced to curtail, or even pause, some of the services and programs for clients. Many organizations were faced with a disruption in their fund development activities — key events canceled, postponed or done differently or virtually; donors that lost their jobs; funders being inundated with funding requests. For many, it was hard to know where to turn.

In our work, we’ve heard stories of long-time donors increasing their gifts or making a special gift during the pandemic. We’ve also heard of family foundations, churches and individuals becoming first-time donors to help nonprofits respond to the needs of those they serve. Make it a point to celebrate long-time and first-time donors and share the impact their support made to your organization’s story. And be sure to invite them to continue to be part of your story in the years to come.

3) Communicate how COVID-19 influenced new ways of doing your work and revealed old ways that no longer work.

Over the past seven months leaders have embraced the new things COVID-19 has made them consider to their programs, services, staff, locations and funding. Be sure to share those stories and the impact they are making to your operations and to those you serve. But equally important, share stories about things in your organization that COVID-19 has helped reveal the need for changing, or even discontinuing.

4) Share your organization’s strategic priorities for 2021. 

The next few months offer a chance for your organization to affirm or modify its strategic priorities in light of the “new normal” COVID-19 has presented. Affirm your organization’s priorities and share any modifications to those priorities with your staff, board and donor community so they can reset and re-energize themselves about the important work still-to-come.

How are you planning on communicating with your donor community in the next few months? Share your thoughts to

Organizational Engagement During A Crisis

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By Kyle Schnurbusch, OrgStory Partner & Director

Ideas to keep your staff and board engaged with your mission during turbulent times.

Crises can make it especially difficult to keep staff and board members engaged as they have anxieties and responsibilities outside of your organization pulling their attention in multiple directions. This does not mean that staff and board engagement is impossible but rather means that your organization needs to be intentional and consistent in how you engage them. Here are some tips and exercises you can use to re-energize your team.

Establish a fundraising campaign
Engagement Level: High

One way to help engage staff and board members is to create a fundraising campaign in which they are the key ambassadors. Peer-to-peer fundraising is not only a great way to raise money for your organization, but it also allows for more people to get involved and have a hand in the success of the organization outside of their usual duties as a staff or board member.

It is important that the organization be involved in this process too from the standpoint of helping build consistent messaging for the sake of campaign promotion. This can be done by building a simple campaign guide with language, graphics and statistics for staff and board members to share as part of their fundraising efforts.

Reflect on your mission and vision together
Engagement Level: Medium

This is an exercise that a lot of organizations don’t do enough of, especially during times of crisis. It recenters people around the “why.” Something your organization could try is hosting a virtual video call where anybody from the staff or board is welcome to join. During this call, give people space to be in front of each other and talk about what brought them all to the organization. It’s a great, interesting way to reconnect that doesn’t require a lot of planning, and from experience, the people who participate will leave spirited.

Invite a client to a virtual meeting
Engagement Level: Low 

There are a lot of virtual meetings happening at the moment, and it can sometimes be monotonous. However, a great way to shake up a meeting and tie it back to your mission and values is to invite a client to be a special guest and give a personal testimony. That way, staff and board members can hear about their impact directly from the source. Obviously, this should only happen if the client is comfortable with sharing their story, but hearing about the difference they have made can galvanize people.

No matter what the engagement idea, it’s important to make sure there’s a central voice that the organization is communicating from. When multiple people are contributing, sometimes messages and asks can get mixed, which can become confusing, especially when staff and board members are scarce on time and resources. During a crisis, it seems like everybody needs something. People can get easily overwhelmed if they don’t know where to go and instead may do nothing. It’s important to have a unified voice and tone centered around your greatest needs to keep asks clear.

It’s also important to keep in mind that sometimes storytelling for the sake of storytelling is enough to warrant taking time to do it as an exercise. Storytelling doesn’t need to have an ask associated with it; it can be solely for the sake of establishing empathy and connection with an organization’s mission and values.

What are ways you’ve engaged your board and team differently in the last six months? Share your story with us: