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Marketing & Nonprofits Connecting For Something That Matters

February 20, 2024 9:00AM

Marketing & Nonprofits Connecting For Something That Matters
An Event Reflection

By: Noah Polipnick

On December 5, 2023, the members and guests of the MN sbf111胜博发 partnered with Second Harvest Heartland, SHH, for our annual Holiday Connect event.  Over 25 individuals volunteered their time and talent to work for a few hours with one another.  During this time, attendees were able to meet one another in person, celebrate the holidays, and help support SHH by packing and preparing food.  The common thread woven throughout our time together?  Connecting for something that matters.  “How does this impact marketing,” you may ask?  It’s simple - overwhelming data shows that consumers, especially younger generations, value philanthropy and this extends to businesses too.  People expect philanthropy as part of a well-developed business brand.  Organizations that genuinely support causes that are important to them are shown to have a stronger internal culture, higher rates of marketing engagement, and an increase in long-term consumer loyalty.  

In my experience, philanthropic and voluntary events create opportunities for individuals to work towards a common goal.  It makes collaboration and teamwork by circumstance and allows for people to connect on things they have a real interest in.  In the last month or so, I have heard many people agree with that sentiment.  One sbf111胜博发 volunteer, Emily Johnson Kisa, reflected on the experience and said, “You get to know people on a deeper level.  So many events are only surface-level, but volunteering allows you to get to know them [other volunteers] personally.”  Volunteers can connect while enjoying the simple nature of the work.  “We were moving!  There were a lot of conversations. We were talking about onions one minute and marketing the next.  It was a fun way to be active and help out.”  

Ever since the pandemic, in-person events have been a bit different.  Attendance numbers are down for many organizations for a variety of reasons, but that common thread remains - people want to have a meaningful connection.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a classic happy hour, but providing the chance to work together is something that gives an experience a more tangible purpose.  Plus, with a dozen different things trying to pull everyone’s attention this way and that, people have more options than ever when choosing where to spend their time.  Time is valuable, and people who rely on volunteers know that more than anyone.  

I chatted with Annie Thurston Moore, a Corporate Development Officer at SHH, she had many positive things to say about their volunteer community.  “Volunteers help keep the costs down and the doors open.”  She continued, “Volunteers are crucial to the mission; [there were] just over 55,000 hours of donated volunteer hours in 2023.  That is the equivalent of 26 full-time employees!”  Part of SHH’s successful volunteer strategy comes from the volunteers themselves.  “It’s the ripple effect… we wouldn’t have the well-known name without our volunteers,” Annie said.  Over 16,000 volunteers gave their time at SHH in 2023.  Imagine the outreach and impact volunteering has when it is done with 15,999 others!  Talk about some good marketing metrics!  By utilizing its volunteer network and reputation, SHH can extend its reach to better accomplish its goal: to end hunger together.  

So the next time you are thinking of what to do for a networking event or an employee get-together, consider volunteering as a group.  Being together in the right place with the right intentions goes a long way, and you may just get some long-term brand benefits, too.  Annie left me with a wonderful quote as we brought our conversation to an end.  “TOGETHER, it takes every person, every agency partner – advocate, volunteer, you, and me!  We can make a difference if we work together.”  So go out, find something you care about, and make a difference - together! 

Emily Johnson Kisa is an Account Manager & Creative Recruiter at Advent Talent Group.  You can learn more about Emily and connect with her here

Annie Thurston Moore is a Corporate Development Officer at Second Harvest Heartland.  You can learn more about Annie and connect with her here.  

You can sign up for Second Harvest Heartland’s general email list here.  You can also learn more about SHH volunteer opportunities here.