Friday, July 22, 2011

I get by with a little help from my (impact investing) friends

Last week, Carrie Hutchison, Marketing and Communications Manager at Calvert Foundation, hosted the first-ever Meeting of Impact Investment Marketing Professionals.

Carrie Hutchison
I love invitations. Love receiving them. Love sending them. When sending, I love the whole RSVP process. I would get married again just for the invitations.

So I was especially excited a few weeks ago when I had a 100% positive RSVP from everyone I had invited to be a part of the first meeting of Impact Investment Marketing Professionals. The genesis for this group was a series of informal conversations I’d had a few months earlier at a Net Impact happy hour organized by my superstar colleague Patrick Davis. At this event I found myself talking to people who – like me – are tasked with promoting the impact investment products at their respective organizations. Through these – and subsequent – conversations I found common themes: it’s hard to explain what we do, we’re the only (or one of the only) ones at our organizations doing marketing – and often all facets of it (including PR and communications), we work at nonprofits with lean budgets, we love what we do.

Encouraged by Institute for Community Economics Director Andy Slettebak, who graciously offered to host at his offices in Georgetown, I put together a loose agenda – and the promise of food and drink – and sent out the invitation. Not only did 100% say they’d come, all but one did! (And he had a very good excuse.)

You know that Blind Melon video where the girl dressed up as a bumblebee struggles to fit in until the end when she finds all the other bees? That’s what it was like! I’ve often told family and friends that I finally found “my people” when I joined Calvert Foundation and the impact investment industry. And what I found that night with my fellow marketers was that I really really found my people.

We have a lot of work to do. We need to communicate a complex and important concept effectively and simply. We have to juggle multiple roles and tasks. We have to prioritize.  But in one night we in many ways expanded our small staffs, since we now have each other to draw upon for ideas and advice. And that is what is so great about this industry. We’re so new and the work we do is so critical to helping low-income communities that we aren’t competitive. All boats float if we succeed. And that’s a nice feeling too.

If you are playing this role at your organization, contact me!

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