Transcript: Kendra Corman, Nonprofit Marketing (The Art of Volunteering)

The following is a transcription of The Art of Volunteering Episode S2E3: Kendra Corman, Nonprofit Marketing.

Stormy Bell (00:00): Hello and welcome back to another episode of The Art of Volunteering. Today I have one of my dear friends, Kendra Corman, who’s gonna be on the episode with us. Kendra and I met almost two years ago. We were in an accountability pod together for Amy Porterfield’s digital course workshops. We’ve became good friends and I’m so excited to have her on today. Thank you, Kendra for joining us.

Kendra Corman (00:29): Thank you so much for inviting me. I’m really excited.

Stormy Bell (00:32): Let me just give you a little bit about Kendra. She has more than 15 years experience in marketing and advertising for managing one of the world’s most iconic brands to working with solopreneurs and nonprofits. She has helped organizations grow through marketing and communications. I’m sure some of my listeners are like, well Stormy, why do you have Kendra on? Why is she on today? Let’s start off the conversation with why do you volunteer?

Kendra Corman (01:03): I’m a strong believer that we have to give back. Just as people in communities we are obligated, in my opinion, to give back to the community in which we live, work, and play. Whether it’s through our companies, through our work, through volunteering, whatever it is that you can do, I do believe that we have an obligation to give back. Personally, I think we get a lot more out of volunteering than we give. So I love to volunteer and make a difference.

Stormy Bell (01:40): That’s awesome. What’s your favorite place to volunteer? Where do you enjoy volunteering the most?

Kendra Corman (01:48): I am not an outdoor kind of girl. So those outdoor days of service where you’re raking and cleaning up leaves and planting flowers, I’m like, I don’t even do that at my house. I actually really enjoy volunteering and giving my time to nonprofits with my skills. So my talent. I have more than 15 years of marketing experience like you said. I’ve worked on the Jeep brand, I’ve worked on numerous nonprofits. I like to give where they need, where I can help replace operational costs in a way and give my time for helping them with their marketing strategy, their fund development strategy. Right now I’ve got a huge pile of thank you notes I’m going to be mailing for a nonprofit to thank people who donated and that can really make a difference for them. That’s where I like to supplement.

Stormy Bell (02:44): That’s awesome. With H2H Consulting, how do you volunteer? I know you kind of have a formula for what you do and how you work with your nonprofits.

Kendra Corman (03:03): Back in the beginning when I started, I was like, wow, I’m doing a lot for my nonprofits. I’m like, I should just take a look at this and see how much. So for every hour of paid work that we’re paid for, we give back an hour of free work to a nonprofit.

Stormy Bell (03:22): That’s amazing.

Kendra Corman (03:23): It’s a one for one. It’s a lot of extra work, but it makes a difference.

Stormy Bell (03:28): How many nonprofits are you doing that with right now?

Kendra Corman (03:31): I have four established nonprofits that are clients slash I volunteer for, and I actually just added a new one this week who is starting up. I am helping them with their launch planning for their first cohort. Because it’s an educational based nonprofit.

Stormy Bell (03:52): Okay. Just curious, you said this one’s educational based. What are the others? What areas are they in for your other nonprofits?

Kendra Corman (04:01): I don’t work with anybody that competes against each other, so you’re gonna hear a little bit of a range here. First I have a nonprofit that works with survivors of human trafficking and spreading the word about the dangers and concerns of trafficking. The lures and all that stuff to hopefully limit the amount of vulnerable children available to traffickers. Then we’ve got an animal shelter, which who doesn’t want little kitties and puppies to play with, so I love it. They rub them in usually on a Zoom call. If we’re on a status call, they’ll be like, look what I got. Oh, it’s so cute. I still work a little bit with an organization that’s a second level ministry. They help frontline ministries and they provide Christmas gifts, tutoring, things like that through other nonprofit organizations and supplements their work. I have a leadership development organization that is a nonprofit that I work with, and I have an educational foundation that gives scholarships to engineers which is awesome. Those are the big ones.

Stormy Bell (05:20): Okay. Very cool. That’s awesome. You share of your talents and your talents are many in marketing. You and I had a conversation about [how] one should volunteer to gain experience. Tell my listeners where that kind of inspired you or where that came from.

Kendra Corman (05:43): So I’ve always been a get involved kind of girl. I’ve always filled my calendar with stuff to do, and I have always been very active in organizations whether they were at my workplace or outside of my workplace. Whatever it happened to be, I always found a way to give back. Early on in my career, I was at Chrysler and I was at a Women’s Forum presentation, and we had the Executive Vice President Human Resources on the panel. Someone [asked], what is the best advice you could give someone that’s looking to move up or move on or try and change positions? Her line was, if you’re not getting the experience for the job you want in the job you have, volunteer and get it.

I was already doing that, but just her saying it made me really make that connection. I wasn’t doing it to try and get experience and move up, I was actually doing it just because I liked it. I wanted to get involved and stay involved. Then I was like, wow, this could really help me move up and get me the job that I want. I became the youngest person in marketing at the time at Chrysler, eventually became the Jeep Advertising Manager. I attribute all of that to the volunteer work that I did at Chrysler through the Women’s Forum and all the different projects that we did. I didn’t make the direct connection in the beginning, but once she said that it really resonated with me and has probably still been the single best piece of advice that I’ve ever been given. Even though I have a lot of experience now, I still volunteer to give back and to make a difference and to learn other things because marketing is constantly changing. There’s always opportunities and not one of my nonprofits is not willing to experiment and try new things. So I can actually work with ’em and test things out, which is a lot of fun.

Stormy Bell (07:55): That’s awesome. Circling back about you getting experience in areas that you might wanna learn or try different things. I actually believe that there should be more of an emphasis when people go through a job change, whether it’s downsize or whatever, that part of their time of being unemployed that they should give back to keep their skills up to explore new skills. I think there should be something that goes a little bit more hand in hand, a little more intentional with that. Or like you said, if you’re just in a job and you wanna try something different to volunteer for it, I think it makes a whole world of sense.

Kendra Corman (08:35): I love that. I think it’s huge. I don’t ever recommend that anybody go into a volunteer position looking to get something. However, I know a ton of people that have volunteered while they were unemployed. I live in the Motor City, so outside of Detroit we tend to be like the first one going down and the last one to rebound back. Unemployment is a part of our regular cycle here. I know a lot of people that have gotten jobs from being exposed to board members to being exposed to other people with networks and they’ve found someone that excels at something and they’ve shared it and marketed it with their network, and they’ve gotten jobs from that before.

Stormy Bell (09:33): Yeah. I mean, there’s just so much good that happens to volunteers and when people, like you said, board members can see someone shine. They want to see that good happen in whatever company they may be representing. It goes hand in hand. It’s just something that I’m passionate about seeing happen. 

Kendra Corman (09:54): No it is and again it’s a great way to show that you’re current, to learn new things, to test things out, to add and supplement to your resume as you go. It doesn’t have to be selfish from the get-go. You don’t have to go in there looking to get a job from the situation or anything like that. You can just benefit from getting that connection and giving back.

Stormy Bell (10:21): I like to say that America might run on Dunkin’, but the world runs on volunteers.

Kendra Corman (10:28): It does, definitely.

Stormy Bell (10:30): Just in the world, we could not nearly accomplish as much good without the generosity of people. Just as simple as walking across the street and noticing, hey, your newspaper’s piling up. I’m dating myself on that to, you know, being at a soup kitchen or helping during the pandemic of getting meals out to the community. I just recently had another guest on who he and his family during the pandemic would go down and volunteer every Saturday in Philadelphia to help box meals for families of four, five people to partnering organizations who would come in and collect for their families. They just made it a part of their life. Just how many people were impacted by that. Yeah, volunteering really moves the world.

Kendra Corman (11:25): It doesn’t have to be packing food or doing raking and planting flowers. I have a nonprofit that has a day of service outside coming up so that just happens to be one that’s on my radar. You know, the fall cleanup and spring cleanup and all that stuff, you can do things that make a huge impact just using your skills. If you like to organize, I’ll betcha they’ve got filing. It doesn’t really matter. You like to decorate? A lot of people would love to have decoration advice and have somebody lead a team that could redecorate their room or an office. There’s just so many opportunities to leverage skills that I think some people are like, oh, nobody wants my skills. I don’t know a nonprofit that would turn down so many different skills. So if you have a talent that you can offer, take it there. Then I also recommend that people definitely treat their nonprofit volunteering positions as if they would a job. They’re counting on you and they really need you to come through with what you’re promising.

Stormy Bell (12:37): I can account for that. I work for a nonprofit and we rely heavily on our volunteers. We work with high school students. One aspect of what we do is we have classroom presenters and they come in from their respective fields engineering, teaching, medical, and they come in and they share a little bit about their life journey, like their educational journey. Then they share about the organizations they work with, be it engineering, what that looks like, what a day in a life looks like to give our students an opportunity to see beyond the immediate that they’re able to like, oh, I could envision myself doing X, Y, and Z. When we prepare for the classes, we need to know that volunteer’s gonna show up because that’s what the students are looking forward to. There is that commitment level that has to come along with volunteering. It’s easy to say, oh, I don’t feel like it, but you gotta think about who’s relying on me for that time. I’m gonna give.

Kendra Corman (13:45): Yeah I mean it’s more obvious, I think, at some places to people that it’s really needed. Like who’s gonna walk the dog if you don’t go there? The poor dog’s gonna end up staying in a kennel longer than they need to. Or the cat’s not gonna experience the level of enrichment that they need. You know, the horse’s stalls are gonna get dirty. There’s just so many different things that those I think are a little bit more obvious to people, but if you’re not posting on social media or not taking the pictures that they’re sending you, or you’re not writing that article or that newsletter that they had asked you to do that you stepped up to do, it pushes everything back. It affects everything else that they’re doing, all of their other communications. I mean, it’s a job. They’re counting on you to do it and it’s amazing that you’re stepping forward to do it, you just gotta follow through.

Stormy Bell (14:49): Totally agree with that. Okay. You come from a marketing background, and I know marketing is your passion. Actually, email marketing is your passion. Can you share your perspective on this? Maybe the importance of marketing in nonprofits and volunteering, just how that all relates or how you see it relate.

Kendra Corman (15:11): With nonprofit marketing, I was one of those people at the beginning that was like, oh, well, it’s the same thing as marketing Jeep vehicles, right? It is and it isn’t. Your target’s a little bit different, who you’re marketing to is a little bit different and what they wanna hear about is also a little bit different but constant and consistent communication is key. Whether you’re in business for yourself, consulting or selling Jeep vehicles or selling wholesale insurance, which I came from also, whatever it is that you’re selling, your job is to remain top of mind and to build a relationship with your audience. That relationship is key in any business.

I also teach part-time for a local Christian university, and I ask my students, okay, tell me about a brand you love. They always give me brands. I got a lot of student athletes in my class so we’ve got Nike, we’ve got Under Armour, we’ve got all of these different brands, someone loved a certain brand of baseball bat this year, but again they have a relationship with the brand. They have a relationship with that product. Whether it’s Nike and Under Armour or Jeep Vehicles or insurance, or me talking to people about email marketing, it really doesn’t matter. It’s all about that relationship. The only way to build a relationship is constant and consistent communication. By constant, I don’t mean you need to be sending daily emails, but all of my nonprofits on average send probably, I don’t know, I’m gonna say one to two emails a month minimum to promote attendance at events and galas and fundraisers. Just to send an update on the program and what’s going on, to send an update on the animals who are adopted to provide and present volunteer opportunities.

Kendra Corman (17:17): You wanna stay top of mind. Top of mind is the number one goal of email marketing. Even if someone deletes their email and doesn’t read it, it doesn’t matter because they saw your name and they’re keeping you in mind. There’s a lot of small business networking organizations, so chambers of commerce. I’m in one called Local Business Networking that’s in Michigan and Texas. There’s another one called BNI. I mean, they’re everywhere, right? Well, they meet weekly or at least twice a month. The piece that they do with these meetings is to keep each other top of mind so that the other people in the group can refer you. That whole purpose has worked in networking for decades. Now we have more technology to put behind it, and that’s email marketing. That’s the power of staying in front of people and making sure that, again, that you’re getting the dollars, the time, the talent from your audience as best as possible in the nonprofit world.

Stormy Bell (18:27): That does tie hand in hand with volunteering because you need to be the top of mind that you are a place to volunteer at and it’s a mission that you wanna align with. It’s not just marketing for fundraising or special events, it’s really reaching out for your next volunteer to walk the dog or to write the newsletter.

Kendra Corman (18:51): Yep. Yeah, again it’s all about relationships and staying top of mind. You want people to have a great experience when they’re volunteering and, you know, we’re all so busy. People just don’t remember what you’ve got going on and the opportunities you have, and you’re like, seriously? You’ve been volunteering here for how long and you didn’t realize we did what? But it happens in work too. I remember one of the companies I worked for, the CEO used to go out on visits. He would visit all these offices and he’d have lunch meetings and dinner meetings with their clients and they had prep meetings with their clients and would prep them with all the different services they offered and everything. Every single time they’d go to this meeting and they’d say, really, you do that? I’m like, oh my gosh, I just prepped you on this. We’re so busy. Our lives are so full. They’ve gotten busier, I think, since Covid and the pandemic but you can’t expect anybody to remember anything unless it applies directly to them at that moment. Which is why, again, staying top of mind with volunteer opportunities, with how to sign up for opportunities. That’s why it’s so important to stay in constant contact and have multiple channels for your volunteers to connect with each other and post pictures and just some amazing things.

Stormy Bell (20:23): That’s right because when your volunteers are doing that, they become your greatest advocates for sharing your mission. The email marketing or social media, all those platforms just compliment that experience.

Kendra Corman (20:38): Anybody that wants to raise a bunch of money for Giving Tuesday or some day of giving, I always recommend that they get ambassadors, social media ambassadors that will spread the word about what you’re trying to do. People are more likely to attend an event, to donate, to do something if they’re personally asked by somebody. Well, if somebody is personally asking them and they’re an advocate for you, they’re an ambassador out there for you. Everything that you invest in building those volunteers makes a difference. I think it’s something that should be core to every nonprofit.

Stormy Bell (21:18): Totally agree but I’m the choir, so. All right, I have a question. You’ve worked with several organizations. Can you tell me or share a story of impact? Something that you either experienced firsthand or witnessed from one, or you maybe have more than one stories of where the volunteers at the organizations or the organizations themselves are making an impact in the community around them?

Kendra Corman (21:48): Wow. I’m like, they all do that so well. I mean, that’s part of why I work with them is because they just do amazing jobs with the community. Hope Against Trafficking is an organization that I work with. They help survivors of human trafficking and they give them a first chance at life because they never really had a first chance. This isn’t a second chance. They weren’t given the first chance. One of the things that they do is their education piece. They go out to at-risk schools and groups and do presentations on the lures and the signs of trafficking. I would say through my experience, which is limited because that’s not where I focus, but I would say the majority of people who are trafficked have no idea that they’re being trafficked. It’s through force, fraud, or coercion. They think they’re helping somebody out. They think they’re protecting their family. There’s all of these reasons that they are coerced or forced or fraudulently pushed into this.

It’s really horrible and sad. One of the people that volunteer in the education program has, actually multiple of them, actually presented and two different at risk and have called the FBI and have saved people out of trafficking through education events and gotten the FBI involved. It’s a big see something, say something. Even if it just feels off, you want to bring that to people’s attention. The sheriff of the county that I live in, which is Oakland County, he is big into anti-trafficking laws and regulations and things like that. He’s like, no I’d rather find out it was bogus then miss something that could have been stopped. Call us, let us know. We’ll go check it out. They’ve been able to identify and save young girls between the ages of 12 and 14 that were either being groomed or were falling into trafficking with a trafficker and bring the FBI to help stop it. Which gives me goosebumps when I think about it.

Stormy Bell (24:23): It’s very weighty what you just shared. Then the impact that that organization is making and that volunteers are willing to go there, because that’s such a hard place. I mean you just sharing it,, I kind of felt like a weight come down, but to be involved in that on a daily basis, it takes fortitude. Just a whole group of emotions and abilities to go into those hard places.

Kendra Corman (24:53): One of their volunteers who’s amazing, she is an amazing public speaker and so passionate and that’s literally what she does. She goes out and she does public speaking to giving groups and things like that and asks for funding. She’s not, you know, on the front lines necessarily working with the survivors every day. She’s not doing her therapy or equine therapy, but she’s out there giving presentations and she’ll say, I don’t have any cute puppies or kitties and I don’t have any sad little kids to show you because nobody wants to talk about trafficking and what’s going on. I had a call with a friend of mine who’s in marketing. She’s like, oh, some one of my kids for Christmas bought me this purse that had all of these cities and the monies went to trafficking act efforts in Africa. I’m like, well, that’s great. What are you guys gonna be doing about the trafficking here in Michigan? In our county? Trafficking has been reported in every zip code in Michigan. Every zip code. I mean, there’s five zip codes just in my city.

Stormy Bell (26:03): Yeah.

Kendra Corman (26:04): It’s something people don’t like to talk about. It’s something that isn’t pretty and fun, but I’ve firsthand seen people make an impact and make a difference because it comes down to saving one life and that’s what they’re doing.

Stormy Bell (26:24): Wow. Thank you for sharing that. I almost don’t wanna go into my next question because there’s just so much with that. 

Kendra Corman (26:36): Let’s clear the slate.

Stormy Bell (26:38): Yeah. You know, there’s another podcast that I have listened to occasionally yet, Mike Kim. He talks about Love 146. The founder started that organization when he had actually gone on a I would say like an observation trip as a donor. He saw they couldn’t intervene. They actually only had to witness it. There’s this one girl whose number was 146 and she still had a spark in her eye like she was still alive where a lot of the other girls, the spark had gone out. So he named his nonprofit Love 146 because the impact that situation had on his life.

Kendra Corman (27:31): It gives me chills.

Stormy Bell (27:33): There’s so much that goes into that. I encourage people to get to know the warning signs in whatever community you’re listening to this podcast with and help save one, one person at a time. Because it’s not just girls, it’s guys too, right?

Kendra Corman (27:52): It is. So many people just don’t wanna get involved because it isn’t fun or sexy. It’s the dark bowels of who we are and what’s going on.

Stormy Bell (28:11): Okay. We are gonna move on.

Kendra Corman (28:14): Okay, good, good. Let’s get happy stuff now.

Stormy Bell (28:20): Here’s my I think it’s a fun question, some of my guests might not. Can you share a blooper? Something that maybe didn’t go wrong but just didn’t go the way you thought it was supposed to go? Like the way it wasn’t planned and what you learned from the situation.

Kendra Corman (28:36): I got a list. I gotta think of something. I have a heart attack every time I send out an email. Some emails I’m sending out to like thousands of people. My favorite is when the links don’t work. Because you know, I forgot to attach ’em to the right link. I have actually numerous times sent things to the wrong people or the wrong thing or something in draft that didn’t have the right stuff. I would say, you know, I mean it sounds a little bit light and small after our talking but the thing I learned, nobody died from me sending the wrong link. We corrected it, we sent it out. People realized I was human. I realized I was human. I think it’s okay to make mistakes and I think people will give you the grace and understanding cause they’ve done it too. I think that’s okay.

I would say yeah, when you’re trying to send things out, being detail oriented and proofing and having multiple people proof things is a great lesson to have but also to remember that this isn’t brain surgery. What I’m doing in marketing and stuff like that, it’s important and I want to give the best I can to my nonprofits and their brands but sometimes mistakes happen and we just have to learn from them. You’re always gonna be learning. That’s why if you’re volunteering to get experience that you don’t have, so if you wanna become a social media manager, there are a ton of organizations that would love your help with their social media because there’s so much more that they can do. You’re gonna make mistakes. You’re gonna try things that aren’t gonna work. That’s okay. Because not only are you learning, but that organization is learning and that’s all good. In the end, no matter what mistakes you make, as long as you’re learning something from it, it’s all good.

Stormy Bell (30:40): Absolutely. Absolutely. All right, Kendra, we’re at the point in my interview where I invite you to love on your nonprofit. You worked with many and you can love on all of ’em if you want, but if there’s one that’s more impactful, I mean, I know we just shared about I forget the name of it.

Kendra Corman (31:03): Hope Against Trafficking,

Stormy Bell (31:04): Hope Against Trafficking. If you wanna share on them again or if there’s someone else you want to, just highlight like why people should get involved or why they should learn more about it or any of that. Who would you like to love on?

Kendra Corman (31:20): I already shared about Hope Against Trafficking, so I will share the love with another one of my nonprofits. Living and Learning in Enrichment Center, they help adults with disabilities and actually kids with disabilities to live their best life. I’m so amazed with what they do. One of the things that a lot of parents of children with autism have is that their kids age out of the system. If they’re at the more severe end of the spectrum of autism, they may not be able to live independently. The parents and families of these kids with disabilities, they have to go on. Some of them are a little bit socially awkward and things like that but places like Living and Learning, and I haven’t seen very many quite like Living and Learning that have like the vocational program, they also have their Tuesday night social hours, their Friday night hangouts, and their Saturday night hangouts where they have pizza and friends that they haven’t had ever before because they weren’t around people that were like them that had the same level of social interaction.

There are kids that come that were like, I’ve never had friends before. They love going. They love going. Every donation that you do helps offset costs that allow them to put more programs in place. You can do things from actually volunteering to work, something like that. They’ve got a 12 acre campus here in Michigan. Other ones probably have smaller spaces, but they’ve got days of service that you could do. You can help them do maintenance and cleanup days and you could work their front desk, answer the phone. Little things like that just can make such a big difference.

Kendra Corman (33:23): Every dollar you save them, can go back into programming and helping adults again with all different kinds of disabilities get vocational training, get have social activities, art classes. I mean some of these people in the programs there are so talented. They actually sell their artwork in a local store. It’s just unbelievable what they’re capable of doing and the service that they’re providing not just to the individual taking part, but the parents and the families of these individuals who were worried about what was gonna happen next and they’re not as worried anymore. That’s if you wanna check it out. Living and Learning Enrichment Center, they have an amazing, amazing, just too many programs. I can’t keep track of them all but they’ve got amazing programs and they’re an unbelievable organization that provides a service that’s not matched anywhere else.

One of my former clients retired because he had a son with autism on the severe end of the spectrum and he had to retire and close their family business that he built up to spend more time with his son because there was no other place for him to go. Having to dedicate that time to his family is remarkable. There’s just so much more that he could do and that his son could do that. We need a lot more of those types of places around to help people and to help them live their best life. Some of them are even becoming independent and living in group homes and just things that their parents never thought they could do before. It’s amazing. It’s amazing what they’re doing.

Stormy Bell (35:23): I love it. Thank you for sharing that. I knew I had loved having you on the podcast today. I love your stories.

Kendra Corman (35:32): Thank you so much. Well I love listening to your podcast. I think it’s great. I think people underestimate the value that they’re providing through volunteering and I think with your podcast and The Art of Volunteering, there’s just so much that people don’t realize that they can do and provide and should be providing. I think we’re obligated to provide a certain amount of that make a difference.

Stormy Bell (35:58): I agree. You talked very much on the local level, on an international level I have a guest coming up this summer. She’s retired accountant. She went to Africa last summer to do the audit of a nonprofit. So she was able to go visit with the community that she was in and do their books. When we talk about talent, it can be anything you talked about the young woman who’s a public speaker. It doesn’t have to be just raking leaves .

Kendra Corman (36:36): I think people think about soup kitchens and raking leaves when they think about volunteering. It’s so much more than that. So much more.

Stormy Bell (36:45): Anywhere from being on a board to, you know, like you said, writing a newsletter, managing someone’s social media. If you have a passion to give back, there’s a place for you to do it. It’s just as simple as asking your friend, hey, what are you passionate about? Or look at yourself, what are you passionate about? Find the organization and they will accept you with open arms, believe me.

Kendra Corman (37:12): Exactly.

Stormy Bell (37:14): Well Kendra, I wanna thank you for being my guest today. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. I know my listeners did. I just again wanna thank you.

Kendra Corman (37:24): Thank you so much for having me. I’m super excited. It’s great to see you not on a Tuesday night. That’s our normal meetings [where] we hold each other accountable for what we’re delivering on our podcasts and the value we’re providing our audiences. That’s always a fun time.

Stormy Bell (37:42): Awesome. Well to my listeners, thank you for tuning in today and I look forward to seeing you on the next Art of Volunteering. Have a great day. Bye.

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