“Who are you? What is your ‘why?’”
Byron Sanders, president and CEO, posed these questions to the 140 attendees at the 2023 TCU Nonprofit Communicators Conference on May 19.
“Stories are the things that connect us. Stories are the things that move us,” he said. “Charts display things. Data is important because you have to display the return on investment. But stories really matter.”
Sanders spoke about the importance of storytelling, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving in the workplace. The 13th annual event focused on “Reigniting the Mission.”
“We wanted to reinvigorate the storytellers for these important organizations and give them the space to be rejuvenated as people and professionals as well,” said Ashley English, program cofounder and assistant professor of Strategic Communication. “Our goal this year was to reignite their passion and help them find renewed inspiration for the new world around us.”
In her opening remarks, Dean Kristie Bunton spoke of the importance of nonprofit communicators and their work.
“This is difficult work. I understand that it can stretch you in many ways to be creative due to lack of resources of people or time or tools,” Bunton said. “We just hope that today for you is a day where you get recharged, where you get some good new ideas, where you get a chance to maybe share your frustrations with others who understand them, and also to celebrate your successes and leave going back renewed to do this important work.”
Putting into practice
Industry professionals shared their knowledge during four workshops held during morning and afternoon sessions.
Kim Pinter Smith, director of volunteer services for JPS Health Network, and Akilah Wallace, principal consultant at Taylor Wallace, talked about re-engaging volunteers and donors. Ann Beck, marketing and communications manager for the City of Mansfield, and Steve Levering, Strategic Communication instructor, shared free or low-cost software available to craft creative, engaging content.
In the afternoon, Alma Mora-Pohler, volunteer specialist with Fort Worth ISD, discussed the development of practical strategies for stakeholder listening sessions, while Cedric James, student engagement director at the Neeley School of Business, walked attendees through incorporating their own values and vision into their work life with
A new addition this year was the networking lunch held between session groups and sponsored by The Henry Group. Leaders at each of the 15 lunch tables led conversations around reigniting your passion for the profession and expanding your professional network.
English and Strategic Communication Professor Jacque Lambiase founded the all-day conference in 2009 at the University of North Texas. Since 2011, the conference has been at TCU.
“Back in 2008, Ashley knew that communicators for nonprofits needed professional development for themselves and for their organizations,” Lambiase said. “So, over the past 14 years, we have tried to plan a program to serve both of those needs, to support people and organizations with programming about communication excellence.”
English said she felt isolated in her role as a nonprofit communicator.
“I wanted to find a community of communicators who would relate to my work context but who could also help me remain innovative and inspired as we worked together to change the world,” English said. “As a practitioner, I loved learning in community with others, so Jacque and I created that community for others.
“Nonprofit communicators are talented, special and inspired people, and we want to serve them through this conference.”
Additional information about the conference can be found on the NPCC webpage. Details about the 2024 conference, scheduled for May 17, will be posted there next spring.