Engagement Training & Development

A Special Anniversary Worth Sharing

I’m excited to “share” that 10 years ago this summer my book, Share of Mind, Share of Heart: Marketing Tools of Engagement for Nonprofits, was published.

[Note: this was the second – and last – business book I wrote, disappointing my son and husband who pushed for a trilogy. Sorry, guys!]

I was encouraged by my nonprofit colleagues to write Share of Mind, Share of Heart given the favorable response to my first book on workplace engagement. The new book’s content was based on three foundational nonprofit principles I learned through extensive experience both personally (as a frontline volunteer, board member, and board chair) and professionally (as a marketing & organizational advisor, workshop instructor, and facilitator):

  • Mission matters – it provides organizational focus and intention.
  • The people behind the mission also matter – the employees and volunteers who impact the brand.
  • People’s passion for the mission should not be taken for granted – it does not ensure their continued commitment.

In an easy-to-read format, the book shares the insight and practical tools needed to engage employees and volunteers. This short actionable guide also includes thought-provoking questions and worksheets readers can use to apply the concepts in their organizations.

Share of Mind, Share of Heart was introduced on my blog (It’s Here! Help for Engaging Nonprofits’ Most Powerful Assets) in July 2012 and was later recognized as a Winner of the 2013 Small Business Book Awards.

Even post-pandemic, this book’s evergreen content is a valuable guide for nonprofit staff and volunteer leaders who want to strengthen their organization’s engagement from the inside-out.

Consider it an affordable investment and inspiring gift you can share with the nonprofits you care about. Limited print copies are still available through Firefly Bookstore.

“A book is a gift you can open again and again.” Garrison Keillor

[Photo by Toby Bloomberg of her beloved dog, Max, reading Share of Mind, Share of Heart: Marketing Tools of Engagement for Nonprofits. Such a smart dog!]




A New, Painful Perspective

Feeling overwhelmed by work responsibilities? I was until …

I got perspective. And it hit me hard.

This awakening occurred after I participated in an online discussion with a core group of indefatigable volunteer members of Global Facilitators Serving Communities (GFSC) and several Ukrainian facilitators/consultants. It’s purpose was to better understand the challenges they face and how we might help each other. The meeting took place as part of a series of supporting discussions that followed up GFSC’s online workshop, “Crisis > Change > Choice – Building Personal & Community Resilience,”  held for Ukrainian facilitators.

Professional and personal crises

Stories were shared of their frustrations in finding work opportunities in foreign countries as displaced professionals where they’re viewed as refugees. I find it difficult to imagine their experiences:

  • escaping the trauma of war while continuing to worry about family and friends who remain in the Ukraine
  • adapting to different cultures, languages, business customs
  • uncertain of how long they’ll stay and when/if they can return home
  • struggling to be respected as professionals; as one participant commented, “I’m dealing with who I was then vs. who I am now.”

Their stories reflected amazing resilience. Nonetheless, I can’t imagine not helping them.

What can I/we do?

One of the ideas that emerged from our discussion – one I’m excited to engage in – involves reaching out to colleagues in selective professional and personal networks to make helpful connections.

Even though I’m still overwhelmed by work, I now have a different perspective given what I learned from my peers in the Ukraine. As the saying goes “It’s all relative” … and it’s worth helping where we can.

If you’re interested and want to learn more, please email

[Image by stokpic from Pixabay]

Volunteers Get to the Heart of the Matter

Q: How would you facilitate a meeting-of-the-minds between two competitive nonprofits?

A: Very carefully.

That was my challenge when I was asked to facilitate a special meeting of two organizations striving to enhance their impact in their community: one was a local affiliate of an established nonprofit and the other was a grass-roots start-up. Both groups were dedicated to helping people with cancer.

Concerned with competing for limited donor and volunteer resources, the established nonprofit felt threatened and candidly admitted they wanted the new organization to just “go away.” Fortunately, they accepted the new group’s invitation to sit down together and explore how they could co-exist to serve the community.

Focusing on what matters

I remember my feelings of trepidation as I prepared for the joint meeting – I was a facilitator, not a peace-keeper! But my fears dissolved after interviewing several volunteers from each organization. Their message was clear and consistent: “We don’t care who we work for as volunteers, we just want to eradicate cancer. So find a way to work out your differences.“

These volunteers provided the critical reinforcement and reminder both nonprofits needed to hear: purpose supersedes politics. It also proved to be the perfect framework for a dynamic and fruitful dialogue.

I’m happy to share both organizations took the volunteers’ message to heart as they continue to successfully co-exist and collaborate in their efforts to help people with cancer.

[Image by Lou Kelly from Pixabay]

Nonprofits: What to Do About National Volunteer Week During COVID-19

One serious consequence of the current pandemic is that many nonprofits are unable to rely on volunteers as a significant on-site resource. In Coronavirus & Volunteers: Your Guide for Managing Uncertainty, Tobi Johnson describes this challenging situation:

“Leaders of volunteers must often balance competing priorities – the needs of volunteers, the needs of the organization, and the needs of the communities they serve.

“In many cases, organizations can’t simply shut down their facilities. And, front-line workers who rely on volunteers to supplement their work are forced to choose between having an extra pair of hands and risking disease spread to clients, co-workers, volunteers, and the families of all.”

What does this mean for National Volunteer Week being observed April 19-25, 2020?

I intended to survey nonprofit leaders about their plans to celebrate volunteers this year but posts on my local Nonprofit Agencies COVID-19 Group Facebook page were (and still are) so filled with desperate requests for masks, gloves, food, and other critical mission-related supplies that I didn’t have the heart to ask them.

Understand volunteer motivation and why it can’t be taken for granted

People don’t volunteer for the sake of being recognized. They dedicate their time and talent because they’re attracted to an organization’s mission — they want to be part of something that matters and know their efforts make a difference. As I wrote in my book, Share of Mind, Share of Heart: Marketing Tools of Engagement for Nonprofits:

“Mission matters. The people behind the mission also matter, and their passion for the mission can never be taken for granted.”

That’s why COVID-19 isn’t an excuse for not recognizing volunteers. So what can you do?

Volunteer appreciation during the pandemic … and after

A sincere and simple “thank you” message to your volunteers is what’s needed to acknowledge their continued support of your organization and mission. This can be part of, or in addition to, any special COVID-19 communication update(s) you share with volunteers and stakeholders.

Many volunteers are frustrated in not being able to directly serve as they did pre-pandemic and would rather be side-by-side with your staff than sidelined. You may also acknowledge this in your thank-you and, if applicable, offer virtual and other alternative options for them to continue supporting your nonprofit.

When the pandemic is over, many of your volunteers will be more than ready to return. You may also find yourself with new volunteers motivated to serve.

And next year, we can look forward to having have more volunteers to recognize and time to participate in more formal volunteer appreciation efforts.

[Title image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay. Thank you card image by Howard Riminton on Unsplash.]

Engagement Marketing

Strengthening Your Company’s Brand from the Inside-Out – Podcast Interview

What a joy to be a guest on the “Profitable Happiness™” Podcast, hosted by bestselling author and musician, Dr. Pelè, who focuses on workplace happiness as a key to success.

In our engaging 30 minute conversation, we talk about what lead me to bridge marketing and human resources with internal marketing to create a positive workplace culture that values employees and customers. We also discuss interesting issues such as how to identify happy workplaces, how to save money on outside consultants, and how to have a positive impact in a toxic environment.

Listen here for our conversation on Internal Workplace Wellness Marketing.

To learn more and listen to Dr. Pelè’s other interviews with “successful workplace happiness experts, executive coaches, and entrepreneurs, check out his website.



Summer Blog Break 2018

Summer is upon us — that time of year when most people look forward to a warm weather vacation or stay-cation. While I continue to work throughout the summer, I do enjoy a brief break from blogging as a chance to relax from the pressure of posting and refresh my content ideas.

This temporary break only applies to my blog writing as I’ll still be active on LinkedIn and as @SybilQSM on Twitter sharing noteworthy content on internal marketing tools of engagement that impact the employee experience, volunteer experience, and customer experience.

I’ll be back in late August or early September with new posts. Until then, I hope you enjoy a safe and happy summer!






5 Ways Nonprofits Can Effectively Engage Employees and Volunteers

“Mission matters. The people behind the mission also matter, and their passion for the mission can never be taken for granted.”  [from Share of Mind, Share of Heart: Marketing Tools of Engagement for Nonprofits.]                                       

This is why engaging staff members and volunteers involves special care beyond just a “recruit ‘em & recognize ‘em” approach.

How do nonprofit leaders and managers effectively attract, develop, and retain talent? They succeed by intentionally creating a positive workplace culture. Here’s how.

1. Learn about your employees and volunteers: who they are, their interest in serving your organization, and their expectations of working with you. Ask them:

  • What appealed to you to join our organization?
  • What inspires you most about being here?
  • What do you expect to give and get from serving as an employee or volunteer?
  • Would you recommend this organization to others?

Also conduct exit interviews with people who voluntarily leave your organization so you can learn more about their employee or volunteer experience.

2. Clarify and clearly communicate what your organization expects from its staff and volunteers and what they can expect from you. Be honest about what everyone’s commitment entails.

3. Provide the necessary tools and information people need to best serve your nonprofit. This includes orientation and training; sharing the mission, vision, strategic plans, and goals; program overviews and updates; etc. Also consider how operational or policy changes may impact staff and volunteer efforts, and communicate any changes and the rationale behind them in a timely manner.

4. Recognize and acknowledge your employees’ and volunteers’ value. While designated “holidays” like Employee Appreciation Day and National Volunteer Week provide an opportunity to celebrate the people who serve your organization, it’s important to let them know they’re appreciated throughout the year.

5. Proactively listen to your staff and volunteers – ask for their feedback and ideas – and respond appropriately.

Nonprofit employees and volunteers are precious resources. Treat them carefully and with the respect they deserve.

Engagement Training & Development

Engaging Workplace Wisdom — Tips on What Works to Engage Others

While I typically speak about employee/volunteer engagement with people currently active in the workforce, the prospect of being with an audience of retirees was too good to pass up.

My recent session for Penn State Lehigh Valley’s SAGE Lecture Series was designed with a dual purpose: 1) share the current state of workplace engagement and 2) tap into the rich reservoir of the audience’s job experiences to be shared with students. Twenty-six students also participated as part of their Intercultural Community-Building class – a first-year experience course that introduces students “to the concepts of identity and multiculturalism, and encourage them to engage in interactive discussions with others,” according to Kristy Weidner Hove, instructor and Institutional Planning Coordinator at Lehigh Valley Penn State.

After discussing the importance of engagement and what leads people to engage or disengage on the job, the audience broke into small groups of retirees and students to share their experiences in the workplace. Each breakout group then identified and shared their top three tips on engaging employees, volunteers, and co-workers.

Here are the resulting tips, compiled and organized by Kristy Hove, that reflect a variety of leadership, management, and collaborative practices based on actual experience.

Penn State Lehigh Valley SAGE Workshop


  • Don’t just hear what others have to say but listen to them and retain what they say.
  • At all levels, the person must be able to listen as a sign of respect.


  • Respond to others in a way that indicates you understand them.
  • Communicate among each other and comment whenever the person did well.
  • Find a way that works to communicate with the group; i.e., face-to-face or online.


  • Acknowledge people at all levels, both intrinsically and concrete incentives.
  • Give credit to the person who comes up with the idea; mention his or her name in front of the group or boss.
  • Create an environment for recognizing and rewarding achievement.


  • Learn people’s names.
  • For new employees or volunteers, ask the people they’ll be working with to introduce themselves and what they do.


  • Ask volunteers what they’d like to do. Explain you’ll try to accommodate if you can. Leaders need to be prepared for alternative, unexpected requests.


  • Team work makes the dream work.
  • Group activities and communication help with teamwork.


  • Create an environment where employees enjoy what they are doing.
  • Attitude – people will mirror what they see.


  • Recognize the value of socialization. Some groups value the “journey” and inclusion as much as achievement.
  • Provide opportunities for social introductions.
  • Social gatherings can help with comfortability/familiarity .
  • Encourage openness among employees.
  • Find a friend at work.


  • Show sincere respect and interest in people.
  • Management should maintain distance and yet be open to employees and their ideas.
  • Recognize abilities and limitations of the employees.
  • Act responsibly.
  • Treat everyone equally (Golden Rule).

Special thanks to Diane McAloon, Community & Alumni Outreach, and Kristy Hove for helping with this special workshop, and to all retirees and students for their active participation.


Engaging Conversations with Volunteers

“Volunteers … work not for money but because they want to give back, make a difference, change the world.”  Sally Helgesen

While the need to give of themselves may motivate volunteers to get involved, it doesn’t ensure their continuing commitment. What keeps them involved is the quality of their experience with an organization.

The best way to understand your volunteers’ experience is to engage them in conversation. This can be done in individual conversations or, if you manage a large group of volunteers, through roundtable discussions or surveys.

Engaging conversation starters

Ask these key questions to learn what your volunteers think – and how they feel – about your nonprofit:

• What is it about this organization that appealed to you to get involved?

• What about this organization keeps you involved?

• What do you expect to give and get from your volunteer involvement?

• What do you enjoy most about your volunteer experience?

• What suggestions do you have to improve the volunteer experience?

• Would you recommend this organization to other volunteers?

What to do with volunteer feedback

Listen carefully and acknowledge your volunteers’ value – both in serving your organization and in sharing their thoughts with you. Collective responses to the first four questions provide important insight to reinforce volunteer engagement and may be used in your messaging to recruit new volunteers.

Responses to the last two questions will help you identify concerns that need immediate fixing and those that need to be addressed in the long term. Share and communicate any follow up to let your volunteers know that you heard them.

Volunteers are precious resources. Listen to them and treat them with the respect they deserve.


Summer Blog Break 2016

Remember those sweet childhood days when school was out and summer vacation started?

I do, even though I’ve been working over more summers than I care to count. I’m not complaining, as I love working with my clients regardless of the season.

My summer compromise is my annual blog break when I take a much-needed breather to relax, refresh, and consider new ideas for content marketing.  That break starts now and runs through late August/early September when I’ll return with new posts.

In the meantime, I’ll still be active on Twitter and LinkedIn sharing other thought leaders’ ideas on employee engagement, volunteer engagement, the customer experience, and non-profit marketing. You can also find loads of evergreen content on my blog in those and other topics listed under “Tags” in the right sidebar.

Best wishes for a safe and happy summer!