Jennifer Iacovelli Barbour is the brain (and passion) behind Another Jennifer, a blog dedicated to helping entrepreneurs, bloggers, and nonprofits tell their story. With over 10 years of experience in the nonprofit space, Jennifer has witnessed the changes the nonprofit sector has gone through, giving her a unique perspective on the future of the industry. We were lucky enough to sit down with her to chat about her experience with nonprofits, as well as get her opinion on what nonprofits can do to better raise awareness and get people involved.
1. How and when did your passion for philanthropy begin?
I’ve worked in the nonprofit sector in Maine since 2004. At the time, I was looking for a better way to utilize my writing, marketing and design skills. I fell in love with nonprofit work, since it was the first time I truly felt I was making a difference in the world by simply using my own talents. It didn’t take long for me to see and experience the disconnect that often occurs between an organization and donors, where nonprofits are looking for more support and people are looking to give in a more meaningful way.
2. Your bio says you’re obsessed with philanthropies and making a difference in the world. How are you helping philanthropies and what kind of difference do you hope to make on the world?
When I first started writing about philanthropy and its meaning, I wasn’t sure how people would respond. But as I explored the topic and started looking at how people and businesses give back every day, I was inspired. And so were my readers! I think empowering people to take action on causes they care for and showing them how easy it is can be really impactful. I also have a giving pledge where I donate regularly to nonprofits. I write about my own observations on giving and ask for other people’s opinions. I think starting these types of conversations helps others to be more deliberate with their giving. Or, at least keep giving top of mind. My hope is that I can make a difference by showing people how simple it is to give back every day, even if they don’t have tons of money.
3. How long have you been working with philanthropies and what kind of work do you do with them?
As noted above, I’ve actually worked professionally with nonprofits for ten years now, mainly in the realm of public communications and fundraising. Through my blog and as a member of the Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health, I’ve also had the opportunity to partner with nonprofits and NGOs to help advocate for various causes around the globe.
4. What is your favorite part about working with philanthropies?
Good question! I think my favorite part is learning more about the work that is being done to help others and from there, learning how easy it can be to lend a helping hand, whether it’s through using your voice or donating money and/or time. We really can all be philanthropists!
5. What are your top tips for nonprofits on raising awareness or getting people involved?
Seeing the type of impact that a community like Mom Bloggers for Social Good has made, I would absolutely suggest reaching out to bloggers. As a collective voice, we are powerful! As an example, a Twitter chat on World Water Day that I was involved with resulted in over 10 million impressions! I tweeted from WaterAid America’s offices in Nicaragua and had some amazing conversations about toilets and sanitation. I also encourage charities to be active on social media. It’s an inexpensive way to share their good work and get others involved. I think starting conversations about a cause is key to educating people and getting them involved.
6. Do you have a particular cause or charity you’re particularly fond of? If so, which one and why?
There are many causes I am fond of and work with, but there are two that stand out in particular. Crossroads, a behavioral health organization in Maine, is a nonprofit that I’ve worked with for 8 years now. I’ve seen many lives saved through their programs and am always proud to be associated with them. WaterAid America is also a favorite of mine. I recently had the chance to see their work on the ground in Nicaragua. It was an amazing, life-changing experience. Both of these organizations help people, especially women, live healthier lives.
7. How have you watched the nonprofit space evolve over time? How do you think the nonprofit space needs to continue to evolve? What’s missing?
Another good question! It’s been interesting to see how social media has changed how nonprofits work. The sector used to be a lot of direct mail and traditional fundraising events. Today, we can reach supporters almost immediately through social media and even texting. While I think the traditional donation appeal letter isn’t going away just yet, I do think nonprofits need to embrace all that technology has to offer in order to reach their target audience. I wish more people were open to supporting the operating costs of nonprofits so they can afford to hire the right people to handle these technology changes. I think what’s always missing is solid funding and support for those who work for nonprofits.