February 9, 2014

What a difference a year makes

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In January 2013, I published 12 Communication Resolutions for 2013, a set of communications principles for mission-driven organizations. Then I wrote a book.

It’s been a remarkable year, and quite a journey.

Aespire is close to 18 months old. With the twentieth anniversary of Sooy+Co. (our private sector design practice) approaching in 2015, our decision to launch a new practice in 2012 for the nonprofit sector was risky.

Over the last 18 months, I’ve had many memorable conversations with peers, colleagues and professionals within the nonprofit community. These conversations have taken place one-on-one, after presentations and during conferences.

In January 2013, I published 12 Communication Resolutions for 2013, a set of principles for the different marketing and communications challenges that mission-driven organizations face every day.

I've been writing, with articles appearing in publications from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, University and College Designers Association, and Grant Managers Network. It’s been my goal to write 1,200 words a month, many of those words appear in this blog.

I've led two seminars on nonprofit marketing for in collaboration with the SBDC at Lorain County Community College and Nonprofit and Public Service Center at Lakeland Community College.

After 18 months of writing, speaking and presenting, the principles have become The Cause Manifesto. The Manifesto has become a part of the book Raise Your Voice: A Cause Manifesto, published by RockBench Publishing.

RYVCCM-Cover-3DI didn't write this book for myself, I wrote this book for you.

Every day, the team at Aespire works with mission-driven organizations that have realized that branding is not enough. The Manifesto principles are about more than communications, they are about the very heart of your organization: your purpose, your character, your culture, and your voice.

The Cause Manifesto has become the perspective from which we work. We infuse the principles into every client engagement. Organizations such as the Wyoming Humanities Council are adopting them as its own Manifesto, to help remind them why they do what they do, and to help shape a new culture and build deeper relationships.

Attendees of the seminars have adopted the Manifesto as a framework for new strategic planning and communication initiatives. The principles are relevant to every touch point, every relational interaction with your supporters.

The resolutions are strategic, inspirational, relational, and aspirational. I expect them to continue to help meaningful causes communicate with clarity. What I did not anticipate is how they are impacting organizational development — but after all, that’s what culture is — your values and character create culture, the heart of your organization.

Ultimately, it’s not what I think about Raise Your Voice: A Cause Manifesto that matters, it’s what others think about it. I’ve asked colleagues, clients, and peers to review the content of the book. I’m especially appreciative of the graciousness of my peers who have read it, especially those who don’t know me personally.

My colleagues and clients have shared how what they learned from reading it has already made a difference in their communications and organization.

One of my thought leadership influencers, Marty Neumeier, author of The Brand Gap, Zag and Metaskills, had this to say:

"Finally, a great marketing book for charitable organizations. Brian Sooy brings clarity and structure to the challenge of branding a cause."

This book will change the way you think about your cause and how you build relationships with your supporters. It’s not a how-to book (there are plenty of those available, written by many thoughtful professionals). It’s a framework of mission-driven design that reminds you that before you do something, you must be something. And it was written with you and your meaningful causes in mind.

I wrote the book for you. I wrote this article because I’m really excited about the publication of my first book. Thanks for reading. For now, it’s time to get back to changing the world.

Brian Sooy

Raise Your Voice: A Cause Manifesto will be available for pre-order at the end of February. It's at the printer right now.

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