Archive for the ‘My First Blog Post’ Category

I recently met up with Julia Smith over a cup of coffee. She just moved to Chicago from New York where she worked as Communications Manager at Idealist.org. In her blog series, 28 turning 29, she talks about the astrological meaning of the Saturn Return which happens between the ages of 28-30.

What does this mean for my blog? Her interview of me about my experience of the Saturn return also represents a new phase in my writing! I’m so happy to be a part of this series as an entrance to posting again.

Here’s the interview cross-posted from Julia’s blog here:

Earlier this summer, when I shared that I was moving, I was invited to join a Facebook group for nonprofit professionals in greater Chicago. Several folks extended warm virtual welcomes but Anna Holcombe went above and beyond to suggest that we meet up for coffee. Anna writes about “the connections that she sees growing between social causes, marketing strategies, and Millennials’ entrepreneurial contributions to these intersections” on her blog, Good Money.

Julia: Does the term “Saturn returns” mean anything to you?

Anna: It does. There’s a tendency to think about age 30 as a milestone, and I think that part of this comes with an association- which I think is true- between figuring out more about what you want from 28-30 and paving the ground for all the great stuff that comes with feeling more secure about who you are when you are moving into your early 30’s.

In astrology, the Saturn return is associated with beginning to become an adult. While we explore a lot when we are in our 20’s, astrology says that a Saturn return is when we are confronted with our beliefs and our circumstances in a new albeit challenging way – we kind of burn off some of our old karma that we bring into the world and begin to pave our own.

I think we all have themes in our lives that we are here to learn about and grown from which in part we bring into this world. Seeing some of these themes where I was challenged most during this time in my life is what has lead me to get a bigger picture of who I am now.

J: Where were you when you turned 28?

A: I was working in membership development at a nonprofit in Fort Collins, CO, and waiting to hear back from graduate programs. I knew that I wanted to make a big move, geographically and professionally, to a big city and wrap my brain around some new ideas professionally.

J: What are one or two or several things you remember from the year or so surrounding that birthday? 

A: On my birthday, I went to my favorite martini bar in Fort Collins and the bartender looked at my ID and said, “We have the same birthday!” I didn’t believe him until I saw his ID. Funny how out of any bar, I landed at one where the bartender shared my birthday.

Overall my 28th year was really challenging. After living in Fort Collins for about 2 years, I moved to Chicago without a job into a new field in graduate school that I wasn’t 100% certain about. I also experienced my first Chicago winter in my first apartment that didn’t really crank the heat. It was rough too because I didn’t know a lot of people and was new in what felt like a big and lonely city.

J: What was happening in the world that year? Do you remember newsworthy events, books you read, movies or shows or art you experienced?

A: I remember going to a women’s film festival at DePaul during the fall when I first arrived to Chicago and learning after I had arrived at the event that the film was part of a Luna Bar sponsored film tour. This was one of the first examples of corporate sponsorship through nontraditional partnerships with the artistic community that seemed particularly meaningful, especially because Luna Bar didn’t shove in your face their brand from the get-go. That night supported one of my goals in going to grad school in public relations and advertising to explore corporate driven initiatives that have social meaning.

J: Do you have any advice for someone going through this (supposedly) astrologically tumultuous time? 

A: Don’t base your life on traditional milestones. If anything, think of 30 as the beginning of a new and clearer path towards knowing who you are. Fear of not being on par with where I was “supposed to be” is something I’ve learned to let go of since turning 30, and this took a few years to figure out.

I think that what I’ve learned recently starting when I was about 28 is that women look towards each other to understand all the options which are in front of us rather than sticking to any particular one path. As mentors to each other, we are helping each other trust ourselves, understand what we want, and let go of old conceptions of ourselves that no longer have a purpose in our growth by understanding the context of our lives over the span of 30 or so years. Saturn return from 28 to 30 helped me to be honest now as a 32-year-old. There’s a purpose to these years for sure that I find really valuable now.

Thanks, Anna! For more of Anna’s insight, check out this Good Money post, where she writes about how one corporate campaign is highlighting the ways Millennial women can and should mentor one another. 


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While I am lucky to come home this summer with enough energy to pour a bowl of Cheerios for dinner since starting my new position coordinating a new and expanding corporate cause platform, Groupon’s  G-Team, I am always impressed with head of Twitter’s social innovation, Claire Diaz-Ortiz, and her energy towards her work.

I first came across Claire when I was exploring the corporate cause world this winter during my job search. Claire’s story was empowering because she shares with me a nonprofit background and an eloquence for leveraging her experience into a vision of cause campaigns in social media and corporate cause-driven innovation.

Her founding of Hope Runs, an East Africa organization operating in AIDS orphanages, and her following MBA from Oxford’s business school as Skoll Foundation Scholar for Social Entrepreneurship, culminates today in the release of Claire’s second book, Twitter for Good: Change the World One Tweet At A Time.

And for today only (starting at midnight on Tuesday, September 6th), an electronic download of Twitter for Good is available for FREE (yes I said this four letter word – FREE) on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Claire shares with me some insights about how social media like Twitter is changing the landscape of cause campaigns. She offers some context for a new strategy for tweeting for good that she calls T.W.E.E.T. in Twitter For Good; this acronym stands for target, write, engage, explore, and track, which you can read more about in her new book.

Here is my interview with Claire:

How do you see social media most impacting how nonprofits are raising funds and gaining awareness for their mission-driven work?

Social media and new media mean that the reach potential of a given organization is far greater than it ever was before. Organizations who respond well to this (and maximize these opportunities while still remembering that social media is about relationships) have the best shot at success.

What do you see as the biggest challenge in integrating social media like Twitter in existing fundraising & nonprofit marketing strategies?

I think that many people new to social media don’t understand that the same rules which apply to regular face-to-face relationships apply in social media. Would you sit down with someone at a dinner party and immediately ask them for a donation? Probably not (unless it was a fundraising dinner!). And yet on social media people seem to do that all the time. i.e. “Here I am! I’m on Twitter! Give me money STAT!” Even when it’s slightly less subtle, it’s still a problem.

What is the most exciting aspect of the world of social media for social good?

I think that the most exciting aspect is surely the chance for new innovation. Social media and new media by definition are nascent fields, and that gives us an incredible opportunity to innovate in how we support social good efforts. I, for one, am excited to see what’s coming next!

How do you envision the role of corporate social responsibility for online companies?

Online companies can (and should, I believe) be engaged in CSR efforts in the same way that a traditional brick and mortar company does. Honestly, strictly “traditional” brick and mortar companies are more or less falling by the wayside these days, and the vast majority of successful companies have a new media presence. Thinking of your abilities to do good online as well as offline only increases the potential for impact.

I’m positive that after I read Twitter for Good, I will have more drive to make dinner besides a bowl of Cheerios. Maybe I’ll make a casserole, homemade lentil soup, or perfect a new dish that requires something beyond milk and a bowl. Will you tell me what you are able to do after you read Twitter for Good?

Did you miss the free offer?

Don’t fear! Enter to win a copy here.

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I would call it a journey… it began two years ago when I changed everything.  I moved across the country to Chicago to begin a master’s program at DePaul in Public Relations. Before looking into master’s programs, you probably could have called me an idealist. I was working in grassroots advocacy, especially with social causes affecting women.  I was relocating not just to a new city but trying to reframe my plan for the future. Could I see myself working in nonprofits forever?

Everyone who has worked in a nonprofit knows that it has a heart and soul, but it has limited resources. As someone who had been a lobbyist, program coordinator, outreach specialist, event coordinator, and teacher (you name it, we wear a lot of different hats in the nonprofit sector), simply “doing good” wasn’t satisfying anymore. I wanted to make bigger connections, bigger relationships, with more resources.

Soon after moving to Chicago, I googled the words “social cause” and “marketing”  in my small Logan Square studio. Definitions for cause marketing popped up on my screen. I learned that cause marketing is a strategic link between companies/brands and a social cause that mutually benefits both partners.  I realized (HELLO!- Eureka!), I don’t have to decide between working in the nonprofit or private sector. I can do both!

This blog will highlight my quest to understand the growing role of social causes in all its shapes and forms in marketing, advertising, and public relations. Seeing Susan G. Komen’s annual Pink Ribbon campaign on buckets of chicken at KFC and seeing cause marketing on more and more products in the grocery aisle every year, means that thinking critically about how social causes are connecting with profit is more important than ever.

Looking at how this trend takes different shapes and forms as well as resonates or doesn’t resonate with “everyday” people like me, might prove that business isn’t a dirty word. Even if I thought it was a dirty word when I was an undergraduate beginning my nonprofit career.

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