Practitioner Profile: Lauren Kinsey, Director of Cause Marketing, Teach For America

Lauren Kinsey GeorgetownLauren Kinsey creates, promotes and manages cause marketing partnerships at Teach For America. As the director of cause marketing, she works with companies in an effort to strengthen Teach For America’s brand, create new and loyal ambassadors and generate income and diversify revenue. She is an alumna of the Georgetown PRCC program and holds a B.A. in English and sociology from Bucknell University. Follow her on Twitter @LEKinsey or LinkedIn to connect about cause marketing, nonprofit and corporate partnerships and corporate social responsibility.

Georgetown University Center for Social Impact Communication: Describe your career path and your current position.

Lauren Kinsey: One of my first roles was at the Avon Walk For Breast Cancer. Here, I wore many hats—from grassroots marketing, to fundraising, to volunteer management. This gave me a great avenue to figure out what I’d like to do in the future.

Next, I took a role at United Way, as manager of cause marketing. This position was initially temporary however, the demand from companies enabled them (to my delight) to make it a full-time job.

Fast forward through a quick top at an agency (where I learned a lot and quickly!), I landed at Teach For America as their director of cause marketing. Here, I work on the national marketing team in conjunction with the development team to create partnerships with purpose.

CSIC: What is your best piece of career advice?

LK: Advocate for yourself. When I first started my career I believed that good work would be immediately celebrated and managers always had your best interests in mind. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If you need more resources, make a business case for it; if you are really proud of a project, share it with colleagues; if you want to learn a new skill, ask for professional development opportunities.

CSIC: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

LK: We recently ran a holiday initiative with American Eagle where we raised $100,000 from consumer donations in just a few weeks. While this partnership allowed us to secure funding, the real gift came when we asked if we could connect with their consumer audience.

American Eagle delivered—allowing us to take over their Times Square Billboard. While dollars are crucial, it is opportunities like this that provide value to a nonprofit that we could never secure on our own.

CSIC: What can someone be doing now to ensure they secure a position similar to yours?

LK: I think the key is always in relationships (the next step of networking!). The cause marketing and CSR community is growing, but still fairly small and very interconnected. The folks sitting next to you in class are going to be the next generation of leaders in this space. Make connections now, support each other and learn from each other.

CSIC: What skills are necessary to work in cause marketing?

LK: Relationships, as I mentioned earlier are key. We do a lot of work co-creating partnerships with companies and while it might be considered a soft skill—it is hard to live without in this field. The communications planning work we learn here at Georgetown has also provided a great framework for both pitches and activations of partnerships.

CSIC: What is your go to source to learn about cause communication trends?

LK: I love Cone Communications for several reasons, but specifically for their email called Prove Your Purpose. While I’d always love more time to study cause communications trends, this email delivers a quick overview of all of the best partnerships and trends.

CSIC: Is your organization hiring?

Yes, we have a few open positions in communications and public affairs. Click here for the most up-to-date openings. Our regional Washington, D.C. office would also love to be a capstone client. Please email me if you are interested.

Sponsors React to Off-Field NFL Drama

Its likely impossible that if you’ve been following the news lately you’ve missed out on the slew of bad press the NFL has received these past couple months; the turmoil began with the news of Ray Rice’s physical assault against his then-fiancée, now-wife Janay Palmer and took off from there, featuring similar stories from Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, Jonathan Dwyer, and Ray McDonald.

Critics have called attention to the lack of impact these stories
have had on viewership, making it hard to anticipate much of an influence on the NFL’s comfortable $1.07B in sponsorship revenue. Where the viewers go (or don’t, in this instance), the sponsors will follow?

Several sponsors responded with lightly worded messages of concern, such as this statement from Visa:

“As a long-standing sponsor we have spoken with the NFL about our concerns regarding recent events, and reinforced the critical importance that they address these issues with great seriousness.”

One NFL sponsor used the trending topic as an opportunity to highlight its long-standing work against domestic violence; in an article posted on LinkedIn, Verizon’s CEO Lowell McAdam cited their 20-year-long commitment to raising awareness about domestic violence through their HopeLine program, which “uses the proceeds from recycling and reusing old wireless phones to benefit women’s shelters and other victim’s organizations.”

But the most interesting response from our perspective is Procter & Gamble’s recent disassociation with the NFL’s annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month initiative. NFL has received a lot of flak in the past for a lack of transparency around donations associated with A Crucial Catch, which amounts to just 12.5% of all monies spent on pink NFL merchandise. NFL credits A Crucial Catch with raising approximately $4.5M since 2009 for the American Cancer Society (briefly consider that, while an anomaly, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raised over $100M in just a couple months time).

Meanwhile, numerous organizations are calling for the NFL to change direction with its philanthropic giving and focus on domestic violence initiatives, instead of breast cancer awareness. In an apparent effort by the NFL to respond to the outcry, the National Domestic Violence Hotline announced earlier this month a “long-term commitment of resources” from the NFL, but didn’t define the level of support, aside from “multiple millions of dollars over five years,” and awareness generating just kicked off on October 23rd with the NFL Player Say: NO MORE video now airing during game time.

Bloomberg News reports that the brand will “cancel on-field activation with NFL teams,” though P&G will follow through with its $100,000 donation to the American Cancer Society. This means that the awareness that P&G would have given the cause – through social media activations with players and pink mouthguards – will be non-existent “because P&G isn’t comfortable playing a part in the NFL’s efforts to appeal to women at a time when the NFL is facing criticism for players abusing women,” says Jason La Canfora of CBS. While it’s difficult to measure the impact of awareness campaigns v. actual donations, football attracts a lot of viewers, with Sunday Night Football alone drawing in more than 21M viewers. That’s a lot of eyeballs on ACS logos and pink ribbons.

While the majority of sponsorship deals haven’t been affected, P&G’s canceled on-field activation during Breast Cancer Awareness month is the first example we’ve seen of a sponsor taking a step away from the NFL, with the impact felt by a charitable organization.

A Crucial Catch

For more perspectives, check out the Chronicle for Philanthropy’s collection of opinion pieces on “Rethinking Pink”

“Donate Now!” on Twitter?

Last week Twitter announced the US launch of their new ‘buy’ button, which, when combined with their impressive stats (more than 270M monthly active users send a combined 500M tweets per day) has real potential to shift the way users interact with brands on this social media platform.

While the initial roll out has a narrow focus – it’ll only be available to a select group of mobile users and will consist primarily of limited-edition items – it’s already a step above the hashtag-purchasing on Twitter with Amazon and American Express, which feels cumbersome, not to mention very public, requiring users to tweet a purchase. Twitter will incorporate an authentic and native-looking ‘buy’ button that will lead to shipping and payment pages. They worked with brands such as Fancy and Stripe to build out the platform and promise more partners will follow.

DonorsChoose featured this limited edition #backtoschool tee with Mindy Kaling

What I find so unique about the pilot is their selection of brands involved – nineteen of the twenty-eight brands are musicians and just two of the group are commercial brands (Burberry and The Home Depot), the rest are nonprofit organizations. The non-profits selected are varied, too:

The true impact and success of the Twitter buy button remains to be seen for all brands involved, but this is especially true for nonprofits who – unlike (RED) or Glide – don’t already have a commerce component in their existing fundraising strategy. I’m curious to see how this functionality will be used creatively, outside of DonorsChoose’s t-shirt. Perhaps nonprofits will feature discounted tickets to a fundraising event or garner financial support for a timely advocacy campaign (bonus points if it’s around a trending topic)?

I know I’m not the first to think what the numbers would have looked like if ALS Association had a “Donate!” button promoted to Facebook users posting videos with the #IceBucketChallenge tag; would eliminating the step of navigating to the ALS Association’s website to donate have increased their already staggering donation amount?

I, for one, am interested to see how the ‘Buy’ button develops and whether it will become a reliable source of donations for nonprofits.

You’ll Never Believe What Facebook Is Up To

Facebook announced yesterday, via press release, two changes to the news feed to help streamline content for users.


First, and most importantly for our collective sanity, it looks like click-bait’s funeral has been scheduled! Facebook will suppress content that they determine is “click-baiting” – for examples, see my title, above, or Facebook’s example, below:


Their reasoning for the change? 80% of users want a headline that helps them decide whether they actually want to read the article. Surprised? Personally, I won’t miss the click-bait articles.

Implications for Your Content

On the surface, this is excellent news – no longer will our newsfeeds be flooded with click-bait posts, but we thought it was worth a second glance to take a look at how Facebook will determine a post falls into this category.

Time: Firstly, Facebook explained they will observe how long people spend away from Facebook on the link. If users actually spend time reading the posted content, it’s likely something others might want to see, too. If users are immediately jumping back to Facebook from a link, it indicates that the material wasn’t what they were looking for, or wasn’t of interest to them.

Clicks: you can expect Facebook to pay closer attention to the behaviors taken by users after interacting with content. If users click the link but aren’t clicking like, commenting, or sharing with friends it’s indicating to Facebook that it isn’t something valuable to the user. The higher the ratio of interaction, the more visible the post will be.

Facebook claims that only “a small set of publishers who are frequently posting links with click-bait headlines that many people don’t spend time reading after they click through may see their distribution decrease in the next few months.” While Facebook seems confident that most posters will be fine, I’ve outlined some ways organizations can adjust posting strategies to avoid any negative consequences:

  • Focus on posting substantive and relevant content to generate authentic engagement on the part of your followers.
  • Pay attention to your headlines – make sure they accurately represent the content to which you are linking.
  • Take advantage of Facebook’s new link preference (more below) by using high quality images, infographics, and other visual aides to encourage interaction.
  • Utilize learnings from our Storytelling research, expected to be released in early September, to craft stories worth sharing on Facebook; our survey results indicate that Facebook is the third most effective channel for sharing stories.

What have I missed? How will you change your posting strategy to meet Facebook’s new parameters?

Don’t Forget – Sharing Links

The second change announced today by Facebook, focuses on how users share links within a post. When a user pastes a into Facebook’s status bar, the site automatically creates a link preview, including an image and text preview for visitors. See our examples below of a sample post with and without the preview:

 In the first example, we remove the link preview, leaving only a URL for interaction.ex2

In the second example, we utilize the image and text preview functionality provided by Facebook; additionally, the removal of the link creates a much cleaner, aesthetically pleasing post.

It turns out that Facebook users strongly prefer the second type of links; according to today’s press release, they receive “twice as many clicks compared to links embedded in photo captions.” Facebook will prioritize posts using their link preview format and will “show fewer links shared in captions or status updates.”