by John Trybus, Managing Director

Social strategist Katya Andresen is profoundly impatient.

She’s profoundly impatient to find the perfect pair of shoes. She’s profoundly impatient for nonprofit organizations to reach their maximum potential. And she’s profoundly impatient to make the world a better place.

“I just feel that we don’t have a lot of time on this planet, any of us, and there’s a lot to do,” Katya explains. “It’s really important, particularly if we are working for a good cause, that we find the way to do good in the world and to really use our skills in a meaningful way quickly.”

The importance of time started early in Katya’s career journey.

She worked for many years as a wire reporter overseas in locations like Cambodia, Laos and Madagascar. In those developing countries, Katya says she eventually grew “tired of witnessing a lot of need.”

“I saw really bad things,” she told me. “I saw people being killed. I saw people struggling with AIDS. I saw a lot of child prostitution. At some point as a journalist I was tired of being a witness and I wanted to do something about what I was seeing….I wanted to be part of not just calling attention to something but really doing something about it.”

Katya currently serves as the chief strategy officer of Network for Good, an organization founded through collaboration between AOL, Yahoo and Cisco with the idea that technology can be a force for good. Network for Good has helped to raise more than $661 million in donations for more than 60,000 nonprofits since 2001 through its revolutionary approach to using the internet to raise funds.

Katya’s insights into doing good quickly and smartly are invaluable and there too many to list in this blog post! But here’s a preview of a few we discuss in greater detail in the interview:

  • Use psychology to understand target audiences. Put yourself in the mindset of your target audience and appeal to their self-interests in order to persuade them to support your cause.  Katya says: “It’s so important that we understand each other and that we use that understanding to really accomplish things and inspire people to action.” Public relations is ultimately about psychology.  “I think we need to take a dose of dispassion and take a step back from our cause and our feeling that having a good cause is enough,” Katya continues. “And really go through that experience of understanding our audiences.”
  • Learn (and steal good ideas) from companies. With grand resources and a sharp focus on understanding the importance of audience, there is much to learn from companies who are effective marketers and strategic communicators. This thesis is the focus of Katya’s terrific book, Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes. 
  • Make bold deadlines. “We don’t typically have deadlines and impatience in our [nonprofit] sector and I think that’s unconscionable frankly,” Katya argues. “We should be working ourselves out of business. If we really do our job we shouldn’t be here in 10 years, or 20 years, or 30 years. And if we all think that way it would change how we conduct ourselves on a daily basis.”

Listen to my interview with Katya Andresen to learn more about her approach to cause-based communication, check out Katya’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog and remember this social strategist’s call-to-action: always, always be impatient!