Lauren Kinsey Ackerman 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 Georgetown University’s masters program in Public Relations & Corporate Communications 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’s 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.
The Center: 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.
The Center: 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.
The Center: 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.
The Center: 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.
The Center: 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.
The Center: 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.