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Sharing personal stories can build connections and engagement with key audiences

Posted on Categories BrandonomicsTags

Nonprofits have unique needs around communicating with volunteers and donors to help drive support for their programs and those needs, in turn, can present specific messaging opportunities. Robin Tooms interviews Thao Costis, CEO of SEARCH Homeless Services.

Robin: Hello and welcome to this edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at top brands and their marketing strategies. I am Robin Tooms, VP of Strategy at Savage Brands and my guest today is Thao Costis, CEO of SEARCH Homeless Services. So Thao, welcome back to Brandonomics.

Thao: It’s great to be back, thanks Robin.

Robin: Well it’s been wonderful talking with you about all the different programs at SEARCH Homeless and one in particular is just really so interesting and so complex, and it’s the House of Tiny Treasures program within your educate initiative. And what I find interesting about this, it’s such a wonderful program around early childhood development but it’s so resource intensive and as a nonprofit that probably puts a huge stress on you in terms of how you are bringing in volunteers and donors to help support such a great program. So how are you really engaging those audiences and kind of drawing them in so that they really understand how they can best help you?

Thao: So we communicate with people through multiple ways and the main message that you basically have said out is that this is an investment in a future life and so the children – it is resource intensive but it’s worth it in the long run. So the messaging is around the cost-effectiveness to the community, to the opportunities of these children and we do it through multiple ways; personal engagement – we’ll host coffees at our House of Tiny Treasures or at SEARCH and sharing both stories of the adult services as well as the children. We do it through mailing appeals through our events and again, it’s telling that personal story about that beautiful child who has been born into this situation and the struggles of the family but how they are overcoming it. And so it’s a great opportunity to show the full picture of not just the child but the family.

Robin: So then do you also have an opportunity with the long term engagement with all the support because obviously these children end up growing up and they kind of generate new stories of their own; is that something you’re using to share back on what’s happened with the investment?

Thao: In fact we do at our luncheon for instance, that we hold every year, we’ve had multiple family members come back to share as an adult now when they were a child what it meant to them. So I think people really do understand and appreciate that there is a long term result with that investment that we’re making and we can do that with more and more children.

Robin: And I know that other nonprofits really struggle with that, I mean that’s just a big challenge of how you keep donors engaged. It sounds like you’re doing something right there.

Thao: Well thank you.

Robin: Well I appreciate you sharing that.

Thao: Great to have the opportunity to share it.

Robin: This has been another edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at top brands and their marketing strategies.


SEARCH Homeless Services helps thousands of men, women and children each year move from the streets, into jobs and safe, stable housing. SEARCH  meets clients where they are and gets them back on their feet through services that engage, stabilize, educate, employ and house.

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