My Future Podcast

For this month’s Connect theme, we are highlighting some of the speakers, facilitators, keynotes, attendees, sponsors, and scholarship recipients of the 2015 Leading Change Summit in Washington, DC September 13-16.

In regular life, it’s hard to find time and space to plan new projects. That’s why I’m so excited about going to the Leading Change Summit again this year.

For quite a while, I’ve been wanting to start a podcast focused on marketing and communications for nonprofits. There are already some great podcasts for nonprofits which talk about a variety of topics, sometimes touching on communications. And there are quite a few podcasts about communications more broadly, but not specific to nonprofits. There used to be some at the intersection, but there haven’t been for a few years.

So I’ve been thinking about it—specific topics I could talk about in each episode, whether to have a partner or do it alone, how often to have special guests, and so on. What did the previous podcasts about nonprofit marketing do well, what could they have done better, and why did they stop? But there are so many interruptions that I haven’t been able to get very deep into any of the planning.

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Spending a few days at the 15LCS won’t just let me get deeper in the planning—it’ll actually help guide me through the process. As the amazing Amy Sample Ward explained, the Summit is designed to walk me through the steps of a strategic planning process. I’ll get enough guidance to steer me along the path, but enough leeway that I can tailor it to the particular project or problem I’ve chosen to work on.

Here’s how I envision myself using the time to plan my future podcast.

On Sunday, kick things off with the opening keynote. Start to get to know the other participants in the Summit at a reception afterward.

On Monday, I’ll roll up my sleeves and start walking through things in detail. Over the course of the day we’ll all walk through the first three stages of planning. In each stage, there are four different workshop options, so you might choose different ones, but this is what I’m thinking for me.

  1. Community. Already a tough choice between these four workshops! But I think the one that will help me most is Community Needs Assessment, which will help me understand how to get a high-level view of the world of communications at nonprofits, and identify what needs are not being met. This will help me understand how my podcast can play a role in filling the gap.
  2. Collaboration. I’ll learn about Strategic Partnership Structures, and consider who might help me with my podcast, how we can all get on the same page with expectations, and work out a win-win arrangement.
  3. Creativity. After doing some initial discovery work in the morning, I’ll frame my ideas in more detail and get feedback from peers in my hub. I know it’ll also be fun to hear what they have been thinking and planning, and to give them feedback and encouragement!

On Tuesday I’ll start looking at the technology side of things.

  1. Tech 1. Another tough choice. I think I’ll go to Impact Evaluation, to help me think up-front about how I’ll measure the success of the podcast, and what kind of systems I can put in place at the get-go to help me monitor progress.
  2. Tech 2. Continuing Engagement will help me think about how to gain, engage, and keep listeners over the life of my podcast.
  3. Sustainability. I love that this is emphasized. How do I keep going once the excitement and newness wear off? I’m not thinking that my podcast will be a source of revenue (at least, not directly), so the funding-focused workshops probably don’t make sense for me. I am really interested in Staff & Resource Planning, though. Even though it’ll mainly be me and my time, I want to have some kind of plan in place for avoiding burnout and making sure that I leave myself enough time to do well at the work which does pay the bills.

Wednesday is the Idea Accelerator! Last year, this was one of the funnest things about the LCS. I didn’t accelerate an idea myself, but I joined a team and helped solidify plans for a tool that would help North Carolina residents understand and navigate the state’s complicated mental health care system. I loved immersing myself in something different for the day and, to be honest, I was really surprised how much more creative I felt when I wasn’t emotionally attached to the outcome of the project! So I’m not sure yet whether this year I’ll accelerate my podcast idea (in hopes of rounding up a team to help me take my plans to the next level), or join a team and help someone else. Either way, I’m really excited about it!

So… Do you have a big project that could use this kind of guided focus to get it off the ground? Please bring it to the LCS, and let’s bounce ideas off each other!

Margaux O'Malley
Margaux O’Malley currently leads the web team for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Previously she hosted the Yoga of Nonprofit Communications podcast, and helped nonprofits create websites to engage their supporters and help move their mission forward. In her spare time you may find her knitting or teaching yoga to teenagers! Look for her on Twitter @margaux_om.