Balancing Volunteerism With a Full-time Job

Sarah Steimer
Marketing News, Nonprofit
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Key Takeaways

​What? Designer Christine Mau got involved with No More, a nonprofit working to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

So what? The mission was something Mau felt strongly about, and she was able to flex her professional muscle to help create the organization’s logo.

Now what? Marketers looking to align themselves with a nonprofit should choose an organization that speaks to them. This way, the work won’t feel like an extra job.

​July 1, 2017

Designer Christine Mau argues that aligning yourself with a mission-based initiative can benefit the cause and your career

When there are barely enough hours in the day, it can feel challenging to spend extra time giving back. Christine Mau, one of Ad Age’s “Women To Watch” and a former design director at Kimberly-Clark, chooses to spend her time with No More, a nonprofit to end domestic violence and sexual assault. Mau discussed her involvement and how others can choose a philanthropic mission that speaks to them and uses their skills.

Q: How did you get involved with No More?

A: [No More Co-founder and Director] Virginia Witt, who I did not know, sent out a cold e-mail saying, “I am putting together a think tank of thought leaders in advertising, design and marketing in order to put together a new brand to tackle domestic violence and sexual assault.” Within five seconds she got back my enthusiastic “Absolutely yes. Tell me when and where to be and I will be there.”

Q: You started out just offering your design expertise, but how did your role grow from there?

A: They had two think tanks, one in Los Angeles and the other in New York. The first one, in L.A., didn’t really deliver on expectation, and they were a little apprehensive going into New York. We had a fantastic brainstorm and some really strong ideas for going forward. We were walking out and they said, “Thank you so much for your time” and I said, “Oh, I’m not done. I would very much like to remain involved.”

I have been a part of the strategic planning and the reviews on the creatives and research. At that point it was still just an idea, and I said, “I can help you with the design development. I can help with the research of what people actually want and need and how they will respond to this.”

Q: How were you able to use some of your professional skills in the work that you’ve done with No More?

A: They reached out to me because they knew that I had worked on things like U by Kotex, Poise and Depends, which are products that have some stigma that people aren’t as open and willing to talk about. I came in as an expert who knows how to market and make it OK to remove those stigmas.

At this point we were calling [the organization] Zero, and had thought we’d have a simple logo. It would be something that anybody could wear so it wouldn’t matter your age or gender. Something that could be immediately recognized, much like the pink ribbon for breast cancer. We wanted to come up with something that could be so simple that people could use it in conjunction with their logos. This wasn’t supposed to compete with or replace the name of your coalition, the name of your practice or the name of your crisis center. It would start to link all of these together, so people could see the enormity of the problem.
Q: How was this logo created?

A: I worked with the organization as the creative director to tighten the [creative] brief and lead the team through the creative reviews. I reached out to a very talented team from Sterling Brands who donated their time and services. They made something visual and iconic that met that vision that could stand for No More.

Q: The final design is a blue “vanishing point” that evolved from the concept of zero. Describe the meaning of the design.

A: It’s not always overt. It’s a conversation starter. It doesn’t give you everything spelled out. It’s more of an invitation to ask me, and then I can talk about it. Start breaking the silence and making it OK.

Q: You’ve talked about your personal connection to the message and the goal of No More. How would you recommend others choose a cause to get involved with?

A: Everyone who has accepted the invitation to join has a personal relationship with the cause of No More. That’s really important to make that time in your calendar and to feel that personal sense of reward. If I’m not going to have a real personal connection, chances are I’m not going to give it the 110% that everyone around me is. If you pick something that you are personally connected to, it doesn’t feel like work. It just comes so naturally that it doesn’t feel like an extra burden. You actually have a feeling of reward for doing it.

Q: When you have a career and a family and so many other things going on, how do you split your time? How are you able to stretch your time and abilities to really make it count?

A: When I was at Kimberly-Clark, I had great support from the company. If it was something that went into personal time—because it was something that I personally was passionate about—that was a learning opportunity to talk to my kids about what I was doing and why I was doing it.

I’ve seen them since get involved in their schools and in their organizations, and they’re giving back in ways that are meaningful to them.

One of my sons got a grade one day that he wasn’t that proud of, so he sat at his desk and he read and went over things again and again. When he finally figured it out for himself, he created a self-study manual and tutoring guide for the entire coursework of that semester and handed it to the instructor and said, “I want to give this to the next class because it was really hard for me and this helped. This is how I did it.”

Q: What advice would you give someone who is considering becoming involved, whether on a large scale, such as joining a nonprofit board, or on a small scale, such as volunteering?

A: You end up getting back more than what you give. I feel almost selfish in that I’ve had these opportunities. Whenever you take on these personal projects you develop another skill. You broaden your network. You create something that you’re really proud of that then helps you get to that next level in your career.


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Author Bio:

 
Sarah Steimer
Sarah Steimer is a staff writer for the AMA's magazines and e-newsletters. She may be reached at ssteimer@ama.org or on Twitter at @sarah_steimer.
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