This week on the blog, our founder Kerri Voyles sat down with Vice President of Marketing and Communications at KVC Health Systems, Jenny Kutz. Jenny has an impressive resumé but what stands out among it all is her incredible work with KVC. Over nearly a decade, she’s grown KVC marketing and communications from one person to a well-rounded nonprofit marketing and comms team. Meet Jenny.
Her Professional Background
Jenny has worked in mar/comm forever, going all the way back to college. Although she graduated with a political science degree, her first position was a marketing role at the nonprofit Bread for the World based in Washington, DC.
Using her skills to connect with donors and communities, Jenny has worked with some incredible people and causes over the years. She’s served organizations like World Relief – while in college, she helped with resettling refugees — as well as the international nonprofit, WorldServe, which aids in drilling wells throughout Africa, creating accessible clean water.
After her time at WorldServe, Kutz spent some time freelancing and working for a traffic signal tech company, before landing a job at KVC. She took the skills of her data-driven, marketing role from this fast-growing tech company and applied them to her new one-person role at KVC.
Her Passion for Nonprofits
Nonprofit work is in Jenny’s blood. “My parents – my mom was a public library administrator; and my dad worked for various community nonprofits within poverty and Head Start programs.”
When Jenny was a kid, she’d have bake sales with friends, and raise money for organizations like Greenpeace. Her parents helped instill the importance of giving back from an early age.
Small Beginnings at KVC
“Starting at KVC in 2013, there was a development team of only a few people, and a communications and marketing department of just one – myself.”
However, early on, Jenny added social media and graphic design support. She started to make an important shift away from the idea that communications only exist to support fundraising; instead, it’s a core part of the organization.
Building the Dream Team
As with many nonprofits, Jenny knew there was opportunity but the organization lacked the time or resources. She started by adding value to the places she saw great potential and communicated that vision.
“[I am] thankful that they have been open to listening to needs in different departments, and that they made the decision to invest in marketing/comms.”
Jenny started to challenge the status quo and how things had been done for years. It was clear that the traditional way of outreach wasn’t effective anymore and there were ways to build an audience without leads.
“One of the biggest years of growth was when we explained how we could help with foster and adoptive parent recruitment.” Instead of relying on trade shows and setting up tables at events, hoping someone would be interested in the cause, they could utilize mar/comm to connect with people already looking to help kids.
The Power of Communication
In a short time, Jenny delivered on her promise. “We grew the number of Kansas foster homes by 78% – from 500 to almost 900 foster homes – and made KVC Kansas the largest foster family agency in the state!” This resulted in more options for kids in crisis and increased the likelihood of there being a foster family closer to home.
Not only is this a positive impact on the kids, but there’s been an internal impact for employees, too. Jenny and her team have helped lift the organization as a whole by creating valuable and effective marketing materials. They have received numerous positive accolades from leaders across the organization and in the community.
“Now we’re on the path of high expectations. We are committed to blogging. Owning our marketing versus renting, with equity and SEO value across our website and articles. And we want to continually bring in new leads.”
Her Advice to Mission Marketers Advocating for Resources
“Consistency is the secret weapon. Stick with it; no matter what whirlwind of tasks is on your plate. And pick the method that works for you.”
Jenny says that she has found a lot of motivation in listening to the book Atomic Habits written by James Clear. He talks about how it started with his commitment to blogging. He says to answer the questions that are on the hearts and minds of who you’re trying to reach. Then figure out how you can add value to that audience. It doesn’t have to be long format, the shorter the better nowadays!
What Brings Her Joy Outside of Work
Jenny is married, has two little boys and is enjoying a summer of swimming. She has also taken on a new hobby of learning how to play tennis. During 2020, she switched to a plant-based lifestyle and loves to find new recipes and blogs. One of her favorite documentaries on this subject is Forks Over Knives.
Focus on Empathy
Something she’s held onto over the years is to try and see the world from the other person’s perspective.
“You can feel defeated if you’re approaching it as ‘me vs others’ [when advocating for mar/comm dollars]. Leaders of organizations want to see the results, too. They depend on us in mar/comm to paint a vision. If possible, [we should be] advocating for growth and resources. We are the experts in the field. If anyone is discouraged — remember it’s just part of educating people.”
***Many thanks to Jenny for sharing her Mission Marketer story with us. Connect with Jenny on LinkedIn here.
Meet more brand leaders like Jenny in our biweekly newsletter community, The Greenhouse.