Kivi Leroux Miller and I go back a long way. She’s been at my professional side ever since she published The Nonprofit Marketing Guide, her first book, in 2010. I’ve attended her webinars, read her blog posts, and even purchased an all-access pass to her website for a couple of years.

And as I’ve progressed in my career, she has moved her focus to more senior communicators and even started a special mentoring program for communications directors.

The book: CALM not BUSY

Targeted at busy nonprofit communications managers, CALM Not BUSY: How to Manage Your Nonprofit’s Communications for Great Results is a relatively short book (for which most of us will be grateful). Much of the content is based on interviews she conducted with communications professionals – so it has the feel of a book written (and informed) by professionals for professionals; you can definitely recognize yourself in the issues raised.

You’ll find advice to help you set up and run a well-organized communications team (even if it’s just a team of one). You’ll learn how to communicate more effectively with others in your organization – so they understand better what the role of communications is supposed to be, how to better work with you, and how to keep to deadlines.

What you won’t find is advice on communications channels or how to write better – there are plenty of books out there already that cover those topics. Its main focus is on how to become calm – and stay that way.

What it means to be CALM – and how to get there

As Kivi explains, the word “calm” can be an acronym for the qualities of a good communications director. The core four sections of the book look at one aspect of being calm, with the letters standing for:

  • C = collaborative
  • A = agile
  • L = logical
  • M = methodical

In each section there are a number of shorter chapters exploring the topic. For example, in the section on being more agile, Kivi discusses how you can step up and lead, make better decisions faster, and deal with the unexpected. In the section on being more methodical, she writes about how to use an editorial calendar, build an office culture that respects deadlines, and improve your own personal productivity.

The book ends with a few very brief case studies based on fictional characters dealing with common situations. After each case study, Kivi offers her advice referring back to the chapters in the book.

Recommendation: a good reference for new communications managers

The book is the next-best thing to having Kivi be your personal mentor. Her advice and suggestions come from her many hours of conversations with other communications professionals and her many online articles and webinars.

I would suggest reading the book quickly to get a good overview. Afterwards, take your time to get back to the chapters that are most relevant to you. Don’t try to implement her suggestions all at once – instead, look for solutions to your most pressing issue and concentrate on that. I’ve definitely picked up some important ideas and steps forward to feel more CALM in my own work.

If you’re someone just starting out as a communications manager, then this is an ideal book for you. If you’re a seasoned professional, you’ll find some interesting passages, but you may also find it a bit too light in some areas. I would give it a strong 4 out of 5 and highly recommend you pick it up.

Managing your nonprofit’s communications for great results: review of book by @kivilm #NPMC Click To Tweet
Markus Stadelmann-Elder

Markus Stadelmann-Elder

Director of Communications at Maytree
Since arriving in Toronto from Switzerland in 1992, Markus has worked and volunteered in a number of communications roles, including leading an in-house design team at Lavalife, Toronto’s largest online dating company, and managing the communications team at Variety Village. In January 2009, Markus joined Maytree, a charitable foundation focused on reducing poverty and inequality in Canada and building strong civic communities.
Markus Stadelmann-Elder
Markus Stadelmann-Elder