Marnie Grona describes herself as cause-driven, much like the organization for which she works. Marnie is currently the Director of Marketing & Communications for Imagine Canada, an umbrella organization with a mandate to support and strengthen charities and nonprofits. Marnie’s role includes leading the overall development and implementation of marketing communications strategies, ensuring brand standards are met, overseeing media relations, and providing leadership and development of the organization’s online presence.

Formed in 2005, Imagine Canada is the result of a union of two of Canada’s leading charitable umbrella organizations: the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy and the Coalition of National Voluntary Organizations. Marnie has seen the Imagine Canada brand transition from being one of the sector’s ‘best kept secrets’ to a relevant ‘go-to’ resource and sector support organization. However, there is an ongoing need to increase awareness of Imagine Canada’s brand and the breadth of their current programs and services.

“Leading marketing communications for an umbrella organization can be a challenge since we have a pretty broad mandate. However, it suits my personality to have many irons in the fire,” explains Marnie. “Not only am I tasked with raising the profile of the organization, collectively, we are working to help increase understanding of the charitable and nonprofit sector. I see this is an exciting opportunity to talk to people about the role of the sector and to be a part of making society better.”

Marnie’s work in the non-profit sector began with a deep immersion in arts and arts administration at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra – a background and expertise which she still applies as a board member of Toronto’s Roseneath Theatre Company. “I was recruited by Roseneath in part because of my work at Imagine Canada. It was very gratifying to discover that my communications success at work has led to such an enriching volunteer experience,” says Marnie.

A success in which Marnie takes particular pride is her deployment of social media for Imagine Canada. Back in 2008, she started testing out services such as Facebook and Twitter and quickly saw the relevance and role they can play in keeping the organization’s audiences updated. Since that time, social media has become a core marketing communications activity for Imagine Canada: it has had a major effect on overcoming the organizations geographical challenges, giving them a significant boost in being able to distill the sector’s top news and connect people from coast to coast to coast.

Learning from experimentation is an approach that Marnie recommends: “In the non-profit sector, there is a desire to be innovative. My recommendation is to go for it and not be afraid to fail. However, fail smartly: learn from your experience and when you go on to execute version 2.0, apply what you’ve learned from 1.0. Non-profit communicators benefit when they can work in an environment of trust and openness, where they can feel comfortable with trying new things.”

Follow Marnie on Twitter and Imagine Canada on LinkedIn.

Marlene Oliveira

Marlene Oliveira

Communications advisor and copywriter at moflow
Marlene Oliveira is communications consultant and copywriter at moflow and founder of the Nonprofit MarCommunity blog. Having worked in the nonprofit sector since 1999, Marlene specializes in working with capacity building and grant-making organizations, advising on communications strategy, and writing stories and other content.
Marlene Oliveira