Non-Profit Spotlight: American YouthWorks

As you may know, the Austin AMA is a non-profit dedicated to helping marketers in Central Texas lead, connect and grow. We are, however, only one out of countless organizations geared towards professional growth and community collaboration.

We recently spoke with Rachel Matvy, collegiate member of the AMA and Community Engagement Director at American YouthWorks (AYW), a non-profit focused on creating opportunities for local youth through education, service and job training. Matvy shares how her organization has responded to community needs, resulting in a rebranding of sorts. She also provides insights for those looking to break into the non-profit scene.

What caused AYW to reconsider their branding?

jessicaAt its inception, AYW’s mission was to help economically disadvantaged adults learn the skills they need to advance their careers. As the organization grew, it expanded to serve youth through high school and GED education programs and empower those young people to give back to their community. While this still holds true, AYW has grown to offer other programs, including disaster response. Earlier this year, AmeriCorps members in the program bravely participated in recovery process after the West, Texas crisis.

Our community outreach efforts have evolved naturally, in response to demands. Our brand and presence, however, remained the same as these changes took place—an issue that we are currently addressing. AYW leaders are working to raise awareness for our new, all-encompassing vision—ultimately opening up the door for more opportunities.

What advice can you offer those hoping to work in the non-profit sector?

Something I have found to be helpful is a diverse skill set. Non-profits often look for candidates who have a broad range of experience. Many roles require someone with both fundraising and marketing experience. I would advise someone in marketing that is interested in working in the non-profit sector to volunteer to learn about the unique challenges that non-profits face and how he/she could play a role in solving those challenges. Board service is a meaningful way to help a non-profit and is an excellent learning opportunity. Marketing is such an important skill on a Board.

What resources do you use to stay up-to-date on non-profit trends?

faithI use a lot of resources from the private sector, actually, to keep up to date on technology trends. I look to my managers at AYW, Leadership Austin, Greenlights for Non-Profit Success, and Texas Association of Non-Profit Organizations. There are also a number of professional groups that focus around non-profit careers, such as the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Women Communicators of Austin, and the Young Non-Profit Professionals Network.

In your outreach and development role, what challenges do you face in trying to gain exposure?

Time, time, and time. It is limited and there are many opportunities for distractions.  Being able to stay focused while still keeping an eye out for opportunities is a big challenge.  Another huge challenge is that frequently there’s a lack of financial support for marketing efforts in the non-profit sector.  Grantors and donors often want their funds to go directly to supporting the programs of a non-profit. Marketing is often misunderstood, is considered a dispensable expense and is not seen as critical to the mission. We know that marketing plays a huge role! My advice is to measure how the marketing efforts are helping to meet the organization’s mission and educate your coworkers about those successes.[hr]

A warm thank you to American Youth Works for working with us and Rachel for her time and participation as a member of the St. Edward’s American Marketing Association Collegiate Chapter (AMA). Interested in joining?  Learn more information about membership.


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