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January 27, 2021 68 min

In this podcast episode, Nishant Malhotra chats with Erica Mills Barnhart, founder of Claxon Marketing and Claxon University. Erica Mills is an internationally recognized expert on how to use words to make the world a better place. The discussion entails the finer points of marketing, messaging, and mission statement for enabling social change and impact within the sustainable development sector.


Snapshot of questions with a brief note of introduction of Erica Mills. Erica wears many hats that of a Consultant, Professor, Speaker, and Researcher. She works with purpose-driven organizations significantly nonprofits in amplifying their work through marketing, messaging, and fine tuning their mission statement. A pioneer in understanding the impact of language used within the social sector, Erica Mills is a podcast host and inventor of The Wordier, an online tool to accelerate better usage of words for articulating communication for the greater good. Her 1,2,3 Marketing tree and Claxon Method have been used effectively by numerous mission-driven organizations with measurable impact.     


Nishant: Let's begin with your academic journey. You are a Professor at Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, the University of Washington at Seattle. You have worked at multiple universities in the US and with the University of British Columbia. How would you explain the transformation within the development sector focusing on nonprofits, philanthropy, and social innovation in your more than two decades of experience?   

Nishant: Keen to understand how policy-making can accelerate social innovation and philanthropy through better messaging of mission and vision of nonprofits. I ask this question since I have a master’s in public administration degree from the Gerald R Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan and keen to focus on qualitative aspects of policies aiding nonprofits.

Based on Giving USA report, the philanthropy in the US hovers around 2% of the GDP spread over decades. (Refer Eight Myths of US Philanthropy | SSIR). How can messaging increase the giving pie in America as a percentage of GDP? 

How do you think the pandemic will change philanthropy in the US?    

Nishant: In your article published in SSIR, you emphasized the importance of linguistic repertoire as part of official communication for nonprofits. As per your article, research has shown that words that are used less often make a more measurable impact on the audience. Example Betters or using verbs.  Please elaborate on your thoughts here. 

Nishant: Take an example of the tagline of The middle Road- Enabling social change and impact. Taking this as an example, based on your book “PitchFalls why bad pitches happen to good people” do share an example of how a tagline can be better represented as a pitch to investors. 

Nishant: You have mentioned five steps for a good pitch in your above-mentioned book. Would you like to share in detail examples from the industry on how to implement them in real life? 

Nishant: You are a podcast host. As a fellow podcast host, I am keen to understand from your perspective what you feel are key attributes for an excellent podcast host? What excites you about the experience.   


Finally, share any ah ah moment and message with nonprofits/social entrepreneurs out there. 



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