Fu Enjoys the Challenges and Diversity of Nonprofit Projects
After almost 15 years of experience working in the corporate and nonprofit sectors, Wendy Fu has brought both technical skills and passion to the PMA team for the past year.
“Being a part of PMA gives me the ability to work with different types of clients,” Fu said. “It’s not as focused as my previous work—there’s much more diversity.”
For Fu, the variety of clientele allows for gains on both ends of consulting.
“Each project is a mutually beneficial experience,” Fu said. “On the consulting end, you get exposure to the different causes of each nonprofit. On the client end, they gain from hearing about other organizations PMA has worked with.”
At PMA, Fu’s work is far from formulaic.
“No project has been exactly the same,” Fu said. “Each one is an opportunity to create a strategy from concept to execution. It’s about listening to the voice of the client and tailoring your expertise accordingly. It’s a challenge, but a good challenge.”
An empathetic individual, Fu recognizes the need for social reform in many sectors of the community. Fu is passionate about her work at PMA because it directly assists those organizations that target various needs.
“What it means to me is that the work we do is poignant,” Fu added. “Our clients address critical needs of the community—hunger, poverty, healthcare, education. It’s the realization it could happen to anyone. We are not infallible.”
Fu enjoys helping clients through every step of the consulting process and seeing results.
“What I love about what I do is the opportunity to improve process, roles, and responsibilities, infrastructure, and follow-through.”
Fu first came in contact with PMA while working as a board member volunteer with the Steve Smith Family Foundation. There, she saw the holistic process of managing a nonprofit and carrying out its designated mission.
“I’ve been involved from the beginning,” Fu said. “I’ve seen it from its public launch, which has allowed me to take a deep dive and take part in marketing, development, board engagement, process design, and helping to launch signature events.”
Fu cites Smith’s personal touch as a significant aspect of the foundation’s success, a critical factor in raising awareness of any nonprofit organization’s mission and attracting donors.
“The Steve Smith Family Foundation means something to Steve and his family. He has a personal connection to his cause. If you have founders who are personally involved and committed, they take it very seriously.”
Previously, Fu worked in pharmaceutical marketing in South Los Angeles, a district mired with poverty where she was constantly exposed to the types of people nonprofits often aim to help.
“As a pharmaceutical representative in Los Angeles, I was speaking with a similar audience as nonprofits,” Fu said. “Sixty percent of customers in the area were on Medicaid or Medicare. They included economically challenged individuals, families, and seniors. Oftentimes for them it was a choice between medicine or food and shelter. In the nonprofit world, the audience is similar.”
Fu says she brings many of her roles from marketing to her job at PMA, like training customers and doctors and standing out in a crowd. The latter is particularly important in the world of nonprofits competing for donors.
“Nonprofits are all aiming for the same piece of the pie for money,” Fu said. “Charlotte alone has over 4,000 of them.”
Fu provides her clients at PMA with similar strategies she implemented in marketing to gain support in such a competitive environment.
“Take calculated risks and don’t be afraid to do something different,” Fu said. “Use a comprehensive approach—blend of traditional methods and social media to maintain personal connection.”
Fu relies on what she calls the “3rd dimension” with her clients—the factor that distinguishes an organization from other similar ones.
“I ask them, ‘What makes you different? How are you standing out? Who are you benefitting? Why would I give money to Organization A versus Organization B?’” Fu said.
A significant challenge Fu observes with nonprofits is that they are often understaffed, which makes specializing in different areas of the organization difficult.
“Limited staff in nonprofits means blended responsibilities,” Fu said. “The message often gets diluted this way.”
In the future, Fu plans on continuing to share her marketing strategies with clients and to help improve staff retention.
“Professionally, I want to continue helping with marketing effectiveness, and to create and build process with clients that keep staff retained,” Fu said. “If there’s structure and process, they’re going to want to stay. The longer you’re there, the more committed you are.”
Fu stresses the importance of nonprofits designating a marketing coordinator, a position that is often overlooked or combined with development—the fundraising side Fu says complements marketing but is not equivalent.
“Many nonprofits don’t have a marketing person,” Fu said. “It’s important to have volunteers with a background in marketing and development. Marketing is about personal relationships and building and sustaining loyalty to a nonprofit. I connected that bridge and made it into a career.”