Keeping a nonprofit organization current is tricky. Not only do you have to compete against for-profit companies when it comes to marketing and awareness, you also have to keep a close eye on any trends or changes affecting the cause you serve. Having a mindset that’s both corporate-competitive and cause-oriented is an essential skill for nonprofit leaders – and that’s one of the many great things Colleen Ridenhour brings to the Feed the Children team!
Colleen joined the Feed the Children family in 2022 as Chief Growth and Strategy Officer. Her job involves steering the organization towards having the greatest impact: “That takes a variety of strategies,” she explains, “from working with our generous donors, who provide valuable resources for us to implement programs and services in communities around the world, to enhancing our U.S. community programs and creating new ones.”
The role requires big-picture vision and the ability to simultaneously work with lots of small moving parts. It’s a skillset Colleen was able to hone thanks to her time in the entertainment industry, where she began her career.
It was through her work in entertainment that Colleen discovered her true calling in the nonprofit world:
“I was asked to build the corporate social responsibility strategy at my company,” she explains. “I knew very little about nonprofits, so I spent a year meeting with many getting to learn about their work.”
“It was an amazing experience to meet people who were doing such impactful work in their communities. I knew I could translate the marketing skills and talents I had developed in the corporate sector and put them to use helping make the world a better place. So, I made the switch!”
We’re grateful that she did! With her decade of experience in entertainment, and double that in the nonprofit section, Colleen has helped keep Feed the Children nimble and able to adapt.
“Part of my team’s role over the past year has been developing a new strategic plan for the organization,” Colleen explains. “As Feed the Children approaches our 50th anniversary in 2029, we are embarking on a new five-year strategy.”
The new strategy comes at a perfect time. In addition to aligning with Feed the Children’s 50th anniversary, the past several years have also been a huge time of change for nonprofits in the anti-hunger space. The changes brought on by COVID, the SNAP benefit decreases, and the spikes in inflation over the past two years have meant that nonprofits needed to adapt in order to best serve the populations they help. And that’s just what Colleen is helping Feed the Children do!
“There’s a child out there that’s going to bed with a full tummy tonight because of our work,” she says. “And tomorrow, we’ll get up and do it again because so many more kids need our help.”