Book Review | CALM Not BUSY: How to Manage Your Nonprofit’s Communications for Greater Results

publication date: May 16, 2018
author/source: Reviewed by Katherine Verhagen Rodis

Most of us know the merits of breeding a philanthropic culture among our nonprofit constituents, but Kivi Leroux Miller pushes us further to develop a “culture of communications.” In Calm Not Busy: How to Manage Your Nonprofit’s Communications for Greater Results (2018), she’s writing to save nonprofit communication managers from burnout. Teaching them how to be “CALM: Collaborative, Agile, Logical, and Methodical.” There are vital strategies available in this book to help you better organize your time, human resources, projects, and sanity. Leroux Miller is a down-to-earth strategist, translating the complex concept of risk management into avoiding public relations “fusterclucks.”

You’ll quickly notice the many references Leroux Miller makes to her coaching and consulting business, her webinars, her books and e-books, and blog. And with good reason. She’s mentored more than 150 nonprofit communications directors and communications teams as a certified executive coach and written the definitive Nonprofit Marketing Guide in 2010. She’s an influencer on several social media channels and runs a mentoring program for communication directors. Much of the content of CALM not BUSY is taken from interviews with active communication professionals. If anyone can guide you on how to improve efficiencies in your communications team or teach you how to say “no” appropriately to reclaim your work life, it’s Kivi Leroux Miller.

This book isn’t just a manual in communications strategy or how create sustainable, lasting change in yourself to optimize your personal productivity and project management. Though it’s an excellent resource for that. It’s really a book about human resource and change management, even if you have “too many tasks, but little authority.” Whether you’re the most junior person in the development office or an executive director, Leroux Miller gives you practical advice on how to manage teams, colleagues, board members, bosses, and even shifting priorities to allow you to be the best communications lead that you can be.

This is a book to be re-read, annotated, and dog-eared. If you try to undertake all of her suggestions at once, you will be overwhelmed. Not because they’re unreasonable. But because they highlight how deep and systemic inefficiencies can exist in your organization that act at cross-purposes to your overall objectives. She will not encourage you to wait for a C.D.O. in shining armour to rescue you from a visionary boss with no respect for deadlines or team members who are “too busy” to provide content for your online media strategy. This book is a banner for you to wield in the war against “busyness” and overwork. She will pull you out of the mire of indecision and perfectionism. But, you will have to “step up and lead” yourself.

Katherine Verhagen Rodis is a Fundraising Management post-graduate student at Humber College (class of 2018), most interested in major gifts, stewardship, capital campaigns, and awkward grammar or math puns.

Kivi Leroux Miller. 2018. CALM Not BUSY: How to Manage Your Nonprofit’s Communications for Greater Results. Bold & Bright Media. ISBN-13: 978-0692961056


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