The NISM SMS professionals serve as ambassadors for our certification program. Not only are they knowledgeable about our curriculum, but they also share our passion for social media. Best of all, their stories help shape our organization and the work that we do here.
In our “Meet & Greet” series, you can get to know more about our SMS community, learn more about these professionals who share your passion for social media and connect with them for collaboration and networking. Have other questions? Ask them below.
And with that, we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Willey and her story.
Hi Sarah, tell us a little about yourself and the work you do.
I’m passionately committed to philanthropy and proud to work in the fundraising profession. In my current role I get to work with a fantastic team to raise funds for scholarships, an on-campus food pantry, and more at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. A big part of my role is developing fundraising campaigns that do really well in the traditional fundraising platforms (direct mail, telephone calls) but also integrate good digital communications, including social media. Before that, I was responsible for all fundraising and communications/marketing for Great Rivers Environmental Law Center, the first and only public interest law firm in the state of Missouri focused on environmental issues.
How did you get interested in that line of work or working with those particular clients?
It has always been important to me to be able to work a job where I’m not only getting a paycheck to support myself and any family, but that I feel I’m actively making a difference in the world. So focusing on a career in the nonprofit sector was a perfect fit. While pursuing a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management at Washington University in St. Louis I discovered that I really enjoyed fundraising and chose to pursue that as a profession.
That’s great you were able to find your passion in fundraising. What prompted you to explore certification as a social media strategist?
While working in my last role, I was solely responsible for all of our communications, including web development and social media. My background is in fundraising and nonprofit management, and I recognized that while I’m familiar with social media from my personal use of multiple platforms, it was important to know how to use my time efficiently and to be able to build a strategy and measure performance on these platforms. The SMS prep course helped me deepen my knowledge and sharpen my skills, and holding the certification demonstrates that I’ve put the effort into gaining that knowledge and continues to hold me accountable for continuing to educate myself, both to perform my best at work and to maintain my credentials!
What did you like most about the SMS prep course? What surprised you?
I was a member of the first cohort of the #NISMforGood nonprofit-specific curriculum. I really enjoyed the format – the book was really useful and I continue to go back and reference it, but the videos, exercises, and discussion were a perfect way to compliment the text. I am grateful for the community that we built during the class; I’m still in touch with most of the people who took the course with me!
That’s great you’ve kept in touch! How has the SMS certification helped you so far?
It’s been a great conversation starter at networking events – many people locally haven’t heard of it and want to hear my story about it. I also believe that holding the certification was a factor in my being chosen for my current role (I changed jobs a few months ago).
Lastly, what advice would you give someone thinking about certification?
Go for it! SMS certification is a good investment in yourself, and opens up a whole new community of social media experts that you can continue to learn from.
Sarah, thank you for your willingness to share your story with us. Keep up the excellent work! You can connect with Sarah online: