Interview with Andrea Newland, Chief Executive at Melanoma New Zealand

Andrea swapped a career in journalism and the legal sector for a chance to make a difference in the For Purpose sector, and now leads the Melanoma New Zealand team as their Chief Executive. We sat down with Andrea for a chat about the specific marketing challenges facing charities, what working in the charity sector industry is like and what she is hoping to gain from being part of the Marketing Association’s For Purpose Special Interest Group

Q: You have an impressive background and experience, have you always been interested in the charity field?

I have always had an interest in social justice – which is where my law and journalism backgrounds came in.  But I had a mid-life moment 14 years ago, where I felt I could and should be doing more – and so that led me to work first at the Starship Foundation, and now at Melanoma New Zealand.

Q: What do you enjoy the most about working in the For Purpose sector?

There is no one thing I can single out.  Most people I know working in charity cite how meaningful and rewarding the work is.  We get warm fuzzies every day by contributing to a worthy cause and making a difference in the lives of others - and this certainly keeps me hugely motivated.  But another big part of what I enjoy is working with so many kind and smart people who gravitate towards this sector.

Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing For Purpose organisations at present?

The cost of living is having an impact with both donors and NFP consumers alike. There is an ever-increasing demand for charities’ services in the community, and the usual providers seem to be expecting NFPs to fill that gap.  It feels like far greater collaboration will be needed to bridge these gaps.  

Plus, defining how to engage with the next generation of donors – and understanding their ability and propensity to support – is key.

Q: How is marketing different within the charity sector, compared to a small business – besides perhaps the smaller budget?

You’ve hit the nail on the head about the smaller budget – and this means that other levers in the organisation become that much more mission-critical.  Whether it’s your networks and ability to influence, being very focussed about your team’s optimum skillset, or your ability to be creative in unconventional ways – these and many other factors all add up to being able to get cut-through, when big budgets can’t buy you that benefit.  And of course, there’s always the cause at the core – so we must demonstrate our impact in all that we do. Finally, emotional currency is really important in our marketing – connecting people’s hearts and heads, and building long, loyal relationships with our supporters.

Q: What was the biggest draw card for you to join the Marketing Association?

The Melanoma New Zealand team is critical to achieving our mission of championing melanoma prevention, detection and patient care for all New Zealanders.  We have a small team, with some remote workers who spend a fair amount of time on their own, so it means we need to be proactive about creating opportunities that help us to seek out new ideas, keep across changing landscapes, feel inspired and stay at the top of our game. It also helps that Melanoma New Zealand shares office premises with the MA so, day in and day out, I got to see the MA team in action – and was really impressed by just observing how they operate, and the smart people involved – so that was a drawcard too!

Q: What are you most enjoying about your engagement with the MA?  

When the opportunity presented itself to get more involved with the MA through the For Purpose Special Interest Group, my initial reaction was to decline.  Like many others, my time was so stretched, and it just seemed a bad idea to add yet another demand to my working life or to over-commit and then not have the capacity to deliver anything useful to the group.  But on reflection, I thought it was an even worse idea not to make time for this.  There is so much value in opening yourself to new people, perspectives and challenges.  And I hope I can provide some value back in return to the group too.  As a member, I look forward to the opportunities the MA provides to push this old dog to learn some new marketing tricks!  

Q: What do you do outside of work?

I travel to my other happy place up north to hang on my partner’s farm decompressing from city life and helping him to wrangle 700kg bulls (I am making that sound far more impressive than it really is; for the most part I leave him to it, while I shelter behind a fence or tree trying to avoid a Pamplona-like incident).

Q: What is a piece of software you couldn't live without?

Siri. I do a fair bit of long-distance driving, and it’s when I do most of my blue-sky creative thinking… so I constantly talk to Siri in the car as I think of things, using voice command to jot down ideas and make ‘to do’ lists.

Q: How do you keep the balance between work and personal life? What do you do to unwind?

I play a bit of golf and squash occasionally.  I am very much a beginner, and I’m learning to better balance my desire to improve technique with my overwhelming urge to smash the ball as hard or as far as I can.   But the latter approach seems to help me unwind!