Miranda Bradley: Helping nonprofits achieve more

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Miranda Bradley is a member of the First Baptist Church in Georgetown, Texas, and is the owner of BCreative, a marketing and fundraising firm aimed at helping nonprofit organizations achieve their goals. Based in Georgetown, Texas, BCreative was launched in 2007 to assist small and large nonprofits, as well as some small businesses with everything from social media management, website creation and management, publication design, copy writing and more.

From deep in the heart of one Texan, she shares her background and thoughts on being a follower of Christ in the marketplace. To suggest a Texas Baptist leader in the marketplace to be featured in this column, or to apply to be featured yourself, click here.

Background

What other businesses have you been in, and what were your positions there?

Prior to launching BCreative, I was on the communications staff for Children At Heart Foundation in Round Rock, where I spent eight years. I started BCreative in an effort to help bridge the financial gap many nonprofits without resources faced, as well as to spend more time with my growing family.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Bossier City, La.

How did you come to faith in Christ?

I was exposed to Christ initially through my grandparents, who made sure I attended church during parental visit weekends with my dad. However, I didn’t understand what a relationship with Christ could be like until a very persistent dorm-mate invited me to an on-campus Christian student organization’s worship service.

I was not in a great place in my life and resisted for weeks. Finally, my dorm-mate said there was free pizza, so I went. Weeks later, I found myself back at the organization asking to borrow computer paper. After that, I was there practically every day, exploring my newfound enthusiasm for the Lord. I asked to be rebaptized and continued to be very active in the ministry after that.

Where were you educated, and what degrees did you receive?

I graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in music.

Life in the marketplace

Why do you feel called into the marketplace?

For years, I was exposed to many worthwhile nonprofits that lacked funds and staff to execute effective marketing strategies. Larger marketing firms charged fees outside the budget realms for many new nonprofits. At the time, I was expecting my second child and felt led by God to use my skills to help organizations with these areas so they could be more effective and viable. He has blessed our efforts and helped launch many worthwhile nonprofits toward helping even more people.

How does being a Christian influence your decisions in the marketplace?

As a Christian woman in the industry, I am guided by the Lord’s direction that we should love our neighbors. I do this by being a listening ear to my clients, guiding them to the services that will benefit them, even if that means they are not the most profitable for me.

One of our cornerstone principles at BCreative is the idea that the bottom line is not the bottom line. For us, the bottom line is doing the right thing all the time with integrity and a Christ-like attitude. For instance, we will work within the budgets of each of our clients so they get services they can use at prices they can afford.

What is your favorite aspect of the marketplace? Why?

I enjoy the freedom of expression that comes with my business, as well as helping others explore new ideas. One of my favorite things to do is brainstorm with new clients because together we often can come up with great ideas that never would have occurred to me alone.

What one aspect of the marketplace gives you the greatest joy?

I’m blessed and honored to be at the forefront of exciting new organizations that really and truly can change people’s lives. Whether it’s a family and child agency or a new science foundation, I know people are going to be reached in new and exciting ways, and to be part of that in even a small way is very humbling.

What one aspect of the marketplace would you like to change?

The nonprofit landscape can be a volatile place financially. Depending on grant opportunities or new tax codes, funding can be greatly impacted. I wish nonprofits didn’t have to fight so hard for the funding they need.

How has your place in the market or your perspective on the marketplace changed?

As a marketing professional, I constantly have to stay abreast of new changes. Social media and video have become major game changers in my industry, and they always are shifting. We usually are working to keep pace with these ever-changing trends so we can pass these products on to our clients.

Once marketing was primarily about print versus radio or TV advertising space. Now, it’s imperative that organizations are visible across all media, and that is a challenge for many.

How do you expect the marketplace to change in the next 10 to 20 years?

I anticipate, honestly, a paradigm shift to simpler forms of media. I believe the marketplace is crowded and too noisy for most people to process all of the messages. I predict we will see more personalized targeted media but in simpler formats that are easier to digest.

If you could launch any new venture, what would it be? Why?

Personally speaking, I would like to return to my journalist roots. I would like to launch a magazine here in Williamson County targeted specifically to women with interviews and tips on how to make your mark as a female in business, tackling work/life balance and how to succeed in any endeavor.

Name the three most significant challenges and/or influences facing your place in the market.

1. Social media messaging. It’s ever-changing and noisy; so, you have to make an impact with your posts.

2. Limited resources. Many nonprofits still are working off of a shoestring budget; so, they have to be particular about how and where they spend their money, which means every message has to count.

3. New technology. We constantly are seeing changes in technology challenging us to expand our knowledge base. This is a good thing, as these can often benefit our industry, but it can be challenging to stay current.

How does the marketplace affect women?

In my experience, women often have to prove themselves as being competent immediately. Often, we walk into a board room filled with men and are expected to impress them with our qualifications for a project.

There have been times when I felt the fact that BCreative is woman-owned and operated has caused doubt to creep into prospective clients’ minds. It sometimes requires extra work to win them to our side, and once the job is done, they see how effective we are. But, it’s still sometimes a hard mountain to climb.

What do you wish more people knew about the marketplace?

The world of marketing is filled with great stories about nonprofits in need of funding. These tickle your funny bone and break your heart—and all in less than 30 seconds. However, some of these are not legitimate organizations. Beware of giving to nonprofits until you delve a little deeper into their background to ensure they are bona fide organizations that are good stewards of their funds.

In the digital world, it is easy to manipulate a customer and, therefore, commit fraud. Also, with the new tax code raising the required deductible amount, many nonprofits may be feeling the pinch of falling donations this year. Please keep this in mind, and consider giving despite the reduced incentive.

About Baptists

What are the key issues facing Baptists—denominationally and/or congregationally?

The biggest problem Baptists have today is themselves. They are battling their own history that is fraught with the perception of narrow opinions, exclusivity and judgment. While most of us understand there is a wide swath of Baptist denominations—some more conservative than others—the picture of the Bible-thumping, dance-banning, teetotaling Baptist of the 1950s persists. And in today’s world, where more varying walks of life are converging, this can be off-putting, even if the perception is absolutely false.

What would you change about the Baptist denomination—state, nation or local?

I would like to see Baptist churches embrace the idea of women as leaders. Jesus was nondiscriminatory in his sharing of the gospel. Paul refers to several women as disciples, and we know Jesus’s ministry was funded by Mary Magdalene.

Women long have been a cornerstone of the church and the furthering of its message, whether through leading women’s ministry, heading up children’s programs or presiding over committees. Yet, Baptist churches tend to fear women as deacons or pastors. This is one way the Baptist denominations continue to perpetuate their reputation of narrow mindedness and exclusivity.

About Miranda

Who were/are your mentors, and how did/do they influence you?

I would place Jerry Bradley, former CEO of Children At Heart Ministries, as one of my mentors. He showed me what a true leader was through his humble wisdom and willingness to do what was right always. You could observe him taking out the trash or sweeping the kitchen just before heading into a board meeting. I remember one instance when the staff was told they would not receive raises that year. The board offered Mr. Bradley a raise despite this, and he refused it, showing he didn’t place himself above anyone.

Another is Bill Martin, my former boss at Children At Heart. Although I worked under him only a short time, he inspired me to think bigger and pushed me to learn new things. He encouraged me when I launched BCreative, and we still have lunch together from time-to-time. I am honored to know him.

What did you learn on the job you wish you learned elsewhere?

The art of the apology, especially when you don’t necessarily feel you were in the wrong. As a young career woman, I thought I knew it all and had a lot of pride. After a while, you learn that you don’t know nearly as much as you thought and that a heartfelt, sincere apology goes a long way to maintaining strong relationships.

What is the impact of the marketplace on your family?

BCreative was inspired by God and has been a blessing to my family. While I sometimes work late into the night, I’ve been here for my children during their most formidable years and am forever grateful for God’s guidance onto this path. It isn’t always easy, and sometimes we don’t know where the next client is coming from, but he always makes a way.

Other than the Bible, name some of your favorite books or authors, and explain why.

OK, don’t judge me, but I love Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. It’s my favorite book and film. I feel it captures a period in time many of us wish hadn’t existed in the first place and forces us to face this history head-on. It’s also beautifully written.

I’m a big fan of Maya Angelou. She can make you cry in three syllables flat. Plus, she grew up close to where my Mamaw lived, which is cool.

As far as Christian authors, I enjoy Deanne Gist for her earthy storytelling style.

What is your favorite Bible verse or passage? Why?

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11).

This passage has rallied my spirits when self-doubt crept in. As an entrepreneur, the future is uncertain, but with God my future is secure.

Who is your favorite Bible character, other than Jesus? Why?

I have two. Paul, for one, because I think he and I are very matter-of-fact people. We get each other. And Elizabeth because of her bold faith. She was an example of a strong, brave woman.

Name something about you that would surprise people who know you.

I once wanted to be a jockey, but my mom wouldn’t let me because it was too dangerous.

If you could get one “do over” in the marketplace, what would it be, and why?

There are some projects I wouldn’t have taken because the emotional toll was too great. Still, however, they were great learning experiences, and I know I grew from them.


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