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During the course of their careers, many CMOs contemplate giving back by working for a non-profit. But few make the leap. And those that do often struggle in the face of diminished resources and unexpected internal politics. To better understand what it takes to succeed at a non-profit, I spoke with Catherine Davis, the CMO of Feeding America, which helped provide 4.2 billion meals to 46 million people last year.

Davis, whose career includes being CMO for Harris Direct and SVP of Marketing at Diageo, doesn't see a strong distinction between the functional responsibilities of a CMO at a non-profit versus a for-profit organization. As she points out, both jobs require a clear understanding of strategy, the ability to create empathy for your product or service, and most importantly, how to track performance over time. The biggest difference, at least for Davis, is that "even when you have a bad day, you know that you fed someone."

What is your primary role as CMO?

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