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Archive for the ‘PR’ Category

Social media marketing is a relatively new thing, but before that, NFPs had to rely on Public Relations (PR) to get the word out about their mission and latest fundraising efforts. But, PR still has a place in the nonprofit world, so let’s address some great ways to give your organisation a PR boost.

Develop relationships with journalists and reporters

If you have good relationships with journalists and those responsible for getting your story out there, then you have more chances of being successful. Know the media outlets and make sure you reach out to the right individual, depending on your PR requirements. Make sure you also supply lots of high-quality photographs to capture their interest.

Keep up with current trends

Try to connect your stories with the latest trend topics or times of the year. If you are doing something special at Christmas time, then you can promote that in December. If you are joining forces with something that is happening locally to support a wider issue, then let the outlets know. Stay current with what is going on in social media, on television and in the newspaper. That way you have more chance of being successful with your pitch.

Let your supporters speak

Your PR efforts don’t have to be concentrated from just your organisation. Your supporters can also be central to your press releases, and you can write them in conjunction with them and distribute them in the same way. Think about what your supporters can offer in the way of a good narrative and then see if they would be of assistance in helping you get extra publicity.

Demonstrate your results

Use the media for more than just opportunities to promote your latest fundraiser. Come up with some great stories – from your point of view or from someone who was assisted by your charity. People love to read stories of hope, particularly with a strong human interest element. It makes it real and will resonate with potential volunteers and donors.

Show your particular expertise

Depending on how well your relationships are with individual reporters and journalists, get them to consider you every time an article is required on your particular niche. You can provide quick quotes on health or women’s issues, or whatever your mainstay focus is. This will make sure you are always seen as an expert in your industry rather than just an NFP trying to raise money.

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Accountability can mean different things to many people. While the dictionary meaning denotes responsibility, being accountable means understanding the need to be open and honest to the volunteers, the staff and the general public. So how can you ensure this occurs within your NFP?

Deal with things as they occur

There is no truer test of an organisation than when trouble occurs. And the strength comes from being able to face any issue head on without fear or compromise. This will demonstrate your total commitment to identifying and solving potential problems whatever they happen to be.

Maintain a positive public perception

As board members are the public persona of the company, they need to be held accountable at all times. They should be measured to the highest standard of conduct and reprimanded when they do not meet these levels. There are no favourites when it comes to poor conduct within the board of directors or other staff members.

Share NFP finances openly

What do you have to hide? Audited financial statements should be shared among the board members and made available online to comply with best practices. Investors will be particularly keen to see that the non-profit is open about the way they do business and follow action plans to a “T”.

Set clear guidelines and adhere to them

NFPs must stick to a set of clearly laid out guidelines to ensure that they are operating within the rules. If the rules are not specified in detail, then it is hard to determine whether the charity is working fully within its parameters. Clarify your guidelines for ease now to avoid problems in the future.

Donors, individuals and volunteers want to see the integrity of your NFP. When they notice the self-policing that goes on within the internal structure of your charity to meet the above issues, then they are more likely to trust you. Trust and commitment are paramount when it comes to forming relationships with potential donors and gaining their long-term attention.

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social mediaNearly 7% of all of the donations that nonprofits receive comes from online sources, but harnessing the power of the Internet and Social Media tends to be less about collecting money and more about increasing interest in your NFP.

While social media is a great way to share stories about your nonprofit and strengthen supporters’ connection to your cause, there are downfalls to using the platform. The following is a list of some common pitfalls that nonprofit’s experience when they rely too heavily on social media channels to spread their message.

It’s Expensive

Advertising on social media isn’t free, and even though Facebook and other social media platforms sometimes offer discounts, click-thru ads, sponsored posts and other marketing campaigns, it can be still extremely expensive.

NFPs must control costs by using tools that allow them to test messages, manage start and kill dates for ads, and set budgets to keep an eye on ad costs to make social media campaigns worthwhile.

Many Social Media Channels Offer Low ROI

It would be easier to justify expensive advertising on social media if these campaigns at least generated high returns on this investment. But, the truth of the matter is that they simply don’t. Facebook offers the ability to connect, like and share with nonprofits, as well as the capacity to donate directly, and yet only provides a 3% increase in reach.

Other social media platforms, such as Instagram, make it easy to like photos and gain followers, who seldom, if ever, react to direct calls to action made on the platform. Snapchat’s ROI is even worse, as it doesn’t allow online donations directly from its app and nonprofits can’t even share a link to their website.

Despite the low returns on the time and money invested in social media, it’s still a great way to increase awareness about the good work that nonprofit accomplish. You can start conversations with others about the difference specific nonprofits are making in their communities, as an example.

NFPs should keep their objectives in mind, use targeting and segmentation to make certain that they are reaching the correct audience with their messages and set realistic goals when creating their social media marketing campaigns.

Focusing on Social Media Makes it Easy to Forget about Other Ways to Connect with Supporters

While social media seems to be all the rage these days, direct appeals and calls to action made on a nonprofit’s website, as well as in emails, newsletters and direct mail cost less to create and still generate most of the donations that are received by nonprofits.

NFPs that focus exclusively on social media marketing are likely missing out on ways to connect and raise funds that are less expensive and that offer a much higher return on the cost that is invested.

Trolls and Depressing News can Damage Social Media Marketing Efforts

Not every visitor to your nonprofit’s social media accounts is there to connect and share with you in a positive, meaningful manner. There are individuals who surf the Internet looking to join in on conversations with the deliberate intention to create as much chaos and ill will as possible.

Sometimes in the comments section and elsewhere, visitors may share depressing news or memes that feature disturbing text or images. NFPs must take care to monitor and moderate their social media accounts to protect the reputation of the NFP. Care must also be taken when responding to potentially negative or offensive posts to avoid encouraging or “feeding” trolls.

Social media is a great way to increase awareness about your NFP’s mission. The high cost of social media marketing campaigns, and the low returns that they offer, means that most non-profits should continue to include other more traditional methods of communication and fundraising in their strategic marketing plans in addition to their social media marketing efforts.

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pexels-photo-191830The media is your best friend when it comes to spreading the word about your charity – and in today’s NFP world, the power of public relations is often underestimated. It comes as an afterthought rather than a focused strategy to forge the charity ahead.

This is such a shame as public relations has a fundamental role in the success of your marketing and fundraising.

You have something important to say or a message to spread so what’s stopping you from contacting them directly? Pitching a story can be difficult for those who have yet to do it. However, once you have mastered the pitching strategy, then it does become easier and even enjoyable if your story breaks. A good PR pitch can do wonders for your fundraising capabilities as well.

Some of the steps you need to know in order to be successful include:

  • Know your objectives
  • Compile a list of relevant media
  • Search for a story
  • Prepare a killer media release
  • Get your story to the media
  • Work with the journalist to finalise the story

But how do you know you have a good media or press release? Check it first for conciseness and avoid rambling. Start with the news and add some relevant quotes with accurate attribution. Of course, it needs to be interesting too as well as topical. If you have managed to cover those without too much trouble, then you are well on the way.

Here is a great example. If your NFP supports a children’s sports team and the media is currently full of childhood obesity stories, you can build on those and angle your story to catch the attention of the same journalists.

One thing that stops many NFPs in their tracks is the cost of public relations. But don’t panic – there are some low-cost options available. And if all else fails, negotiating the final price can help.

However, what happens when things don’t work out in your favour, and you develop some bad press? Initially, try to identify the impact of the negative publicity and be open and honest about the situation. Remaining in denial or looking like it does not affect you at all, can make the situation worse.

Are you still a bit afraid about where to start – why not try contacting your local newspaper to see what they can do for you? Create a relationship with your local reporter and learn the PR ropes from the inside out. Start small and build up your promotions and stories as your confidence grows. As always, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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media pitchThe media has the power to spread your message far and wide but to tap into that power, you need to catch their attention.

One of the ways to do that is to pitch a story to them, and there’s more to that than simply shooting off an email.

If your NFP wants to harness the power of the media, take a look at these tips on how to create an attention grabbing media pitch.

  1. Think about your message or story.  Will it appeal to the general public?  If the answer is no, don’t bother making the pitch.  Journalists are only interested in newsworthy stories.
  2. Which section of the general public will be interested in what you have to say?  The more specific you can be, the better picture you will have regarding the TV programs they watch or the magazines they read.  Immediately you know which journalists or editors you need to pitch to.
  3. Be topical.  If your story is strong it will stand on its own.  If it is not, try to tie it in with a story which is currently grabbing media attention.  For example, if your NFP supports a children’s sports team and the media is currently full of childhood obesity stories, you can build on those and angle your story to catch the attention of the same journalists.
  4. Now you have your angle, back it up with the real stories of your people.  Case studies, true tales and comments “from the field” all add real weight to your pitch.  Remember that the journalist will be looking for an interesting story to share.  Give it to her.

By putting some thought and effort into your media pitch. you give yourself a better chance of achieving the results you want.

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How do you show your appreciation for your supporters?  Your supporters can come in many forms and it is important to acknowledge them and give them some form of recognition.

For example, a supporter can be a donor who has made a significant donation to the organisation.  This doesn’t always have to be a financial donation as some people prefer to donate their time, a local company may donate a piece of equipment or perhaps your local politician allows you to use their photocopier.

If your organisation runs an event, you may have a lot of volunteers who act as marshals, assist with registrations or you may have parents who act as umpires or referees at sporting events.  Whatever the case may be you should make sure you show your appreciation.   Here are some ideas:

  • Hold a lunch or function where all the volunteers are invited.
  • Make reference to the supporters in a newsletter or on your website.
  • Include their details in a list as part of the printed annual report.
  • Send a xmas card that thanks them for their participation and assistance during the year.  The xmas card may be a picture of all the volunteers.
  • Send them a gift.  For example, it may be a key ring, a diary or a pen with details of your organisation on it.
  • Provide a certificate of appreciation for their efforts.
  • National Volunteer Week occurs each year so use this as an opportunity to show your appreciation.  National Volunteer Week for 2013 is between 13 – 19 May.

These are just some ways to show your appreciation but there are so many other ways you could do this.  Also, it can cost a lot more to acquire a new supporter than it does to retain one so make sure you take the time and effort to show your appreciation as without these supporters a lot of organisations would fail to exist.

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Some people find it hard to ask other people for money, even when it’s not for personal gain, but when it comes to not for profit organisations, the responsibility to stay financially viable partially rests on the shoulders of the board.  There are however creative ways to create income without ‘fundraising’.

Neil Edgington from Social Velocity has practical and nonthreatening suggestions on his article 9 Ways Board Members Can Raise Money Without Fundraising.

Edgington strongly recommends using the personal networks of board members in a variety of ways.  Well connected members may have access to information that can add weight to a submission, tender or contract, or be in a position to arrange a meeting with a contact in a targeted business partner or customer.

Board members who are business leaders or entrepreneurs are also of great value in accessing extra income, as they may be able to help create or assess a business plan in relation to an earned income venture, highlighting opportunities and strengths, as well as potential risks.

Also discussed by the author and according to Penelope Burk’s annual donor survey, 84% of donors would “give again if they were thanked in a timely manner”.  A personal visit by a board member, and an explanation of why they are committed to the organisation might be just the catalyst the donor needs to dig deeper, or recommend a donation to another potential benefactor.

Another avenue worth considering but not discussed by Edgington, is whether your organisation has underutilised infrastructure or skills that are worth a premium to other parties.  For example, you may own buses or offices that can be used out of hours on a fee for service basis, or be able to offer consultancy, advice or audit type services in your area of specialty to organisations starting out or experiencing a period of change or review.

In an uncertain and less buoyant financial climate than one seen for many years, the responsibility of boards to assist in maintaining financial stability for their organisation is stronger than ever, but need not be confrontational or uncomfortable.  You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

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