One of the things we take a lot of pride in is the number of not-for-profit clients we work with. I currently handle five not-for-profit accounts, and each is unique and exciting in its own way. If you can’t intern at an agency, one of the best ways to get your “PR feet” wet is to do an internship at a not-for-profit in college.
Like businesses with goals to raise revenue numbers, not-for-profits work around the clock to fundraise and win grant dollars and sponsorships. The difference is that after all of the events, communication, fundraising and luring of corporate sponsors, the funds must be put to work through programs and services for those in need. And, that is why the aforementioned efforts are critical.
Because fundraising is so critical to our not-for-profit clients, engaging a PR agency is also critical for many reasons:
1. Making your not-for-profit stand out in a city with thousands of organizations fighting for the same funds
2. Lack of time to commit to PR or inability to keep a full-time employee on staff because of funds
3. Event support and promotion
4. Sponsor recognition through media relations
5. Media attention that attracts granting foundations/organizations
6. Volunteer recruitment
7. Program and services outreach and awareness
Through the numerous not-for-profit clients that I’ve had the pleasure of working with, one thing remains the same. They are all passionate about their mission. They have to be! That’s why getting a big story about a new program or effort for a not-for-profit is so exciting. When we get feedback about results from our efforts, it’s very rewarding because we know that it will ultimately help individuals and community-wide efforts in some way. Here’s a checklist of tactics that I try to think about often for my not-for-profit clients. One just might spark a new idea for you!
1. Look beyond the program or service to the individual who will be receiving the service.
2. Think about how that individual or community group gets their news and communicates.
3. Time pitches and stories (as best you can) close to the timeframe of grant applications.
4. Share success stories like crazy.
5. Communicate through all types of media and advertising when possible.
6. Always be thinking about how to reach new donors.
7. Find ways to make fundraising events stand out.
Lauren Hannaford is an account manager with Obsidian Public Relations, a Memphis-based PR firm.