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VOL. 132 | NO. 181 | Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Pearl and Mel Shaw

Be Prepared to Strike While the Iron is Hot

Mel and Pearl Shaw

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Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Charlottesville. DACA. These are just three “hot topics” that dominated traditional and online media recently. Here’s the question: Has your nonprofit increased its revenue, number of donors, people served or community profile as a result of recent national media attention?

We encourage you to be proactive and share the value of your work with your community. Let people know how your organization relates to matters that are dominating public discussion.

Think of it this way: Most people want to know what they can do. If your organization makes a difference in the lives of people impacted by natural disasters, racism, white supremacy and/or immigration policy, you need to let people know.

When people want to make a difference in the lives of young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, Latino Memphis is the go-to organization. The nonprofit knows the issue and they are sharing with our community the definition of DACA, who is impacted and why this matters to all of us. The Red Cross is clearly the first responder when disaster strikes. Locally we have seen Ready Shelby in the media sharing information about how each of us can prepare for a disaster. It’s something we don’t want to think about, but Ready Shelby is thinking about it every day.

Whether you define an event as “good” or “bad,” be prepared to communicate on social media, in print, and on TV and radio. You are a subject matter expert. You are constantly involved in activities related to these current events. And yes, donations to your organization can make a difference now and in the future. Don’t be afraid to communicate and to ask.

But you have to be prepared. Here are 10 suggestions:

1. Proactively create an advisory group to provide ethical guidance.

2. Make sure your board, advisers and staff agree with “hot-topic” talking points.

3. Make sure your overall communications plan includes specific messages that can be used during a time when public attention focuses on work related to your nonprofit.

4. Determine who is the one person to speak to the press.

5. Make sure that talking points are up-to-date.

6. Provide spokesperson with data and stories to counter false information.

7. Be prepared to move quickly with an email campaign, online giving, press releases and direct mail.

8. As appropriate, be prepared to call a press conference. Know who within the media to reach out to and who will be available to answer questions.

9. Review your media kit. Make sure your website has a media section with current information about the people you serve, the history of your organization, data related to the need your nonprofit addresses. Make it easy for media sources to easily draw on your organization’s expertise.

10. If you outsource your marketing and communications, talk with your consultant or firm to put a plan in place.

Don’t let your lack of readiness turn into lost opportunities when current events are before you.

Stay proactive and stay current.

Mel and Pearl Shaw, owners of fundraising consultancy firm Saad&Shaw, can be reached at 901-522-8727 or saadandshaw.com.

PROPERTY SALES 124 481 17,865
MORTGAGES 127 530 20,565
BUILDING PERMITS 195 891 36,836
BANKRUPTCIES 52 262 11,426