Meeting public relations needs of nonprofit organizations

I recently interned at the Arthritis Foundation, a nonprofit organization, for eight months. I can honestly say that it wasn’t easy raising money in this economy. I dreaded picking up the phone and calling people for help because the usual answer was, “I’m sorry we just don’t have the funds right now.”

Even though it was a struggle, my efforts helped so many people, and that motivation helped me get through the slow days at work. I am proof that you can achieve your tasks in a nonprofit as long as you put the cause before yourself, but don’t forget that you will always need a strong public relations strategy too.

The Arthritis Foundation is only one of thousands of national nonprofits. So one might wonder, how can my organization stand out from the crowd?

Stryker, Weiner & Yakota Public Relations Inc. has tips for your nonprofit public relations strategy:

1. Make sure your public relations plan is in line with the organization’s long-term strategies.

2. Keep your volunteers, staff and donors well informed of your organization’s activities.

3. Maintain a clean and updated donor database.

4. Have a key volunteer and staff person trained as a media spokesperson.

5. Create or update a crisis communication plan.

6. Become an information resource for the media.

7. Pitch story ideas about your cause.

8. Clearly define and communicate the organization’s objectives and results.

9. Create co-marketing opportunities.

10. Spend time getting involved in your organization’s programs and its recipients. This will stimulate creativity and provide you with direct experience that you can translate to external audiences.

Remember: Donors are spending their money to help fund a good cause, not to receive an immediate personal benefit. This is why the public relations strategy is different than a for profit organization.


2 thoughts on “Meeting public relations needs of nonprofit organizations

  1. dannyele says:

    I like your assessment of the intentions of donors. I’d never considered the idea that donors are shirking the usual gratification of materials or services for the goal of the greater good. That in itself does massively alter the mission of the “consumer” and the “producer.”

    I feel one of the most important of the bullets on your list is the last, “spend time getting involved in your organization’s programs and its recipients.” This is so true! Involvement promotes understanding and presents those invested in the non-profit with the implication that those running the organization truly care.

  2. Kyle Beam says:

    I agree your view on donors is something I had never really thought of before. These people really aren’t looking for recognition they’re just looking to do something good for someone or some organization. I really like your list it shows what we as PR practitioners need to do to be effective in producing PR plans. And you’re right the non-profit world is much different than the for-profit world.

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