For many nonprofits, fundraising and development are the driving forces behind their communications programs. This donor-centric approach to communications ensures marketing and fundraising strategies are aligned and allow nonprofits to track and measure the success of their efforts.
Public relations – in particular, media relations – is a powerful tool for augmenting a nonprofit’s development program and helping to attract new donors. PR can help nonprofits to stay on the radar of prospective donors and help to foster a deeper understanding of cause, mission, and impact. It can also help to personalize the cause by showcasing stories that the community-at-large, as well as prospective donors, can relate to.
Still wondering how public relations can increase the impact of a fundraising program? Here’s a snapshot:
Generating shareable content
Consistently populating an online newsroom, appeal letters, social media marketing channels, and electronic and print newsletters with fresh, relevant and compelling content can be a challenge. Factor in the need to make the content actionable (so as to drive volunteer signups, donations, etc.) and the workload can seem overwhelming. The good news is that with a nonprofit PR program in place, organizations can take the steady stream of news stories generated from their media relations efforts and use this credible, third-party content to populate their other marketing channels. Add a compelling call-to-action and your nonprofit is headed down the right path to leveraging PR as a donor cultivation tool.
Increasing audience reach
While an up-to-date donor database is critical for fundraising success, nonprofits are often challenged to broaden their networks beyond the ‘friends of friends’ circle. By developing media-ready stories that appeal to online, print and broadcast (television and radio) media, nonprofits are able to spread their message to a larger audience. While your organization’s story won’t have an equal impact on every person who watches the nightly news, the ROI of these media packages ranges from increased awareness to securing news donors, both of which can positively impact an organization’s bottom line over the short- and long-term.
As nonprofits grow and evolve, so does the depth and breadth of services they provide to the community. This can often result in target audiences more strongly associating an organization with one program or service than another, which can be challenging for securing donor support for under-the-radar programs and services. By developing a public relations strategy that puts the spotlight on a broad range of programs and services – and using consistent language to reference how these individual programs and services support an organization’s overall mission – nonprofits can increase awareness and deepen understanding of the great work they are doing to benefit the community. As more potential donors become aware of these valuable programs and services, PR is laying the foundation to be able to effectively fundraise in these key areas.
Uncovering new stories
Among nonprofits’ greatest marketing assets are the wealth of compelling, heartwarming and relatable stories they have to share with their constituents – be it a reporter, legislator, corporate partner, grantor or private funder, to name a few. As nonprofits attract new donors through public relations, they are cultivating a new pool of stories to pull from. A great way to ensure an effective story collection is to ask people to share why they are donating. While not every supporter is comfortable being recognized, you never know what stories will be uncovered by asking this simple and easy-to-answer question.
As nonprofits work to maximize the ROI of their budgets, it is important to leverage marketing to its fullest potential. Whether your nonprofit has a long-standing public relations program in place or is just looking to dip their toe into the PR arena, the power of stories to fuel development is undeniable.