Last but not least in our series of blog posts from our summer interns, Nicola Haubold explains why nonprofits should consider a communications effort.
Unlike for-profit companies that aim to maximize revenue, nonprofit organizations aim to maximize impact. Their missions are to improve society and tackle its most pressing problems. These are noble, challenging goals that require persistence, passion, commitment—and funding. Beyond the money needed to implement programs, services, or advocacy efforts, nonprofits also need to allocate budget for expanding their outreach to partners or donors and raising their profiles as champions of their cause.
That’s where PR comes in.
Although most nonprofit organizations allocate less than 5% of their funds to PR, communications is an important tool and investment to engage with the general public and participate in important conversations. Even if small in scope, a successful PR effort can enable nonprofit organizations to share with the world what they’re doing, who they’re serving, and what resources they need to further pursue their missions. In 2017, The New York Times looked at the Colon Cancer Alliance to explore the benefits of nonprofit investment in public relations and marketing. The research showed how critical both of these functions were to explaining the organization’s specific mission to the public and generating funding for its cause.
Communications can also open doors to establishing a nonprofit organization’s thought leadership on an issue, making it top of mind for potential partners or donors, and giving it the platform it needs to generate significant impact. For smaller or newer nonprofits competing for share of voice with larger, household-name organizations, an investment in PR can be particularly important.
Whether through compelling storytelling, a powerful social media campaign, or a variety of other PR tactics, a nonprofit of any size can demonstrate why donors and volunteers should invest in it over another organization. For example, in the fall of 2015, a social media campaign launched by the nonprofit Move to End Violence helped the organization reach new audiences and distinguish itself from its peers. Participants in “The 21-Day Self-Care Challenge” received daily email prompts alerting them about their unproductive habits and encouraging them to shift into more mindful practices. As people shared their progress throughout the challenge via photos, videos, tweets, and posts using the hashtag #selfcare4impact, Move to End Violence saw its email database grow from 400 to 11,000 subscribers, proving the power of PR to increase society’s awareness of an organization and an important issue.
Some nonprofits may hesitate to invest in PR, concerned that every dollar should go towards making an impact. However, communications can pay considerable dividends by elevating the profile of a nonprofit and broadening the scope of its influence. As the nonprofit industry continues to grow even faster than the for-profit sector, mission-driven organizations should consider implementing strategic PR efforts that enable them to stand out from the crowd and stand up for their causes