How to do PR for non-profit organizations

PR is just as important for non-profit organizations as it is for businesses. However, most philanthropic entities allocate only a small part of their budget for PR, if at all. Here are some tips to make your resources work harder.

Photo via  Unsplash

Photo via Unsplash

NPOs do a lot of things that profit-oriented enterprises do, such as fund-raising, recruitment, and collaborating with other organizations as well as the government. In addition to these, they also lobby for causes and advocacies. That said, NPOs would benefit from using some marketing strategies commonly employed by businesses. Having a strong PR strategy is one of them.

Aside from managing a non-profit’s reputation, PR can also educate the public about the non-profit’s mission and work, help increase donors, and recruit volunteers. These are among the top objectives for NPOs, yet PR often gets only a tiny slice of the marketing budget. Luckily, a little can go a long way if you use these tips:

Begin with a strategy

Effective PR always begins with a strategy -- in order to get results, you need to have a clear idea of your goal and the steps you will take to achieve it.

Your strategy should map out your objectives, your target audience, your selected platforms (as well as journalists and influencers you could tap as spokespeople), and your metrics for success. Need help getting started? Read this.

Craft a compelling story

Photo via  Unsplash

Photo via Unsplash

The best way to engage an audience is to tell a compelling story. More than businesses, non-profits are in a great position to tell powerful narratives because they are seen as credible and trustworthy due to the philanthropic nature of their work. NPOs can take advantage of this by drawing from their real-life work to craft a rich, colorful narrative about the importance of their mission and how their efforts are impacting people’s lives. The more personal and relatable, the better.

Use the power of social media

No other platform is as potent at shaping a brand’s reputation and communicating information directly to its audience as social media. Social media gives you the means to:

  • Collaborate with volunteers and donors

  • Educate the public about your programs and services

  • Increase membership

  • Boost financial support and event participation

  • Promote transparency regarding the organization

  • Advocate on behalf of the organization and its causes; and

  • Start or ride popular trends (ex. the ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge which raised $115 million over 8 weeks in 2014)

Leverage spokespeople

Having popular personalities talk about your NPO is a powerful way to boost your visibility and help you reach relevant audiences. A huge part of the Ice Bucket Challenge’s success was the participation of several famous celebrities including Oprah, Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez, Chris Pratt, LeBron James, and even tech titans like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos.

As a non-profit, it would be wise to tap credible journalists aside from celebrities. Make sure to target your pitches to journalists who cover topics related to your non-profit’s advocacy; this increases your chances of having your story published and being read by interested people who are more likely to support your cause.

As you follow these tips to get your PR efforts off the ground, learn what makes a good PR campaign to increase your impact.