Non-profits: Raise Funds without Buying Ads or Mailings
The majority of the time, when non-profit organizations aren’t out changing the world, they are soliciting donations from supporters and the general public. Not because individuals don’t want to donate money, but rather because they are unaware that there is a need, non-profit organizations face a perpetual ongoing struggle when it comes to obtaining funds.
Direct mailings, advertising, and marketing initiatives are some of the methods used to raise funds. These are all costly endeavors with no way of predicting a return on the capital invested. Not to mention the convenience of being able to obtain visibility and solicit donations without having to go into your own pocketbook. An route to take is Yes, you can “Editorial placements,” or as we in media relations like to refer to them, “free advertising,” are what they are.
Newspapers and magazines are defined by the content they publish. They will be in trouble if people do not want to read the material that they print. It can be difficult to provide a print publication (or even a broadcast network) with a story that will engage and educate its readers while also inspiring them, but it is well worth the effort if the story gets published.
Is it more likely that an ad in the weekender or volunteer opportunity sections of the newspaper, describing your organization and asking for donations, will generate a greater public response than a heartfelt feature story about how the organization is making a difference in the community, according to you? Almost without exception, a feature story will direct more people to an organization’s Web site than an advertisement, and the irony is that securing the feature article cost the organization nothing.
The audience responds more strongly to a feature than to an advertisement for a variety of reasons. It is because appearing in the media immediately legitimizes the individual. People have a tendency to put their faith in organizations or individuals they see in the newspaper or on television. A non-profit animal shelter that is featured on the weekend evening news adopt-a-pet segment is more likely to be remembered by the public when wanting to adopt a pet than if you simply placed an advertisement in the Sunday newspaper every week, according to the National Animal Shelters Association.
So, what is the best way to get free advertising? Making use of every opportunity to communicate with the media. Smaller organizations that rely on community support may be able to provide personal feature stories on some of their volunteers that go above and beyond. One of the most popular stories in the media is the “feel-good” story: how one volunteer has made a significant difference, how one former recipient of the organization’s services is now prospering, and so on. What was the genesis of your organization? Is it possible if someone sold their business in order to open a women’s shelter? Is a local mother responsible for the upkeep of stray animals on her farm? The following are some ideas to help you get started on creating a story for your organization or cause.
Every individual has a unique story to tell.
Discover the story that lie behind the faces of the people in your organization and make them known to the media. When I say story, I’m referring to a straightforward, conversational tale; the kind of tale you might tell a friend. When you submit a story to the media, it does not imply that you have to write it and provide it in its full. Typically, when you pitch a story, you simply inform your media contact of the story’s existence. They’ll determine whether or not it’s a good fit and then proceed with it.
Spend a few weeks tuning in or perusing the pages of the paper to get a sense of the types of stories that the paper and local networks are interested in. They’ll make it crystal clear what kind of items they’re looking for.
Make sure to pay special attention to the journalists and reporters who write on issues that are similar to yours. These are the individuals who you will want to contact in order to share your tale.
Local media outlets are looking for stories about their communities, which can result in a plethora of options for media coverage. Suppose the individual on whom your tale centers resides in a town that is different from the one in which your organization is situated. You can pitch the story to both locations.
Inform the rest of the world of what is taking place.
In comparison to a two-line announcement in the calendar section, hosting or supporting an event can attract greater attention. So, what’s the backstory to your particular event? Consider featuring a success story, such as a woman linked with your organization who overcame obstacles to achieve a fantastic job that has changed her life, when initiating a clothing drive for professional apparel to assist women in finding employment opportunities. A pet owner who plans to enter his or her adopted shelter dog in a dog show to help a local animal shelter is ideal for a casual fun-day dog show for kids to benefit the shelter.
Even your fundraising activities might benefit from editorial placements to increase their visibility. It is not necessary to have a high-profile MC or to hold a gala in order to attract headlines. Assuming that this is an annual event, how do you intend to surpass the amount of money raised the previous year? What was the purpose of the funds? What was the motivation for the construction of a library or the addition of a wing to a senior center?
Everything should be announced.
Organizations in metropolitan areas compete directly with one another for donations and media attention. Make every effort to remain in the news if you want to increase your chances of receiving media attention (or at least in the minds of the news writers in your area). Is there a change in staffing or a new employee (hopefully a good one)? Make a public announcement. If you’ve added a new service to your organization, make sure everyone knows about it. According to sales and marketing research, the average buyer needs to hear about a product seven times before making a purchase decision. The same is true for charitable contributions to non-profit organizations. The more frequently the general public sees or hears about your organization in print, on the radio, or on television, the more probable it is that they will consider making a donation. Keep it in mind the next time you have something exciting to share with the world!
Building ties with the media and having an understanding of what the public wants are two important aspects of media relations. After all, you are the general population, therefore it isn’t as difficult as it may appear. You haven’t decided what you’d like to read. What would be of particular interest to you? Consult with your coworkers and friends to get their thoughts on the matter. Identify the members of the media in your area who cover the types of activities that you and your group participate in, and begin to cultivate a working relationship with them. Before you know it, they’ll be phoning you up to ask for a tale.