Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Is Public Relations Part of your Fund Raising Strategy?

We put together a fund raising master plan that includes annual appeals, major donor cultivation, special events, etc.  But one thing too many small organizations omit is a public relations strategy!

Oh sure, you get someone to take a photo of the special event committee planning your special event.  But do you routinely issue press releases – not only about what you’re doing and new personnel and/or board members, but also about issues of the day that impact your particular mission? 

The better known you are and the better your image is, the more likely you are to obtain gifts from individuals you’ve never even heard.  The Boston Foundation many years ago received a multi-million dollar bequest from an anonymous source who had been impressed with the organization’s mission and activities.  That’s a public relations payoff!

Here are a few tips:

  • Make a plan.  Set a goal.  Perhaps your mission is to find something newsworthy to issue a press release about every week.  Don’t overlook what to you might seem mundane.  Nothing is too minor!
  • Build your media list.  It should consist of the e-mail addresses of editors and reporters who cover your category.  Don’t know who to send to?  Call and ask! 
  • Don’t omit the broadcast media.  I once had a local television reporter call and ask to use my organization for a feature story.  She had heard about us from the press releases we regularly sent to her station – even though she had never used any of the stories we had sent.
  • Just as with prospective donors – cultivate those reporters who routinely cover your category.  Get to know them.  Ask them what kinds of stories they look for.
  • When something related to your mission makes national news, issue a release with a local connection.  Local media love to localize a national story.  Plus, you’re positioning yourself as an expert in your field.
  • Include your donors on your media list.  They should know what you are telling the public.  Remember, this is e-mail and thus costs nothing extra to use a bigger list.

Your media strategy is vital to the overall success of your fund raising.  Don’t neglect it.

Need a short one to two hour consultation?  We offer both telephone and in-person consults at very reasonable rates.  Or sponsor ABCs of Fund Raising!  Contact me for a quote to bring a half-day or full-day seminar to your community. 

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