Tag Archives: nonprofit

Five ways to attract media attention

Gaining Media Attention, fundraising, FUNdraising Good Times, media relations Will 2015 be the year your nonprofit is highlighted in news stories and feature pieces? Will those who could benefit from the work of your organization read about you in the newspaper, see a story on TV, or listen to an interview on the radio? The media could “somehow” find out about your organization and decide to cover it. Or you could dedicate time and resources to cultivating media. Here are four things to consider when engaging the media in 2015

  1. Meet with the editorial board of your local paper. If you are looking for TV or radio exposure, meet with the station’s management. To secure this meeting, call the editor or station manager and request a time to meet. If your organization has a marketing person on staff, he or she should secure the meeting. If you don’t, ask a member of the board who has marketing experience or a relationship with the media to make the call. If you are without this resource, the executive director should request the meeting.
  2. During the meeting make the case for your organization, share your impact, and your plans for the coming year. Ask about their guidelines for how to share news about your nonprofit. Request assistance in creating awareness for your organization, its programs and events. Ask for their criteria when covering an organization such as yours. Who should you contact? How much lead time is required? What constitutes a good news story and what types of feature stories are they looking for? Be prepared to honestly answer questions they may ask of you, especially those that may be uncomfortable.
  3. Bring your media kit. Your kit should contain your case for support, annual report, program highlights, testimonials, and an annotated board list. It should also include a calendar of upcoming events such as fundraisers, lecture series, performances, receptions, and visits by people of note. As appropriate, include a list of the businesses and organizations you partner with, and any honors and awards.
  4. Be prepared. The executive director, board chair, top development person and top marketing person should attend the meeting. All should be prepared. Create an agenda and determine what role each person will play.
  5. Follow up. Keep your media contacts apprised of key staff changes and promotions, new board members and upcoming events. If you have expertise on a topic in the news, let them know you are available as a resource. Invite reporters to visit your organization to learn more.

Building media relationships takes time. You have to build a relationship with the media same as you would with a potential donor or board member. Get organized and integrate media relations into your work plan. Build a partnership that creates awareness and provides accountability.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.


Is your nonprofit meeting the needs of your community?

Meeting the needs of the community, fundraising, nonprofit, evaluation, community needs“What do you do when an organization wants to raise money, but there really isn’t a need for the organization?” That was the question we were asked recently. We were taken aback by the bluntness, but recognized its value. Here are our thoughts.

Most people we meet believe passionately in the organizations they are involved with. They see the impact being made and want it to continue. The challenge is to step outside of the organization and look at it within the context of the community. Are there other organizations now offering similar, competing, or more effective services? Is the need for your nonprofit as great as it was ten years ago? Have demographic shifts increased or decreased the need for your work? Have new needs emerged within the community that require funders and individuals to reallocate their giving?

The needs that nonprofits respond to and advocate for change over time. And the priority that others place on our needs change. Some changes we can anticipate, others we can’t. Sometimes we are proactive, and sometimes all we can do is react and retrench.  Because of this each organization needs to periodically assess its role within the community. What – if anything – do you need to change? Which organizations are you competing against? How could you be more effective? Ask donors and funders. Ask those who support you and those who have never provided funding.

Nonprofits who have received federal funds either directly or indirectly know about decreasing revenue streams. Grants have been decreasing and disappearing for a long time now. Continuing to cut programs and services and make do with less is one way to address this market challenge. Another is to look to collaborate, partner and as appropriate merge organizations. You may need to restructure how you provide services. You may need to be bold and launch a major fundraising campaign. Consider engaging your board in a dialog that looks beyond “how do we get through this fiscal year?” to asking deeper questions about how the organization can best serve its market.

Here is the hardest question: is your nonprofit relevant? Does it really meet a need? Even if you are successful with your fundraising, could the funds invested in your organization better benefit the community if invested in another nonprofit? If you are a new organization: were your founding assumptions accurate? If you have a history of service, are younger organizations better able to meet emerging needs? Don’t be afraid to ask these hard questions: doing so may open new doors. Assuming that your organization should continue to exist – without testing those assumptions – may prevent you from being of greatest value to those you serve. Only you and your board can provide the answers.

Image courtesy of xedos4 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

Gifts that keep on giving

Holiday giving,  holiday gifts, nonprofit, gift givingLet the holiday season begin! Thanksgiving ushers in six weeks of busyness as we reunite with family and friends for dinners, parties, and holidays such as Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. This is a time of gift giving. In addition to daily business and family activities our minds find time to weigh questions such as “What would my children enjoy?” and “When should I order the turkey?” and, of course, “How can I give to all the people I love without going broke?”In the midst of all this holiday activity comes the busy season for nonprofit fundraising. Some organizations and institutions encourage us to give before the year-end to take advantage of tax benefits, while others offer opportunities to remember those who are less fortunate. Still others invite us to imagine new expressions and manifestations of the arts, leadership, education, and science.

If you can take a moment to escape the hustle and bustle of the season you may find a way to combine celebrations, gift giving and support for nonprofits that are important to you and your family. You can put the busyness of the season in perspective by spending the afternoon with your children volunteering at a local hospital, food bank, senior center, or veterans home. When considering what to give, consider underwriting a child’s pre-K education by giving to a program that had their funds cut this year. You’ll be giving a gift that will make an impact for a lifetime. You can make that gift in honor of a family member. Other ideas include purchasing gloves or socks in bulk to give to people who are homeless in your community. Spend an afternoon making tasty sandwiches and share them with people who are hungry.

Talk with your faith leader, college representative or another trusted person “in-the-know” to find out which out-of-state (or out-of-country!) college students need a home for the holidays and open your home and heart. If your neighbor is in need, consider purchasing a gift card she can use at a local grocery store. This is an ideal time for a gift to the food bank.

Gifts to scholarship funds are easily made on-line and are more important than ever as so many students are losing access to Parents PLUS loans. Give to help those half-way around the world by supporting victims of the typhoon in the Philippines. If you are thinking of purchasing a pet for your child, consider adopting one from your local nonprofit animal rescue or ASPCA. Many nonprofits publish beautiful calendars – consider giving one as a gift. Purchase your Christmas tree from a nonprofit and holiday cards from UNICEF.

Most importantly, sit down as a family and share the gratitude you experience. Then find a way to give in ways that speak to your hearts.

Photo Credit: Nonprofit Hub

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

How to brand your business & support a nonprofit

Women Business owners

Woman and minority owned businesses can benefit from well-defined relationships with select nonprofits.

Partnering with nonprofits makes good business sense for emerging and established woman or minority-owned businesses. Board service puts a human face on your business; donating goods and services extends your brand. Creating a culture of philanthropy helps your business better compete for well-educated potential employees seeking a meaningful career and the opportunity to give back. Building a brand that communicates “we” instead of “me” opens the door to new networks and relationships that can help you meet your business objectives.

Other benefits include increased exposure to people of different cultures, races, ethnicities, geographic areas and professions; and learning from diverse leaders in a most intimate setting: that of a nonprofit grappling with management, marketing, or budgetary issues.

People who are involved with nonprofits are civic-minded people who are willing to open doors for others, and to extend their network. They will have the opportunity work with you, get to know you, and refer your business. You can extend similar opportunities.

Be strategic about your involvement. Engage with nonprofits that impact or are supported by your customer/client base, and the community you operate in. Customers and clients are more loyal to businesses that engage with nonprofits they believe in. Find out which nonprofits resonate with your clients/customers; look for those with similar values; evaluate how they could help you meet your business objectives. Interview the leadership of potential partners to learn their expectations of your business, and the opportunities they could provide. Done right, nonprofit service, sponsorship, and underwriting are cost-effective ways to build, sustain and expand a brand.

Things to consider. Identify a specific nonprofit to support with time, talent and finances over a multi-year period. Make the selection in collaboration with your leadership and employees. Increase your impact with planning and preparation. For example, identify what you want to achieve for your business, the nonprofit and the community. Determine how much money and time will you invest annually. Where will the money come from? Who will give their time? How do these numbers match to your nonprofit partner’s expectations?

Encourage employee giving. Implement a “matching gift program” that matches employee giving dollar-for-dollar up to a set amount each year. Encourage “on the clock” volunteering by employees. Incentivize customers and clients to support your nonprofit partner with time and money.

Include your nonprofit partnership strategy in your business plan to help ensure your business follows through on commitments. Over-deliver on your promises. Attend meetings and actively participate. Make an annual gift. Purchase a table at all events. Take advantage of sponsorship and underwriting opportunities. Ask other businesses to “meet or beat” your contribution. You demonstrate leadership – and increase your impact – when you engage other businesses in the work of your nonprofit partner.

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.”  They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them @saadshaw.

Gifts for those who have everything

Barnardo's Giving Tree  (Photo credit: Eversheds LLP)

It’s the holiday season, time for us to reach out to those we know, love and  respect offering
gifts as a token of our feelings. Some of us get creative, finding the perfect gift. Others of us
struggle, uncertain as to what would be the right gift. Some of us are fortunate enough to have the challenge of finding the right gift for the person who has everything.

If you are in one of the latter two groups, don’t worry: we have the answer. Give to a nonprofit  organization. Not just any nonprofit, but one that you know your friend, family member or colleague believes in. If you’ve been listening throughout the year you may have heard her talk about the American Cancer Society, her serving as a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters, or volunteering at a scholarship fundraiser for her sorority. Maybe she serves on the board of the
YMCA. Perhaps she is on the advisory council for an industry-wide job training center. Does she read to children as part of a local literacy program? Serve as a soccer coach?

What about the hard-to-please men on your list? Do they volunteer as mentors? Advocate for marriage equality? Volunteer as a driver for meals on wheels? Coach football, basketball or soccer? Are they proud of their alma mater? Committed to their church, mosque or synagogue? Maybe there’s a man in your life who gives his time to saving the snow tiger in India, or the marshlands of the gulf.

Your reflections will help you come up with the right nonprofit to match with each “person who has everything” on your list.

If you don’t know which organization your family members or friends are committed to think about what you know of their interests and passions. Are they artists or art connoisseurs, outdoors enthusiasts, athletes, theatre buffs? There is a nonprofit for everyone.

When you honor someone with a gift to a nonprofit we recommend you take steps to make sure that your wishes are fulfilled. Here are our recommendations. Call the nonprofit and ask if they have a program for accepting “honorary” gifts. Ask what you need to do in order to ensure a note
or card is sent to the person you are honoring, communicating that you have made a gift in their honor. This is important to do when giving to small, local or grassroots organizations. Larger organizations often have such processes already in place. You can typically find the information
on their “donate” webpage.

Giving to a nonprofit in honor of someone you love or respect has multiple benefits. You show you are aware of what’s important to your family member or colleague. You are contributing to a cause that will continue beyond the holiday season. You can give again for the person’s birthday. You can stay out of the mall, and wait until the last minute to “shop.”