Archive for April, 2009

Protecting the vulnerable while telling your story

April 20, 2009

Last week, I responded to a comment made by  PR student, Crystal Klippenstein on one of my favourite Canadian podcasts, Inside PR. Crystal suggested a discussion about the role of PR professionals in the nonprofit sector. I commented on topics such as the personally rewarding aspects of nonprofit PR, small budgets that drive creativity, frequent misunderstanding of role and isolation at times because a single PR practitioner often comprises the whole “PR department.”

I also mentioned the fine balance PR practitioners must seek when telling the stories of clients to advance the cause of the organization. Public relations is all about telling stories and engaging an audience towards some kind of action.  In sectors such as child welfare or health care, this can be tricky business. I’ve talked about this at length in a previous post.

In the podcast, host David Jones commented on the use of social media and nonprofit PR. He cited War Child Canada’s use of Twitter. The organization’s founder, Dr. Samantha Nutt, has been Tweeting from a war zone in Africa. I started following Dr. Nutt and it’s been a remarkable experience. This is an incredibly effective tactic to tell the stories of extremely vulnerable children in a way that protects them yet gives the audience an intimate understanding of their plight as well as promise.

Here are a sample of some of the tweets:

warchild1warchild2warchild3warchild-6warchild5Reading these brief posts throughout my work day has had an unnerving effect. I think that’s due to the fact that Dr. Nutt is tweeting in real time. These images and events are taking place while I’m sipping my morning coffee or chatting breezily with a client on the phone. The immediacy gives the content an intimacy that is difficult to achieve through other forms of communication such as a direct appeal letter or even a blog post. In my imagination, the children she’s talking about suddenly are standing in front of me. I’ve heard their story while their identities have been protected.

So, what other ways have nonprofits found to tell the stories of the vulnerable they seek to aid? I hope you’ll share them by leaving a comment.

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Network for Good hits target with ‘Fundraiser vs Donor’

April 2, 2009

I was delighted to see a take-off on one of my favourite advertisements on Katya’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog. I’ve used the original Microsoft ad, “Advertiser vs Consumer”, in presentations I’ve done to illustrate the changing relationship between businesses and customers. It’s very clever. Now the Network for Good has used the format to create “Fundraiser vs Donor”.

Here’s the original ad:

and here is “Fundraiser vs Donor”:

It makes the point well. We often don’t engage with donors to understand what kind of information they want from our organization. Things have become so routinized with electronic newsletters and donor management systems that we forget that donors are individuals and they should have  options about what and how they hear from us.

I particularly like the comment about the mission statement as a form of communication. While it is a public statement about what an organization strives to do, donors seldom click on “mission statement” on their first (or 20th) visit to a nonprofit website. Why is that? Because it’s secondary to the message about what the organization is actually doing and how those activities are impacting people’s lives. That’s a fact—even if your executive team did go on a retreat in order to craft it.

With various online social networking options, it’s easier than ever before to have genuine relationships with donors and supporters and those networks can provide a bridge to meaningful in-person relationships.

The expectations of donors have changed. Has your organization taken notice?