WFH NETWORK

September 2015 / Volume 3, No. 5

Public relations and fundraising: Furthering
your cause

Tips and tricks for a successful
PR campaign
  • Learn the art of writing a good press release, or ask for help from someone who can
  • Telephone key contacts before sending your press release. You can give them more context, which helps to get the media interested
  • Don’t call during journalists’ deadlines (usually 2pm onwards), and remember that some media is planned weeks or even months in advance of its release date. For example,  December holiday issues are often planned in August or September
  • Don’t give up – your PR efforts may not always be successful. Keep at it, and try looking for a more newsworthy angle

What is public relations?

It’s good to let people know about your youth group, especially when you have an upcoming event or recent projects you want to showcase. Public relations, or PR, is the management of your public image – more specifically, how it is defined, maintained, and displayed to the public. This often involves reporting by various media as well as your own public presence.

The foundation of public relations is to know your audience and tailor your message accordingly. Keeping your message consistent is also key – being clear on who your group is and what you stand for will help maintain positive public opinion. The online world presents many new PR opportunities with various avenues for spreading the word, from social media to blogging.

Fundraising essentials

Your group has a mission, but do you have the financial means to see it through? Every functioning organization needs a plan for raising funds and resources to ensure its longevity. Be creative and resourceful! Network with local communities and other bleeding disorder organizations, and be sure to look into government grants and corporate sponsorship. 

Do your prep work
Identify why specific resources are necessary for your organization’s mission and strategic plan, when designing your fundraising campaign. Creating a portfolio for potential donors can help. This could include evidence of past accomplishments, effective management and leadership of your group, and the organization’s relationship with the community, demonstrating how the resources will translate into benefits.

Legal and tax issues
Legal and taxation factors must be considered when raising money. Financial advisors, or your Treasurer, can help your group understand these laws. When planning the fundraising activity itself, don’t forget about insurance issues and potential tax relief for donors.

Know your assets
Identifying the group’s assets gives you an understanding of the resources you already have. Assets aren’t always about money. They can include skills, talents, and connections. For example, if you have several members who are accomplished bakers, you could hold a bake sale to raise money for an event. Someone in your group may have access to a roomy car that can transport your group to networking events. And don’t forget that volunteers are extremely valuable assets! Friendships and connections are invaluable to success in life – this is fundamental to the idea of social capital

Fundraisers
There are many ways to raise money. Fundraisers can include social events like a dance, sporting activity, concert, or conference. It’s important to announce to participants and sponsors of these events exactly what the donations and profits will support.

Online Fundraising 

Online fundraising has become increasingly popular as it offers unparalleled access to new audiences at relatively low cost. A website for your organization would be ideal, but a Facebook or other social media presence is a great start.

Crowdfunding platforms are websites that pool multiple small donations to achieve a larger goal.

FundRazr, Fundly, and Rally are examples of online fundraising sites that may be of interest to not-for-profit organizations.

 
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Grants are often offered by foundations, trusts, and government agencies. Guidelines and requirements should be available to potential applicants, who then submit a proposal outlining the details of the project, along with a completed application form.

Corporations and local businesses can be contacted for monetary donations, but they are also potential sources of expertise, volunteers, services, or products. For example, a business might be willing to sponsor events, provide prizes for raffles, or let you use their venue for free. Forming a relationship with a company’s decision makers may seem challenging, but don’t forget the power of your network.

 
 

Image courtesy of 1shots at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Another source of funds is individual donors, whether they contribute regularly through membership fees, or via one-off donations. Understanding why people donate is the first step to successful fundraising and helps personalize your approach. New donors may be reached through advertisements in newsletters or magazines, social media, going door-to-door or approaching people on the street, or in special cases, through media coverage.

It is crucial to let all potential donors know how their contribution will help your group achieve success. Be as specific as possible. “Your $50 will enable young children in Peru to see a physiotherapist, helping them recover faster from bleeds,” is far more powerful than just saying that your group increases access to treatment for bleeding disorders. Updating donors via e-mail or newsletters on how funds from different campaigns were spent shows appreciation and keeps them interested in the cause. It may even encourage them to become regular donors.

Everyone needs help at some point in their lives, whether in the form of skills, time, services, or money. A youth group is no exception – in fact it is likely that you will need assistance in several areas. Figuring out how to successfully ask for funds or other contributions is always challenging, but it’s also absolutely necessary to ensuring that your organization achieves its mission. Don’t be too disappointed if people don’t give right away – keep trying and think of other ways to showcase your project or solicit donations.

 

What's next?
Event organization 
Planning and running an event can be stressful, but it can also be lots of fun, especially if you get a whole team involved! Find out more about preparing to host an event, from setting goals to putting together your event team, and getting the word out in the first installment of our two-part article on event planning.

Questions that require an answer are marked with  *
   
What are some of the successful ways in which you’ve retained past donors, and recruited new ones? Did you face any particularly difficult challenges?