Sunday, January 25, 2009

Are Non-Profits getting the value of Online PR?

Continually finding funding sources for a nonprofit or growing an association's membership base can be the bane of even the most dedicated Executive Directors and Non-Profit (NP) communications, marketing, & fundraising professionals.

It's a constant battle to vie for government and private grants, donor funding, and overall financial support through creative, low-cost yet effective public relations. Enter the unprecedented reach and efficacy of online marketing. Even at its most basic and low-cost level, internet marketing through a variety of methods and mediums will necessarily widen your customer and support base, exponentially. Here are the most easy-to-facilitate and no-to-low-cost online strategies to gaining widespread public recognition and support for your nonprofit:

Maximize Your Website: Hopefully, you already have a website for your nonprofit organization. It is absolutely crucial that you keep an eye on it, updating when necessary, gathering user feedback on maneuverability, and how it may rank for certain generic keywords your potential funder/supporter may use to find you or companies that offer the same services. This doesn’t mean that you need to invest thousands of dollars in an SEO firm but the help of an online PR specialist can offer up some important tools and strategies to place your site in front of those who need to see it. The reasons are twofold as to why this is important. One: nonprofits do not have thousands to invest in advertising typically, and two: competing nonprofit agencies will not either.

Blogs: Once you have a great website, start your own blog. To the internet beginner, this may seem an intimidating task; but it is way easier than you would imagine. Type in blog network, and you’ll find thousands of potential start-your-own-blog network sites, in which they walk you through the entire process of setting up your blog, making it attractive with one of their templates, and updating it with content on a regular basis. Most importantly, it is a free way to get your company’s mission and objectives across, while soft-selling potential supporters on how they can help.

Articles and Press Releases: Same goes for article submission and press release sites; type in one of the previous terms and you’ll find thousands of sites devoted to posting articles and company press releases free. For articles, introduce a short piece on industry advice and programs while providing a link back to your website. For press releases, draft up a quick and informational piece on a new addition to your site or program initiative, and provide a link back to your site. Either way, you are adding new information to a highly trafficked network-the internet-free, and meanwhile remember that you can add as many of either as you like.

E-newsletters and Email Marketing
: While ensuring that you avoid spamming your prospective funders and parties of interest, know that devising a simple e-newsletter to keep your supporters abreast of current company happenings, will increase your pr returns immensely. Whether there is a specific program or event you are inviting them to or a simple thank you for their previous support, you are maintaining a constant connection to them, so they won’t forget you in their busy busy lives.

In all, there are many aspects and a plethora of possibilities an organization can undertake in terms of Web 2.0 outreach. The value then is a well developed strategy that identifies the online communications methods that work best for your non-profit.

Got other means of online marketing or PR that has proven successful to your nonprofit? these Or perhaps, methods that didn’t work so well? Please share with us.
Mark Buzan is Principal and Chief Magnifier in Action Strategies, a full service Strategic Communications, Public Relations and Public Affairs Consultancy for non-profits and associations. Make sure to contact him for advice on reaching audiences you may or may not have yet considered in your marketing communications and PR campaigns. Drop him a line if you are looking for help in developing a public relations campaign. You can view his website at www.actionstrategies.ca.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Tough Economic Times and the Federal Budget

It's hard to avoid hearing about the state of the current economy on TV these days without hearing about job losses and how bad things have turned. The private sector is a buzz with lay offs and in turn, the government is doing what it can to react to the situation.

However, in these times, the non-profit sector is also affected. Corporate sponsorships are either down or threatened. If they are not, some non-profit executives tell me that if they have already have locked in support, that support may be in question next year as the private sector looks for means to tighten the belt. While economic difficulties impact as well on private citizen donations in turn, research seems to show that volunteerism goes up. ...or at least the demand as well for volunteers(Click here).

On Wednesday, I sat in on an interesting discussion by Imagine Canada wherein we took up the subject of the economy, the current economic situation, and Tuesday's coming federal budget.

Having submitted a brief for consideration, Imagine Canada brings up an important point. In fact, they have a number of points:

1 .For non-profits and charities, now is the time (more than ever) for their voice to be heard before government of the direct impact they have on the economy and Canadian society. Charities need to rethink how they approach matters and become creative even within their charitable status constraints limiting their operating budget dedications of 10%.
2. For society, whether you agree with 100% of Imagine Canada's presentation, (and no, I don't agree everything proposed is right for the economy nor should everything proposed become a priority....see my personal blog at http://www.markbuzan.com) the impact of the non-profit sector and volunteerism in Canada should not be ignored.

However, regarding the latter, it seems the non-profit sector has leagues to go before its counsel is taken into account. Time will tell and we will know whether or not the charitable sector will be recognized more in federal policy. For now, it does appear as though Conservatives in Canada has the same recognition for the voluntary sector as Conservatives in the United States have traditionally demonstrated.

In the end, the onus will remain on non-profit execs to rethink their approach, become more proactive in building political ties, and understand that the best developed policies or intended programs will remain unfunded by government until they change direction.
Mark Buzan is Principal of Action Strategies, a GR Consultancy for non-profits. Subscribe now to his Lobbying tips newsletter at www.actionstrategies.ca/Action_Strategies/Newsletter.html

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Action Strategies' blog

wondering what I should submit as a speaking proposal for the CSAE Conference in 2009 - ideas? / se demande quoi je devrais presenter au SCDA

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Action Strategies' blog

Back in Canada...ugh...from palm trees to Snow & -10 weather/ de retour au Canada...des belles temperatures a la neige...yuck!

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