“At a nonprofit, you are going to have a built in goldmine of storytelling opportunities,” Ashley Dusenbury, the Vice President of Public Relations for the Palmetto Heath Foundation, said.
As a public relations professional working in the nonprofit industry, you have experiences unmatched by any other profession. Telling stories of patients in a health care system, children experiencing their life’s greatest wish, or even donors expressing why they chose to give back to a specific organization: storytelling plays a huge role in your career.
While having the ability to tell these stories is powerful, there is a lot of work that goes on behind-the-scenes at a nonprofit. “(While working at a nonprofit) you become the universal worker who can do everything, and you will be called to do everything,” Michele Stuffmann, the Director of Outreach and Communication for MAZON: A Jewish Response To Hunger, said.
Working as a public relations specialist at a nonprofit doesn’t just mean managing social media, planning campaigns, or hosting events. Tasks necessary to the industry include donor relations, event planning, providing council to the management team or nonprofit board, social media, and even small daily tasks like assisting co-workers with presentations, meeting donors for lunch or navigating new technology.
Creating a public relations roadmap will assist you in staying on ‘mission road, as Dusenbury called it, and assist your organization in reaching its goals.
The most important factors in a roadmap are knowing your audience, focusing on both donors and the public at large and fostering donor relations both pre- and post-donation.
“Treat each donor like the special magical snowflake unicorn that they are,” said Steven Shattuck, the Vice President of Marketing for Bloomerang.
Bloomerang, a company that has created Bloomerang Donor Management Software, assists nonprofits in fostering and maintaining donor relations.
According to a study conducted by Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, nearly 31 percent of donors stop donating to a nonprofit due to a lack of communication or donor appreciation, proving the importance of a nonprofit communications plan.
A communications plan should include how donors are approached, how they are thanked and how soon after donating they are contacted.
Public relations professionals get the amazing opportunity to share stories of lives impacted by the work of a nonprofit, but they also have the responsibility of communicating with and fostering relationships with donors who make such awesome experiences possible.