For many business people, giving back is a lifetime goal, and one of the biggest motivators to go into business in the first place. This is certainly the case for me. I have always wanted to invest in those aspects of the community that mean a lot to me intrinsically and formatively. The Ronn Torossian Foundation allows me to invest in a meaningful way. But it also allows me the opportunity to increase those investments by recruiting others for whom these causes matter.
On the surface these recruitment tools and the language used to communicate them may seem the same. After all, at its base, communication is communication. But charity PR – and the approach to it – is very different than commercial PR.
#1 – The end beneficiary is different
The obvious difference between a nonprofit and a for-profit PR campaign is the one who benefits most at the end of the transaction. A consumer is looking for some direct and tangible benefit at the end of a transaction. A volunteer is looking to offer that tangible benefit to someone else. Now, you may be thinking: “of course.” But I can tell you from experience that, for many, the change in thinking from for-profit to nonprofit PR can be tough.
#2 – The end beneficiary is also the same
Your nonprofit PR language should convey an understanding that, in giving, there is profit. Yes, the tangible direct benefit will be going to the ones who directly benefit from the charity activities. But this does not mean your volunteers will not benefit. Beyond the peace of mind and sense of accomplishment that comes with giving, charity work offers a change of mood and, often, character, that can happen no other way.
#3 – Nonprofit PR is about sharing
When communicating for a nonprofit organization, you must recognize the paradigm shift in the direction and nature of PR. With commercial PR, a provider is speaking to a consumer. With nonprofit PR, a partner is speaking with a current or potential partner. This is a kinship, a shared social, emotional and spiritual experience. While, there may be a designated hierarchy in place, each volunteer is on the same level. To wit, you are not speaking to a stranger using your product or service. You are communicating with a friend you just haven’t met yet.
Each of these points requires a definite shift in thinking and style. Again, the methods may be the same, but charity PR should look and feel much different than for-profit public relations.