What is a Nonprofit Organization?

Nonprofit organizations (NPOs) offer beneficial programs and services to the public, often to specific sectors. These charities and organizations are designed so that monies left after paying modest salaries and operating expenses are used to fund designated services or programs. For the most part, the programs and services provided are within the spheres of social or religious causes, education, health care, the arts, or scientific research.  Some like Kars 4 Kids are for car donations.

Status as an NPO offers certain benefits, such as paying a lower rate for income taxes or none at all. Such organizations are also eligible to apply for government and other grants. The legal status as NPO carries the designation of 501(c). This designation tells donors they may deduct their charitable contributions to such organizations from the amount of income tax they must pay. In this way, individuals of means give back to society for the benefit of all.

The purpose of social nonprofit organizations is to offer a means for confronting various societal ills with an eye toward correction or improvement. Such organizations may focus on human rights, substance abuse, homelessness, or hunger. Examples of social nonprofits include Amnesty International (ensures human rights) and Habitat for Humanity (provides affordable housing).

Tuition Scholarships

Educational nonprofit organizations will help fund educational opportunities, offering scholarships and grants to cover tuition costs for students who might not otherwise get the educations they deserve. In other cases, educational NPOs may provide items essential to education, such as computers, to students who may come from low-income homes. Examples of educational NPOs include the well-known Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Kars4Kids, the car donation charity whose proceeds underwrite school scholarships, educational afterschool programs, and camps for children.

Nonprofit organizations that focus on providing health services may institute vaccination programs in third-world countries, or underwrite research that might someday offer a cure for a deadly disease. Health service NPOs include the Mayo Clinic (research and treatment) and Doctors without Borders (provides medical services in war-torn or natural disaster-struck countries).

Community Bridge Builder

There are many nonprofit organizations which serve to provide funding to artistic endeavors and the fostering thereof. MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art, was founded as a nonprofit in order to be a bridge to the community in furthering the understanding of modern and contemporary art. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts was created to showcase and nurture young, new talent, according to the vision of JFK.

The environment as a cause, came late to the scene, some say beginning in 1970, with the first Earth Day celebration. In spite of being a newcomer, there are hundreds of nonprofit organizations that serve to protect and nurture the environment. Two examples are Greenpeace, which uses “non-violent” means to expose and confront environmental issues, and Friends of the Mississippi River, which serves to improve and protect its namesake within the Twin Cities.

ronn torossian social media

Social Media can Improve your Next Non profit Event

As winter gives way to spring, New York City public relations firms like 5WPR prepare to manage countless charity events across the city. While, in many cases, guests are there to see and be seen, public relations experts like Ronn Torossian point out that it is important to keep them engaged and interacting with your brand.

With that in mind, here are a few different ways social media savvy firms can get the best charity PR out of every single event.

#1 – Encourage participation on social media

Before, during and after the event, ask questions and take surveys that people can answer on your social media page. Use QR codes to link guests directly to specific questions, comment sections or content. Make it easy for them to engage and encourage feedback.

#2 – Get guests using smart phones early and often

Chances are if you can get your guests to take their phones out and get them taking pictures, then they will share those shots via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Providing multiple short entertainment opportunities both inside and outside the event will not only keep guests entertained, it will keep them snapping photos and sharing videos online.

#3 – Photo ops

Set up various places in and around the event venue that absolutely scream “photo

opportunity.” Then have staff or volunteers waiting nearby to offer to take a photograph for them. When asked why, Ronn Torossian explains that guests will appreciate the gesture and have one more pic of them dressed to kill that they would love to share with all their friends. Each time they post, upload or share a pic from your event, your organization is also being promoted.

#4 – Publicly thank sponsors via social media

There is always a point during an event that sponsors are publicly thanked. Instead of simply mentioning their names or putting a logo up on a big screen, have QR codes set up that link back to their sites or social media pages. Put these in the program and, during the “thanking” time, encourage guests to thank those sponsors by scanning those codes. Now, instead of initiating passive interest in the sponsor, your event will drive direct traffic to their site. The sponsor gets much more bang for their buck and will be that much more likely to continue sponsorship.

With these few action steps companies like 5WPR stay ahead of the game by keeping charity event guests engaged while driving more traffic to the organization’s website and social media and encouraging continued sponsor generosity.

Ronn Torossian, President of the Ronn Torossian Foundation - Image

5WPR CEO Says Meals on Wheels Employs Smart PR

Ronn Torossian on Success

Meals on Wheels rarely seeks recognition, but the good work of these selfless people is its own form of charity PR. Imagine you are homebound or disabled. You are hungry and cannot leave your home for food. Then, suddenly, as if manna from heaven, there is a hot meal right there for you at your door. This is exactly the great sort of good work the people at Meals on Wheels do every day all across this nation just like 5WPR does for its clients. For these volunteers, many people of faith, part of practicing their religion means doing for the less fortunate. For others, it’s just about being neighborly.

Recently, Meals on Wheels representatives in Tampa, FL, recognized several of their volunteers for outstanding service. One was named volunteer of the year. Others were lauded in various additional ways. Then all of this was released to the press by the local Meals on Wheels non-profit PR firm. It became breaking news on every local paper website. Huge accolades and comment after positive comment. People, who moments before had no idea there was a local Meals on Wheels program, were now publicly praising the organization.

Stories like this benefit the charity organization in at least three distinct ways:

Encourages volunteers

Can you imagine getting a call or e-mail from a friend, “Hey, I saw you in the paper. Great job!” That would feel pretty great, right? Well, that’s exactly how all these volunteers felt. Humbled, but also very proud.

Attracts new volunteers

Ronn Torossian notes that one of the key issues every charity faces is finding, recruiting and keeping volunteers. Some find their calling and stay forever. Others come and go. But, no matter what sort of charity you are trying to do, operations work best when you have a certain number of volunteers you can count on. This often requires a steady stream of new names and faces. Seeing an organization in the paper, particularly one that goes out of its way to publicly honor volunteers is a great incentive to roll up your sleeves and help out.

More publicity

While this may not have been the primary purpose of the release, it is one of the definite benefits says 5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian. More people than ever learn about your organization. Some are learning specifics when they used to only have a general idea who you are and what you do. Others are hearing about you for the first time.

It bears repeating that we know charities are not in it for the acclaim. But you can’t do the most good if no one knows about you. Honoring volunteers is a great way to get the word out.

4 Ways Charity PR firms are HarnessingTechnology

The marriage of social media and mobile devices is a dream come true for Internet marketers and PR firms. But nonprofit organizations can also take advantage of the “new normal” in communication to be more efficient, active and effective. Here are four ways you can make that happen for your organization right now:

#1 – Use infographics for more efficient communication

Instead of bulleted lists of directions or spreadsheets of statistics, create single-image infographics. These images are more easily shared cross-platform. This makes them an ideal way to communicate with volunteers and others not directly connected with your organization. Plus, infographics are an easy way to communicate lots of information quickly and simply. Need to communicate several different dynamics or a chain of important information? Don’t make a list. Say it with a picture.

#2 – Video, video, video

Some Internet marketing gurus are predicting that nearly all online communication will be video-based in a few short years. Ronn Torossian and 5WPR agree. In fact, the majority of marketers only seem to be debating the timeline. But there is no reason for anyone to wait.

  •    Video sharing is quick, easy and dynamic.
  •    Shoot a video on your phone and IM or tweet it out to everyone in your organization in a single click.
  •   Plus, with video, recipients can hear tonal inflection and see facial expression – nonverbal cues lost in email … even if you cover it with emoticons.

And, for up-to-the-minute positive PR,  PR Firms can film a quick clip of their folks in action and immediately post it up on YouTube and Facebook for the world to see.

#3 – Using Twitter to coordinate volunteers

Logistical coordination has never been easier. Make sure all your volunteers are following you on Twitter and you can instantly communicate with anyone, anywhere. This is particularly effective during large events where your team is spread out over a wide area or during times of crisis where your team could be located at multiple venues across several states. Twitter also makes it possible to coordinate changes of plans and locations with as little logistical pain as possible.

#4 – Using Facebook as a free promotional tool

Facebook is free … “and it always will be.” Oh, and it has over one BILLION users. These two facts should encourage every PR agency to get serious about their social media promotion. What should you post on Facebook? In a word? Everything. Any possible link, information or comment that is both A) a positive reflection of your organization, and, B) something imminently shareable.

One key point to remember about Facebook though: Don’t make everything about yourself!!!!

  •   Post indirectly connected but interesting news.
  •   Thank your volunteers by name.
  •  Post lots of good, quality pictures.
  •  Ask open-ended questions.

Bottom line? When it comes to technology, a multimedia approach is best. Make messages as simple and dynamic as possible, and you will see success.

non profit charity

5 Social Media Tricks to Increase Donations and Volunteer Engagement

Limited budgets, particularly for smaller organizations, mean that public relations companies cannot afford to let a prime charity PR opportunity pass them by. Fortunately, there are legions of willing and able social-media-savvy volunteers out there ready to help you spread the word. You just have to get them – and keep them – engaged. Here are 5 tips from Ronn Torossian of 5WPR to to increase donations and volunteer engagement

Build the Right Foundation

If you don’t yet have a solid social media presence on several platforms, stop right now. Get your internal PR people on that or contact 5WPR. Lack of robust social media platforms leads to limited volunteer engagement. That means you are losing money every day.

Be Sure to Use the Right Tool for the Job

Many people wonder which social media platform is “best” for them. That’s not the correct question. Each social media platform has a primary purpose. A professional social media reputation management firm can help you leverage each platform for the best results.

Encourage your Fans and Followers to Comment and Share

Sometimes all you need to do to increase volunteer engagement is ask. Your fans and followers will gladly share your content if you ask them. They love your organization already. So invite them to share the love.

Engage in the Conversation

Whether it’s on a blog or social media site, the longer a discussion continues, the more attention is attracts. So don’t just post on blogs and social media. Engage, discuss, challenge and encourage. Keep the conversation going and it will keep your organization “front of mind” for your volunteers.

Post Timely and Appropriate Content

Don’t let every post begin and end with your hand out. There is nothing wrong with asking for donations. This is part and parcel of being a charity organization. But if that is ALL you do online, your fans and followers will quickly lose interest. Timely comments, blog posts or responses to daily items of interest will give your fans a reason to keep coming back. And quality content will encourage them to get – and stay – engaged.

Admirable Work During Passover

During the week of Passover, many Jewish organizations shut down. Over the years Passover has become a time for families to take advantage of the time off from schools or work and spend time with one another.  It is a kind of spring break for Jewish people.  There are also many people who do not have the benefit of getting away, and who are sustained by the good work of organizations that serve the underserved among us.  When people and organizations close for Passover, how do those people find help?

Fortunately there exists a solid network of socially conscious people and groups that make sure the coverage is always in place, even when their primary staff might be gone.  The Met Council comes to mind, as it maintains shelters around the New York City area, and it supplies food to people 365 days a year, and it makes a point to be available around the holidays just so its recipients can feel as if their holidays are special too.

The Workmen’s CircleMultiCareCenter in the Bronx is a rehab center that knows well how people come first even when the Post Office stops delivering.  The caregivers at WCMCC often celebrate their holidays with the men and women who call the Center their home.

Daniel Palmier, Director of the Palmier Foundation has announced $25,000 in donations to the Asian Christian Academy (ACA) matched by his company UC Funds to make up a total of $50,000, as part of his continuing commitment to the organization.

When we recite the Maggid at the Seder we say, “Whoever is hungry, let him come and eat; whoever is in need, let him come and conduct the Seder of Passover.”  Groups like these above do just that and they help anyone who supports them fulfill the mitzvah of Passover.


ronn torossian foundation blog update

Nonprofit PR Success Can be Measured in Different Ways

Event planning is a major part of nonprofit PR. While fundraising may be the central theme of the event, income is not always the true measure of success. There are two basic types of fundraising events. For the purpose of this example we will break them down into Level 1 and Level 2 events. Each has its own pros, cons and measures of success. The type of nonprofit PR that will work best for you depends on which definition of success you choose. Nonprofit PR success can be measured in different ways.

Level 1 events·

Generally smaller and more exclusive· Higher individual participation costLower administrative and marketing costsHigher number or prospective donors

Attendees are more tightly connected to the organization

Higher likelihood of long-term commitment

Examples of Level 1 events include invitation-only galas, black tie dinners, high-end silent auctions and exclusive parties.

Level 2 events

Increase an organization’s visibility to the general public or a specific target market

Take more time and cost more money to plan and execute

Provide a smaller financial return, at least over the short run

Have a lower individual participation cost

Bring higher attendance and increased visibility

Cost more to administrate and advertise

Bring in fewer donor prospects

Attendees have less innate loyalty to the organization

Examples of Level 2 events include art shows; public events; concerts; raffles; and sponsored walks, runs or rides. 5WPR specializes in reputation management, which plays a role in each of these fundraising efforts as well. Organizations interested in Level 1 events might be interested in protecting a previously established reputation. Deep-pocketed donors are attracted because association with these charities can increase social status. Level 2 events are a terrific way to establish or expand a charity’s reputation and reach a greater number of people. Volunteer recruiting is another reason to consider hosting a Level 2 event. Many attendees may not have large amounts of disposable income, but they may have time to contribute.

There is a time and a place for both types of events. A successful nonprofit PR campaign will include plans to market and host events at both levels.

PR Keeps Top US Nonprofits in the Black

Slashed donations force top US charities to get creative. Charity PR can be a tough sell in a down economy. 5WPR like most PR Firms understand that with less to go around, nonprofits are feeling the sting like never before. Even the top charities in the nation are tightening belts and searching for innovative ways to increase donations. Some are borrowing strategies more often implemented by a for-profit corporate PR agency.

Great PR keeps top US non profits in the black.  Take a look at how three of the top ten charities in the US are implementing a marketplace mentality to thrive when donations are down.

YMCA—Rebranding a bold, successful move

Conventional wisdom says a down economy is the right time for a charity to circle the wagons. To trim the fat and tighten belts. Pick your cliché and I’m willing to bet none of them is “engage in rebranding.” But that is exactly what the “Y” has chosen to do. And it’s working. Even through a recession and a rebranding, the “Y” sits at number nine in Forbes list of Top American Charities.

Feeding America —Fundraising efficiency encourages trust

How many times have you sat at your own dinner table and thought: “Gotta make this dollar stretch.” That’s exactly what Feeding America is doing. And they are doing it very, very well. Of the top ten charities they are number one in efficiency. Their score of 98% efficiency attracts donors interested in knowing exactly where their money is going.

United Way—Diversifying to stay relevant increases value

The United Way is the largest charity in the United States. It is also one of the most diverse. By branching out into many areas while still allowing donors to pick what they support, the United Way increases its relevance while recruiting new donors and volunteers.

These strategies have proven to work, even in a rough economy. Borrowed from corporate America, the success of these charity PR strategies provides actionable lessons  for a corporate PR agency like 5WPR directed by Ronn Torossian. So which might work best for you and your organization?