walking dead amc charity

Walking Dead Fans Love this new Charity

Everyone loves a good national phenomenon, so as The Walking Dead continued to blow up,  paid attention. Countless shows launch every season. Few make it more than a season or two. Fewer still explode and imprint on the American culture the way The Walking Dead has. Love it or hate it, you probably have an opinion … or you don’t own a TV.

But did you ever think you would read a headline about television zombie killers getting together to help their fellow man in real life?

Dana Gurira, who plays Michonne on the show, recently teamed up with CrowdRise to give rabid Dead fans the opportunity to attend an exclusive event and win some amazing Walking Dead prizes. Donations of at least ten bucks enter fans into the contest. According to reports, the winner will be flown to New York and put up in a hotel while they await the opportunity to attend the Walking Dead Season 6 premiere at Madison Square Garden. And it gets better … Michonne will be their tour guide on a backstage trip.

In addition to the event, the winners will receive a “zombie hunter training session” including crossbow training, and a “go bag” slammed full of post-apocalyptic survival gear.

So, awesome … but how is this a charitable event? Well, all proceeds will be donated to Almasi Arts Alliance, an organization Gurira cofounded. Almasi’s mission is to “create professional opportunities within the dramatic arts industry” in Gurira’s home country of Zimbabwe.

The contest was debuted with some serious zombie-smoking star power. Dead cast members Michael Cudlitz, Lauren Cohen, and Melissa McBride helped Gurira kick it off with a video announcement.

While having a recognizable face attached to your fundraiser certainly isn’t a necessity – or even a guarantee of success – it can garner your organization the attention it needs to turn a good idea into a success. Sounds obvious, but there are a few qualifiers.

First, don’t pick someone who can negatively impact your brand. Second, look for a “name” that genuinely cares about your cause. Sure, it’s great to have a recognizable face promoting your cause, but it doesn’t help much if the person is obviously reading from a script and painfully faking their way through the content.

Bottom line: celebrity power is good … as long as the enthusiasm is genuine.

Don’t Make it Hard to Give

Recently it was reported that presidential candidate Rand Paul is now accepting Bitcoin campaign donations. This is a first for any POTUS candidate, but even their options are far and above those of many nonprofit organizations. Fearful of PayPal and leery of losing cash to fees, many charities still don’t allow donors to give online. And microdonations?

Never heard of them!

This is sad because all the indicators show that an increasing number of donors want to be able to give not only right from their computer, but right from their smart phone. Recently, at a Habitat For Humanity fundraiser, the emcee let the crowd know they could give on the spot using a specific text message. Those people raised five figures in five minutes just because they asked – and then made it easy. Could your organization use an extra ten grand at your next event? What about more? The easier you make it, the more money you can bring in. It’s just that simple.

And speaking of simple, not all online donation forms are created equal. You need to make the experience as user-friendly as possible. Yes, you will need their name, address and credit card information. But you don’t need to make them start from scratch if they make a mistake. And you don’t need to ask for unnecessary information or volunteer to sign them up for ten newsletters and a parting gift. If they click “submit” with anything on their mind other than the good they’ve done and how much you appreciate it—mission failed.

While all the new options may make you nervous, and, yes, it costs money to build a donation form correctly … most options are safe if you do your homework, and you will likely find that simple donation forms more than cover their cost.

So, ignore the options all you want. Yes, it’s “really not that hard” to mail a check or donate cash, but the reality is, many people in today’s world just don’t want to do it. But they are ready, willing and even eager to click their money right into your account.

Bottom line? Making it seem tough to give means leaving a ton of money on the table. Cash your organization needs to meet or exceed its goals this year.

small budget charity

Effective Small Budget Charity PR

It can be tough to keep the money flowing into a non-profit organization. And, if you are a smaller charity, the challenge is as great as your resources are small. It’s a question all charity PR teams face – how can we get funding if people don’t know about us, and how can we tell people about us if we don’t have the funding?

The answer, of course, is a well-planned, creative and properly executed public relations plan. Long-term goals and honest short-term benchmarks to continue the progress while building for a bigger and better tomorrow.

The first step in the process is shoring up the current connections. If your team is not actively and effectively advocating for your organization, something is broken and must be fixed. At the heart of every PR campaign, no matter the size, is properly executed communication. If your team doesn’t know what to say, how to say it or when to say it – or they lack the motivation to learn, then that problem has to be addressed before any others.

Here’s the thing, even if you get “out there” and get the word out, if people come in and your internal communication is a mess, they will have a negative experience. And, studies have proved, again and again, a negative experience is much worse than no experience at all. When you earn an opportunity – particularly on a shoestring budget – you MUST knock it out of the park. That starts internally, with everyone in your organization being on the same page and living that plan out in all they do for your brand.

Some people will tell you that commenting on blog posts or social media posts is a “good way” to increase your charity PR at no cost. Don’t listen to that. These days, comment threads are like quicksand. People quickly get sucked in. or they easily escape. There is no real interaction with Nameless Faceless co-commenters … unless there is some contention.

Conversely, creating good content for blogs and social media sites is a must in today’s environment. The keyword here is “good.” If your content is Just Like Everything Else, expect people to keep scrolling. You need to be rich, vibrant and eye-catching, you have to leap up and grab their attention – then give them a reason to keep coming back. It’s not good enough to Just Post Something.

Build relationships with the media. If you want your brand to be delivered to a wider audience, you need to build genuine relationships with opinion makers and established content deliverers in your area. Don’t know any? Find a reason to meet them. And the key here, again, is a genuine relationship. The press can spot a leech a mile away.

Give them a reason to connect with you, not ten reasons to run when they see you coming.

Bottom line, managing nonprofit PR on a shoestring budget is not about gimmicks or quick-hitting programs that go nowhere. It’s about a solid, long-term success strategy.

powerful nonprofit pr

10 Powerful PR People in the Non-Profit World

Sometimes it’s hard to separate the people doing non-profit work from those doing the public relations for them. So, though some of those mentioned here may not have a PR title, they are intricately involved in public relations policy as it affects their non-profit organization. This list is not the absolute top 10, but 10 who make a big impact in the non-profit arena. So – in no particular order – just the list as it appears.

1. Bill and Melinda Gates, as co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, run the the world’s largest philanthropic foundation. They specifically enjoy raising and donating funds in the areas of health policy and education all around the globe.

2. Bill McKibben of 350.org. McKibben is an environmental activist and college professor at Middlebury College in Vermont. 350.org’s efforts are focused on revitalizing the climate-change movement. Most recently McKibben has been working to encourage colleges to divest from oil stocks by hosting a global youth conference about climate change in Istanbul, Turkey, taking place May 20-22, 2015.

3. Michael Bloomberg, New York’s former Mayor. He’s a self-made billionaire, and involved with so many important issues.

4. Cristina Jimenez is an immigrant-rights organizer with United We Dream, as the organization’s managing director. United We Dream is a network of youth-led immigrant groups pushing Washington to create a way to citizenship for those who are living in the U.S. illegally.

5. Christine LaGarde is the former French Finance Minister and is currently the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). LaGarde was recently elected as the managing director by member states of the IMF. She is a lawyer and has held many positions of leadership in the French government. In 2014, Forbes named her as the 5th most powerful woman in the world. The IMF has approximately $1 trillion that can be used to help IMF (European) member nations experiencing economic crises.

6. Jim DeMint of the Heritage Foundation is in the position to influence budget battles in Washington DC. The Heritage Foundation is a strong proponent of conservatism and was one of the original backers of the Tea Party movement. Whether you believe in his politics or not, you have to admit that this is a man of power and influence in the non-profit world.

7. Salman Khan is the founder of the Khan Academy. Khan’s father is from Bangladesh and his mother from India, although he was born and raised in Louisiana. The Khan Academy is focused on world education and its website features more than 3,600 videos and practice exercises relating to economics, science, math and other topics. Khan started the organization to tutor his cousins and friends, many living outside the U.S. He is a graduate of MIT with several degrees in mathematics. The Khan Academy has received support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and many other non-profits. Khan’s YouTube educational videos have been viewed hundreds of millions of times.

8. David Skorton is the Secretary of the Smithsonian. Skorton oversees $1.3 billion in funds and 6,300 employees. He is deeply devoted to supporting the arts. Skorton’s efforts outside of his official title are largely based around bringing the attention of world leaders and large foundations to the field of art.

9. Jane Chu is the fairly new in her role as Chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts. Chu travels frequently to make appearances and, as she is becoming better known, those working with her say she is skilled, knowledgeable, and friendly. It is evident that Chu’s influence will be felt deeply in coming years throughout the nonprofit world.

10. Josephine Ramirez is the Program Director of Arts for The James Irvine Foundation. Under Ramirez’s direction, this foundation is working hard to promote and achieve true equity in funding allocations for the arts. She is highly regarded by others in the field for her commitment and understanding of the field. Ramirez has also compiled a remarkable team to help in her efforts as program director for the foundation.

So there you have them, our 10 choices though certainly not the only ones who fit this category. Do you think we missed someone? Tell us who you would add.

ronn torossian on paul stanley from kiss

KISS Superstar says Charity is “not an Option”

Some people who have a lot choose to give a lot. Others less so. But, as Ronn Torossian reports, at least one major music superstar believes “everyone” has the duty to bless others as they have been blessed.

KISS frontman Paul Stanley is deaf in his right ear. No, not because of the music, because he was born with Microtia. Some time back Stanley visited Arabella Carter, a young Canadian girl who was born without external ears. While Carter was in Los Angeles for reconstructive surgery, Stanley was at her bedside offering encouragement and well wishes.

According to coverage of the event, Stanley said: “I think in life, we need to realize that charity is never an option. It’s always an obligation. It’s something we can all do in one way or another. Everybody can’t give the same, but everybody can all give.”

Stanley added that the adage “give until it hurts” was false. “You give until it feels good. Everybody knows what they’re capable of giving, and that’s what you should give.”

As for Stanley, his gifts include financial support for Carter’s costly surgery, a procedure that will not only offer Arabella an appearance she craves but something much more valuable – the gift of hearing. It’s a “gift” Stanley understands very well. He grew up not being able to hear in one ear due to the congenital deformity that comes with Microtia. In the early ‘80s, Stanley had reconstructive surgery to fix the problem.

It’s a touching story as well as a strong statement about nonprofit PR. How is your organization encouraging opportunities to give? Are you available but not noticeable? Does your market placement or your message draw people in and make them want to support what you are doing? If not, something is broken with your system. Either you are reaching the wrong people, your message is flawed…or both.

As Stanley said, everyone can give…and most people want to. But have you answered the question, “why should they give to us?”

grow your charity

How to Generate Interest for your Charity in 2015

No matter how well-intentioned your charity or non-profit organization, you still need the interest and the reach to your target audience. After all, what good is a charity with no donations? Here are some of the best strategies for bringing those good people to your charity.

First, start a blog about your charity.

People love contributing to success stories. In order to generate interest in your success stories, start a blog to tell those stories. This will help to expand your audience as well once you create a link web internally. The major search engines love picking up on blogs that have an .edu suffix, so if your charity is connected to an educational institution, use this trick in your favor.

Second, use social media and lots of visuals.

If your charity needs testimonials, then use pictures and videos in order to create those testimonials. Which of the following would be more attractive to you as a consumer: a page long text block about how great you are or a picture of a smiling group of charity workers in action? Social media is the way to easily get these kinds of images in front of your audience and create a brand for yourself without boring new customers to death.

Third, set up a peer to peer page.

People like to know that the charities they trust are active in the community. If you set up a peer to peer or donation campaign, it is another place to list the accomplishments and the plans of your organization while also building towards the future. It’s not all about the money – it is also about consistent outreach!

Fourth, create viral videos.

Even a charity needs a little humor in its advertising. Create videos to advertise yourself, but do not think of these videos as commercials. Showcase the fun that you are having while working for the benefit of others. Showcase the personalities that your organization has attracted to work there. These elements, if properly organized and kept brief, have the ability to create a viral video that can provide more positive feedback and exposure than any sort of advertising ever could. Use video sharing sites such as Youtube and Dailymotion to get the ball rolling.

Fifth, start a real time channel.

Nothing is better for business than to take people on the real time events that you have. Use apps like Twitch.tv to take your audience with you into the field for authentic charity work.

MacArthur Award Winners Reflect Variety and Commitment

MacArthur Award Winners Reflect Variety and Commitment

When Ronn Torossian reads the list of MacArthur award winners, he sees a nonprofit sector hard at work doing some very good things, and a community doing the “business of doing good” very, very well. But what can we learn from the winners? Torossian explains.

Asistencia Legal por los Derechos Humanos is located in Mexico City and has taken on the quixotic task of fighting to reform the justice system in Mexico. This is a herculean task, but the organization has taken to it with intelligence, awareness and gusto. Their eyes-wide-open approach to this enterprise is a credit to dreamers out there who understand they must also be doers.

From major civic causes to individual community focuses, we shift our attention to Firelight Media. The New York City-based company helps minority documentary filmmakers bring their artistic visions to brilliant life. These pictures spur conversation and make certain issues accessible to a much wider audience. By fulfilling the dreams of a handful of creative young people, Firelight has the power to change our national conversation about important social issues.

Speaking of important social issues, FrameWorks Institute, located in Washington DC, has the lofty goal of helping Americans communicate better when dealing with complex social issues. In addition to helping create a conversation, FrameWorks helps guide the conversation in profitable directions. By focusing on the transmission of information, this organization makes difficult conversations easier and more productive.

From multiple social causes to a single issue that impacts countless Americans, John Howard Association of Illinois, based in Chicago, works to increase the fair treatment of incarcerated individuals in that state. While some would simply chooseto lock them up and throw away the key, the Howard Association understands the complex social issues related to the prison industry in this country, and their organization is working to educate people and promote a culture that values rehabilitation, not regression and repeat offenses.

Each of these awarded organizations has unique challenges, but there are several aspects of their work that make them successful from a PR perspective. Foundationally, they focus on an issue and communicate it in a way that both brands the organization and helps potential donors or volunteers know exactly what they do – and why they might care – immediately. This vital public relations skill is one far too many charities – and for-profit ventures for that matter – miss completely, much to their detriment.

Ronn Torossian Bill Gates

Bill Gates just Changed the game – Again!

A recent article in Forbes proclaimed, “Bill Gates is about to unveil the most powerful tool in the history of social activism.” Well, if someone were going to be the name in that headline, Gates certainly fits the bill. But what is this “most powerful tool” and how is the billionaire Microsoft founder and philanthropist involved? Ronn Torossian breaks it down.

Each year since 2009, Bill Gates has sent out an annual “goals and accomplishments” letter regarding his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation plans and successes. Some have called it, not without fondness, Bill’s Christmas Letter. It’s a specific and encompassing missive detailing current and ongoing projects and what the Foundation has on its plate for the coming year.

The coming year. As in, short term plans. But not this year. For 2015, Mr. Gates decided to blow our collective minds by unleashing a comprehensive and highly ambitious outline for Gates Foundation projects spanning the next 15 years. What is this plan, and how will it impact you? What makes it, as Forbes says: “the most powerful tool in the history of social activism?”

This protocol is designed to “immediately supercharge” the way social activists create change. This is not more money funneled into projects. It’s not a fundraiser at all. It’s a resource creator and “many hands” machine. Here’s how it works:

This specific fund, working entirely through the Gates Foundation, will, “commit to fund the creation of a massive, self-regulated database of ‘global citizens’ whose mission it will be to list, explain and connect to the topics and causes that interest them.”

In other words, Gates is creating a massive marketing list for anyone who wants to get stuff done for the good of humanity. The single number one issue all nonprofit organizations face is skilled volunteers committed to the cause enough to work and continue working, even when results are not immediate. Sure, they can get hands to do some work, but the difficulty in recruiting and keeping skilled and committed volunteers and even staff – is incredible. The vision of this platform is to create a place where nonprofit recruiters can go to find the help they need. Qualified, eager volunteers who have already taken the step to announce their intentions and areas of interest.

But what if no one signs up? Well, that doesn’t seem to be an issue. According to Forbes, Gates says if current trends continue, more than ten million will have already signed up by this summer. Think about that. TEN MILLION volunteers automatically connected with those who desperately need their involvement. Revolutionary? Gates just redefined the word…and the world.