charity pr

This Athlete just Wowed that Charity

Judy Kegel, a member of the Lancaster Country Club hosting the U.S. Women’s Open in July this year, and won by In Gee Chun (affectionately called Dumbo because of her extraordinary hearing). After the event, Kegel sent a note to Ms. Chun asking her to sign a golf flag as something to be auctioned in their annual fundraiser to benefit Lancaster Cancer patients.

Kegel was happy to receive the flag, but the good news kept coming, Chun had signed not one, but three flags, an autographed photo of her holding the Winner’s Cup, and a check for $10,000. Chun won over $800,000 when she came out on top at the Open, but she also grew up in very poor circumstances in South Korea. So Kegel knew the money was above and beyond for a place Chun had been for only one and a half weeks during the tournament.

Chun and her coach, Won Park, both sent notes with the package. Chun mentioned how much she had enjoyed her time in Lancaster, feeling welcomed, and shared her feelings that the cancer patients were the true heroes. The coach said Chun regretted more could not be contributed to the cause.

Kegel kept the gift secret except for creating a new category of sponsors for the annual Swim and Swing Fundraiser – Diamond Level. So when she was able to announce it at their celebratory dinner and share the story, donating one of the flags to the club, one went for auction at the fundraiser for about $700. And one is waiting for the right moment and place to go – possibly at another auction to benefit those in need of health care services in Lancaster. Chun’s gift was their largest of the year so far.

If Chun has the opportunity to return to their community again, there is no doubt she will feel even more welcomed by them at succeeding visits. Her gift was gracious and generous and should be commended. Many people give to the places they grew up or the schools they attended. Ms. Chun made her swing count on the green grass that wasn’t home.

Pope Charity PR

The Pope embraces charity PR

Pope Francis’ first visit to the U.S. has been marked by extremes. He spoke to Congress with all its pomp, then he rushed to a Catholic Charities lunch at the Archdiocese of Washington DC, feeding local families. The program ensures many families get a hot, nutritious meal on a regular basis.

The meal was prepared keeping in mind the Pope’s favorite foods. But he never got a chance to eat the Asian chicken pasta salad, carrots, red peppers, a roll, lemonade or one of the scrumptious brownies. Instead, he spent his time visiting with the 500 attending – shaking hands, kissing babies, and bestowing blessings. Spending precious moments lavishing a kind touch and comforting words on the sometimes broken-hearted people living in tough circumstances.

In New York City, he again touched lives, leading a crowd of about 80,000 people through Central Park parade style, and then later holding Mass in Madison Square Gardens with about 18,000 in attendance. One observer noted it was probably the most respectful crowd the Gardens has ever seen. Then he quietly met with many family members of the 3,000 who died on 9/11 at a service on the memorial grounds, remembering the solemn nature of the location.

At times, Pope Francis seemed deeply wearied from the exertions of this trip and having to forego physical therapy he’s been receiving for his knee and ongoing sciatica problems. But then came his moments doing things he loves best, meeting with the individuals, spending time with the children, these recharged his battery, making it easier for him to give speeches to Congress and the U.N.

He enjoyed time with children at Our Lady Queen of Angels School, in the middle of a heavily Hispanic project neighborhood in East Harlem. The “slum” Pope, as he has been dubbed, engaged in happy Spanish chatter with the children, including his first experience using a touch-screen computer after receiving an impromptu lesson from an 8-year-old. In the School’s gymnasium he visited with 150 immigrants and refugees, some not legally in the U.S., speaking about his dream that children everywhere have the opportunity of a good education.

And to the U.N. he admonished leaders to consider the rights of nature not to be ravaged for greed and power, a new idea in his social teachings.

All-in-all, the Pope’s ability to move people to action and draw a crowd remains strong. Also, his love for those less fortunate continues to shine in the words he speaks, but more importantly in the things he does, wherever he travels. This guy appears to live his PR wherever he goes.

Philadelphia Sixers

Sixers Donate Millions to Local Charity

When you have enough money to live like Scrooge McDuck, sometimes people write you off, figuring you for the sort that just can’t be bothered helping others. Ironically, though, it’s the mega-rich that often make some of the most incredible donations. Case in point: the owner of the Philadelphia 76ers NBA franchise recently gave $3.5 million to the Philadelphia Police Athletic League.

Youth sports leagues often struggle for funding. They are some of the best conduits for troubled kids to get off the streets and find something positive to do with their time and talent. But too often, they are left to struggle, begging for donations from those who are already strapped for cash.

Joshua Harris, though, is hardly hurting for money. The University of Pennsylvania grad is making the donation via a family foundation he’s associated with. Harris told the media he “feels an obligation” to find a way to give back to this community. “All of us who have done well in our lives, we have the responsibility to give back and to allow other people to do so. I myself grew up playing sports, and it lifted me,” Harris told a local Philly TV station.

Now Harris is giving back where it’s needed most. Eighteen of the PAL locations are within city districts with the highest crime rates and worst poverty. These kids see the road they could go down every day. Sports gives them a way up and a way out. They can learn healthy competition, learn discipline and delayed gratification. How to invest and how to succeed long term. These skills can motivate them to look past the easy bucks on the corner and toward real life.

Think that’s just propaganda? Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said the Police Athletic League helps lower crime. It focuses kids on positive activities and gives them something worthwhile to strive for – it keeps them off the mean streets.

Just how big is Harris’ donation? Well, it exceeds the entire net revenue for the PAL organization in 2013. By more than a million dollars. According to reports, the grant will be distributed over five years, ensuring that local Philly kids have a fun place to play well into the next decade.

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.

charity security - ronn torossian foundation

California Invests in Charity Security

When you give to any charity, no matter how good the cause, there are two questions donors ask: How much is the cause actually getting, and is my donation safe?

These days, this latter question is getting more attention than ever. Between hackers and technology miscues and plain ol’ vanilla human error, data is being lost, stolen and misused at a record pace. To combat this trend and reassure donors in one of the richest states in the nation, California Governor Jerry Brown recently budgeted up to $2 million to help fund security at various nonprofit organizations deemed to be “at risk” of violent attack.

According to certain media outlets, this latest state program designed to help increase security in order to calm fears experienced by many nonprofit institutions that may become targets of radical Islamists. Many local groups are jumping on board to support the program. In one report, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles is said to have led the effort to create the new funding program. They will match the amount allocated to California by a similar federal nonprofit security initiative.

From a public relations perspective, it is always good news when you can say your organization is more secure. But, that alone, is not the best way to couch that statement. Left like that, receivers will inevitably ask: “More secure than what?” Therein lies the rub.

For example, if you are “more secure” than other similar organizations, awesome. Nearly as good is, “more secure than we once were.” People love improvement. Particularly when that improvement makes them feel their money is safer.

However, you don’t want to be just plain “more secure.” While, on the surface that sounds inviting and comforting. When you scratch that surface, you get nonspecific insecurity. People want to know, ‘well, what’s not secure, then’, and if you don’t have an answer, woe unto you. Because of this potential for a fear reaction due to a lack of information, it is always better to give people a direction to point their fear and a place to apply their relief and feelings of security.

Bottom line, when you are talking about getting better, be specific about what improved.

budweiser charity

Budweiser: King Of Beer And Kings Of Caring

Budweiser styles its brand the King of Beers, and a recent decision by the brand proves they are the King of Hearts too. Recently, massive floods killed people and destroyed homes and towns in Texas and Oklahoma. Many people left their homes with little more than the clothes on their backs. Transportation was impossible with flooded roads filling cars and rising water pushing everything, including the asphalt, off in its wake.

Many charities and businesses stepped in to help those affected by this disaster, including Anheuser-Busch. The company paused beer production at its Georgia brewery to produce drinking water instead. More than 50,000 cans of life-sustaining water were filled at the Cartersville brewery and delivered to the American Red Cross for disaster relief.

Speaking to NBC News, Cartersville brewery manager Rob Haas said, “Right now our production line is running emergency drinking water instead of beer. It’s something we’re uniquely positioned to do in a very timely period.”

Shortly after the switch was made on the production line, 2,000 cases of much-needed water were on their way to the communities in Texas and Oklahoma that needed it most. Red Cross spokesman Jordan Scott told the media the water was “critical” to relief efforts.

Reports of the move also proved to offer positive PR for Anheuser-Busch. While the company and its lines of beer are already wildly popular, they did not have to make this decision. Certainly, many competitors did not. However, because the company had a “unique opportunity” they acted on it.

Sometimes the difference between a neutral message and positive public relations can come down to the simple decision to Do Something Good when others are simply going about business as usual. Now, this is not to say that no other brands helped out. Many did. But few in so public and integral a way as this. In a week full of tragic news and horror stories, Budweiser stepped up and gave us a reason to smile, to say thank you, and to marvel at how one company can make a huge difference with a simple decision to act.

volunteer engagement - ronn torossian foundation

Keeping your Volunteers Engaged

Ronn Torossian believes one of the surefire ways to keep your nonprofit venture healthy and growing is to keep your volunteer pool healthy and growing. If you can keep your workers engaged in the work and the mission, you will likely achieve some measure of success. However, if your pool waxes and wanes, or your methods create a revolving door of volunteers, expect at best no growth. Keep that up for long enough and your work will wither and die on the vine.

Bottom line, your volunteers have a specific set of skills you need to keep your operation…operational. Even if you can find similarly qualified candidates, the endless training, retraining and recruiting will steal too much of your time, artificially handicapping your success. So, how can you ensure that your volunteer base stays engaged and excited?

First, make it about them. Not the cause, necessarily, but allow them to grab some ownership of whatever they are doing. Your messages should be inclusive and generously appreciative. Let them know, often and specifically, what you can accomplish with their help. But you must also communicate in a way that engages your volunteers. If they love mobile, you must go mobile. If they are stuck in last century, don’t be afraid to send out letters or make “thank you” phone calls.

A word about this… far too many organizations assume how their volunteers communicate. They take how they and their friends do it and just do it that way. Or, in some cases, they are unaware of other alternatives that may be a better fit. While there is no blanket “right” or “wrong” way to do this, there is a right or wrong way to communicate in your organization.

Do not ignore social media, but please, do it right. Social media is one of the greatest tools and most notorious time-wasters of our age. While “everybody” uses it, most everybody is not using it properly. Social media can be a tremendous tool to keep your volunteers, fans and donors attached to your organization IF you manage your resources well. If you don’t know how to do that, DO NOT GUESS. Every mistake is time wasted you will not get back. Instead, invest in someone who knows what they are doing, maybe even a team of skilled volunteers.

In the end, the “secret” here is simple. Keep people engaged by learning what they want and need to hear and then delivering that information in a way they understand. Speak their language, and they will keep the conversation going.


What’s your 5-year Nonprofit Plan?

A recent article in Fast Company projected what it may take to secure a nonprofit job in 2020 (only five years from now!). This market research paints a telling picture of what the nonprofit landscape will look like in the years to come.

The nonprofit market is growing, both in demand and opportunity. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 11% more college grads took jobs with nonprofits in 2009 compared to just the prior year. Conversely, growth in the nonprofit sector was only 2% between 2000 and 2010. How do we get numbers like this? Many market watchers point to the well-publicized desire of Millennials to do work that makes a difference, work that is important to them. This drive often includes considering jobs in the nonprofit sector because of the direct connection between effort and positive results relative to a cause they support.

Another thing Millennials bring to the nonprofit picture is a familiarity with technology that focuses on experience. The days when a website or social media presence depended strictly on sticky content are fast disappearing. Content is still vital, but today’s young professionals are looking for experiential content, not static content. They want to be moved or inspired or entertained. Not preached at or downloaded on.

This dynamic should signal a key change in the marketing and human resource infrastructure of nonprofits hoping to engage younger people. If you are looking to connect with or hire today’s 20 or 30 somethings, you better bring the experience. Anything else will be foreign or outdated to them.

Crowdfunding and micro-funding are also changing the marketplace. This will be a big shift for most established nonprofits. These organizations have learned to be dependent on big ticket donors and fundraising dinners, golf tournaments and gala events. These all still work, but there’s a generation coming up that would much rather connect a different way. They want to give, but they don’t want to schmooze, and they don’t golf. They do, however, generously support what they care about.

You might be reading this and feel yourself resisting. If that’s the case, consider this: in the next five years the market will completely change. Millennials will make up about half the workforce by 2020. If you don’t know how to communicate with them, you will cut your market by half. Can you afford that?