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 on Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday Works for Nonprofits

First there was Black Friday. Then there was Cyber Monday. Then, finally, came the Most Wonderful Day of the Year for many American nonprofits, Giving Tuesday. Ronn Torossian explains:

The concept started as both an extension and a response to America’s bacchanal of avarice in the days after Thanksgiving. Giving Tuesday exploded onto the scene with a passion, motivating millions to counterbalance their getting with a healthy dose of giving.

This year, according to recently released numbers, nonprofit groups took in nearly $46 million on Giving Tuesday.

The movement has, by and large, been driven by social media campaigns and reflects the nearly limitless potential that can be found in crowdfunding and online giving. Begun in 2012, the movement included about 2,500 groups receiving about $13.5 million. The numbers were up about 63 percent in 2013. More than 15,000 nonprofit groups participated this year. Nearly 700,000 tweets were sent mentioning Giving Tuesday. Talk about viral!

From a PR and marketing perspective, the success is largely about connecting with a convergence of consumer attention, ease of use, and personal will. People WANT to give after spending so much on themselves. They are ready to do something altruistic. The online forum makes it easy and the social media push increases peer pressure to participate. All of this comes together to present a tremendous opportunity for organizations who are smart enough to take advantage of it and wise enough to maximize the opportunity.

Unfortunately, far too many nonprofit organizations fail to understand or realize the potential in both online donations and crowdfunding. They are unsure about the benefits or unaccustomed to the medium or simply stuck on “This Is How We Do Things.”

Well, for those organizations, here’s your wake up call. 15,000 groups split about $46 million dollars. You could have been one of them. Now you have to wait until next year. What do you plan to do about it?

Ronn Torossian on Local Non-Profits

4 Ways Businesses can Benefit Local Nonprofits  

This might not come as a shock to you, but businesses can be a tremendous source of support for local nonprofits. Of course, you knew that already. But Ronn Torossian wonders if you’ve taken full advantage of those opportunities … or are you leaving resources untouched and money on the table?

While nonprofits depend on grants and donations, the percentage of GDP allocated to donations has rarely topped 2 percent. Seriously, 2 percent. That’s an incredibly small piece of the pie to be divided out among all the legitimate charitable organizations. Particularly when so much of the donated funding goes toward global or national issues. What’s a small, local nonprofit to do?

Well, truth is, you already have a good idea about how the businesses can help, but do you know how to connect with local business leaders in meaningful ways? Here are four ways to connect in ways that could lead to long-term relationships.

Find out what they love

People want to be connected to things that matter to them. So look for people who are already interested in the causes that you champion. In addition, put out feelers and general invitations to specific causes and events. Certain people will be attracted to specific things. Find your support by finding people who share your passion.

Do What you DO Well

Don’t look like a loser and act like a failure. Carry yourself with both passion and professionalism. Business owners and successful entrepreneurs like to be associated with success. Even if you are small and just getting started, you need to do what you do well. You need someone on your team that’s more than a dreamer. You need dreamers and truth tellers in your inner circle. Not naysayers, just realists. They will help you succeed in ways that make a difference to business owners.

Build Relationships within the Community

Don’t hide in your office. Get involved. Be noticed and be approachable. And don’t waste these opportunities. Instead of always selling, invest in others and what they are doing. It’s tough when you are so excited or engaged in something to keep it out of your mouth, but you must. Otherwise folks will stop taking your calls and your invitations will all get lost in the mail.

Make Specific Requests

While some people just give because they give, business owners are all about specifics. Their success comes from doing a lot of specific things well, and they will appreciate it if you are on the same wavelength. Plus, making a specific request forces you to keep it specific, short, and digestible. Business owners don’t have time for you to waste, and they appreciate it when they don’t have to tell you that.

top-non-profits

Top Nonprofits and what Makes them Great

Most people working for or associated with a nonprofit organization will tell you that they choose to be a part of that organization because it represents something that they are passionate about. For many people, the mission of a nonprofit is reason enough to get involved. There is more to being a great nonprofit organization than the mission explains Ronn Torossian. According to Torossian, there are countless minute things that top nonprofits do to make them great, and this is what helps the missions of these nonprofits to be successful.

One of the top five nonprofits is the Wounded Warrior Project. This organization’s mission is to help and raise awareness for wounded veterans. People associated with this organization cite one of the reasons for the organization’s success as being fair to its employees in regards to pay and benefits. Employees are not only passionate about their work, but they also feel they are compensated well.

The American Heart Institute is cited as one of the most organized nonprofits, and this contributes to it being one of the top five best nonprofit organizations. Organization and leadership are essential for keeping any organization running smoothly, but it is especially important for nonprofits that utilize countless volunteers each year.

Year Up is a great nonprofit that excels in the area of growth. Nonprofit organizations need to be able to spread their message in order to gain support and further their mission. Year Up accomplishes this by reaching out to benefit the community and communicating their actions clearly.

Finally, the Public Health Institute is one of top five great nonprofits due to excellent planning. While planning is important for any organization, nonprofits need to plan especially well to handle numerous volunteers, charity events, and donation collections.

All in all, each of these top five nonprofits implements similar strategies that have led to them being great. They offer fair salaries and benefits to employees, communicate regularly with anyone involved in the organization, keep things organized, focus on growth, and excel at planning. These strategies are essential for any nonprofit to be successful.

Raises for Charity Employees a Hot Nonprofit PR Topic

When you do a good job, you deserve a reward, right? In a typical corporate scenario, you would get a raise or better benefits or more seniority and responsibility. But in a nonprofit situation, that “easy decision” can lead to some difficult conversations. Ronn Torossian explains how nonprofits can reward their vital employees without damaging their charity PR.

There’s no doubt that, as a charity, you have to be as innovative and circumspect in how you use your resources as possible. Every cent is measured and every expenditure is scrutinized. That’s one reason this kind of work is not for everyone. They tell you to expect to have to do more with less, but you have no way of knowing just how true that can be … until you are in that situation.

So, let’s say you have a handful of truly valuable employees. They are dedicated to the cause, but you know they could get more money in a corporate job. They know it, too. Then someone makes an offer, and the employee, not wanting to leave, brings it to you. What are your options? Do you let them go and hope to replace them, or do you try to find room in the budget to at least give them more than they are getting now?

When it all boils down to money, and that money is coming from the generosity of others who are watching you very closely, what do you do? While the norm for raises in the corporate world might be 3 to 5 percent, even that pittance would be questioned in your position.

But there is another way. If your organization is one that sees peaks and valleys in donations throughout the year, you might want to consider variable pay or “bonuses.” Generally, when your organization just took in a big payday, donors will be more willing to part with extra funds to reward deserving employees. You can choose to distribute these funds immediately, or budget them throughout the year, as a de facto weekly raise.

That way, instead of reporting an across the board raise, you can report a performance bonus for work over and above the call of duty. That’s rewarding generosity with generosity … always a good idea.

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Why do People Work for Non-Profits?

Recently, national charity watchdog, Non Profit News, published its list of the “best non-profits to work for.” Ronn Torossian CEO and Founder of 5W Public Relations wondered what criteria the publication used to determine its winners, and how that work environment translated to success both in public relations, and in the marketplace.

Right out of the gate, NPT admitted that the mission is one of the foremost reasons people choose to take their talents to a non-profit organization. People seek out a company or organization with shared values, and a common mission. Nothing terribly revealing about that… but what other reasons would a good employee prospect have for picking a particular company.

Let’s get the easy one out of the way up front. People like to work for a company that offers  good pay, and a good benefits package. Sure, many non-profits might offer lower base salaries for comparative responsibility at a for profit business, but they can meet that gap with performance incentives, and other tangible benefits.

Now, let’s dig into the meat and potatoes of what not only attracts the brightest and best, but keeps them there. Torossian said he was not surprised to see good communication on the list. In organizations that make it a habit to ask staff what they want, and do their best to keep them on top of what’s happening in the company, employees are happier and report feeling more fulfilled. They love knowing what their work is accomplishing, particularly when that work is tied directly to some specific Good Work.

Another important factor for non-profit employees is an element of inherent challenge and reward. Employees who opt to work in charities tend to be more prone to wanting to solve big problems. They want to learn more, and have the chance to grow into bigger and better versions of themselves. The daily job of tackling impossible, or at least, perpetual, challenges fits this bill quite nicely.

SO… how is your organization advertising these benefits to your ideal candidates or, even, volunteers?

volunteers ronn torossian

Three Ways to Inspire Your Volunteers

There are many organizations, groups, and companies that need volunteers. Volunteers are the lifeblood of many non-profits’ daily grind. They make sure that your organization runs smoothly, and they are essential for getting things done. Despite their importance though, many volunteers go unnoticed, or are forgotten about, in the grand scheme of things. Volunteers are essential to your organization; they are much more than just cheap or free labor for a good cause.

Inspired volunteers are advocates of the work you are trying to accomplish. Committed volunteers are the best public relations program you can enact for your organization. Conversely,  if they don’t feel appreciated, you may lose some of your biggest fans. Keeping them inspired using these tips is a great way to keep them coming back and spreading the word about how amazing your organization is to volunteer for.

Make your Volunteers Feel Included

One of the reasons volunteers do not feel invested in a project, and may not contribute as much, is because they do not feel like they are truly a part of what is going on. As soon as a new volunteer joins your organization, make sure that they are introduced to the other volunteers and staff. After they are settled in, listen to their ideas and opinions so that they truly become a part of your organization.

Offer Volunteers Flexibility

Sometimes, it is easy to forget that volunteers have lives outside of the organization. Many of your volunteers will have full-time jobs and families in addition to volunteering. Expecting your volunteers to constantly give up those other commitments is a quick way to lose them. Instead, utilize a tailored schedule that give volunteers enough notice about times they are needed so that they do not need to rearrange other commitments.

Share Accomplishments and Milestones within the Organization

One of the reasons that many people volunteer is that they want to make a difference. If volunteers never hear that your organization is making progress, then they will become discouraged in their work. In addition, recognizing the accomplishments of individual volunteers within the organization is also a great idea for motivating, and inspiring volunteers.