Charities are a business. This might seem so simple as to be redundant, but countless polls have shown that, particularly in tough economic times, people still expect the services offered by charities…but often want someone else to pay for them. This attitude is nothing new in politics where the numbers are so skewed as to often seem surreal. But the bottom line for even the largest international charities is measured in more stark realities.
These real numbers motivate charities to seek representation from major NY PR firms and national press relations agencies. But, wonder some donors, is investing in these companies, which traditionally serve larger for-profit entities, the best use of charity funds? As a New York publicist who not only handles not-for-profit clients but also manages my own charitable foundation, I will tell you the answer is “maybe.”
It is true that the PR business is traditionally geared toward promoting the brands and communicating the messages of for-profit companies. These entities often have dedicated advertising budgets and are generally more willing to risk these funds on longer-term returns. In contrast, non-profit entities often have tighter financial expenditure restrictions and generally expect more immediate returns. But just because the public relations business has a more obvious commercial application, this is no reason to discount the potential positive impact a well-known New York publicist can have on a not-for-profit’s cash flow.
But why “maybe?”
Charities cannot afford to think like for-profit entities all the time. But when it comes to public “face” and brand management, non-profits must aggressively protect their public name and use targeted and varied PR campaigns to develop and protect a unique public image. Crafted correctly, PR efforts toward this end can hugely benefit a charity’s bottom line and make the donation funds invested money well spent.