How Charitable Partnerships Can Boost a Brand’s Profile

We’ve talked before about the importance of community impact for businesses both large and small. In any community, there are a wide array of ways to get involved and help improve that community for those living and working in it.

Forming charitable partnerships is another way to get involved and improve the community around a business. Of course, businesses can provide support in ways that individuals cannot to a nonprofit or charity. But these partnerships should always be done with tact and taste — the opposite effect can easily happen if a move is done for seemingly ulterior motives.

Finding the Right Charitable Partnership

When selecting a charitable partnership for a business, there are many things to consider. One of these factors is what charity or nonprofit to partner with. Here are some considerations for this decision:

  •     Core values and mission of the business
  •     Nonprofits that align with these core values naturally
  •     Reputation of nonprofit and of the supporting business
  •     Required budget to support a charitable partnership
  •     End goal of charitable partnership

Core values lie at the heart of a business’ purpose. These values are important. They give consumers a look at the belief and value systems of those in executive positions, and they provide a roadmap of how a business conducts itself in public dealings.

With that in mind, it’s equally important for a business to align itself with a nonprofit that also values the same ideas. The purpose and mission of the nonprofit must also make sense. For example, a leather goods company may not look the best if it were to support PETA, nor would PETA be likely to accept their partnership proposal. This is, of course, an extreme example, but it shows that a partnership should be genuine, not self-serving or just “for looks”.

Forming a Charitable Partnership

Once a business has selected a nonprofit to enter into a partnership with, it’s time to figure out exactly what that partnership is going to look like.

Not every partnership has to look the same. Remember, this has to be a beneficial arrangement for both the business and, more importantly, for the nonprofit. Whether the support is financial, in the form of volunteer help, or other services provided, it’s important to set clear expectations and guidelines for the new partnership. Contracts are helpful in this situation, to protect all parties involved.

Before jumping in, take the time to form a strategy about how a business can best assist a nonprofit. Perhaps a marketing agency can offer its services to a local animal shelter each month. Or maybe an event planning portal can donate a portion of the proceeds to local community programs in an effort to create a safer neighborhood in which to host events. Maybe a local consultant can jump on board to help plan a fundraiser for a nonprofit. The possibilities are endless!

Finding creative ways to help out is important too — it doesn’t always have to just be about writing a big check. In fact, finding other ways to get involved is often even more helpful, especially for under-staffed nonprofits.

Aligning business with a nonprofit is a smart move for many reasons, but the biggest motivator should always be the betterment of community or the helping of others. From this motivation can come a great, fulfilling partnership on both sides.

Three Ways Charities can Improve Social Media

In terms of developing a strong and cohesive social media strategy, charities usually come across more hurdles due to the limitations in funding. However, the accessibility and ease of the internet has resulted in most charities utilizing social media to raise awareness, drive traffic to their websites, and promote events and publications.

Here are some practical tips for charities to improve visibility, engagement and fundraising efforts:

Know your audience inside out

Get to know every detail about the community you’re addressing – from demographics to hobbies to habits. Profiling is a crucial aspect of a tailoring content when it comes to formulating a strong communication strategy. What is their age group? Where do they live? How do they spend their weekends?

WWF, or the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, was able to use profiling to its advantage. The nonprofit wanted to engage and educate the younger generation on wildlife and environmental concerns. After understanding their audiences habits and preferred social platforms, WWF used SnapChat as the means to distribute their message about how the urgency of protecting endangered species.

Make friends within the industry

Build a strong network of friends within the industry to create mutually beneficial relationships. Reach out to journalists, bloggers, and influencers with a similar audience and work with them to spread your message.

Getting celebrities to use their far-reaching voice can be a great way to get some publicity. The animal right organizations PETA has done this quite effectively by featuring the likes of Naomi Campbell and Alexandra Burke in their birthdays suits saying “I’d rather go naked than wear fur.”

The rise of Corporate Social Responsibility has led to more corporations seeking to give back to society, often through charitable partnerships. This creates a win-win situation, where charities can benefit from the influence and access to funds. The most important thing to keep in mind when engaging in a strategic partnership is to make sure that the values of the company, individual or celebrity are aligned with your brand.

Create a buzz

Creating a buzz around campaigns doesn’t always require fat wallet. You can build a lot of momentum in your campaign by thinking outside the box with unique, creative and unconventional ideas -think of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Messaging that is humorous or has shock value to it is often shared at a much higher rate than messages that incite emotional reactions from the audience.

In 2013, UNICEF Sweden’s campaign was successful in creating a shockwave through its ‘Likes Do Not Save Lives’ campaign, which highlighted the need for the audience to go beyond social media to create a difference. This campaign highlighted the need for explicit calls to action.

There are various things to take into account if you want to make a splash with your campaign. For instance, it’s important to target various platforms to create a larger buzz. Using videos can also be beneficial in reaching and engaging an audience. YouTube is your best friend when it comes to storytelling.

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Brad Pitt’s Foundation Facing Lawsuit

Sometimes, tying a famous name to a charity work can put a big target on that organization. If everything goes well, it’s great PR, but if things go poorly, for whatever reason, there’s that famous name in the headline.

A recent example of this is an Associated Press story in which the Make it Right Foundation is being sued over homes built in places that were devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The famous name associated with Make it Right? Brad Pitt.

The A-list Hollywood actor’s name was all over the headlines recently because of the lawsuit, which was filed on the behalf of residents of New Orleans Ninth Ward, which was one of the areas hardest hit by flooding after the hurricane. Their attorney, Ron Austin, was all over local media talking about “sicknesses, headaches, and infrastructure issues…”

Of course, Pitt’s name was mentioned prominently in all the reports. According to the story, Pitt created the foundation about two years after Katrina and hired “award-winning architects” to rebuild communities that had been scoured away by wind and fast-moving flood waters. The organization planned to build 150 new homes, billing them as “storm-safe, solar-powered, and green.” Residents could purchase the relatively affordable housing through a combination of government grants, resettlement financing, and donations from the Make It Right Foundation.

At least, that was the plan. But things didn’t quite work out that way. A decade after the first ground was broken on the project, 110 house have been built, and some are, reportedly, already falling apart. The attorney, Austin, complained of mildew, roof leaks, and sagging porches… “Essentially, Make It Right was making a lot of promises to come back and fix the homes that they initially sold these people and have failed to do so…”

So, in an effort to help devastated hurricane victims, Brad Pitt has harnessed himself and his brand to a PR catastrophe. Images of frustrated families, who already suffered unimaginable horror and loss, have been tied to his image.

In response, the Foundation sued the lumber company that provided a lot of the suspect wood, but there’s no news about how or if that suit was settled. Through all of this, Pitt has chosen to focus on the bright side, telling local media:

“I get this swell of pride when I see this little oasis of color and the solar panels… I drive into the neighborhood and I see people on their porch, and I ask them how is their house treating them? And they say, ‘Good.’ And I say ‘What’s your utility bill?’ And they’ll throw something out like, ‘24 bucks’ or something, and I feel fantastic.”

That position may not be one he’s able to hold for much longer. The recent headlines marking the demolition of one of the Make It Right houses brought this issue back into the spotlight even before the lawsuit hit the headlines. The demo, according to the media, was in response to neighbors complaining of the eyesore. In response, Make it Right, though not Pitt, responded with this statement:

“Our homeowners’ well-being and privacy are some of our top priorities and we work closely with them to address their concerns… Each situation is different and we are currently coordinating the necessary follow up with the appropriate parties to address any areas of concern.”

Given the direction this narrative is going, they may want to consider “coordinating” faster… and shifting to a more empathetic message.


The Importance of Giving to Charity

While many people like to think that they’d give money to charity if they only earned a little more each month, the truth is that the majority of people will struggle to donate to the causes they truly care about.

Either they simply forget about those causes over time, or they can’t quite justify giving their money away when they don’t see any tangible returns as a result. However, the truth is that donating to charity can have a huge impact on the world that we live in.

Millions of people around the world give to charity on a regular basis, because they know that every donation – no matter how small, can make a world of difference. Here are just some of the reasons why it’s so important for everyone to consider giving a little more to charity.

1. Giving Feels Good

Perhaps the best reason to give money to charity – besides the fact that it helps to support a cause you care about – is that giving feels good. Donating to charity can seriously boost a person’s mood, because it means that they’re helping others to accomplish incredible things. In fact, research into altruism has found a definitive link between making a donation and increased activity in the part of the brain that registers pleasure.

2. Donations Strengthen Personal Values

People give to charity for a range of different reasons. The most common reason to give is caring about a particular cause. However, there’s also a voice in most people’s head that tells them they should be giving something back to the community they live in. The truth is that we all have the power to improve the lives of others.

Even people who can’t afford to donate can support charities by giving their time and raising funds in their own unique way. Donating to charity can help to make people a better version of themselves, by strengthening their moral code.

3. Giving Sets a Good Example

Another reason why giving to charity is so important, is that it sets a good example to future generations. When children see their parents and siblings giving something back, they learn an important habit of generosity as they begin to grow up.

Children naturally love helping others, so nurturing this innate sense of giving is a great way for today’s adults to nourish a new generation of people who are more supportive to their fellow man.

4. There are Tax Deductions for Giving

While the best reason to give often isn’t to get something back in return – it’s worth noting that that people can earn tax deductions when they donate to a charity approved by the IRS. However, there are certain restrictions to keep in mind here.

For instance, donators should check to make sure that the charity they’re donating to is actually IRS approved before they start claiming the money they give on their tax returns.

5. Improve Money Management

Finally, giving to charity can be a great way for some people to improve their money management abilities. After all, if someone knows that they’re going to be scheduling a donation for $50 a month to a particular charity, they’ll push themselves to be more attentive when checking their own finances. This can make it easier to reduce spending and improve budgeting.

Simple Marketing & Communication Tips for Nonprofits

Charities and non-profit organizations – just like any other company out there today, are trying desperately to raise visibility for their group – so that they can succeed in their mission, whatever it might be.

This means that, like other businesses, they’re also employing communication strategies to help them bring their message to the world. Often, non-profit companies face many of the same challenges as their for-profit peers, including the high level of competition in the marketplace today.

The good news for many charities, is that they do have one significant advantage of their counterparts – credibility. Non-profit entities are often seen as more transparent and trustworthy than corporate businesses.

However, no matter how noble a nonprofit’s mission might be, if it’s not marketed correctly, then it’s impossible for that organization to get the support and funding it needs to thrive. The following marketing and communication best practices may be able to help.

1.  Success is all About Strategy

One of the biggest mistakes nonprofits make involves trying to use a series of poorly-connected or badly planned communication activities to drive their goals. Unfortunately, this can make it incredibly difficult for them to measure the success of their campaigns and improve the ROI of their marketing budgets. By starting every marketing or communications project with a solid strategy in mind – nonprofits can improve their chances of success and enhance their ability to achieve long-term objectives.

2. Focus on Storytelling

One of the things that makes non-profits so interesting to the consumer world, is the fact that they have a clear purpose and vision. In fact, many modern corporations are taking a leaf out of the non-profit book by building their own narrative to potentially improve customer relationships. Non-profits who want to be successful in their marketing and communications campaigns need to think carefully about how they can tell their story to the community they serve.

The good news is that there are plenty of avenues for storytelling available throughout the world today – all the way from social media marketing, to influencer campaigns and press releases.

3. Provide Guides for Spokespeople

While a creative and compelling story is an important part of the communication plan for non-profit organisations – it’s also important for these entities to make sure that the messages they’re sharing is consistent.

For nonprofits that have people around the world working on their online presence, it can be helpful to create a brand manifesto or a set of guidelines for spokespeople that let them know which terms to use and avoid, as well as which personality characteristics they should try to build.

4. Map Communication Activity

Once nonprofits know what kind of story they’re going to be telling, and who they’ll be relying on to share that narrative, they’ll need to work on mapping out the execution for their communication strategy.

This may include conducting regular patterns of social media outreach and connecting with press companies. Plotting these tactics carefully will help organisations to prioritize their communications campaigns, and make sure that their voice stays consistent online.

5. Remember Social Media

Finally, like many for-profit companies in the modern marketplace, today’s non-profit brands should also think carefully about how they can position themselves on social media.

The right social media marketing campaign can bring life to both internal and external communications and improve a non-profit’s ability to generate investment over time.

Ronn Torossian is a public relations executive with over 20 years of experience

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Using Social Media to Support Global Initiatives


Social media campaigns that launch on a global basis require a significant amount of experience and skill to succeed. While brands and agents might have wonderful ideas to creatively connect with their customers, if they don’t have a solid system to deliver the same voice and marketing strategies worldwide, then global campaigns can quickly turn into an inconsistent mess. Managing your global campaign means adapting the right framework and strategy. For instance, the “hub and spoke” model for social media delivery is often one of the best options, as it allows large companies to take a central approach to global communications, while adapting each arm to suit the needs of individual regions and countries.

The “Hub” of a Global Campaign

The “hub” component of a global social media campaign is the command centre of the whole experience, where a brand and their agencies come together to define strategic goals for implementation and management. The central team will create the overarching strategy for the campaign, along with social media guidelines and creative concepts. This ensures consistent quality throughout each channel.

A global hub can also ensure that each part of a company’s social media team knows which metrics they should be gathering for long-term success.

The Spokes of Global Campaigns

While the hub is the heart of a global social media campaign, the spokes are the local teams that exist in diverse geographical locations. These spokes are responsible for implementing the overarching strategy created by the hub, but they also need to provide consistent feedback so that the organisation can continue to evolve.

Spokes in a global social media campaign need to check the content they’re sharing against local guidelines and expectations. These professionals must judge how their specific audience will respond to and engage with a campaign. What’s more, the spokes of a global social campaign will also need to be ready to ensure the consistent success of the campaign or project.

In a worldwide initiative, each team must know the escalation process involved in addressing issues with their central hub, and who they can contact at certain times of the day. The spoke teams are responsible for measuring success in a campaign against the objectives that are set by the overarching hub team.

Localizing and Optimizing Global Campaigns

While companies launching a global initiative need to maintain a consistent personality throughout all their dispersed social channels, they also need to customize each spoke in the campaign to ensure that local audience respond as well as possible. After all, local legislation and different cultural attitudes can come into play when brands need to make important decisions on how to communicate with their customers.

Importantly, once a campaign is up and running, companies need to make sure that they’re ready to listen to local teams around the world and respond accordingly. From this point onwards, the hub team can give customized responses on how to structure regional content. If the central hub doesn’t know enough about regional content, they won’t be able to offer new ideas for business growth.

Ronn Torossian is the CEO and Founder of 5W Public Relations.

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Advice for Leaders: How to Future-Proof Your Charity

What’s the difference between a for-profit company, and a charity organisation? Beyond the fact that a charity builds money for a cause, and a business creates profit for shareholders, there isn’t much separating the two entities. At the end of the day, both charities and companies need to present an idea or set of values to a customer base, in the hope that their audience will respond with financial support and loyalty.

Future-proofing a charity means finding an idea that continues to generate support for years to come. Just like trying to build a sustainable business, you’ll need to have a strong strategy in place if you want to convince your target audience that your non-profit is worth not only their money, but their advocacy too.

Understanding Why Your Organisation Exists

For any group to be sustainable, it must have a purpose. The purpose of a hospitality company, for instance might be to provide people with delicious food in an inspiring restaurant setting. On the other hand, the purpose of your charity might be to ensure that people in troubled countries have access to clean food and drinking water.

One of the biggest mistakes that charity leaders make, is that they fail to establish a distinct purpose for their organization from the very beginning. While it’s tempting to build a community that strives to help everyone, the truth is that you need a clear vision if you want to speak to people in a way that inspires sustainable loyalty.

Ask yourself, what does your group do, why do they do it, and why should people care?

Testing New Ideas

A company doesn’t become successful by lingering in the shadows and hoping for the best. If you want to connect with your audience on an emotional level, then you need to measure your impact and test new ideas to figure out what steps you should be taking to interact with the right people at the right time. If you’re currently using a combination of PR and social media to reach out to your audience, then make sure that you have metrics in place to test how effective your campaigns are.

Remember, while testing your current activities is important, you also need to try out new ideas too. Inaction can take hold too easily when charities start to see a little bit of support for their campaigns. Just because your non-profit is successful now, doesn’t mean that it’s as profitable as it could be. A culture of constant evolution is critical to a future-proofed charity.


Charities are about helping others – but do you ever consider how others might be able to help you? When funding for your organisation is scarce, it makes sense to reach out and collaborate with other teams who might be relevant to your organisation. Look into your local community for businesses and people that you might be able to connect with to improve brand reach, you might be surprised at how far a little extra help can take you.

Many non-profit organisations have astronomical goals, and this means that they can rarely achieve their ambitions alone. If you really want to future-proof your charity, then you need to be willing to ask for help from more than just donators and regular contributors.

How have you made sure that your nonprofit is ready for the future?

Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5W Public Relations and the founder of the Ronn Torossian Foundation.