ronn torossian foundation

Using Social Media for Charity Fundraising: Trend or Here to Stay?

Building clout and momentum for any new or existing business you have in mind is a way or you to leave your mark with thousands, even millions. Understanding whether the charity route to go when raising funds for your company is a way better understand the right approaches regardless of the demographic you want to reach.

Social Media Impact

Social media marketing, or SMM, has had an huge impact of reaching thousands and million of users simultaneously. Utilizing social media to leverage the number of followers, fans and potential customers gives you more platforms readily available to promote and distribute more information regarding your brand. Some of the most popular social media communities available today include: Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Instagram and Vine. Determining the audience you intend to reach is a way to gain insight when developing a proper market for our charity fundraising campaign.

Using social media to have and impact today is popular by getting more clout with followers while building a sold and genuine relationship. Answering questions and inquiries shows your users you care and want to connect with them on a more personal level.

Connecting With Users on a Personal Level

Once you have established an online user base of followers and fans it is much easier to receive feedback and more information regarding the products and services you have to offer. Getting involved with the personal lives who are interested in assisting with your fundraiser is a way to gain trust while also spreading the work of your charity for others who are also intrigued by your business idea or plan.

Finding Like-Minded Individuals From Around the World

Using social media to launch a charity fundraiser also gives you insight into the type of demographic who is really responding to your brand and the products you have to offer. Pinpointing your demographic gives you more options when developing both online and offline campaigns to help promote the charity and its cause in just about any location. Using multiple platforms to connect with users gives you more clout, attention and a professional reputation, especially when working with a charity of your choice.

Expansions of Platforms and Mediums

Depending on the type of charity you plan to the run and financial backing you require it is important to consider all factors before launching a campaign. With proper implementation and the right marketing strategy it has never been easier to reach those who want to know about you, sequentially helping your case.

Ronn Torossian Foundation - Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong’s Return to Cycling for Charity: A PR Boon or Horror Story?

Lance Armstrong’s name was once synonymous with athletic endurance. His record-breaking sixth Tour de France win in 2004, less than a decade after being diagnosed with testicular cancer that metastasized to his lungs and brain, was trumped just a year later by an unprecedented seventh and final win.

His professional accolades against the backdrop of his medical miracle rendered him a popular public figure and a role model for many, as evinced by the success of the cancer foundation he founded in 1997, which was then known as the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The explosive success of the yellow silicone Livestrong bracelet was a testament to the weight of his popularity.

Created in 2004, Armstrong wore the bracelet during his record sixth Tour de France win, bringing instant recognition and support to his foundation in the form of millions of dollars earned from bracelet sales. In total, 80 million of the bracelets have been sold. Basically, Lance Armstrong was a public relations dream.

The Stigma of Lance Armstrong

Today, Lance Armstrong’s name is more often associated with deceit. At least in the context of sports. After years of accusations that he took performance-enhancing drugs to gain an unfair advantage during his races, in 2012, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) formally charged Armstrong with using banned substances, charges which he declined to challenge. He received a lifetime ban from professional cycling, was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and in an interview with Oprah Winfrey a year later admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during each of his wins.

In the eyes of the public, everything Armstrong represented became a lie. His sponsors dropped him one by one and his foundation formally changed its name from the Lance Armstrong Foundation to the Livestrong Foundation. His PR value was diminished.

Role as Cancer Survivor

Armstrong’s successful battle against cancer, even when his doctors believed the extent of his condition offered little hope for survival, is something anyone can admire and respect. His efforts through the Livestrong Foundation raised over $500 million for cancer research and today the organization now focuses its efforts on helping cancer patients and survivors.

It’s undeniable the good he did for the organization, but it’s equally undeniable the immense negative impact the doping scandal had on his brand and the organization, which is why he ultimately resigned from his official position at Livestrong.

With reports that he’s returning to his bike for a charity race in support of the foundation, questions of whether it’s a good idea are raised. As a cancer survivor supporting a foundation that aims to help cancer patients and survivors, his efforts to help raise money can only do good, especially now that he’s no longer an official part of the foundation.

Ronn Torossian says that, “if anything, the notoriety of his name will bring more exposure to the charity race.”

founding farmers ronn torossian

Can Founding Farmers go National?

At first blush, it seems like an impossibly idealistic dream. A cadre of farmers trying to turn the “farm to table” concept into a chain restaurant. Ronn Torossian explains how they are making it work.

It began in the likeliest of unlikely places – North Dakota. A group of local farmers got together with a simple plan. They wanted to begin an upscale, farm-to-table restaurant chain along the east coast. You read that right. A bunch of guys in North Dakota wanted to open not just one, but multiple, restaurants on the densely populated east coast. And they wanted to do that without anyone playing middle-man.

It’s not that the direct to consumer sales idea had not been floated before. It had been a near-constant agenda item for local farmers unions. And why not? According to Businessweek, in the 15-year period between 1992 and 2007, farmer’s markets and farm-to-table restaurants had “tripled the direct sales of food.” Tripled. Obviously, there was a market. But where…and, more importantly…HOW?

Most restaurants work on a multi-tiered success premise. Founders develop and market a brand; local chain location managers or franchisees manage the operations of individual locations, and independent suppliers get them everything they need at wholesale prices. However, when you are dealing with perishables and slim margins, the restaurant business can be notoriously fickle. Failure is epidemic, even with established chains. So, of course, cutting out middle-men, which cut into profit margins, has always been a desirable option. But it’s tough to make it work. Particularly on a large scale.

And, truth be told, the guys behind Founding Farmers nearly tanked as well. Their first foray into the unforgiving world of the restaurant business was a 14,00 square foot eatery in Washington D.C. Costs were astronomical, and not even beltway denizens were crazy about paying the menu premiums expected.

So the guys went back to the drawing board. Two years later, in 2008, Founding Farmers was launched. And it has REALLY taken off. With three massively successful locations in the D.C. area, the owners are considering expansions along the east coast. They know the formula, now they just have to expand into areas that will take a bit more massaging.

After all, D.C. is a hotbed for foodies in proximity to family farms that provide all the perishables the restaurant needs to keep fresh food on the menu. Currently, Boston is on their radar, and that’s certainly an apt choice. Dense population, high culinary expectations … and less competition than NYC. The key here will be effective and impactful consumer and restaurant PR. Founding Farmers already knows how to make the business work. Now they just need to make their target market care enough to give them a shot.


How to Make Fundraising Fun

For many nonprofits, the worst part of doing what they do is the fundraising. It’s tough to feel like you want to do some good, but to make it happen you always have to have your hand out. Ronn Torossian understands that frustration, but the PR master says you don’t have to let fundraising get you down. In this article, Torossian offers 4 ways to transform your nonprofit fundraising efforts and make your charity PR fun again.

Make it social

People who love to help love to feel like they are not alone in their efforts. If you can turn your fundraising efforts into opportunities to connect with others, to feel part of something bigger, then you will find more success with your fundraising efforts. The trick here is to count the cost. Social can mean inexpensive and it can mean very expensive. Neither option is bad as long as the net return makes the expenditure worth the cost.

Make it unique

Some charities have learned the hard way in recent months that what used to work just doesn’t any more. Comedian Daniel Tosh has a routine where the punchline includes that he’s “tired of walking 5K.” Well, he’s not alone. While these walks still work for some organizations, many charities have seen consecutive years of diminishing returns. The same is quickly becoming true for mud runs and other “extreme” social fundraisers.

Make it relatable

People need to understand the “why” of what you are doing to truly connect. Is it about support? Sisterhood? Brotherhood? Why are you doing what you are doing and how will it help your cause? Be certain to help people make the connection between the fun and the fight…otherwise you will lose an otherwise captive audience of potential volunteers and supporters.

Make it rewarding

What immediate benefits can your volunteers or guests get from this experience? You may not need to specifically list them, but you should make them obvious. People need to feel as if they are coming out ahead. They are putting in the effort, make it worth their investment.

One final note. Don’t be creative just for the sake of “newness.” Find what works and stick with it. Every nonprofit cause or company is different. Your supporters will be different too. Discover what they love and give them as much of it as they can handle.


Increase Returns with Focused Fundraising Efforts

Ronn Torossian has a question for you. Are you one of them? Week in and week out he talks to charities looking for advice on how to amp up their non profit PR, to get better and more immediate results from their messaging. They admit that their fundraising isn’t getting them the results they are looking for, but they keep doing things the same way … you know how the rest of that story goes.

Is that you … even a little bit? Look, if you are doing things the same way you did last year, you might be keeping the bills paid, but there is no doubt you are leaving money on the table. Your cause may not be “suffering,” but it certainly could be better. Even if you would categorize your fundraising efforts as “good,” they could be better: more impactful, efficient, and generating a better return.

You already know the world is changing. You are aware that people do not get information the same way they did before, but do you realize the extent of this change? You know that there is a new generation coming up that looks at the world very differently, but do you know what those differences are, and how to speak their language?

Maybe you are happy with the status quo, but what will you do when that status quo changes? Because it will. Here’s the thing, changes to the status quo are almost always telegraphed. They actually happen far before the general public realizes it. In fact, by the time most folks begin to notice the changes, things have already been functionally different for a while, and the seed of yet another evolution has already been planted.

It happened twice in the past five years, and most people didn’t even see it coming. First, social media completely changed how people communicate, how they interact, and more and more lately, how they think. Then, smartphone proliferation completely altered the marketplace of ideas. People literally interact with information differently. They experience reality differently, and process information differently. And all that happened in this decade.

So here’s the question Torossian has for you: How have you changed your approach to marketing in the past five years? From your PR to your website to your fundraising campaigns … any differences? Or are you still doing it the same ol’ way?

Keep Donors Engaged

5 Twitter Secrets to Keep Donors Engaged

One thing that every non-profit knows is that donors are crucial and essential to success. And this means that every non-profit has struggled with donor retention. Successfully keeping donors engaged is necessary for keeping an organization going, and social media such as Twitter has made it easier than ever to reach out and connect with donors.

Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, shares five secrets of using Twitter that will keep your donors engaged so that they continue to donate throughout the year.

1. Look through all of your donor communications

Donors want to feel like they are a part of your success, not just the golden goose. It is beneficial to look through every communication that you have shared with donors and track how many times you have asked them to donate versus how many times you have shared news on the progress of your organization. Which is higher? Sharing more news about your organization helps to engage donors and keep them interested. A quick update on Twitter will instantly connect and share with your donors.

2. Ask donors why they give to your organization

If you want a donor to take interest in you, then you need to take interest in your donors. Determining the reason that a donor gave the first time, or continued giving the tenth time, can help you to retain them and will also show your donors that you have an interest in them. A survey on Twitter is simple and can get quick results.

3. Keep in continuous contact

When someone donates money, they want to be sure that their contribution is being utilized. This is why keeping in constant contact with your donors is essential. This does not mean spamming their inbox with three messages a day, but rather keeping them updated on salient and important information. Posting on Twitter about a relevant accomplishment of your organization is a quick way to do this without shoving it in your donors’ faces.

4. Reach donors “off peak”

Donors are inundated with donation requests and other communications during peak seasons such as around the holidays. Think about all the times you are asked for donations during these times. Chances are that you cannot even remember the organizations that asked you to make a donation. Donors are much more likely to hear you and pay attention if you are able to contact them when they are not overwhelmed by countless requests for donation. A quick tweet during the off peak time can quickly communicate with donors.

5. Inspire and connect with donors

Donors often feel that nonprofits are soliciting more than the value that they provide. Consequently, many donors lose interest quickly. It is important for you to communicate salient and inspiring information to donors to keep them engaged with your organization. Twitter makes this connection a breeze because it is so quick and easy to write a quick tweet updating everyone on the feed.


Enticing Monthly Donors

Ronn Torossian is a frequent commentator on public relations and corporate communications.

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When working with any non profit organization, large individual donors are important. But increasingly, small regular donors are becoming the actual lifeblood of many organizations. How do you engage these smaller, but more consistent, donors and keep them giving into the foreseeable future? Ronn Torossian has your answers. Three of them, actually.

#1 – Show them their specific role in your work

People want to know what they are investing in. Show them exactly how their donations are making a difference for your work. Be as specific as you possibly can. Show them the importance of their work by explaining the direct difference those donations, collectively, make in your month to month budget.

#2 – Appreciate them regularly

Do things, and give thing,s to these donors at least as regularly as you are expecting them to give to you. Recognition and visible appreciation are a small price to pay to be able to actually know what you have to invest in your cause, month-to-month.

#3 – Budget those funds for specific needs

Some organizations need the internal motivations to make the ask. It can be more thrilling, and more rewarding in the short term to land those big spenders, but if you want to make a consistent and deep impact, you need that monthly cash coming in. So, this last one is for you, Charity Director. Give several of your budget items specific names and earmark them to be funded by smaller, individual, regular donations. That line item should be sufficiently motivational.

While, these three tips are no guarantee of success, they can point you in the right direction. Remember, when you are dealing with individual folks, their own desires and ego are never far from the surface. Engage them with appreciation, not expectation.

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Nonprofit PR Success Can be Measured in Different Ways

Event planning is a major part of nonprofit PR. While fundraising may be the central theme of the event, income is not always the true measure of success. There are two basic types of fundraising events. For the purpose of this example we will break them down into Level 1 and Level 2 events. Each has its own pros, cons and measures of success. The type of nonprofit PR that will work best for you depends on which definition of success you choose. Nonprofit PR success can be measured in different ways.

Level 1 events·

Generally smaller and more exclusive· Higher individual participation costLower administrative and marketing costsHigher number or prospective donors

Attendees are more tightly connected to the organization

Higher likelihood of long-term commitment

Examples of Level 1 events include invitation-only galas, black tie dinners, high-end silent auctions and exclusive parties.

Level 2 events

Increase an organization’s visibility to the general public or a specific target market

Take more time and cost more money to plan and execute

Provide a smaller financial return, at least over the short run

Have a lower individual participation cost

Bring higher attendance and increased visibility

Cost more to administrate and advertise

Bring in fewer donor prospects

Attendees have less innate loyalty to the organization

Examples of Level 2 events include art shows; public events; concerts; raffles; and sponsored walks, runs or rides. 5WPR specializes in reputation management, which plays a role in each of these fundraising efforts as well. Organizations interested in Level 1 events might be interested in protecting a previously established reputation. Deep-pocketed donors are attracted because association with these charities can increase social status. Level 2 events are a terrific way to establish or expand a charity’s reputation and reach a greater number of people. Volunteer recruiting is another reason to consider hosting a Level 2 event. Many attendees may not have large amounts of disposable income, but they may have time to contribute.

There is a time and a place for both types of events. A successful nonprofit PR campaign will include plans to market and host events at both levels.