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.

non profit agency

New Yorker releases guide for nonprofit new agencies – did they get it right?

Does it count as not for profit when you have no chance of ever making a profit – and that’s part of your business plan? Maybe not always on paper, but it’s a common if unspoken, reality in the media business.

Certain media entities, most often owned by other profitable concerns, exist to meet a specific need or address a small, specific demographic—and their publishers know they will never eek out a profit. In some cases, these publications are both existentially and legally not for profit. They exist to serve rather than to make money. Some examples: Harper’s, The Atlantic, The New Republic and The Nation.

A quick glance reveals pseudo-political but often more culturally sensitive publications, the home of think pieces and long-form storytelling most magazines and newspapers abandoned long ago. Many of these publications continue to exist thanks to the charity of deep-pocketed owners who are willing to break even or to take a loss just to keep a publication they believe important alive and well.

That’s been a successful model for many similar publications for more than a century. Now the traditionally profitable print news publications are beginning to look at that model – or some version of it – in an effort to find any way to keep their doors open. Too few people read dailies anymore, and the generation that still prizes them is literally dying off.

When they go, so too will a vital community service. Sure, most folks grabbed a newspaper for the sports or national politics, but the local reporting these publications were able to do so helped form a bulwark for freedom and helped keep government honest, at least relatively.

The slow demise of the dailies has given rise to a new brand of print publication, which continues the rich trend of solid investigative journalism. It’s not a perfect solution. “Nonprofit” cannot mean “no money.” That won’t work at all. They need to pay staff and pay for the printing and distribution. While that takes less cash when you’re not trying to make a profit, it still takes a substantial sum to get it right.

That’s where nonprofit PR comes into play. These publications may depend for a season or even a generation on a patron who’s willing to pay to keep them going. But if this trend is to be the evolution of the news business, they need to figure out a way to communicate intrinsic worth to donors, in the same ways, all nonprofits must. The model is still evolving, but it begins with a sort of communication with which many news agencies are unfamiliar.

yale charity - Ronn Torossian Foundation

Yale Invests Millions in Diversity

$50 million to be precise – all to increase the diversity among its faculty. The current stats for Yale have them at 39.5% female faculty and 22.5% minority faculty members.

“Yale’s education and research missions are propelled forward by a faculty that stands at the forefront of scholarship, research, practice, mentoring, and teaching. An excellent faculty in all of these dimensions is a diverse faculty, and that diversity must reach across the whole of Yale,” explained President Peter Salovey and Provost Ben Polak.

Yale is not the first to create or fund such initiatives either, earlier this year Columbia pledged $30 million, even though they are among the most diverse of ivy-league faculties at 41% women and 26% minorities. The University of Pennsylvania pledged $50 million in 2011, and Harvard pledged $50 million in 2005.

Money pledged to fund new programs and classes relates to diversity, training of minority and women educators, and a teaching academy to train future teachers.

In our world of political correctness, it’s a good move for colleges to voluntarily fund and create more diverse faculties matching with the more diverse student bodies. Though it might also be interesting to learn what the percentages are when it comes to the students since minorities implies the groups make up less of the population. How much of an increase needs to happen and are there specific minorities needing more representation than others? With women making up approximately 50% of the population, it’s easy to figure the numbers there. Presumably ethnic minorities will be joined by other types of minorities such as LGBT educators.

Until the goal is a little better defined, it seems more of a way to placate than an actual effort. Pledging funds is great – giving a broad overview may not be all that helpful.

non profit public relations

6 Best Nonprofit PR Practices

Sometimes running a nonprofit organization can be crazy. Ronn Torossian has helped with many nonprofit campaigns and shares some ideas you can use to build a strong organization.

  1. Create a complete strategy. You need a plan for how to grow your organization. Decide where your resources will go initially and at what point you will add new levels to the existing plan. If you plan to have a big fundraiser, when will that happen? Will it be an annual event? How will you make it applicable to your cause? When you create a page for your organization on any social media platform, who will be in charge of posting and interacting with followers? If you establish a plan that covers everything you will be doing over the next 6-12 months, you’ll know what positions need to be filled. You’ll also have a general idea of the time needed daily or weekly. If you have no plan, people won’t know where to focus their energy or efforts.
  2. Communication. Since your volunteers may not be the same from day to day, communication becomes even more important. You can create task lists, and steps to follow so any new volunteer can start right away. But communication goes beyond that step. People who are representing your organization, whether as a receptionist or a spokesperson need to know how to represent the cause. So give them easy access to the information they need. Also do your best to keep the flow of information mostly through official channels, this saves you from any misunderstandings and the cleanup that could be required.
  3. Reputation building. As a nonprofit you are asking for volunteers and donations in some form, so your reputation is important. That means you need to get your organization’s name, efforts, and event information to the media with plenty of time to include a write-up in their publication. Get to know the people who are most likely to be telling the story. Without taking a lot of their time, find out how they like to receive information. Are they more likely to publish something if you give them a good photo and a quick statement of less than 50 words that can be printed under the photo? And do pictures with children end up printed more often than adults or scenery? If you know these details, you can provide what they want. And when that happens, your organization’s good work will be more likely to show up in an article – giving third-party validation.
  4. Train the people who represent your nonprofit. This is worth spending some time and even funds to do well. Your spokesperson needs to feel easy in front of the camera and also when speaking to groups. They need to present the great stories and ideas happening in your organization. This is not a job you want to give to just anyone, this is a specialty position, fill it well and your organization (and cause) will reap the benefits.
  5. Brand your nonprofit with stories. Listen, ask questions, spend time with the people who benefit from your efforts and also the volunteers. What are they seeing? What humorous or cute and cuddly stories or videos can they share with you and the public? Gather and tell those stories – as many as you can. Stories tie people’s emotions to your organization and the work being done there.
  6. Use social media platforms. Social media sites are the perfect place to share those stories. Also, they are a great place to take the time to get to know a bit about your followers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions they can answer with a word or two – questions that are all about the follower and nothing more. What is their favorite dessert or do they prefer Country or Rock music? When people know you are interested in them, they usually become more interested in you.




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?

ronn torossian foundation social media tips

4 Sure Fire Ways to Improve your Non-profit’s Social Media Presence

When you are running a nonprofit or a charity on your own, understanding the power of digital marketing and integrating a social media presence is key to share your message while truly connecting with fans, followers and individuals who genuinely believe in you and want to support your cause personally.

Build an Online Presence

Building an online presence is one of the first steps to success when working online to share information about nonprofits, charities and other organizations you support and back. Create an official website, online portfolio and be sure to create streamlined usernames when working with social media to make a name for yourself and the cause you represent.

Schedule Posts and Updates

Scheduling posts and updates is another way to reach your supporters and fans while giving you the ability to maintain relevance at all times. Having a regular posting schedule is a way for you to ensure you are keeping fans and followers interested in what you have to say while coming back for more with each new post and announcement you publish to your page. Using multiple social media platforms is also highly advisable including the use of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. The more social media platforms you are engaged with, the easier it is to reach hundreds of thousands of users simultaneously to gain support for any cause you represent.

Communicate With Your Fans, Followers and Supporters Regularly

Regularly communicating with fans, followers and supporters keeps your brand relevant while also building trust and loyalty necessary for any successful business. The more you connect with fans on a personal level with the nonprofit organization or charity you are supporting, the more likely you are to receive the backing and loyalty you deserve.

Engage With Your Audience and Answer Questions

Engaging with your audience of followers is possible with an official website, blog or by taking advantage of social media. Engaging with followers is possible by asking questions and also answering any inquiries you receive from those who want to continue to support the cause or nonprofit you represent.

Whether you are launching a nonprofit from the ground up or if you want to take your company to the next level of success online, understanding the best ways to go about reaching the intended audience and demographic you have in mind is essential to continuously grow any brand or business you are looking to expand.

Paul LePage non profit

Nonprofit Tax Sparks Outrage

Maine Governor Paul LePage has released a plan that would eliminate the property tax exemption for nonprofits and allow local municipalities to tax these nonprofits. Not surprisingly, that has hospitals, private colleges and other nonprofit organizations slightly upset. A group representing these nonprofit entities has gone to the state capital arguing that the governor’s proposal would “devastate” their budgets.

According to Jeff Austin, a lobbyist for the Maine Hospital Association, the plan would cost hospitals between ten and twenty million dollars next year. Ominously, Austin threatened that these costs would be passed on to consumers. Maine is not the only state having this conversation, and you can bet millions are watching these events unfold with distinct interest.

This comes at a time when the American public’s debate regarding the “fairness” of certain nonprofit tax protections is heating up. Many consumers are aggravated that some hospital and university systems bring in so much money yet enjoy sweeping tax protections.

Many see these massive nonprofit institutions as only masquerading as “nonprofits” while bringing in enormous revenues and paying out huge salaries to CEOs and other top executives. Whether or not there is any truth to those perceptions, that perspective is gaining more and more traction in the marketplace of ideas. Some have been calling for an across-the-board revocation of protected property tax status for nonprofits for years. Some pundits with huge followings have suggested we could “erase the national debt by taxing the Catholic Church.”

Hyperbole aside, the idea of revoking special tax status for nonprofits is gaining traction. The Maine case may die before LePage takes it anywhere, but it is likely just the first shot in a war that has been coming for some time…a war in which public relations will play a key role in the eventual outcome.