You have a great idea for bringing about social change, and you’ve even gone so far as to start a nonprofit, but what do you do now? How do you let people know what’s happening and how they can get involved? The best way is to let your enthusiasm for your cause show in all the public relations work you do. You can be your own best publicist, especially when your organization is just getting off the ground.
As a nonprofit, you will have to promote your work to two separate groups – people who you will help and people who will help you. Start by asking yourself where you will find each of these groups of people. How do they communicate with each other? Join their conversations.
For the people you will help, think about how you originally got passionate about your cause. Did you meet a homeless person under a bridge? Did a close friend receive a difficult diagnosis? In the former case, you might want to take a few sandwiches to that bridge and hand out cards about your work as you talk with other homeless people. In the latter case, perhaps you can connect with your friend’s doctor and ask him or her to pass on information about your nonprofit to other patients.
When planning public relations to attract supporters, think about where you meet like-minded people. If your cause is environmental, you may want to hang up posters at the local whole-foods store. If it is faith-based, ask if you can have a few minutes to speak during services at churches or synagogues. Speak from the heart, and you will likely gain the support of others who care about the same things you care about.
Don’t neglect traditional PR outlets to reach either of these audiences. When you host an event or offer a new service, send press releases to local media. If your budget allows, hand out freebies at conferences and fairs. Send out regular newsletters (by email or snail mail) to let your supporters know how their money and time are making a difference.
Be sure to use social media to promote your nonprofit, as well. A Facebook page is great for increasing enthusiasm among existing supporters, letting them know how they can help the cause and encouraging them to invite their friends to join you. Twitter is good for publicizing your work to a new audience and expanding your network of supporters. In either case, be sure to update your profile regularly to remind people you are still active.
No matter how you publicize your nonprofit, be sure not to get in a public relations rut. Be creative in finding new PR methods by keeping your two audiences in mind. Using a variety of approaches and media outlets will help you reach the biggest audience and do the greatest good.