The advantage of a ‘Good PR’ for Charities

Public Relations (PR) has been around the world, for over a thousand years. The classic example would be of Julius Caesar, who in 50 B.C., publicised his military exploits in the first known political campaign biography to convince the Romans that he would make the best head of state, a practice used by political candidates even today. Fast forward to 1776, Thomas Paine published a pamphlet series to help fuel the American Revolution. Believe it or not, individuals have been using PR to capture the public’s attention and spur them into action, since the beginning of time.

So, is positive publicity a good thing? Probably, it is the only best-kept secret of a successful business. So then, why not for a charity, which exists for the good of the society? Publicity, be it good or bad, reaches a far wider audience than advertising generally does. If your charity has an interesting event lined up, or there are some interesting stories of people, whose lives you’ve touched, then there is a greater opportunity for your story to get published in the media, spreading the word like fire, in every nook and corner of the world. Let’s accept that we all crave for it.

So, what does a good PR do to a charity? Raise awareness? Yes. But, in most cases, more than creating awareness, raising funds has been time-consuming and demanding. When money is tight, good communication and positive publicity will take you a step higher than you normally can, using PR. One of the charities that we worked with recently, decided to organise a ‘Bake sale’ as a fundraiser to encourage donations for their upcoming education conference for students. They wanted to raise funds for those poor students who couldn’t afford the registration fees. Let’s assume there are quite a few generous hearts who pay, but how do you reach out to them or even get them aware that such a fundraiser is happening? A Facebook or WhatsApp message would suffice you think? These shares will certainly help you to reach a set of audience but that’s just limited.

For another charity we worked with recently, setting up a concerted PR push before a crowdfunding campaign started meant a much more successful campaign.

A good PR will give you a far wider reach that is unlimited, inspiring newer people to contribute, generating more funds. With the use of PR, you not just establish the need for funds but also let the world know the charity’s integrity in how it spends the money. We’ve reached out to local and national media, social influencers on YouTube and Instagram, bloggers, got TV spots for the cause and generally helped the charity attract a whole new audience they would otherwise never have had access to. We help manage a number Google AdWords grants, which are also an unbelievably effective way to reach out to tens of thousands more people online each month.

At the end of the day, people have a choice, they have a right to choose a ‘charity’ they want to donate. Sometimes the cause could attract them or the integrity of the charity itself, which allows them to trust they will make use of their money in a genuine way. When a charity does not have enough publicity, there are chances they can be won or lost on these critical messages, which is why PR has so much value in a fundraising situation. And when times are hard, it’s especially important in persuading supporters to choose your charity over others in the sector. After all, if there is a greater success is using PR for a good cause, who wouldn’t want it?

-Maria Laveena
Maria has over 6 years of experience in Journalism and Public Relations, with a master’s in mass communications from St Joseph’s College, Bangalore.

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