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How to make PR and fundraising work together

PR and fundraising are often thought to be intrinsically linked, but media coverage doesn’t guarantee an increase in donations.  So what is PR’s role and how can the two work best together?


Communicate and plan

The fundraiser(s) in your organisation work hard to engage and encourage supporters to raise money.  PR should reiterate and build on the key messages fundraisers are using as part of a coordinated strategy.  Both PR and fundraising teams (or individuals) should be pulling in the same direction, so it’s important to work together and share information on a regular basis.  Talk to each other early on in your planning.  Put regular meetings into the diary and share information as you go to make for more effective campaigns and a better relationship.


Donors vs. supporters

It’s useful for PRs to think about the difference between people who give donations (donors) and those who give their time to raise funds for you (supporters). 

Donating to a charity can be a one-off action that doesn’t require much emotional involvement.  It could be motivated by the cause, by personal experience or, more likely, by a friend or colleague.  Supporters, however, invest a great deal more effort.  They can spend considerable time and energy convincing their donors to give money to the cause.  That effort needs to be recognised and responded to.

Think about the last time you were personally motivated to raise money for a charity. What prompted you to support that charity over another? Based on that experience would you support them again?


Making the case for support

There may be several charities related to any one cause or issue.  This is where good PR can make a big difference.  Through strong case studies, supporters can see why funds are needed and the difference they will make.  As well as giving them a clear cause to respond to, PR can also demonstrate to supporters that the money would be spent appropriately and would have real impact.  These elements together allow supporters to feel they are powerful and can help deliver meaningful change.  And that’s a feeling they’ll probably want to repeat, encouraging them to raise money again and again.


Social media and fundraising

There are an average 500 million ‘tweets’ a day on Twitter and people are spending 600 billion minutes every month on Facebook.  These channels, and others, can be used to support fundraising, but you need to invest time in carefully planning what response you want supporters to have to a message or an image.  What route do you then want them to take if you inspire them to make a donation or raise money?  Where do you need to link them through to, for example?  Think about the visual elements of Facebook, YouTube or Flickr.  Inspiring photos or video footage of a fundraising event reward those who took part and will motivate others if shared in the right way.   


Spend your time wisely

Fundraisers often ask PRs to send out press releases about supporters running a marathon, climbing a mountain, or sitting in a bath of baked beans.  But when was the last time you sponsored a stranger after reading about them in a newspaper?  Think about the potential return for the time you spend on PR.  Consider putting together ‘toolkits’ for fundraisers to do their own media relations.  Include key messages, top tips and make sure they know how to contact you if they need your help.  Challenges and events like these can provide colour and interest for wider news angles, though, so don’t disregard them!  Think about how they can strengthen your call to action or build awareness and understanding of the work the organisation does.


Recognise people’s efforts

Recognising someone’s contribution is crucial in retaining their support.  Events can be hugely motivational for supporters, giving them the chance to meet some of the people they are helping.  Events strengthen the relationship and make the next ‘ask’ from your fundraising team a much easier one.  But plan them carefully.  While they like to feel appreciated, the last thing supporters want is their hard-raised money spent on the party rather than the cause.   Recognition is particularly important when it comes to corporate support.  Businesses will usually want their contribution to be visible through PR to their industry, their local community and to potential customers.  Be clear about their expectations, and yours, from the outset. 


Measuring success

It’s important to measure the success of PR but it’s not easy to determine how much it has contributed to the funds raised.  You can ask supporters registering for a fundraising pack how they heard about you, but that may be one on the scoreboard for the fundraising team.  PR’s role is to motivate people who’ve registered to actually raise some money.  And you can check if spikes in income correspond with media coverage.  The only certainty is that the best chance of success lies in a positive, coordinated relationship between fundraising and PR.


Page last edited Feb 12, 2019 History

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