PR Strategy

A perfect partnership – or deeply different disciplines?

Posted by Deborah | July 15th, 2014 | No responses

Even at the wildest of guesses, I suspect in the last month alone I’ve been asked to support upwards of a dozen charitable endeavours.

I’ve been stopped at the supermarket entrance, subjected to a doorstep campaign-pitch, received a linkedin plea, and even been verbally asked to support a pre-schooler’s sponsored silence. These days, there are so many causes and campaigns that the charity landscape is scarcely recognisable from what it was 15 years ago.

Of course, all that means there are more charities asking for more money, from the same (often shrunken) purses. It stands to reason that a lot of organisations recognise the need to boost fundraising with the help of a designated team – and that they see PR as a method in gaining more income.

This makes perfect sense, but a great deal of experience in this sector space tells me that it’s a foolishly held assumption that one naturally provides a solution to the other. That’s not to say they don’t work spectacularly well together. They do, but a strategic approach and a great deal of cross-team communication is critical to achieve the outcomes all parties expect.

I’ve seen charities where PR teams and fundraising teams have worked incredibly well together. However, I’ve also seen those who’ve worked in silos – one side going off and producing material to target a particular audience with messaging they’ve not conveyed to the other.

The key aspect to any successful PR and fundraising activity is joined up forward-planning. Fundraisers may well know the audience best, and therefore the messaging and tone which will chime best if revenue-generating objectives are to be met. Meanwhile, the PR team is likely to have a solid understanding of the type of story a certain journalist is going to want, and how it could best be conveyed to ensure the resulting media coverage carries the right call-to-action.

Here are my tips for best tying PR and fundraising initiatives together:

Who am I pitching to?

It’s all too easy to throw out press releases without really thinking what your end goal is and who you are looking to reach. Remember that with charity PR, as with fundraising efforts, sometimes you’re looking for the quick-hit donor, while other times the focus is on the longer term ‘supporter’ who will go the distance with you over many campaigns.

Specificity is key

Gaining successful PR, and in turn, hopefully, fundraising enhancement, is better accomplished when you can really make the audience specifically understand why they should be on your side, as opposed to another charity. Explain exactly what your charity does, and exactly where their money might go.

People power

I say time and again how, in PR, people buy people. If we’re going to be convinced to give to a cause, it can help to make that cause representative of specific people and their compelling stories. Casestudies are vital.

Busy fool?

There’s always so much you could be doing to dish out PR about a particular charity, but you don’t want to be the annoying one throwing out press releases for every adult who’s doing a sponsored silence or a 1mile walk. Think carefully about targeting titles and regions with genuinely captivating stories which clearly demonstrate your message and have a call to action.

Teach him how to fish…

Taking the tactic mentioned above might make you worry you’ll miss opportunity to tell a story which generates fundraising. Instead, if fundraising and PR teams are clever and connected, they’ll work closely to create the equivalent of a toolkit – which charitable fundraisers can then use themselves to inform regional press of smaller stories.

Where does the full-stop go?

Does a PR and fundraising campaign ever come to an end? Well, the cause and needs may not, but it’s important to have points at which you do put a full stop in your schedules – mainly to bring one line of current activity to some kind of conclusion so that you can evaluate its success and re-group.


If you have a charity which needs some consultancy support or a strategic audit, get in touch:


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