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Chicago nonprofit PR agency

A Simple Guide to PR For Nonprofits

Working with the philanthropic community is one of our favorite initiatives at Bettie Bomb. We love working with charities and Non-Profit Organizations to support their overall mission by spotlighting their cause and telling their story.
Annual charity events are the top priority for PR to not only maximize exposure for ticket sales, but generate sponsorships, auction items and donations. These are all crucial elements to the overall mission and fundraising initiatives of any charity. But as publicists, it’s not just about the fundraising events…it’s about spreading awareness. Spotlighting the cause is paramount and Non-Profit PR Agencies focus on highlighting many facets to raise as much awareness as possible.
Below we’ll talk about how PR & Marketing agencies work with charities to fully support them in their overall mission.

Fundraisers & Key Donor Events

Let’s start with events. We handle a lot of events at Bettie Bomb, but one of the biggest categories we serve are events for the philanthropic community. PR is an integral part to the overall success of an event because it builds buzz, identifies and invites your target audience, plus spreads the word across multiple platforms. It’s used to drive ticket sales, RSVPs and help leverage sponsorships and/or partnerships. Focusing on local media and targeting key audiences is a way of reaching top potential attendees. This is crucial for nonprofits as their annual fundraising events need to do one thing…raise money.
In addition to getting the word out, there are other initiatives behind event promotion. A large part of philanthropic events are sponsors. These high-dollar sponsorships are how the event is able to be executed and charities work all year trying to secure their sponsors for each event. Media coverage, especially post-coverage showcasing the event and the people who attended helps in securing sponsorships for the following year. They use this information and press clips as part of their sponsorship packages, which positively positions their event to potential sponsors. It shows these targeted businesses and corporations of the possible exposure they could receive at the event if they sign on as a top sponsor. When it comes to event planning, we work closely with our clients to plan publicity, but the actual event planning and run of show usually is determined by the clients.
Another vital component for charity events specifically is using personal profiles and stories that are compelling and engage the audience. For example, for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago and their annual St. Nicholas Ball in December, the money raised funds all of the children’s programs through the organization. We used the Director of the Children’s Program’s to be our speaker along with a few families that have benefited from being a part of this program. Another great way is to create assets like photos and videos to support. They created a beautiful video showcasing some of the different families at home with interviews, plus footage of the programs. This was very powerful and they even showed it at the event to help with live auction fundraising on-site.
A fun, interactive way to publicize is with smaller mini-events leading up to the event to create excitement. In the past, we’ve created “media clinics,” which depending on what your event or charity is, uses it as a way to teach the media more about your cause through participation (i.e. if you have a poker tournament with professional poker players, invite them to learn blackjack with the pros while throwing in some talking points about your cause). We’ve also done Instagram or Facebook LIVE sessions with top spokespeople or notables to tease the event, do a Q&A, etc.
Inviting the media and offering complimentary tickets to them can be a great way to attract more notables and help with the following year’s sponsorships & attendance. We also work to involve the media by having a local anchor serve as emcee, which helps overall, but especially with media coverage from that particular station. They will most likely send a crew to cover the event to get footage of their anchor participating.

Highlighting Personal Stories & Good Work

PR agencies spotlight personal profiles and stories from charities to compel and engage the media. It’s a great way to showcase what your organization is doing to help the community or cause by sharing a personal story of someone who has benefitted from their services. that are compelling, you engage any audience. Media want consistent, positive, feel good stories about what people are doing in their community to help others and publicists work on messaging to make sure all of the good work is heralded throughout the local and national landscape.

Create Compelling Assets

Another great way to garner exposure for non-profits is to create assets like photos and videos to support. They created a beautiful video showcasing some of the different families at home with interviews, plus footage of the programs. This can be very powerful and a great content for social media, their website or shown at an event to assist with live auction fundraising on-site.


Most nonprofits work with corporate sponsors who fund initiatives, internal programs, etc. This is a large part of how charities garner funds. Connecting beneficial partners with philanthropic organizations can be a huge goal and help to create programs that can lead to generating funds on a consistent basis. PR Agencies work with all of their business connections to find corporations looking for non-profit partners to fill their charity initiatives and beyond.
In addition, the organizations use media placements as part of their sponsorship packages, which positively positions them to potential sponsors. It shows these targeted businesses and corporations of the possible exposure they could receive by working with a particular charity.

Social Media For Non-Profits

Social media is a huge part, as an essentially free platform where you have the opportunity to attract an audience of millions. Nonprofit organizations utilize PR & Marketing agencies for exposure, but let’s remember that most small to mid-sized charities do not have large budgets. So anyway they can spread awareness without cost, they need to utilize those methods as much as they can. Here are easy, effective and relatively low budget or no budget ways to raise awareness and use social media networks to your advantage.
Share stories.
Tug at those heart strings and convince donors to contribute to your cause. The best way to spread awareness is by sharing personal stories of the people helped by a charitable organization and how they benefited from that help.
Be a leader. 
Establish yourself as an authority in your industry and share facts, data and other news to keep everyone informed and updated regarding your cause. Show how your mission has been affected by this information and what you can do to change it.
Create video
The power of video is huge, so take advantage. But keep it short and concise. People have short attention spans and “skim” everything, so keep it brief and include text to support the audio. Storytell, share facts and use influencers to gain attention.
Be timely & trendy
Remember to tie-into whatever is “in the moment” – holidays, trends, hot news – whatever it is, make your focus about that to grab attention.
Quality over quantity. 
It’s more important to stick to a posting schedule and have well thought out posts. Pick a few crucial platforms to post to consistently, but not necessarily frequently.
Tap into the influencer market and find people that have a tie to your organization. If they are passionate about your cause, a lot of people will want to help pro-bono or offer a lower fee. Experts recommend partnering with people with robust engagement with followers and an interest in your cause, rather than simply seeking influencers with large followings.
Add a “Donate Now” button 
Facebook allows some nonprofits to place a “Donate Now” button on their page. The button can be added the same way as other call-to-action options. The page’s category must be set to “Non-Profit Organization” only – with no other categories selected.

Charity Spotlight #1

Saving Tiny Hearts Society
A non-profit organization dedicated to funding research of congenital heart defects (CHD’s).
For two years and counting, Bettie Bomb has worked with Saving tiny Hearts Society to spotlight their annual October fundraising event as well as American Heart Month in February, which also included CHD Awareness Week (2/7-2/14). We built solid pre-event coverage, landing on every TV station in Chicago, plus had broadcast reporters from two different stations one-site giving interviews. Our team also secured WGN Anchor Dina Bair as emcee. Media coverage included: ABC, NBC, FOX, Chicago Sun-Times, FOX, WGN, Chicago Tribune and more.

Charity Spotlight #2

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago
A non-profit organization that for over 100 years, has empowered families and individuals of all races and religious backgrounds through numerous programs from adoption and child services to school, housing, seniors and veterans.
For eight years, we working with their in-house communication team on fundraising events throughout the year including black tie galas, special honoree brunches, veterans events, wine tastings, silent auctions, golf outings, fashion shows, boxing matches and more. Our team secured local news anchors as emcees and established partnerships. Media coverage included Modern Luxury, Quintessential Barrington, ABC, NBC, Hinsdale Living, Sheridan Road, CBS, FOX, Chicago Sun-Times, FOX, WGN, Chicago Tribune and more.

About Bettie Bomb

Founded in 2005, Bettie Bomb is a Chicago Nonprofit PR Agency offering a suite of services from trusted industry partners under one creative umbrella. Nonprofit PR, Marketing, Social Media and beyond…we work as an extension of your team, creating personalized campaigns, building awareness and telling your story when it matters most.
We are a female-owned, Boutique Chicago Nonprofit PR Agency specializing in all things lifestyle: food, fashion, hospitality, retail, health & wellness, medical, consumer and philanthropy. Partners Rebecca Kussmann & Laura Collins work closely with businesses & organizations to target key audiences and generate exposure all under the Bettie Bomb umbrella. Work one-on-one or have us build a team. We can be BIG and we can be small…that’s the beauty of it. Small, but mighty with the ability to grow. That’s us in a nutshell.
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