BWF Services: Strategic Communications and Branding

The environment for fundraising communications is a daunting one, with nonprofits of all sizes facing unprecedented competition in an overheated and at times overwhelming marketplace of ideas.

While it’s been long established that the average American receives 121 emails a day and has six to seven social media apps on their smartphone, Statista monitors media usage on an annual basis, and their statistics are surprising.

Every minute, Americans:
  • Conduct 5,700,000 Google searches
  • Send 148,000 messages on Slack
  • Write 456,000 Tweets
  • Use 2.7 gigabytes of internet data

All in all, IBM reports that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are produced every day—that’s quintillion, as in it has 18 zeroes.

It’s no wonder that the internet is now (ironically) filled with articles providing counsel on how to overcome information overload. It’s a costly problem for the macro economy, with some reports estimating annual costs to US productivity at $900 billion a year.

It’s into this environment that nonprofit communicators must work to secure attention—and funding—for the causes they represent. It is not an easy task, but it’s not impossible. And the key to capturing your prospects’ and donors’ attention may well come from our colleagues in media relations.

Media relations professionals vie for the attention of one of the toughest audiences around—the news media. Most reporters and editors receive dozens, if not hundreds, of story ideas each day from publicists, public information officers, and public relations professionals. And most of these ideas, like the majority of emails, are deleted without a second thought. At a time when a 25 percent open rate is a win for any organization, you need to ensure that your message stands out from the crowd.

Three keys for strong media relations work will also help fundraising communicators catch—and keep—the attention of their target audiences.

First, and perhaps most importantly, don’t ask for money. Let me amend that; don’t always ask for money. In the same way that a reporter will ignore the PR pro who only sends ribbon cutting and grand opening notices, your audiences want the relationship with you to be more than transactional. If you are reaching out to audiences with regularity, you will have the ability to ensure that several of those messages focus on sharing important information and building a relationship with your audiences.

Second, when creating informational messages, provide information that is specific to the audience and impactful to them. In the same way a media relations manager would never pitch a feature story about a ballet company to a reporter that covers the police department, you must ensure that the messaging you provide fits the audiences you target. In fundraising communications, one size does not fit all, and outreach must be measured and precise.

Finally, create a news hook and use video when you can. Media relations professionals often tie pitches to items already in the news. If your information can be tied to ongoing work at your nonprofit, that’s a smart way to grab your reader’s attention. You have a matter of seconds to grab—and keep—your audience’s attention, so make sure your opening does just that. Video can assist in this, particularly if you have the ability to either embed the video in the email itself or direct the reader to a larger story and video at your website.

At BWF, we are dedicated to helping you reach your target audiences in ways that move them and create lasting relationships for your organization. To learn more about how strategic communications can improve your fundraising bottom line, contact Jay Wilson today at It’s a privilege to help.