Donor Leaders Reminded Effective PR Still Crucial in Fueling Nonprofits’ Mission

Communications strategist emphasizes ongoing importance of traditional news coverage as social media efforts expand

DALLAS—Social media may have opened up new ways for nonprofits to share their message, but a traditional public relations strategy remains crucial in ensuring groups are well funded for their mission, leaders are being reminded this week.

There’s a direct link between how churches, ministries and other organizations engage the news media and the health of their bottom line, media consultant Palmer Holt will tell participants in the Chief Development Officer Forum at the Christian Leadership Alliance (CLA) Outcomes Conference in Dallas, April 17-19.

Holt’s full-service InChrist Communications (ICC) agency is sponsoring the daylong gathering at the conference, which brings together leaders of major Christian nonprofits from across the country.

“We wanted to support the development officers forum because we know that what they do is so vital in ensuring their organizations can continue to do what they have been called to,” said Holt, an award-winning communications professional with more than 25 years’ experience in journalism, corporate and agency public relations, marketing and advertising. “And we wanted to encourage them not to lose sight of how significant traditional public relations can be.”

In a recent blog on the issue, “Positive PR Remains Crucial in Reaching Nonprofit Donors,” Holt cited how nonprofit information group GuideStar noted that, “From building awareness and credibility to supporting fundraising efforts, a well-executed, strategic public relations program can make the difference between achieving one’s goals or falling desperately short of them.”

Holt explained how an integrated communications strategy of “horizontal frequency”– when PR efforts result in people hearing the same message across a spectrum of different channels in the same time period, compounding the messaging effect — can improve donor appeal response rates. It can also help create a positive media profile that can mitigate the impact of negative news.

When missions agency SIM USA found itself at the center of the 2014 Ebola crisis in West Africa, after two of its workers there contracted the disease, ICC’s crisis communications support helped the organization generate 30,000 positive media hits over a five-month period, with equivalent ad value of more than $300 million.

ICC has further strengthened its donor communications expertise with the addition of Mark Kordic to its team. A donor consultant with three decades of experience, he has helped groups fund ministry growth in international missions, Christian radio, Christian higher education and healthcare, as well as local churches.

“The best harvests come from soil that has been well prepared, and the same is true for fundraising initiatives,” said Holt. “To that end, traditional public relations is essential. When someone has recently read something positive about your organization in an article, heard an interview with a representative on television or radio, seen it shared on social media and website, and then receive your direct mail piece, they are likely to be closer to a ‘yes.’ ”

In addition to sponsoring the CLA forum, ICC is also offering a free strategy session in which nonprofit leaders can discuss their needs.

InChrist Communications is a national, full-service communications firm primarily serving faith-based ministries, businesses, churches and individuals. Core services include branding, marketing, advertising, public relations/publicity and media relations, social media, crisis communications, donor development services, special events and creative services.  

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