People in conference room listening to a young woman in a dark vest talk.

Collected Wisdom

Do Nonprofit Organizations Need A Marketing Budget?

The answer to this question, from many philanthropies and other nonprofit funders, often seems to be: No. Donors want their grant money to directly touch the lives of the people served by nonprofits, and they are hesitant to include funding for marketing and communications efforts that might not fit into this vision. One common assumption is that nonprofits should simply rely upon grassroots outreach efforts that utilize volunteers, printed flyers, and word-of-mouth.

But in an article for Philanthropy, Lisa David, the president of Public Health Solutions, makes it clear that modern marketing campaigns are essential to help many nonprofits connect with the people they serve. Her organization decided to spent $15,000 on marketing tools such as paid digital advertising and social media outreach during the pandemic—resulting in a 500 percent increase in visits to their website, which allowed hundreds of people to successfully connect to essential health services.

“without communications and outreach to communities, no one—especially those who stand to benefit most—will hear about a nonprofit’s work and services.”

David argues that “without communications and outreach to communities, no one—especially those who stand to benefit most—will hear about a nonprofit’s work and services.” Pointing out that common misconceptions about marketing are rooted in a lack of understanding of modern marketing campaigns, she implores foundations and other grant makers to allocate funding specifically for marketing and communications use. Read more in the full article.

The Outsized Impact of Op-Eds

Another way for nonprofits—and others in advocacy roles—to reach their audience is to place an op-ed in a local publication. Successfully pitching an op-ed can be time and labor intensive, but this effort can be quite fruitful. Even in a fractured media landscape there is enduring value in authoring an op-ed piece. In a new resource from Narrative Initiative, Ted Fickes points out that “Op-eds can have outsize impact. An op-ed will lift up grassroots voices and strengthen community organizing.”

This resource explores how the former executive director of the Ella Baker Center came to write an op-ed after experiencing a traumatizing traffic stop. It highlights the importance of cultivating relationships with editors, and being prepared for a collaboration that often requires “multiple rounds of conversation, writing and editing” before your op-ed pitch turns into a publishable piece.

“Op-eds can have outsize impact. An op-ed will lift up grassroots voices and strengthen community organizing.”

To write a successful op-ed, stay flexible, be timely, and make sure you have a unique story to tell that ties into a larger argument. One more key? Be sure you are targeting your piece to your intended audience. In a related post on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation blog, two researchers discuss why crafting an advocacy narrative for the general public requires a very different approach than writing for a specialized audience (such as state-level policymakers).

If you are thinking of authoring your own op-ed, be sure to also read our four tips to getting an op-ed published. And if you need additional help, reach out to our team—we’re always available to provide assistance.


A pair of white and blue sneakers.

Making Change

A Mile in His Shoes

Last month, hundreds of people in the Portland area laced up their shoes and joined walking tours. But we weren’t tourists. Instead, we came out to better understand and celebrate Black history in our communities; our guides were young Black men participating in Word is Bond’s In My Shoes storytelling project.

An OPB article notes that this innovative project not only offers people an opportunity to learn from the experiences of these young guides, but also a chance for the guides themselves to step into the role of leaders who take on “a stronger sense of ownership” in their communities.

“we want to amplify the richness of stories that exist within the Black community.”

In its inaugural year, this project was a definitive success—over the course of the month, community members, police officers, and elected leaders all attended these walks. The project has even received national attention with a shout-out in the New York Times. As Word is Bond founder Lakayana Drury says, “we want to amplify the richness of stories that exist within the Black community.”

Required Reading for Northwest Changemakers

In 2022, Western States Center is undertaking an ambitious yearlong narrative project. It is publishing thirty stories that document the successful campaign to defeat Ballot Measure 9, which would have amended Oregon’s state constitution to roll back civil rights and declare homosexuality to be “abnormal and perverse.”

Thirty years have passed since the defeat of this measure, but America’s culture wars continue. The No on 9 Remembered project seeks to ask: “What can this historic battle for civil and human rights tell us about today’s fight for inclusive democracy?”

“What can this historic battle for civil and human rights tell us about today’s fight for inclusive democracy?”

The answer comes in a trove of valuable historical memories which detail how a movement for tolerance and social change can build “infrastructure for the long haul.” Nine stories are currently available. Read them to understand the enormous stakes of the ballot measure, how a statewide coalition came together to fight it, how a farmworker union (PCUN) “took a courageous stand” against bigotry, how Kathleen Saadat used “radical inclusivity” to broaden the movement, and more.

Moonshots and More

During this pandemic, a lot of medical research was paused to allow for high priority Covid-19 research and vaccine development. One unfortunate casualty has been cancer research. So how do we catch up? Now that vaccine shots are readily available, President Biden has reignited the federal Cancer Moonshot initiative, with the goal of halving the death rate from cancer.

Cancer researchers throughout the Northwest will also benefit from a new infusion of funding from the Kuni Foundation as it seeks to accelerate cancer research. An article in The Columbian notes that some of this funding will be used by Oregon Health and Science University researchers to find effective therapies that can treat metastatic triple-negative breast cancer, a deadly disease that is twice as common in Black and Hispanic women.

The foundation is also funding other underserved communities. It seeks to address an acute problem—over 24,000 out of 31,000 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Northwest could face housing insecurity. One of its grantees, The Arc of Washington State, recently published an op-ed in the Seattle Times explaining why we need to do a better job of accounting for those with developmental disabilities and providing them with the critical services they need “to live full and thriving lives many take for granted.”

Participate

  • Donate to support the people of Ukraine. Prichard is a member of the Public Relations Global Network, and we’ve been listening as our worldwide partners discuss how to best respond to this crisis. One of our fellow members, Buchanan Public Relations, has compiled a list of five reputable organizations that are providing humanitarian efforts to the people of Ukraine. It’s easy to donate.
  • Watch a new miniseries from Caring Across Generations that seeks to undercut stereotypes and define “a new, healthy masculinity rooted in a culture of care.” Over 50 million family caregivers across the country are providing physical and emotional care to loved ones—and 40 percent of these caregivers are men. All five episodes of Man Enough to Care are now available; you can also share your own caregiving story.
  • Host a young changemaker. The Rising Leaders program, from Word is Bond and WorkSystems, places young Black men in six week internships at businesses or other organizations in the greater Portland area. If you’re interested in hosting an intern, or know someone who is interested in applying to Rising Leaders, visit the program’s website.