The success of any nonprofit comes from how visible they are. The more well known a nonprofit is, the more government and community support it will receive.

Public relations practitioners can play a major role in making a nonprofit more successful. It is important for nonprofits to understand how they can utilize public relations to become a more successful organization.

I did some research and found three major areas public relations practitioners can focus on when working for nonprofits. All three of these areas will help increase the overall visibility of a nonprofit organization.

Internal communications

Big Duck--Smart Communications for Nonprofits Logo

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Communication is the number one key to success for any organization. According to Big Duck, a company that works exclusively with nonprofits to help change the way they communicate, it is important to have someone work primarily on communicating your nonprofits mission, both internally and externally.

Before any organization can focus on external communications, it needs to make sure it has strong internal communications. If an organization cannot successfully communicate with employees, then they will not be able to successfully communicate the organizations mission with its publics.

In order to make sure everyone in the organization is aware of what is happening in all departments, public relations practitioners can create an internal newsletter, hold daily meetings and create and communicate a plan that highlights the organizations overall goals and objectives.

Bizmanualz is a great example of strong internal communications. The company utilizes daily meetings to help increase the success of its internal communications.

Bizmanualz Logo

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External communications

Once your company has successfully mastered internal communications, it is time for the public relations practitioner to start focusing on external communications (don’t forget to continue working on internal communications while doing so). External communications is extremely important. This communication will determine what your audience thinks of your organization.

The first important step to successful external communications is to understand your audience and what they are looking for from your organization. By conducting research and speaking to members of the community, you will be able to create communication strategies and tactics that meet the needs of your audience.

It is also important to research and get to know the local media and leaders in the community. Call them on the phone and ask to schedule a meeting with them. The more relationships you create with these people, the more positive stories you will get on your organization.

Make-A-Wish Foundation Logo
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The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a nonprofit that has strong external communications.  The organization utilizes its website, social media and corporate sponsors to reach out to its audience. I recommend taking a look and researching more on its best practices.

Measuring Success

In order to find out if an organization is reaching its goals and objectives for internal and external communications; it must measure its success.

To measure the success of internal communications, go back to your employees. Create surveys employees can fill out and look to see if employees feel the internal communications of the organization is strong or weak.

To measure the success of external communications, go back to your audience and the media. Look to see what type of media was generated about your organization and look to see if there was an increase or decrease in funding

These three areas are only some of the areas that public relations practitioners can focus on and improve when working for a nonprofit. Does anyone work for a nonprofit and focus on something different? Do you have any best practices that have helped your nonprofit succeed?  Leave your thoughts in the comments or contact me on Twitter!


I use to believe social media was just a fad. I thought after everyone had his or her fill, it would fade away. I remember being angry with my public relations professor when I was told to learn as much as I could about social media to help further my career in public relations. I couldn’t figure out how people enjoyed using Twitter and writing blogs for everyone to see.

Well, you guessed it, I am now one of those “people” who use social media multiple times a day to connect with friends, check up on my favorite organizations and learn from the professionals in my field. I now understand that social media is not a fad, but the fastest growing communication platform. Who else knows this? The first and largest nonprofit medical group in the world does.

According to this article, the Mayo Clinic announced its plans to launch an Online Social Media Health Network that will be part of its new Center for Social Media. The announcement came at the Second Annual Social Media Summit hosted on the Mayo Clinic campus in Jacksonville, FL.

Mayo Clinic Logo

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What is the Online Social Media Health Network?

According to the Mayo Clinic Social Media Center website, the network is a group dedicated to using social media to help promote health, improve health care and to fight disease. The network will also provide health care practitioners with the resources needed to speed the adoption of social media in the health care field. The website for the network will launch Oct. 25.

Why is the Mayo Clinic implementing this network?

Health care has fallen short in adopting social media tools over other industries. Ed Bennett’s Hospital Social Networking List shows less than 900 of the more than 5,000 hospitals have engaged in social media.

Why should your organization learn from the Mayo Clinic?

Even if your nonprofit organization is not in the healthcare field, it is important to understand how social media is changing the way people communicate. With social media growing at such a fast rate, your organization needs to stay ahead of the game.

The Online Social Media Health Network is a great example of how your company can be a leader and help your industry learn how to incorporate social media externally and internally.

It is important to work together instead of working against each other. The Mayo Clinic is providing hospitals a place to learn and grow with social media. In a world that is rapidly changing, it is important for organizations to help one another. To grow together.

I love what the Mayo Clinic is doing. The largest medical group in the world is lending a helping hand for a communication platform that is still so unfamiliar.

Even if your organization already has the social media stuff figured out—take a stab at another area of interest and help other organizations in your field.

One more thing, if you don’t believe social media is becoming one of the fastest  growing communication platforms– check out this video!

Currently I sport my 2004 black Saturn Ion. I got my car in November 2008 and for the past two years it has gotten me safely to my destination. Even though I love my Saturn dearly, I began to miss my little silver 2003 Hyundai Elantra (even if I did have to share it with my younger brother) after I learned what Hyundai is doing to help kids fight cancer.

According to the Hope on Wheels website, what started in 1998 as an initiative by New England Hyundai dealers has now evolved into an independent nonprofit organization. Hope on Wheels is a national partnership between all of Hyundai’s more than 800 dealers and Hyundai Motor America. At the end of 2010, Hope on Wheels will have donated more than $23 million to children’s hospitals nationwide to help kids fight cancer.

Hope on Wheels Logo

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This September—Childhood Cancer Awareness Month—Hope on Wheels has expanded its commitment by creating the “Hyundai Gives Hope on Wheels” program. Through this program Hyundai dealers nationwide and Hyundai Motor America will donate $6.8 million dollars to children’s hospitals and other nonprofit organizations.

According to the Medical News, Hope on Wheels will visit about sixty organizations across the country to distribute Hyundai Hope Grants in the amount of $100,000. These funds will go towards research that will hopefully help cure the cancers that strike these children.

How has Hope on Wheels created success? I believe the way Hope on Wheels utilized the World Wide Web to create awareness for its campaign contributed to it being so successful. Its interactive website and its use of social media is a best practice for public relations professionals working in nonprofit public relations.

Interactive website

The Hope on Wheels website gives its audience many outlets to find out information and to become connected to the organization and its mission. The website has a strong strategic approach that goes beyond the basics.

• Meet the Kids. Visitors of the website are able to read stories on some of the kids that were helped through Hope on Wheels. By giving the visitors of the website a chance to connect with these kids, it allows for an emotional connection. If someone is emotionally connected, they are more likely to support your organization.

• Photo Gallery. The website also has a photo gallery with a variety of pictures that range from patients to hospital employees receiving the grants. Allowing your audience to see what the organization is doing through visuals also creates that intimate connection.

• Interactive Map. Hope on Wheels has created an interactive map that shows where the campaign has gone and is heading. From this map, visitors of the website can see if and when Hope on Wheels is coming to their area. By allowing your audience to see where you are going keeps them constantly updated and connected.

Social media

Hope on Wheels also has incorporated social media into its campaign. Utilizing social media in today’s society is a great way to reach a large audience in a quick amount of time. Social media also allows the organization to update its audiences on a 24/7 basis.

• Twitter. Hope on Wheels has its own Twitter account. According to this blog post, Twitter has become one of the fastest growing platforms for communicating, organizing and networking. By using a Twitter and creating valuable information, it keeps your audience coming back.

• Facebook. Hope on Wheels also utilizes a Facebook page. Through its Facebook, Hope on Wheels connects with its audience through pictures, videos and event listings. Facebook also allows visitors to comment and share their story with the Hope on Wheels Campaign.

By keeping your audience connected through your website and social media, you will continue to create a strong following for your organization. In todays society, a majority of people are using the Web. By knowing this, it gives nonprofits another outlet to reach its audience. Without support from your audience, a nonprofit organization has a hard time existing.

Let me know what you guys think of Hope on Wheels. What else do you think they are doing that makes the organization successful? Do you even find it to be successful? Leave your thoughts in the comments or feel free to message me on Twitter.

Oh– one more thing! Can I switch back to my Hyundai Elantra now? Pretty please.

2003 Hyundai Elantra

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