Nonprofit Publishing: Should You Do It?
Getting word of your nonprofit out there by publishing articles, magazines, newsletters, or websites can help add money or gain awareness.
It doesn't matter whether your nonprofit is brand new or has been around for a long time and is well establishes -- it will probably need to find a way to communicate at some point. Nonprofits often have reasons to get its word out there to the public, members, foundations, and legislators, the mediate and other people. In most cases, nonprofit organizations opt for either a print or internet-based publication to communicate outside of the organization.
There are generally two limiting factors when it comes to nonprofit publishing: money and staff. Combining these two factors with the mission of your nonprofit, you should be able to come up with the best type of publication for your nonprofit. Generally speaking, nonprofits publish their materials in newsletters, magazines, email lists and even websites. However, the very first thing that you must do when you are looking to publish is to figure out what you want your publication to do. Do you want to try to get new members in your nonprofit, or are you trying to get donations? Nonprofit publishing is often driven by many competing factors.
This article outlines common reasons that nonprofit organizations engage in publishing.
Nonprofit Publishing: To Get New Members and Keep Existing Ones
Nonprofit organizations that are related to consumers, the arts, or are made up of hobbyists or professionals, publications are generally very good at getting new members interested in the nonprofit and retaining current members. If you take a look through a number of nonprofit publications, you will often find articles and pieces related to membership highlighted throughout the publication. In addition, there will most likely also be articles related to the benefits of membership and information about how to get involved. Lastly, it sometimes occurs that the publications themselves can become prizes. Indeed, when recruiting new members, nonprofit organizations often boast their website, email lists and publications to lure in new members.
Nonprofit Publishing: To Request Financial Support
As many nonprofit organizations can tell you, sometimes the best donors in the future are the ones that have donated in the past. Seeing this, it is no wonder that many nonprofit organizations make and publish newsletters or email lists that are devoted solely to their past donors. As well, many nonprofit organizations that maintain websites have exclusive features within their sites that are only accessible to past donors.
Many of the publications that go out to past donors typically focus on the work that the organization has been doing with the help of the donor's money and contributions. As well, these publications often take pains to show that, even with all the work that the nonprofit has already put towards the problem, there is much left to do. To this end, these publications often cite experts in their respective fields to educate the readers about the problems that the nonprofit is attempting to fix. Along with this education, these publications are also filled with appeals for more and greater donations to fix the problems that are still present. Lastly, many of these publications often single out various volunteers and highlight their achievements, showing how the readers can do the same.
Nonprofit Publishing: To Build a Sense of Community in the Readership
Humans by and large can be thought of as pack animals. Because of this, many people are often drawn to organizations and communities when they feel that they belong. Nonprofit publications can be used to grow a sense of community in the readership that may lead to stronger bonds and networking in the nonprofit.
In addition to welcoming new members into the fold of the nonprofit organization, these publications are also used to strengthen the preexisting community within the nonprofit organization.
Nonprofit Publishing: To Educate about Important Issues
There are many nonprofit organizations that use their publications to educate their readership about the important issues that they are working on. Not only do these publications provide education, but they also empower the readers to make informed decisions. Such publications often relate to the global environment, energy issues, public affairs and social justice.
These publications are written to and designed for like-minded people. These publications are meant to reach as many people as possible and provide the readers with the nonprofit's stance on the issues that the nonprofit works towards. In order to reach as many people as possible, these educational publications are often broadcast on a level that acts more like a shotgun rather than a rifle. Such "shotgun" publications are often in the form of free newsletters, websites, blogs, podcasts and email lists. Every publication is meant to broadcast the mission of the nonprofit organization. For example, many nonprofit organizations that work for environmental goals often print their publications on recycled paper using soy based ink.
However, just because many nonprofit organizations use a "shotgun" method for their publications, that doesn't meant it is right for every nonprofit. A number of smaller nonprofit organizations focus more on providing in-depth information to a more targeted audience. This type of strategy does not require as many resources.
Nonprofit Publishing: To Provide Needed Materials to Underserved Readers
Another service that nonprofit publications provide is to give information to readers that are overlooked by more mainstream publications. As an example, parents of kids that have specific learning disabilities are often confused and exasperated by mainstream publications that focus only on kids with mild learning disabilities. Nonprofit publications that are able to focus down more and do not have to appeal to a wider audience can provide these targeted readers with the information that they really want.
The nonprofit organizations that put out such publications often go to the experts to find the information that they want to publish. Taking from the example above, a nonprofit may go to a doctor that specializes in high-functioning autism rather than a school counselor that deals with kids with ADHD to get information for a published article. In addition, these nonprofits also out and find first-hand stories that are published in the media. The funding for these publications generally comes from grants and donations rather than advertising or subscriptions that subscribers pay for.
However, the nonprofit organizations that put out these publications often must find various ways to get their materials to their targeted audiences. More commercial distribution networks, like newsstands, will not really work for their purposes.
Nonprofit Publishing: To Mobilize Readers
One of the best parts of publications that are put out by nonprofit organizations is that they can mobilize and activate their readers. Many publications often call on their readers to write letters to their elected representatives about key issues. In addition, publications are often the stimulus for getting petitions started and even attending rallies. Bottom line is that when a publication is written to an audience that all have like minds, much can be accomplished as a result.