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Rob Wu 9 min read

How To Leverage Press For Your Online Fundraising Campaign

In 2011, we partnered with the American Red Cross to launch a social fundraising campaign that raised over $125,000 in 10 days.

One of the key components of our success was the focus on press. We couldn’t have done this without the help of NY Times, CNN, Forbes, and many other journalists.

Think of press is an accelerant. They can help your growing online fundraising campaign spread like wildfire.

Let’s figure out how you can use press for your online fundraising.

The Benefits of Press

There are three benefits of leveraging press.

It Helps You Reach New Audiences

Journalists are amplifiers. They help distribute your story to people that normally don’t hear about your nonprofit.  

It Brings Credibility And Social Proof To Your Nonprofit

73% of people prefer to get information about an organization in a collection of articles, such as blog posts and news articles, rather than in a traditional advertisement.

Readers and views see press as an unbiased third party, which helps build the credibility of your online fundraising campaign.

It Can Help You With Search-Engine Rankings

One of the determining factors for search engine ranking is the number of sites that link to your website. When the press writes and posts about you and includes a link to your website or campaign, it helps you move up the search engine ranks.


Tips For Getting Press

1. Identifying Journalists

In order to get press, you need to target journalists, not their publications. Find journalists that write for publications you’re interested in and research to see what “beats” or interests they like to write about.

You can start internally with your own support base to see if there are any journalists that already know about your organization. Otherwise, Muckrack and Twitter are two open resources you can use to find journalists that will be a good fit


2. Build a Relationship

Create a dialogue with your press targets, and focus on creating a long-term relationship. Spend time cultivating them by understanding what they’re passionate about. Your goal is to earn their permission to be pitched to.

3. Write The Press Release Or Story Angle Yourself

Before you pitch, you have to have a story angle. Using what you’ve learned from building a relationship, put yourself in his shoes and create a story that he would be interested in writing about.

No one knows your nonprofit and mission like you do. Instead of delegating your story or press release to a volunteer or an agency, write it yourself.

4. Pitch To Journalists

Since you have the relationship, you’re in the best position to pitch the story. Journalists want to hear to news directly from the source, instead of from an intermediary.

Huffington Post, Patch.com, and GOOD Magazine are publications that feature social good and charity components. This makes a good match for nonprofit pitches.

Should You Pay To Publish A Press Release?

There are a couple of services out there that help you publish your press release. These services usually charge a couple hundred bucks and promise to get your press release distributed to thousands of journalists and publications.

Unless you’re a big and well known nonprofit, your press release will most likely not be picked up by any publications.

That’s not to say that these services are not useful. They are actually very valuable on the search engine side. They help you get inbound links to your website and also help you rank higher on search engines.

If you have the budget, we recommend that you use a pay to publish service to help your search engine presence. Otherwise, we recommend developing a relationship with specific journalists and pitching them directly instead.

Rob is a Founder at CauseVox, a social fundraising platform for nonprofits and causes. His blog focuses on storytelling and fundraising for nonprofits.