Philanthropic. Boring. Lack of funding. These are the most common responses I received when asking a few people what words came to mind when they heard nonprofit PR. Some people have trouble understanding why I want to go into the nonprofit industry with my PR education when there are many other sectors of PR that would provide fatter paychecks for the same, if not less, amount of work. While this point is valid, my reasoning for ignoring it lies in the culture of nonprofit PR: it is fast-paced, passion-driven, and meaningful work. Four reasons illustrate this point:
- Nonprofits hire interesting people. There is simply something to be said about the type of people who dedicate their career to a higher cause. Some people believe that nonprofit PR is something you might go into when there are no options; this is a misconception. Nonprofits tend to hire fewer people and be very selective between the best, brightest, and most driven candidates.
- Nonprofits need PR expertise. Any organization that is based upon the goodwill of donors and volunteers is bound to need good PR professionals. A special aspect of nonprofit PR is that there are unparalleled growth opportunities. There is no limit to the success of a good PR campaign, and the things it can do to boost visibility, increase donations, and create positive public opinion. Good PR people are a necessity in this field.
- Your work matters. Working in a nonprofit setting allows you to do work that truly impacts people and gives real meaning to your life. The work that good PR can do for a nonprofit makes a difference that you can see firsthand. I like working in environments where I know that I am genuinely needed, that the contribution I make affects other people (co-workers, as well as the public) tangibly.
- External experiences. Especially in a small community, working for a nonprofit will inevitably force you to step outside of PR and acquire other skills to do your job. Heather McFarlane of The Home For Little Wanderers recently spoke at our Chapter meeting. She shared that her job as Public Relations Manager also involves work in human resources, on-site work, and event planning – all useful skills to have outside of the regular PR skills of writing press releases and monitoring media.
The nonprofit sector is a great way for any PR professional to continue their work and maybe even fulfill a personal calling. I was searching for a way to mix my love of the environment with the passion that I had found for PR when I realized that the nonprofit PR industry could meet both of those needs. To any future nonprofit PR professionals, I wish you luck in also finding your niche within this industry.