Inside Philanthropy

A blog on philanthropy and nonprofit news and issues. A publication of Philanthropy Journal.

March 8, 2007

The medium is the message

Broadcast and print, and DVDs, are the media that a foundation and a nonprofit will use, respectively, for new advertising and public-awareness campaigns.

The New Jersey-based Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which focuses exclusively on improving the health and health care of Americans, is launching a $3 million blitz using broadcast and print ads.

The campaign supports congressional reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, a move the foundation says will help address the needs of 9 million uninsured children in the U.S.

And Leave A Legacy, the public-awareness campaign of the Indianapolis-based National Committee on Planned Giving that encourages people to leave a charitable gift in their wills and estate plans, has teamed up with producers of The Ultimate Gift, a new movie about a young man who inherits a fortune.

The film, which opens March 9, will be followed this fall with release of a DVD that will contain a public-service announcement about the Leave A Legacy campaign.

While they may not have the resources or clout to invest in a national ad blitz or hook up with Hollywood producers, all nonprofits can be more resourceful in using media to help tell their story.

That ranges from developing relationships with news reporters, submitting letters to the editor and guest opinion columns and fielding guests on talk-radio shows to providing speakers for civic groups and religious congregations and submitting news items for their newsletters.

To promote their cause and secure the support they need, nonprofits need to raise awareness about the work they do and the needs they address.

A critical job for any nonprofit is learning how to work more effectively with the media to communicate its message.

Green power ratchets up

On the heels of helping to negotiate environmental concessions from the buyers of Texas energy firm TXU, and drawing sharp criticism from other environmental groups that argue the green negotiators sold out and got too little in return, Environmental Defense now has hired an investment bank to advise it, The New York Times reports.

The move, the Times says, signals that Environmental Defense wants a bigger say with TXU and its suitors, and suggests environmental activists may push for a bigger role in mergers and acquisitions “as they use Wall Street tactics and a better understanding of the financial mechanics of deals to negotiate even more aggressive environmental concessions.”

To make progress on the critical social, economic and environmental problems we face, nonprofits and foundations need to break out of their cocoons and work the marketplace.


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