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January 20, 2010
So What?: A Challenging Question for Non-Profit Publicists

With annual report season coming up, PR people for non-profit organizations have a special challenge: They need to show why their organizations really matter.

Many non-profits have more identity with their clients than the public at large. Yet it's the public who supports them and hopefully, reads their annual reports.

Kivi Leroux Miller, president of Nonprofit Marketing Guide, addresses the challenge of making non-profits visible in a blog post on annual report writing. The big question an annual report should answer: So what?

"A good non-profit annual report," she writes, "answers the questions that donors are most likely to have about last year’s work:

  • What did you do?
  • Whom did you help?
  • On what did you spend money?
  • Where did that money come from?
  • But the single most important question that your annual report must answer is 'So what?'
  • You did a bunch of stuff. So what? What changed in the world as a result?
  • You helped a bunch of people. So what? How are their lives different now, and why does that matter?
  • You raised money and you spent it. So what? What do your income and expenses tell us about your values, your decision-making, and your impact?"

Indeed, organizations that people may not experience directly have a special need to show why they matter to their communities or the world. 



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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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