Monday, 12 April 2010

I Can: Helping NGOs without breaking a sweat

Professionals, in any profession, are always looking to improve themselves and sharpen their skills to meet the needs of the dynamic job market. Few of us wait on our bosses to get into a training programme. If you really want it, you go out and get it, right? So, you don't have to wait for your company to get started on helping others either. I wrote an entry previously about how we can get involved in assisting in communities and with NGOs etc.

I had a chat with a friend and she is part of an NGO that I sometimes do work with, via work, and she was telling me all about the plans for the new year and taking the organisation forward. But I don't think she had a clue as to where to start. NGOs and CBOs, you have to remember, are made up of mostly of volunteers - people who are dedicated to a cause and donate their time to assist. It is not necessarily the people with the right skills sets for various functions. So though the organisation has a named PR and Marketing person, it's not something he does for a living. One may just be led to believe that anyone can handle the marketing function of an NGO but it does not always work like that. I saw the potential for getting the NGO to a wider audience but a potential vastly untapped.

So basically, as I said before, CSR is not just going to a home and painting it, or helping out at a fundraiser. It can be as simple as lending your expertise to a group that really could use the help in your professional area of expertise. So, in which areas can you as a PR or marketing professional assist?

  • Writing skills and presentation - I have seen many a sponsorship letter, and some of these letters miss the mark. A poorly written letter and a slipshod proposal can be the difference in getting financial support from a company or not.
  • Strategic Marketing/Communications Plan - They should have a strategic plan outlining what the group aims to do, but sometimes in the "how", the marketing comms strategy is left lacking. I realised in talking to my friend, that they were just not doing some basic things and not tapping into some obvious channels.
  • Website - Maybe you can assist with setting up on online presence via a website, assist with a content map, technical writing or advice, or...
...and this one was inevitable if you have been reading this blog frequently enough

  • Social media - It's more than just creating a group or a page. What does the NGO hope to achieve via this medium, who do they wish to target, what is the message, how do they intend to deliver and how regularly. Here is where you can help and really push them along to greater visibility...if done right, of course. I have seen many a dead Facebook group, started with good intentions but then, what's next?
  • Networking - Get others involved via your social network. It's amazing what a bunch of professionals with direct links to CEOs, CFOs and Sponsorship teams can do for a non-proft organisation. Help them get their vision out there!

The same applies if you're an attorney, an accountant or CFA or an ICT professional, in different areas of course, like governance, or accounting or technology. Don't be afraid to go out there and lend your expertise to a group you believe is doing a good job but could use a helping hand.


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