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Social Marketing for Non-Profits
Working for social causes can do good for newbies.
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 by Tammie Ferguson
PRism Communications

Tammie FergusonGraduating from college is a joyous occasion and is followed by the sharp determination to "get out there and do great things."  

Well, in reality, employers expect you to have experience before they will hire you. Then you ask yourself, "How can I gain experience if no one will hire me?"  Preferably, you should try to complete an internship prior to graduation, but if that door has already closed, don't fret. There are non-profit organizations willing to accept your service and maybe provide a moderate fee.  

The important thing to remember is that you are trying to gain experience and credentials. Of course this won't put food on the table, but it could open up the cabinet that holds goodies for the future. Working for non-profits enables you to give back to your community, enhance your skills, network and gain references all at the same time. It's a win-win situation. These organizations are usually working with small budgets and limited staff members. They can use all of the help they can get.

So, how do you approach a non-profit to market your services? First of all, you need a dynamic, error-proof resume to compliment your personality and desire to learn and contribute. Choose an organization that reflects your personal values or philanthropy. I personally enjoy working with programs that assist children from low-income families, but there are always organizations working to inform the community about health issues, educational, environmental and political matters.  

Be respectful of the director's time by calling and making an appointment, arriving on time and being properly dressed. Sell yourself! If you're a graduate with a public relations degree, you understand the importance of effective communication. Deliver your message, engage in feedback and receive the sender's feedback, whether verbal or non-verbal. If you're rejected, don't take it personally. Thank them for their time and consideration and continue on your journey.

Offer samples of your work so the director can see that you are serious about the opportunity and are capable of portraying the organization in a professional and positive light. Press releases, newsletters, print ads and flyers are common public relations tools for non-profits and would serve as great examples.

What do you have to lose? This is an easy way to gain experience, keep your skills current, meet new people and make a contribution to your community.  Your profit from helping a non-profit organization can't be measured in words. 

Tammie Ferguson is a freelance Communications Specialist and 
owner of PRism Communications and Tammie Ferguson Photography
She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications with 
an emphasis in public relations and is currently pursuing 
a Master of Science degree in Administration.  

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