Haris Ahmed Chicago: How can Non-profits Benefit from PR Services?
Haris Ahmed, from Chicago, is the founder and CEO of Pragmatium Consulting Group, Inc., a management consulting company that engages in public relations for all sorts of organizations. Pragmatium assists clients to expand their PR reach while providing solid grassroots support for projects and initiatives. Today, he discusses the intricate relationship between non-profit organizations and public relations firms.
While Chicago has successfully weathered the financial crisis of the late 2000s, Chicagoans still face a multitude of challenges. The problems of inner-city violence and racism, for example, have received much airtime during the past decade. Among them, substance abuse continues to be a major stumbling-block on the city’s path to recovery. In addition, recent cuts in federal and state spending have kept the city’s public education system from living up to its potential.
As such, a host of non-profit organizations have emerged in the greater Chicago metropolitan area, many of which focus on the densely-populated inner city. These non-profits seek to improve living conditions by providing opportunities for livelihood and personal development to locals. Others work with the public education system to provide safe, conducive places for learning. These organizations are supported by communities, churches, and local chapters of nationwide advocacy groups.
However, non-profits in Chicago face the same problems as those experienced by non-profits elsewhere. For instance, most are staffed by unpaid volunteers who also have full-time jobs. Those who work full-time, doing PR in Chicago non-profits, are often saddled with heavy workloads; thus, many leave for higher-paying corporate jobs after a year or so. Because of this turnover, non-profits encounter obstacles to fundraising and raising awareness for their work and advocacies.
Because of this, non-profits turn to public relations firms in expanding their fundraising reach. It is often claimed that external PR firms will only bloat the budgets of organizations that are already having trouble balancing their books. On the contrary, many PR professionals are ready to offer their services to non-profits either pro bono or at heavily-discounted rates.
This approach has two effects. First, engaging external PR firms instead of doing PR in-house will allow non-profits to consolidate their workforces and focus on organizing communities, providing services to the underprivileged. Volunteers and paid workers alike will then avoid having to wear two hats and can thus concentrate on their areas of operation. They can also conduct deeper research into the causes and possible solutions to inner-city problems.
Second, PR firms are more effective in attracting attention to issues. They employ a variety of traditional and digital mediums to ensure that the non-profit’s message goes out to as many people as possible. This, in turn, results in widespread awareness and increased fundraising, especially among individual and corporate donors from both within and outside the non-profit’s traditional areas. This gives organizations more resources with which to conduct their activities.
Haris Ahmed of Chicago believes that the relationship between non-profits and PR agencies is one of mutual benefit. Therefore, he strongly urges both parties to seek each other out and to arrive at a common strategy for fundraising and awareness initiatives.