A Nonprofit's guide to internally-planned successful print communications

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Title: A Nonprofit's guide to internally-planned successful print communications
Author: Wilson, Joseph
Abstract: Nonprofit institutions, sans a large budget allocated towards design, publications production and printing, suffer from a lack of effective print communications. Even within the classification of "nonprofit," a distinction can be made between successful groups and struggling ones. To further compound the matter, nonprofit groups, beyond just a deficit of funds, lack a graphic artist's understanding of how to assemble, produce and intelligently purchase print communications. It is no wonder then, that the struggling nonprofit group finds itself caught in a frustrating cycle. They need, desperately, to get their word out in order to raise funds; yet they lack the resources to produce the printed vehicles for that message. A cavernous gap exists between the quality of printed matter produced by successful institutions versus struggling ones. Information, in a consolidated, easy-to-use form, can help to bridge that gap. The proposed information a guidebook, entitled, "A Nonprofit's Guide to Internally-Planned, Successful, Print Communications." This guidebook, based on an investigation into the print needs and communications objectives of nonprofit groups, will serve to educate and inform the layperson in the methods and techniques used in contemporary graphic arts publishing. Before actually writing the guidebook, a survey of nonprofit groups (both "struggling" and "successful") was executed for the following purposes: To validate the belief that nonprofits were starved for real-world, low-cost, tight-budget, print-communications assistance. To determine the baseline of understanding in graphic arts possessed by nonprofit groups whether they struggled for funds and donations or not. To assess the needs and objectives of nonprofits in the struggle to promote their mission through the medium of print. A local, struggling nonprofit sponsor was chosen to work with. The New York Branch of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were the focus of this research and the "home office" for the guidebook's investigations. In addition, the author provided specific, technical, communications assistance to advance the NCMEC's promotional endeavors through print. Beginning with an overview into the importance of effective print communication in today's visually-competitive world, the guidebook stresses the benefits of implementing a well-constructed print communications program. Often taken for granted in the commercial world, print communications has an assumed, predictable role in the crucial areas of: marketing, advertising and public relations. Not so for the nonprofit. For a great many, print communications is a misunderstood, some times frightening, burden to be undertaken almost as a last resort. To organizations without the capital, resources and expertise print in communications, demands of both budget and staff can be immense. Even to those nonprofit groups with certain in-bouse communication capabilities, the effort is sometimes viewed as a necessary evil. Clearly, an understanding of print communication's fundamentals is required before a struggling nonprofit could initiate an effective print communications pro gram- Subsequent chapters provide a crash-course in the areas of: typography, design, printing and reproduction, basic color, graphics, electronic publishing and paper and finishing options. Commercially, there are numerous desktop publishing books and pre-designed layout guides available. However, that's simply not enough information when your responsibilities go beyond basic "personal computing." Nonprofit communications officers have donors to solicit, volunteers to entice and a constituency to appease. There is a certain level of professionalism required of promotional pieces that attempt to solicit donations. The expectations of a print vehicle that asks for another's time and or money is very different than what is presumed of a corporate entity's "office newsletter," for instance. Aside from the fact that the aforementioned commercial books generally ignore the needs and limitations of nonprofits, what good is such information if there is no foundation in the fundamentals of reproduction? A printed piece is doomed for failure if it is not assembled well. As we know type, design, and color basics (just for starters), must be under stood if a printed piece is to stand any chance of holding the attention of a modem, visually-literate audience. Pre-fabricated, "do-it-yourself layouts are simply insufficient to accomplish this. Nonprofits need more information, and they need it in an accurate, affordable medium. To further compound the issue, nonprofit communications officers themselves are often responsible for the bulk of print communications duties. They do not have the luxury of sending material out-of-house to be typeset, designed and assembled. Rather, the obligation to produce print communications often falls entirely on their shoulders. In the typical nonprofit organization, there is no "advertising," "marketing" or "creative services" departments to turn to for assistance. Within A Nonprofit's Guide to Internally-Planned, Successful Print Communications, through step-by-step instructions and a "real-world" perspective, the "secrets" of successful print communications are revealed. However, this research does not claim to be a panacea, limitations and realities shall be addressed up front. Many are the obstacles and challenges a typical nonprofit agency faces in the attempt to promote its mission. This guidebook honestly acknowledges those limitations and seeks solutions, alternatives and "work-arounds" unlike any commercial offering. The heart of the guidebook is a step-by-step instructional "how-to" guide for the nonprofit to pro duce the specific printed vehicles intended to deliver their message. Examples and illustrations on the professional preparation of such materials as: newsletters, fundraising brochures, print advertisements, etc., guide the reader into the previously uncharted wilds of the production of print communications. Concluding the guidebook is a section on "the business" of nonprofits. Tough times lie ahead for the nation's nonprofit groups. Thoughts, concerns and advice on the "nonprofit struggle" are offered, as well as advice on how to "fight back" against cutbacks, trickling philanthropy and rising competition. Next, an open forum of comments from real nonprofit professionals is offered. As a marshalling of common concerns, the "Q and A" dialogue attempts to provide a sense of solidarity for the nonprofit. The "we're all in this together" message offers a positive beacon in an otherwise murky, uncertain atmosphere. It serves to underscore the struggle and challenge one faces in promoting uphill, formidable missions or causes. The unmistakable determination echoing in the voices from this forum also serves to provide a source of inspiration. Finally, alternative methods of general financing (co-sponsoring, donations) are offered to instruct the nonprofit on how to fund the graphic reproduction of their newly-planned communications material. (A proliferation of other, specific "moneysaving ideas" and tips are to be found embedded throughout the text.) To validate the fact that the guidebook will actually help nonprofits to reach better print communications, several sources were called upon to gauge the guide book's effectiveness and discuss its usefulness and potential. Finally, through both traditional, "grass roots" channels and modern reproduction, the guidebook is being made available to interested nonprofit groups so that they may access the information and put it to use in their advertising, promotions, and print communications campaigns.
Record URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1850/13195
Date: 1996-11

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