Nonprofit 411: Positive Nonprofit News Can Change the World


By Jackie Herskovitz Russell, President and Founder of Teak Media + Communication

Nonprofits have an opportunity to serve the public in a greater way than they already do.

This is not a column about how overtaxed and underpaid nonprofit leaders could be working harder or more efficiently. On the contrary, nonprofit executive directors and leaders are among the hardest working, and most authentic, responsible and accountable people with whom I’ve had the privilege of working. They know how to squeeze a dime out of a nickel. The live, eat and breathe their work. They set an example for the rest of us – work that encourages passionate performance every day is the way to go!

So how can nonprofits do more for society than they already do? They can tell the world about their work.

Nonprofit organizations are an endless source of inspiration. Whether their mission is to research treatments for cancer, teach urban youth how to avoid violence, find housing for homeless elders, or conduct ocean health research, nonprofits make the world a better place every day.

Telling the world about their great work, the people whose lives they’ve improved or even saved, and joyful stories of people coming together to help each other, is clearly beneficial for the nonprofit. When people read, hear or see positive news about an organization’s good work, they are more apt to donate when asked. They may become volunteers, contributors, supporters or participants.  Increased awareness turns into increased funding for most nonprofits.

But, there is more. When the public sees good news about others acting positively with love, energy and compassion, they become inspired to do the same. The bar is raised. Their own expectations of themselves grow.

Equally important: positive stories in the news help to break the cycle of negative media that feeds on itself. The media report negative news which makes people feel badly about the world around them.  Doing bad things appears to be the norm, and so more people do bad things on which the media then report.  Oversimplified, but true.

According to Reuters, crime in America is at the lowest it’s been since 1963. The rate at which murder, rape, theft, and violence against others take place in our country declines annually. The irony is that Americans feel less safe. The media do not report on the decline of violence as readily as they promote violent acts. News that blasts 24/7 to inform the world of misdeeds far and close to home has a negative effect on society. While technology, social programs, increased incarcerations, advanced police systems, and an aging demographic (young people are responsible for the majority of crimes) have brought a decline to crime, the invasion of omnipresent multimedia makes us feel as if crime and violence have increased. This breeding of fear creates a cycle that feeds itself.

This is where nonprofits come in. Sharing your organizations’ good news will drive revenue and build organizational credibility while, at the same time, infiltrate the negative news cycle with uplifting and enlightening messages that bring hope to the public. Your good news, shared with the world, will help others achieve greater success and happiness in their lives. Here’s to peace, health, love and good news in 2013.

Jackie Herskovitz Russell is the president and founder of Teak Media + Communication, a B Corp public relations firm that promotes nonprofit organizations and responsible companies.