Make Your Pro Bono Client Newsworthy

Be active and use your perspective as an insider and observer

You contribute your professional expertise in marketing, law, finance, operations or management to your work as a board member or volunteer of a nonprofit organization.

Equally important is your unique perspective highlighting the group’s programs and services.

In addition, you offer a reality check of how other audiences may view the nonprofit’s activities.

Here is where these multi-faceted roles of professional expertise, inside champion and outside observer coalesce.

As a board member or volunteer, you may suggest to the Executive Director, or perhaps the Director of Operations or Development, a quarterly audit of the top programs in order to identify the aspects that might prove most newsworthy.

  • Review services and events with the goal of pinpointing the larger social or educational issues that they address — literacy, job training or health services, as examples — for an under-served population or community.
  • List three bullet points that summarize the essence of each program in terms of its results and impact.

When you focus on those services that, on behalf of society, Save Time, Save Money or Bring More Joy to individuals and the community, the organization is on its way to attracting more news coverage that may draw donations, attendees and grants, as well as support from allied groups,the business community and elected officials.

My pro bono work with the Roosevelt Island Historical Society (RIHS), which holds lectures and tours promoting the history of New York City’s former Welfare Island, has challenged me to define the newsworthy angle of these events — with the goal to increase attendance and earned revenue.

The recent RIHS installation of the long-lost lamppost base, once a part of the Queensboro Bridge, represented a highly visual news opportunity. It was reported in 2001 that the lamppost base had been removed from the Bridge in 1976, and was missing ever since.

By linking the installation of the 6,000 pound lamppost base to the 30-plus year disappearance, the event became newsworthy, resulting in articles and photos in The New York Times and

Your pro bono client may not have monumental news like this; still, you can create a context for its programs to be connected to a current or perennial social issue. Contact me at, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s talk soon to help this group land its own news story. And if you work at a nonprofit, let’s review the programs together to create that news angle.

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