When an Atlanta homeless shelter was in danger of having its water service terminated, an Atlanta area charity known as Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless stepped up and delivered hundreds of cases of bottled juice and bottled water to the shelter. Sure, they could have tried to raise the money to help pay the bill, but the organization understood its mission and who it was founded to help.
The local press reported that Cheri Hardge, spokeswoman for the Hosea organization, did not miss a beat when she was given an opportunity. “The homeless is our clientele. Whenever we see a need and if there’s something we can do to help fill the need, we do.”
How do you suppose the millions who saw that report responded? Well, if they were looking for a way to help the homeless without giving them a handout, they now knew exactly where to go. And if they ever wondered who helped the homeless in their city, they now had an answer. In one public statement Cheri Hardge branded her organization to the greater Atlanta area.
But she only had the opportunity and platform because she and her group saw an opportunity and took it. They didn’t wonder if they should step up. They didn’t endlessly look at the pros and cons. They said: This is us. Let’s do this!
That’s a combination of knowing what you’re about and being willing to get out and do it. That simple mindset yields massive dividends.
First, you have a message people can easily grasp and a brand they can quickly relate to. Next, you find yourself equipped to know exactly where the “right place” and the “right time” is. These things are not mysteries to successful people. Because they plan to create those opportunities. It starts with understanding what you are about in a way that allows you to communicate that to your staff, volunteers, and donors. From there, you must BE that “thing” at every opportunity.
Hosea didn’t “become” a homeless charity because they helped a homeless charity. But, to the people of Atlanta, they became THE homeless charity simply by being willing and able to be what they already are. That’s the essence of nonprofit public relations.