Andrea Ball, Sandra Zaragoza and the nonprofit media

Last week, Andrea (Austin American-Statesman), Sandra (Austin Business Journal) and I attended a meeting organized by Erica Ekwurzel of KDK-Harman Foundation and attended by other foundation representatives and Border Media.

Erica’s goal was to get us talking about what we could do as a team to get more information out about nonprofits, foundations, and the needs in Austin in general. What a fantastic idea! A few things have stuck with me from that meeting.

1. The first is that foundations don’t seem to really want media attention. Apparently they want to focus on the need and the cause, and not their magnanimous support of the nonprofits that address those needs. I can understand this… to a degree. The problem is, not many organizations are as knowledgeable as foundations about what the needs are and which nonprofits have the biggest impact.

When I go to a nonprofit to talk about, say, high school drop-out rates, they only have part of the information. They have data relevant to their work, but it’s not necessarily data that’s actionable by the rest of the community. Foundations should have this data – or at least be able to tell me where to go. Foundations, we need you to return our calls!

2. The second – and really, most amazing – thing I heard about was the power of Spanish-language radio and the incredible giving power of Central Texas Spanish speakers. Border Media, which runs three Spanish-language radio stations, really knows how to tap into its audience and get them to take an action, whether that’s attending the 7,000-attendee Feria Para Aprender or donating almost $200,000 to Dell Children’s Hospital … in 2 days. And that’s one person at a time, not huge grants from major corporations.

Attention fundraisers and development professionals: Get some help – I suggest Juan Tornoe, Sebastian Puente, and Mando Rayo from Cultural Strategies – and call up Jerry and Todd at Border Media to get in touch with Austin Spanish-speaking donors. Andale!

3. Andrea and Sandra are busting their ass to cover as much nonprofit news as they can. Let me tell you, people who don’t already know this: Those “short and simple” stories you see in the papers every week take real work to put together. I don’t blame nonprofits, but… they don’t always have the time or talent to make a reporter’s job easier, you know. Most of them can put out a fantastic press release, but a good reporter wants to go beyond what the PR people put out there. And that takes some homework, some phone calls, some emails… and usually all three to multiple people.

Did I mention there were more than 6,000 nonprofits in Central Texas, all vying for Andrea’s and Sandra’s attention?

I should also mention that KDK-Harman leads the way in a lot of respects, but what I’m seeing is a very transparent, highly collaborative and innovative organization that others in the nonprofit community should emulate. Thanks again, Erica, for a very informative meeting.

PS: I hope to be back with GivingCity soon, so I can help out Andrea and Sandra…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: