Make Sure You Partner With Legitimate Non-Profits ...
October 4, 2016
The New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently ordered Donald Trump's Foundation to immediately stop fundraising in the state. The decision was made because the Foundation had not filed proper paperwork and was not incompliance with the rules governing nonprofit groups. In fact, The New York Times reported last month that Mr. Trump's Foundation did not show up on the charity registers in many states.
Some Organizations Are Not Who They Say They Are...
This situation reminded me of why I started requiring non-profits to produce paperwork to prove they were legitimate. While I was once programming a station, it came to my attention that the President of what I thought was a non-profit was a front to raise money for personal gain. I had received complaints about a fundraiser we had just co-sponsored. It made me curious and re-educated me in the area of "fact checking." After that incident, at every station I programmed, once I received a copy of a non-profit's paperwork, I would also call the proper state offices to make sure an organization was on file and current.
Last year I received an e-mail from a PD who had a question concerning this very subject. I thought I should share the exchange with you.
PD: I am a first-time PD and my station gets an awful lot of people from charity events trying to get us to give them air time or to partner with them. I'm just not comfortable with all of this. I know the Boys and Girls Clubs, The Salvation Army, Toys for Tots, and the United Way, but I am not too sure about a lot of some local organizations. My promotions director tells me who is cool and who is not, but our relationship is new and he was in competition for this job and lost out to me. I need advice.
Coach: You could use some advice in several areas, but let's start on your relationship with the Promotions Director. If you haven't yet, have a candid conversation with your promotions person outside the building and let him know how much you need his or her support in everything, especially in learning what local organizations you should be dealing with.
Now on to answering your question concerning charities, whenever any organization claiming to be a charity approaches with tickets or a proposal for an event, check on their 501(c)(3) non-profit tax exemption status. If your company does not currently have them on file, have the organization bring a signed copy of its documentation. It is a good idea to keep such paperwork on file for all non-profit organizations your currently work with or requesting help.
PD: How should I handle things if tickets or prizes are involved with the promotion?
Coach: If the non-profit charity is legitimate, the best way to handle tickets is to have promotions give them away in the streets as part of a prize package with CDs or whatever is being handed out. Make sure it gets mentioned as part of the package in the street-hit call-backs. Once all the tickets have been given away, provide the organization with the number of times the event was mentioned as part of the prize pack giveaways and place a dollar value per mention for their records and yours. Though not sales-related, I suggest you apply whatever the station rate is for the live mentions. Even an on-air interview for the event should have a dollar value applied to it. All documentation given to the 501(c)(3) should be placed in the stations public file; it will look good when the station license is up for renewal.
PD: So, do you think it's good to partner up with non-profits putting on events? We don't have much a budget to do big event things.
Coach: Yes, because if a 501(c)(3) organization is involved, you could get promotional mileage and can make it a branding tool for the station. It becomes a high-visibility event and a chance for sales to involve clients in a feel-good opportunity. Compromise on a specific number of sponsors and allow for mention by name in live liners and recorded promos. I suggest no more than three clients per liner or promo; more than that and your station will begin to sound cluttered. You can have more client involvement, but rotate the mentions per airing.
PD: This is my first time programming and at the stations I worked at, I never had access to how stuff like this was put together. All of this is new to me.
Coach: Then, let me also advise you on the other benefit besides the promotional end. I mentioned sales and sponsors, let me go deeper; encourage the Sales Manager to let the event be reflected in the client's regularly aired commercials. Many advertisers are hoping to tag onto community events as part of their annual agreements; especially national clients for image branding. Advertisers love spot buys with built-in marketing possibilities. Some examples of worthy public service events include blood drives, food or coat drives for the needy, handing out school supplies, benefit concerts, walkathons, and health fairs. All recorded and live liners need to appear on the log for documentation purposes. Coordinate with traffic and sales as to separate sales related from promotional air inventory. Make sure the event is on the station website, the 501(c)(3)'s site, and that your camera ready logo is on all of the organization's promotional materials, including television spots and tickets. This is a win-win for all concerns.
Do a live remote from the event. If you have a weekend public service program, schedule an interview. Set up an interview on your weekday drive-time shows. And if one or both your morning and afternoons are syndicated, pre-record a 60-second sound bite interview to air during a local commercial break.
PD: Damn, I wish I had paid more attention to the behind the scenes. I did ask questions, but what we are talking about did not did not come up, or if it did, not ever in much detail.
Coach: We all have to start somewhere. From the passenger's seat, driving always looks easy, but when beginning drivers get behind the wheel for the first time, it's harder than they thought. I cannot stress this enough: Everything aired for any charitable community event should be documented and given a dollar amount, including the interviews. If your station does not log recorded promos and liners on the commercial logs, keep track of the number of airings and have the final totals notarized for everyone's files.
One other important issue is insurance; make sure to ask for a copy of insurance coverage the 501(3)(c) has taken out for the event. Remember, if your station's name is heavily attached and something goes wrong, all bases should be covered. It costs pennies to cover a one-time event.
PD: I needed this, I will get with my promotions director.
Coach: One last thing: Go over with promotions things to remember on the day of -- station signage, sponsor signage, passes if needed, booths, placement of the station van, electricity, and security; some events need it. Everything depends on the type and size of the event. I also suggest you have the personalities do call-backs as 30-second commercials. Make sure they keep their call back times under control or you'll have too much clutter over the air.