Advertising & PR Professor Presents Research to Nonprofit Professionals

Dr. Tim Penning presents his research on types, qualities, and sources of information between nonprofits and donors. (Photo courtesy of APR major Vanessa Lansdale)

A significant part of the work of a nonprofit organization is fundraising, which means communicating with prospective donors about the organization.

While this might seem like a straightforward informational transaction, research published by Professor Tim Penning of the School of Communications’ Advertising and Public Relations major reveals new insights into what donors themselves might be seeking.

On Wednesday, January 31, Dr. Penning presented the results of his extensive published research in this area to 60 nonprofit professionals, as part of the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy‘s Brown Bag Lunch & Learn series.

“Attendees were interested in the results of my survey of a sample of 173 donors to a large community foundation,” Penning notes in a blog post about the talk. “I hit the high notes of practical take-aways about the types of information (i.e. content), qualities of information (ranging from length to tone and more) and the sources of information (meaning the people or communication tactics).”

Interestingly, Penning notes, the news media’s coverage of an organization is less important to prospective nonprofit donors than information coming from the organization itself.

“When so many people confuse ‘PR’ for publicity,” Penning writes, “it is important to note that the strategic communications and relationship building aspects of public relations–the real root of the profession–are most effective in the minds of donors.”

Learn more about the School of Communications’ Advertising and Public Relations major here.