By Murray Bishoff
A seminar for people running not-for-profit organizations will be hosted by Drury University on Thursday, April 26 in Monett.
"Speak Up, Get Noticed" is billed as a strategic communication training session for non-profit professionals. The four-hour session is designed to help educators as well as healthcare, faith-based or other professionals working in charitable organizations.
Dan Prater, executive director of the Center for Nonprofit Communiciation, will present the workshop.
Drury's Center for Nonprofit Communiciation started in June 2011, making the service a new offering through Drury. Prater taught as an adjunct communication professor at Drury for five years before starting the center.
"I picked up the idea from a colleague who teaches at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.," Prater said. "He is involved in a similar program there, and it has been extremely successful."
The presentation will focus on four main areas. Participants will hear about forming concise key messages, developing a yearly communications calendar, collaborating in the community and managing the media.
"I have worked with nonprofits for more than 20 years," Prater continued. "Those organizations ranged from faith-based ministries, to state government to small charitable groups. During that time, I have experienced the challenges organizations face when trying to tell their stories to the right people.
"When these groups fail to clearly communicate who they are, why they exist, what they do and what they need, it can have devastating effects," Prater said. "They fail to reach donors, volunteers, partnering organizations, and in some cases, they don't reach the very people who need their services or help.
"But in reality, most non-profit organizations are extremely small with very limited resources. They do not have the money to hire a professional marketer, and they don't have the luxury of spending thousands in equipment to do a website/social media."
Consequently, Prater said the head of the organization supposedly knows how to do all the communication tasks. In reality, that person may be too busy conducting day-to-day business to dedicate the needed time to promotion work.
"We are providing the people with ideas that are user friendly and are proven very effective," Prater said. "Most all of the ideas in the trainings are free to implement and can be accomplished by about anyone -- no PhD needed.
"Too often, nonprofits do not take time to carefully consider who they are talking to and take a 'one size fits all' approach," Prater said. "Their messages often fall flat and, in some cases, have a negative impact on the audience. As a result, the groups fail to attract donors and sponsors and do not have enough money to sustain the operation.
The workshop has previously been offered in Cabool, Waynesville, Lebanon and Rolla.
Funding for training is provided by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks and the Musgrave Foundation.
The workshop will begin at 5:30 p.m. and run until 9 p.m. at the Drury campus in Monett at 400 Fourth St. Handouts will be available with a link containing all the Powerpoint slides.
One recent participant called the workshop "a whole semester of business communication lumped into a very well delivered four-hour seminar."
Limited seating is available. Participants can reserve a space by contacting Ann Saunders with the Drury campus in Monett at 235-2007 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.