National Capital Chapter

How Can We Support Good Work in Our Community?

By Lauren Lawson-Zilai

“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”
– John Wesley

“Do all the good you can.” A powerful and inspiring, yet simple, statement.

As public relations professionals, we serve as a gateway to our organizations’ audiences and the public, and we hold responsibility for the brands, images and reputations of our organizations. That’s why I chose to work in the nonprofit sector — so that I can effect change for causes and organizations with missions I feel passionate about.

In the nonprofit space, some non-traditional professional skills come into play, including servant leadership and caring more about what you can give to others than what you are going to receive from the organization. Service to nonprofit constituents or association members demands agility, persistence and stamina within the framework of little budget or limited capacity.

I know this from experience. My career didn’t start off in the nonprofit world. I was able to get a perspective on it by contributing to a local D.C. nonprofit through pro bono work. In the process, I garnered skills that were assets to me professionally, including event management, fundraising, partnership building and writing strategic plans. I learned valuable lessons about leading and motivating teams, holding people accountable and more. I bolstered my understanding of how nonprofit organizations function while simultaneously making a difference in my community. It was definitely a win-win experience for me.

That’s why I am thrilled to announce that PRSA NCC is accepting applicants for its next two-year pro bono client. Nonprofit organizations, especially those with limited staff, often have a challenge or situation to address — but not the bandwidth to execute. They rely on volunteers to achieve their missions. PRSA NCC’s pro bono committee works with its two-year, adopted client to help assess its organizational priorities and advance its goals through strategic communications in order to provide an infrastructure and foundation for the future.

The best part of this is that this work is complimentary. As with my personal experience early in my career, this relationship is a win-win! Committee members give back to the community while the nonprofit benefits from the committee’s expertise. The committee has the opportunity to get hands-on experience with an industry they may not typically be involved with, as well as expand their networks and discover new communications approaches.

If you know of a nonprofit in the D.C. area that needs additional resources, encourage them to apply by midnight on Sunday, December 5. And if you are a PR professional looking to give back, I encourage you to join the committee. Volunteer-based experiences are often equally as beneficial as on-the-job experiences, and the ability to articulate your role in a successful project with limited resources can speak volumes to your impact and leadership skills.

Lauren Lawson-Zilai is the president of PRSA NCC. She previously served as chair of the pro bono committee and has also served as the international PRSA International conference gala chair, assembly delegate, the National Capital Excellence in Communication Awards (formerly Thoth) chair, vice president, and board director, and she has served on the membership, professional development and association/nonprofit committees.

Lawson-Zilai is an Advisory Council member for Washington Women in Public Relations and a member of the National Press Club Communicators Committee.

Connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.