Getting the Word Out

Have you ever said “We are the best-kept secret in (insert your field)”?  It’s a common theme in the nonprofit world, where there is great reluctance to spend funds on marketing and public relations (P.R.) that could otherwise go towards supporting the organization’s mission.  Yet how many more people could you help if a broader audience, including potential funders, knew you existed and what you do?  What’s more, marketing and P.R. doesn’t have to be expensive!  This month’s highlighted nonprofit, City ArtWorks, has found a unique way to get the word out.

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For nearly 30 years, City ArtWorks has been addressing the steady reduction of arts education within the public school system by recruiting and training instructors to teach the visual arts to Houston’s children.  Today, City ArtWorks has 70+ art instructors who give over 3,000 students at more than 50 schools and community venues an invaluable opportunity to explore their own creativity through a range of programs, including its signature Art After School program.

City ArtWorks also offers summer art camps and classes in its community studio; provides clinic and bedside art instruction at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers; and partners with organizations like Texas Inter-FaithYoung Audiences HoustonARTreachNeighborhood Centers, Inc.Krause Children’s Center, and The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center Summer Camp, to make new art experiences fun and accessible to children with diverse talents and abilities.

With art as their medium, City ArtWorks has no shortage of visuals with which to illustrate their mission: to ‘color the future of our community through meaningful art experiences’.  The challenge, however, was finding a way to bring those experiences out into the community.  So the staff and board came up with the idea of introducing art activities at Houston’s many festivals throughout the year.  Events such as Bayou City Art Fest and the Art Car Parade offer perfect interactive environments for letting a child’s imagination soar, as well as venues for showcasing City ArtWorks’  programs.  This approach has been very successful, allowing the nonprofit to benefit from wide-ranging event marketing and P.R. campaigns that have served to broaden City ArtWorks’ reach.

A lot of money is being spent on marketing and P.R. around Houston.  Challenge your staff and board to come up with innovative ways to “piggy-back” on campaigns that already exist!

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Richard Beeman