The Nebraska Community Foundation works with community, organizational and donor-advised affiliated funds serving 250 communities located in 80 counties. NCF and its affiliated funds have reinvested $269 million in Nebraska since 1994.
The value of developing a close working relationship with your local newspaper editor is priceless. Some of NCF’s most active and successful affiliated funds are fortunate to have newspaper people serving as Fund Advisory Committee members. These professionals understand the importance of their community’s affiliated fund.
One of the most effective ways to make your case to the community is through letters to the editor. This section is one of the most widely read sections of any newspapers. This high readership offers your affiliated fund a cost-effective way of spreading your message and reaching your target audience.
Here are some points to keep in mind:
Find out about length restrictions. Common restrictions are 250 to 300 words. Most outlets will require you to provide your name, address and telephone number so that they can verify your authorship before the letter is printed.
Your letter needs to be timely. It should relate to something else that has been recently published or to a timely event or issue in your community.
If you are responding to a specific story or event, refer to it by making note of this at the beginning of your letter. Quote the headline or event and the date.
Make your point. Be sure your letter complements your marketing strategy for messaging your target audience.
Check all your facts. You don’t want someone else to point out your mistakes in a follow-up letter.
Thanks and Praise
It never hurts to publicly thank your local newspaper for the coverage it provides your affiliated fund activities. Letters are also a wonderful way to say thank you to individual donors and volunteers. For donors, make sure you have permission to publish their names. Some donors want to maintain a low profile, and it is important to respect their wishes.
Below are NCF affiliated fund examples of letters to the editor:
In some ways, pitching or writing an Op-Ed is like pitching or writing a feature story. You need to catch the attention of your editor and demonstrate that readers will be interested in the topic. With an Op-Ed, however, the focus is usually on an issue rather than on human interest.
Sometimes an editor will invite you to write an opinion. Or the editor may get the facts from you and publish the information from the newspaper’s point of view.
Before writing or pitching an Op-Ed, answer the following questions:
Approach your editor after you have answered these questions. He or she may choose to interview someone in your affiliated fund and write the editorial themselves. Or they may invite you to submit an opinion.
If you are writing the opinion, follow these suggestions:
Know how your editor wants you to submit the opinion. Generally, it will run about 500-800 words.
Identify your reasons for writing the opinion. Is it to increase awareness of an issue? This will help you determine the key points you need to make.
Determine who should be voicing the opinion. Often it will be the chair of your FAC, even if that is not the person doing the writing. Or it may be another community leader who supports your cause.
Focus on one message and one clear action you want your reader to take. Then develop key facts to support your opinion.
State your opinion up front then back it up with fact. Do not present the facts first.
If you are submitting hardcopy, print your opinion on you affiliated fund’s letterhead (if you have one) and sign your name and title. Submit it with a cover letter which includes background information about your affiliated fund and contact information. If you are submitting electronically, include this information in the body of your e-mail.
Find out if and when the editor plans to publish your opinion. Make copies and use the published opinion in other marketing efforts.
See examples of opinions and editorials from NCF affiliated funds:
Why Invest in Callaway? 1/6/2011
Small towns 8/25/08
Charitable Giving Stands Test of Time
Norfolk Youth Survey 09/15/09
Why Invest in Callaway? 1/6/2011
Foundation has varied ways to give 5/26/2011
Foundation provides great way to grow Crofton 6/30/2011
The Nebraska City Community Foundation Fund received the 2009 Catalyst for Change Award from Partners for Otoe County. The award recognized NCCFF for the alcohol-free, family-friendly street dance it sponsored. According to NCCFF committee member Scott VanderVeen, the purpose of the street dance was not to raise money. Rather, it was an opportunity to increase exposure for NCCFF, have fun and enjoy Nebraska City’s community life.Read more →