In a recent issue of Businessweek, there was an article about one of the biggest mysteries in the entire nonprofit market in America. The Hereditary Disease Foundation is one of the top 5 charities in the United States, but no one seems to know where their money comes from. That is to say, there is one or more anonymous donors funding the lion’s share of the annual budget.
Reporters have been trying to determine the identity of this generous benefactor for years, to no avail. Meanwhile, the charity keeps plugging along, appreciating the donations, and the periodic celebrity the mystery creates. While you may not have the backing of some deep-pocketed donors, you can still learn something from the Public Relations success of this organization.
There are several points a savvy non-profit representative can learn from this story. First, when it comes to press relations, a definite and ongoing mystery is a tremendous leg up. The media loves a good mystery because they know their readers will appreciate it. Anything that can pique curiosity while also drawing more people into the story makes for solid – and, potentially, very good – press.
Also, this is absolutely a feel good story. Good news all the way around. A group doing excellent work, with a generous benefactor who is in no way interested in getting a pat on the back, something unusual in today’s me first era.