Thursday, December 16, 2010


In PR education, we’re fighting an uphill battle.

Of the $303.75 billion in donations made by Americans to charities last year, more than $100 billion — a third — went to religious organizations, according to Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy. Less than a tenth went to colleges and universities … down nearly 12% over the previous year and the single greatest annual decline since the Depression, according to data compiled by the Council for Aid to Education.

And what about PR? A report issued on Dec. 7 by the Commission on Public Relations Education noted that philanthropy for public relations education reached $15 million since last reviewed in 2006.

Clearly, philanthropy for public relations education is in its infancy, which is not surprising given the youth of the profession. But as firms continue to expand and multiply — there are thousands today — contributions should grow accordingly. Further, as our service makes greater impact for the corporate and organizational sectors that employ it, it will become a larger portion of their total “give.”

The report’s author, Dr. Kathleen S. Kelly of the University of Florida, documented 64 major gifts ranging from $10,000 to $2 million. Market value of endowed funds range from $12,300 to $3 million. The bulk of the gifts are for undergraduate scholarships, and there is a need to diversify.

To expand these donations, the educational institutions that feature public relations programs need to become more ambitious in identifying potential donors and posing suggestions for strategic gifts, the report advises. The Institute for Public Relations, a leading research and educational organization, could take the lead in shaping a program that will build awareness of the need, encouraging partnerships between firms and educational institutions, stimulating a donor outreach effort and demonstrating how grants and donations are applied for maximum result.

The future of our profession — and the talent it urgently requires — are dependent on aggressive action.

Technorati Tags: Indiana University, University of Florida, public relations, philanthropy, communications, public relations, business, Makovsky


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