By: Courtney Fogle (@courtnxyfogle


This episode of PR Hangover features Amy Knape, Director of Development at West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology, otherwise known as WMCAT. Listen here.

The Need for PR

In nonprofit PR, communicators are not selling a product, instead they’re always selling their reputation. This includes their reputation to the community, press, and donors. Nonprofit PR professionals show that they are good stewards of people’s donations. They tell stories that inspire people to give to their cause, invest in their mission, or be volunteers. Having a PR knowledge base working in a nonprofit is extremely important and helpful, because you can understand audiences and the various ways to communicate with them.


Providing equitable access to opportunity is WMCAT’s goal. They have arts and technology programs for teens, with tons of options for students to consider. They also have an adult career training program, which is a tuition free program. 

Amy’s favorite part about working in nonprofit PR is the team she has at WMCAT. She’s been at WMCAT for almost 8 years because she’s really inspired by their leadership and her colleagues. Having a career in nonprofit gives Amy the chance to work and promote an organization that means something to her.

Storytelling in Nonprofit

In nonprofit communications, it can be tricky when you want to tell a compelling story. Amy says you have to use respectful language and be sure you’re not exploiting the people you work with. The language WMCAT uses surrounds their success, their future, and the positives of their experience. They have to all be on the same page with the terminology.


Some of WMCAT’s communication tactics are their newsletters, monthly e-newsletters, social media channels, and website. Whenever they can, they encourage donors and potential donors to come to their location, events, and see how they’re making an impact. They also use media relations to get coverage from the press in hopes that their donors see them on TV or in local publications doing good work and gain credibility.

The Community Appeal

I asked Amy how WMCAT gets donors when there are so many nonprofit organizations for donors to choose from. She says that they don’t view other nonprofits as competition because they all thrive off of each other’s success. Sometimes they team up with other organizations, collaborate on projects and events, and share stories with the community.

Why Go into Nonprofit PR?

“What’s fun about nonprofits is that you get to do everything,” Amy says. Nonprofit work can range from a small nonprofit with one individual doing the PR work, or a larger nonprofit with teams. You can learn how to write grants, communicate with donors, fundraise, plan events, use media relations, and more. Amy suggests looking into internships with nonprofit clients, whether you work in-house or at an agency, if you want to go into nonprofit PR. Try it out! The career is not just a starter or a transition into a “bigger” or “better” job; there’s room to grow in nonprofit PR.



Courtney Fogle is a junior studying Advertising and Public Relations. She is currently the Podcast Director for PRSSA and an account associate at GrandPR. Courtney is a singer-songwriter, with hopes to combine her love of music and PR so that she can work in the music industry managing artists and their brands. In her free time, you can find her listening to music or taking pictures of her cat, Oliver.