Guest blogger Rowan Knight is the director of public relations for Louisiana REALTORS®, a member-based non profit trade association. She graduated from the Manship School of Mass Communication in 2014 with a concentration in public relations and a minor in business administration. Rowan currently resides in Baton Rouge. She enjoys cooking, reading and traveling. Rowan would like to shout out her longtime friend, Erin Kenna for the idea that inspired this post. Connect with Rowan.


Rowan Knight, 2014 Graduate of the Manship School

When working for a nonprofit association, you quickly realize you are embarking on a journey where you have limited resources. This is not to say you will not be given the tools you need, but sometimes you have to pass up some of the tools you want.

You will have to tap into your creativity and think outside of the box to come up with a solid game plan for your communication efforts that includes all the tools you need. You most likely are the communications department, so you have to make this work for you!

I am fortunate to work for an association where all of my needs and most of my wants are met. However, below are some free, or close to free tools, that make my job easier:

  • Canva – I have learned design can be a tough part of the job to master, especially when you have limited time and resources. Adobe Illustrator is wonderful, but Canva is fantastic in a pinch. Added benefit: You need your design to have extra oomph? Step up your Canva game with special templates or design elements for $1 each!
  • Member and association generated content – There are plenty of websites out there for any given field that offer articles on a range of topics related to your business. Sometimes you experience content overload, and there is no guarantee your members will enjoy or find this content useful. Where do you turn? The members.

    Your members possess a wealth of knowledge. Listen closely because you may find out what sort of content they are looking for. Set out a “tip” jar at your next event and ask them for tips and trade secrets to create your own member-generated content. Don’t forget to grab pictures!

    I cannot stress the importance of looking to your association for content. I am fortunate to be part of a three tiered organization. This means I receive crucial industry updates and news from the national level, in addition to updates or event details from our local associations. Combine national information, local event news, updates from your association, throw in a few quality outside articles and you have yourself a newsletter.

Subscription tools I can not do without:

The Adobe Creative Cloud – It is the full Adobe suite; it is in the cloud. You get the picture.

The AP Stylebook – I search entries in the stylebook weekly. Although I work for a non profit and not a PR agency, the importance of AP Style has stuck with me. At $26 per year, this is a more affordable subscription service you will use often.
Association work is challenging, fast paced and you often feel you are doing it all by yourself. Make your life easier by spending the money where it counts and using free tools when you can to produce quality work. Most importantly, know when to outsource a project to save yourself time and money in the long run.