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Non-profit Communication Strategies
Non-profit organizations thrive on spreading the word. Whether it’s a call for donations necessary to do the work of the organization, educating the public about important issues, or seeking volunteers and members who share the organization’s mission, non-profit communication strategies are imperative to successfully meeting any of the organization’s goals.
Non-profit communication refers to any and “all communication that takes place between a nonprofit and its audience.” Thus, careers in non-profit communication involve wearing many hats. They often publish primary source materials, such as research or press releases, run the organization’s website, social media, and advertisements, publicize events, engage in email and other communications between volunteers, the media, and others, solicit donations, help organization board members and executives tailor their public language, and so much more.
There are many unique considerations to non-profit communication strategies, including audience considerations, methods and media, as well as following the organization’s mission, and more.
Consider Your Non-Profit Organization’s Mission
First and foremost, it is crucial to remain true to the non-profit organization’s ultimate goal. Every communication strategy for a non-profit must first ask the question: how does this communication further our mission? Sometimes that’s as simple as calling for monetary and item donations, thanking donors (like the Saint Vincent College Instagram post below!) for their generosity, or sharing stories of the non-profit’s work.
Consider Your Audience
A non-profit communications strategy might involve a number of different stakeholders, and each audience requires a different kind of communication. Non-profit data software company Kindful identifies most of these different audience members including:
- Donors, to solicit donations, thank them for their gifts, or communicate fundraising goals and uses;
- Volunteers, including managing volunteers through email or thanking them for their help, or soliciting a call for more;
- Board members, non-profit organizations must have a board of directors to function under the law, and board meetings often include high-level strategy sessions for the organization’s mission, as well as communications surrounding the organization’s annual report, funding, and other responsibilities, all of which require clear and consistent communication;
- Future supporters and the general public, in which their communications will likely be more arms-length, informative. These should articulate the organization’s mission and provide clear calls to action on how to get involved, donate, join, or volunteer.
It’s important to know the audience of each piece of communication, to best understand their desires and the communication’s purpose.
Consider Your Method & Medium
In addition to who the communication is for, a non-profit communicator must decide how that communication is going to be delivered. Is it going to be via email blast? Is it going to be via press conference? There are so many places to publish right now, and deciding which communication is the best for each situation takes experience and understanding of each medium.
There are many great technological tools out there to help communication directors and strategists stay organized and publish in the most effective, efficient ways. Learning about what works best for each non-profit and its budget can really help an organization operate at its best.
A few other considerations for non-profit communication strategies include:
- Be transparent. People want to give, join, or get involved with an organization that they can trust is using their money and time to do good. Transparency helps build that trust. According to the NonProfit Times, 91 percent of Americans believe organizations should tell them how they are supporting causes, but many do not think they are getting sufficient information.
- Listen to your community. The best place to learn what your audience needs and wants is by asking them and listening to their answers.
- Be organized. Develop a communications calendar and stick to it, so your communication can be expected, consistent, and clear.
- Never stop learning. Non-profit communication professionals are always motivated by the organization’s mission and learning how to best deliver its goals.
Saint Vincent Communication students learn these strategies and many more in courses specifically tailored to non-profits, like CA 340 Nonprofit Communication, as well as other relevant and useful curricula, including CA 240 Public Relations Strategies, CA 250 Advertising Strategies, and a capstone course in Creative Campaigns or Digital Media.