Phelps A-Z: Model 6

Communication

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There are three key considerations we recommend all non-profit organizations adhere to when drafting a communications plan: your audience, the goal of your message and the channels you use to distribute it.

A solid communications strategy can make a significant difference for your organization’s branding, programming, fundraising, volunteer outreach and a host of other activities design to support your mission and vision.

3 key considerations for your non-profit’s communication strategy

Professional, strategic communications are an integral part of any non-profit’s business plan. Especially when it comes to generating awareness for your cause, a solid communications strategy can make a significant difference for your organization’s branding, programming, fundraising, volunteer outreach and a host of other activities design to support your mission and vision.

 

It goes without saying that developing an effective communication strategy takes careful planning. How you choose to communicate with your greater community will undoubtedly affect your level of success. That being said, there are three key considerations we recommend all non-profit organizations adhere to when drafting a communications plan: your audience, the goal of your message and the channels you use to distribute it.

#1 Who is your target audience?

Who you’re trying to engage with is paramount to crafting your communications. Different audiences require different messaging, including the type of media used, language use and choice of visuals. The communications you draft for potential funding donors will understandably have contrasting information and tone than the material you use for event promotion.

Of course, your brand, mission and vision should be clear in all of your communications. The point is not to appear completely different to each individual target audience. Instead, think of tailoring what you say and how you say it to best suit whomsoever the communication is intended for. Brainstorming the characteristics of each of your target audiences to form distinct profiles can be a helpful exercise for refining your communication strategy.

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#2 What is the goal of your message?

After determining who you’re trying to reach with your communication strategy, you need to define its primary goal. What do you want the people who consume your message to take away from it? What impact are you trying to have? Discuss your messaging ideas with colleagues and stakeholders. If the goal or message received differs from your intention, you clearly have more work to do!

 

#3 What communications channels will you use?

A third key consideration for your non-profit’s communications strategy is the specific channels you’ll use to disseminate your message. The options at your disposal are broad and varied; you’ll probably want to utilize a different combination of communications channels for each of your target audiences. Additionally, the goal of your message could change depending on what channel you’ve selected. Your website, social media, promotional materials, any press you receive and virtually any marketing collateral you create is an example of a communication channel. How you intend to use each channel to communicate which goal to which audience are all elements to include in your communications strategy.

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Remember to measure your success

With the above key considerations taken into account, you should be ready to assemble your non-profit’s communications strategy and put it into action. But that’s hardly the end of the process! Follow up activities such as measuring your success and refining your strategy will ensure your strategy stays efficient over time.

 

Plenty of tools exist to help you calculate the effectiveness of your messaging. Most social media networks, for example, offer in-house analytics with all kinds of useful information about audience engagement with your posts. Google Analytics, Google Search Console and other services can similarly provide a wealth of information about traffic to your website and related online communications.

 

You can also gather data about your communications strategy—whether in person or online—by collecting feedback, conducting surveys or otherwise requesting review from peers and stakeholders. Insights gained from these activities can be invaluable to improving your communications strategy over time, especially with regard to selecting the best channel for your respective audiences.

Looking for more non-profit best practices?

Further to developing a strong communications strategy, Phelps Helps is eager to help other community non-profits benefit from its own. Download our Phelps A to Z Monograph for more best practices on building a productive non-profit your stakeholders can depend on.