4 Steps For An Effective Nonprofit Communications Strategy

Published on September 17, 2018

An effective communications plan is at the core of every nonprofit organization’s strategy. Without it, there’s no good way to get your message across to your donors and supporters. And if your message doesn’t reach them, miscommunications are bound to arise making it increasingly difficult to retain donors.

Your nonprofit communications strategy is vital to your organization’s success. With a good strategy in place, you can engage, build relationships, and make your donors and supporters feel valued.

Here are 4 steps to building a successful nonprofit communications strategy.

Define your communication goals

Your nonprofit communication goals depend on the nature of your organization, i.e., if its fundraiser specific (issues-related) or organization-wide.

For example:

  • Increase membership by 20% over a year (organization-wide)
  • To raise 20K through a six-month fundraiser (issue-related)

You should track your goals for success or failure, making it easier to optimize and improve the plan to boost your future campaigns. Outline your objectives, link them to your mission and measure them regularly.

In order to be effective, your objectives should include a measurable outcome. Use the SMART theory for setting objectives: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

Understanding your goals, what you are trying to achieve, and making sure your staff knows it, is key to a successful communications strategy.

Identify your audience

To create an effective message, you need to identify your audience and what is important to them. Start off by asking yourself:

  • Who is my target audience?
  • Who are the stakeholders?

Knowing this will help you tailor your message to your audience.

After identifying your audience, think about how you will engage them. Learn about their needs, expectations, and what they care about through phone call, text message or email surveys.

Once you have this information, your organization can communicate its story and mission in ways that strongly connect with the audience. This, in turn, increases the probability of interested individuals donating or volunteering for your cause.

Find your voice

Devote time to develop a voice for your nonprofit. It will convey the personality and uniqueness of your organization to your supporters. Your voice is about how you use words and how it translates your message to people. Is your voice short and sweet or long and flowery? Are you snarky? Empowered? Emotional? Or Folksy?

Why should you articulate your nonprofits’ voice?

  • The way you address your supporters influence how they feel about your organization. It will help them decide if you’re trustworthy or not.
  • Your unique voice helps your organization stand out from the crowd and makes you, you. It also strengthens your overall brand.
  • Helps your organization stay consistent across different channels and in maintaining good relations with donors and supporters. Consistency keeps your message strong and focused.

Engage with your audience

Nonprofit communications strategy encompasses a wide range of tools that your organization can use to get its message across. What you should do is choose a few tools that work best for your organization and tailor your communication style accordingly.

Email Newsletters

Newsletters are an essential communications tool. They can engage, connect, and raise money for your organization. You can build relationships with your supporters, drive traffic to your website, and gather event goers. It keeps the conversation going between your organization and your supporters and shows them you value their involvement.

Here are a few tips to improve your newsletter:

  • Use links to help readers reach the content they care about
  • Develop content specific to your target audiences
  • Make your newsletter easy to skim through. Use headlines, bold and italic text, and images with captions
  • Use your organization’s brand colors throughout the newsletter to bring your visual identity
  • Include CTA and social sharing links

Text messages

Text messages can offer an effective way to reach and connect with your audience. You can use text messages to have personalized conversations with donors, keep them updated about your organization, rally support, and send out event invites.

Other ways to use SMS:

  • Raise money with text-to-give: give your supporters necessary facts about an issue and let them know why it’s important to act.
  • If you’re doing emergency outreach or you have contact with people who require immediate responses, texting is the best way to go about it. Use texts to give people live responses to avert a crisis. For example, Planned Parenthood has a national hotline to respond to questions asked via text.
  • Raise awareness about a problem that your organization addresses. Example, Dosomething.org sent texts in a game-like scenario to high schools students to raise awareness about bullying.

Phone calls

Making thank you calls to donors can boost engagement and helps in retaining them. Having personalized conversations makes your supporters feel valued and encourages them to give more to your organization.

According to this survey, thank you calls can increase future giving by 47% and 34% of donors who receive such calls make another donation.

Here are a few things to remember while making a call:

  • Use the donor’s name
  • Mention their contribution
  • Leave a voicemail if they are not available
  • Interact with them and ask a few questions

Your nonprofit communication strategy helps you build trust with your donors and supporters. It should be well defined, have a unique voice, and must use the right tools to maintain relationships. These tips should help put you on the right track while developing your nonprofit communication strategy.