July 12, 2014 vsbly

4 Ways for Nonprofits to Start Strategic Communications Now

The Executive Director for an advocacy nonprofit recently admitted to me, “We don’t have a communications strategy. We need one.” That’s actually a good position to be in. After all, he knows what his organization needs and he’s prioritizing creating a strategy. But once someone realizes they need a strategy, they instantly think they can’t afford it. Here’s what nonprofit leaders can do now to create a communications strategy that makes your organization stand out.

IMAGE: RAISE MONEY

Step 1: RAISE MONEY

Ideally, a communications strategy that’s integrated with a digital strategy will drive an increase in revenues and won’t cost the organization anything.

I recently heard a speaker say that if your community isn’t aware of what you’re doing, you’re probably not getting funded. You can easily turn that around: if you don’t have the budget for communications, maybe  strategic communications is exactly what you need to reach new donors and inspire existing ones. By thoughtfully curating stories from your community and delivering it to your audiences in a targeted way, you’ll inspire more giving.

 

 

IMAGE: SHARE COSTS

Step 2: SHARE COSTS 

Another ED said her organization was thinking of hiring a communications director, but they weren’t sure they had the budget for it. Obviously, right? We’ve all heard the refrain “it’s not in the budget.”

But maybe it actually is in the budget. This nonprofit leader was considering linking up with similar organizations to centralize their communications and PR efforts, and splitting the cost among them – a brilliant idea that I wish I’d thought of myself.

There’s an even bigger idea wedged in the middle of that, though: you are not stuck where you are. No matter what, there is a creative solution.

 

IMAGE: ASK FOR MONEY

 

Step 3: ASK FOR MONEY

A friend who works with some of the biggest backers of charities and nonprofits in Los Angeles told me that major donors and foundations don’t mind getting requests for funding. In fact, they want the nonprofits they support to ask them for assistance when they need it. Your backers already support your mission, and they want you to succeed. So if you come to them with a solid proposal for strategic communications, there’s a good chance they’ll be happy to give you the support you need. Oh, and don’t forget to give them credit by tweeting a shout-out or posting a thank-you to your Facebook page – they like that. (But that was already part of your digital strategy, right?)

 

IMAGE: SAVE MONEY

 

Step 4: SAVE MONEY

The ED of a small-ish community organization found out that by switching to a new constituent relations management(CRM) service from the one that they’d put up with for years, they could save several thousand dollars. This proves two things:

      1. The technology and costs are changing so rapidly that it’s worth it to reassess your vendors every 2-3 years.
      2. It doesn’t hurt to reach out to others who might have new perspectives, and to question everything. You never know where you’ll find opportunity.

 

What creative thoughts do you have about strategic communications for nonprofits? Let’s talk on Twitter., or talk to us here:
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Images: 
Handshake, some rights reserved, by Aidan Jones, edited from original.
Please Help, some rights reserved, by bixentro, edited from original.
Zenith Z-19 Terminal, some rights reserved, by ajmexico, edited from original.

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