5 communication essentials for every nonprofit

It may seem basic, but no plan will succeed without objectives, message points, and a way to measure success.

My colleague Jessica and I recently led a workshop on nonprofit communication plans for members of the Connecticut Association of Nonprofits. For those who didn’t attend, we wanted to share some takeaways. Here is what you need to know to build an effective nonprofit communication plan:

1. Define the plan’s objectives.

What are the end goals of your nonprofit’s communications? Identifying end goals will help you develop targeted communications that speak to these key items, whether you want to increase volunteers, meet fundraising goals, or attract corporate partners.

2. Identify target audiences.

It is critical to know to whom you are talking. You’d communicate differently with a prospective donor than you would with a long-time volunteer.

3. Develop key message points.

When multiple parties communicate on behalf of the organization, messaging can vary widely. Establish a list of three to five key message points that are critical to your communication efforts. Know which points are relevant to your different target audiences to ensure everyone receives the information important to them from a consistent brand voice.

4. Create a timeline.

Nonprofits’ resources are limited, and the communications person often wears multiple hats. Develop a realistic timeline that includes all communication activities. Assign deadlines to tasks and clearly define who is responsible for which communications.

5. Include success benchmarks.

How will you evaluate the effectiveness of your communication plan? Whether the plan supports fundraising, awareness, or community engagement goals, it is important to outline how you will evaluate the program. Use this data to guide any changes to the plan.

When you build your nonprofit’s communication plan, be mindful of organizational objectives and use communication as a tool to achieve these goals. As your organization’s goals evolve, so will the plan.

Danielle M. Cyr is director of social media and senior PR account manager for Co-Communications. A version of this article first appeared on the Co-Communications blog. Follow her on Twitter @DanielleCyr.

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