Nonprofit Leadership

Communicating Strategically for Greater Impact

Creating external and internal communication support is critical for many nonprofits and since many organizations do not have the staff or resources for these activities, being strategic about the communications becomes more essential. Communication capacity for nonprofits is more than just having an updated website and active social media.  Nonprofits should be strategic in their communications in order to better deliver their services to priority audiences, highlight their successes to appropriate audiences (board, funders, community) and be proactive in engaging the media to support their mission and raise awareness.

Communication Elements

Communications are often overlooked when organizations consider their capacity to succeed.  This area is relegated to sending out media releases or updating the facebook page.  Our definition of successful communications is a strategic communications that engages with the organization’s primary audience.  If the nonprofit’s audience is on facebook then by this definition – communication success.  If the audience connects with the media outlet that posts your releases then you have achieved more success.  But if the primary audience is better reached with a lunch meeting or a simple presentation then success can also be found by those means.  We prioritize strategic communications support for our grantees to help maximize their impact by focusing on the audience first rather than the product.  We also believe that communications should be integrated into and supportive of the organization’s strategic plan.   We provide communication support through these channels:

      • Onboarding communication support and training
      • One-on-one communication consulting
      • Media outreach and social media templates for grant announcements
      • Communication capacity support via our newsletter and webinars
      • Strategic communication training opportunities (see below)

Strategic Communication Training

One of the goals for Nonprofit Leadership is to build the capacity of grantees for communications and outreach.  One capacity initiative was to engage an external communications firm, GYMR, to work with selected grantees to provide intensive, strategic, communications capacity-building training.  We worked with the North Carolina Network of Grantmakers and several North Carolina-based foundations (Burroughs Wellcome Fund, The Duke Endowment, and the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust) to select the firm and leverage this training across multiple foundation grantees.  After a two-day training session in November 2013, GYMR provided regular strategic support and training for Youth Empowered Solutions!, the North Carolina Oral Health Collaborative and Be Active Kids for six months to help these grantees reach their immediate goals and gain communications capacity. We are continuing this program with three more grantees (North Carolina Association of Free Clinics, North Carolina Partnership for Children and North Carolina Council of Churches) for 2014.