My colleague Jessica and I recently led a workshop on nonprofit communications plans for members of the Connecticut Association of Nonprofits. For those who didn’t attend the presentation, we wanted to share some key takeaways for building an effective nonprofit communications plan:
- Start by defining the plan’s objectives: What are the end goals of your nonprofit’s communications? Identifying the end goals will help in developing targeted communications that speak to these key items, be it increasing volunteers, meeting fundraising goals or attracting corporate partners.
- Clearly identify target audiences: Knowing who you are talking to is critical. The way you would communicate with a prospective donor is different than how you would communicate with a long-time volunteer.
- Develop key message points: When multiple parties are communicating 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 ‘selling points’ are relevant to your different target audiences to ensure everyone is receiving the information that is important to them while maintaining a consistent brand voice.
- Create an implementation timeline: Nonprofits’ resources are limited and often the communications person wears multiple hats. Develop a timeline that is realistic and includes all communication activities. Assign deadlines to tasks and clearly define who is responsible for which communications.
- Include success benchmarks: How will you evaluate the effectiveness of your communications plan? Whether the plan supports fundraising goals, awareness goals or community engagement goals, it is important to outline how the program will be evaluated. Use this data to guide any changes to the plan.
When building your nonprofit’s communications plan, be mindful of organizational objectives and leverage communications as a tool for achieving these goals. As your organization’s goals evolve, so will the plan.