Identifying and showcasing the content that matters most is crucial for effective communication in your organization. This is true, especially in uncertain times such as these. This blog post provides five tips to communicate your organization’s impact as part of your communication strategy.
Tip #1: Know Your Audience
Before drafting an impact report or email campaign, make sure you know your audience well. Here are some things to consider:
• What are your donors’ age demographics?
• How did your volunteers learn about your organization?
• What motivates your donors to give to your organization?
It is important to know what motivates your donors to give and your volunteers to become involved, because then you can highlight those areas of impact in your publications. Consider designing a survey for donors and/or volunteers to understand what is important to them.
Tip #2: Choose the Most Appropriate Communication Platform for Your Audience
By knowing your audience well, you can design targeted communication campaigns that best speak to client demographic preferences. For example, baby boomers like emails instead of hardcopy mailings and millennials want to be part of a bigger cause, so be sure to emphasize the greater impact of what your organization does. Older adults may prefer brochures or mailings. Choosing the correct communication platform is key for effective communication.
Tip #3: Choose Stories that Support Your Organizational Bigger “Story”
Less is definitely more when it comes to deciding what stories to collect and which statistics to gather. It’s tempting to focus on any compelling story, or to jump on every new technology bandwagon. When it comes to data collection, nonprofit leaders often find that they are collecting tons of data, but only use a fraction of it. In communication, your goal is to tell a story that illustrates your particular mission and reason for existence. Every story in your communication must answer the question, “Why does your organization exist?” If it doesn’t accomplish that goal, then it probably isn’t a helpful story.
Tip #4: Strategically Use Statistics to Show Scope
Everyone loves a great story. But if you have any grant managers or business-minded people on your mailing list, then you also need to show the broader scope of your impact with carefully-selected statistics. As with story gathering, you need to be strategic and focused. Too many nonprofits “dump” data on their donors and volunteers, expecting their audience to sift through and make meaning out of a bunch of numbers. Instead, showcase metrics that support your overall mission. A great tool to help you stay focused is a logic model. This tool helps to answer key questions such as, “How do we know that we are making progress?” “What are the key outcomes you measure?” and “What is the long-term impact you desire?”
Tip #5: Make Sure You Have Good Content
Good communication and marketing begin with good internal communication, including working with your team to access stories and data. However, to get good stories and data in the first place, you need a data/story collection plan. And this is where a communications coach or evaluation consultant can help you. Work with them to create an Evaluation Strategy that answers questions such as:
• Where will you find your stories and statistics?
• How will you gather this information?
• How often do you need to collect these stories and statistics?
• Which program staff will help you with this collection of stories and statistics?
Get Help from REC!
If you have any evaluation questions from this blog, or any other research and evaluation needs, please feel free to contact Dr. Annette Shtivelband at firstname.lastname@example.org. Special thanks to Evaluation Advisor Anne Marie Runnels for writing this blog!
NP Source (2018). The Ultimate List of Charitable Giving Statistics For 2018. NP Source. https://nonprofitssource.com/online-giving-statistics/
Otten, L. (2018). Giving by Generation. The Nonprofit Center at La Salle University School of Business. https://www.lasallenonprofitcenter.org/generational-charitable-giving/
Runnels, A.M. (March 2019). What is your plan? Puffin Strategies blog post. https://puffinstrategies.com/blog/
Runnels, A.M. (October 2019). Five tips for developing a feasible communications plan. Workshop presentation at 2019 Colorado Nonprofit Association Annual Conference, Denver, Colorado.
Social Solutions (2018). The importance of logic models and theories of change. Social Solutions. https://www.socialsolutions.com/blog/the-importance-of-logic-models-and-theories-of-change/