The Power of Communication for Nonprofits

Thirty years ago the typical nonprofit relied on the paper memo to communicate with their employees, and letters or cards for their constituents.  Twenty years ago email began to appear at least for internal communication, and ten years ago instant communication came on the scene.

Now we have a plethora of options, social media- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, SnapChat, Instagram and Google Hangouts, message systems like “What’s App”, stand-alone message boards, imbedded message systems and yes we still can use email and postal mail. 

The challenge for nonprofits is to match the appropriate communication media with the intent and importance of the communication.  What is going to have the greatest benefit and where do folks “live” for communications?

For internal communications email or “news” on their timesheet login screen may be the best place.  You know they are going to look there if they want to be paid.  Organizations in which everybody has access to a computer may use “Chat” tools like Slack, Teams,  or others.  The immediacy is excellent for real-time communication.  Also for millennials they use Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and similar tools and use old fashioned email a lot less.  Again a news board on their timesheet screen makes sense for general announcements and maybe even personal ones if the software supports it.

What about for your constituents?  Again it depends on their age and technological savvy.  Retired constituents tend to travel more and email may be much more effective at finding them than postal mail.  Many have become very adept at technology so they can "FaceTime" or “Skype” with their grandchildren, but you can’t assume so as not all are comfortable with technology.  It’s a user focused world, you need to ask them their preference.  Younger constituents live in their phones or maybe tablet, and you need tools that make it easy to communicate with them there. 

No silver bullets or single answers, your internal and external communication needs to be multi-faceted and targeted to individuals based on their preferences.  For your constituents, your CRM/Fundraising system should be able to help you track these preferences.