February 11, 2020

3 thought-starters for nonprofit communicators

Bridget Nelson Monroe, vice president at Bellmont Partners

For communications professionals who work in nonprofits, it’s no surprise that there are unique challenges that come with the territory. Whether it’s a lack of financial resources or a lack of communications personnel on staff to help harness and share your organization’s story, it can be an uphill battle. The good news is that there are also unique opportunities for nonprofit communicators – powerful mission-driven work, inspiring stories of the difference the organization is making and growing relationships with key donors can outweigh the drawbacks.

On Feb. 26, nonprofits will gather with communications professionals from local companies and agencies for the annual Gift of Communication event presented by IABC Minnesota, where they will work in groups to consult on these exact challenges and opportunities. I’m looking forward to participating in the day alongside several colleagues from Bellmont Partners, a public relations agency that works with a variety of nonprofit organizations and companies across industries.

Based on our past experience with the Gift of Communication and our work with nonprofits, we know that it’s imperative for nonprofit communicators to be laser-focused on goals that will help move an organization forward and be judicious in prioritizing efforts to help reach those goals. The following are thought-starters for any nonprofit communicator to do just that:

  • What are the top three things you can do in 2020 to support your organization’s mission through marketing and communications?

    If you don’t have a communications plan for the year, we strongly encourage it. In the absence of such a plan, though, this question is a great starting point. Write down your answers and share them with other key players at the organization – this can help everyone stay focused on the most important goals, even when day-to-day activities keep everyone busy.
  • Who are your audiences for communications, what messages about your organization can be consistent across audiences, and where do they need to be tailored?

    After all, when everything from a letter to your top donor, to instructions for volunteers, to pitches to media fall on your to-do list, it can quickly become inefficient to start from scratch with each asset. We recommend committing high-level messages about your organization to paper, and then creating more audience-specific messaging as well. This messaging “playbook” can be turned to again and again to help efficiently create materials.
  • What assets are available to use more than once in communications?

    Think about where you’ve invested in a piece of content – say, an annual report or a video for a fundraising gala – and identify more ways to use that content than its original purpose. For example, can quotes or graphics from the annual report be used as stand-alone visuals for social media posts? Can that video be sliced-and-diced into shorter content for landing pages on the website?

If you’re attending the Gift of Communication, you can start thinking through these questions now to help inform the day’s work. We hope to see you there!

Bellmont Partners is an in-kind sponsor for Gift of Communications hosted by IABC-MN.