The Power of Executive Communications for Nonprofits
Nonprofit executives follow a unique organizational mission: making a difference rather than making a profit. The objective? Providing solutions to societal problems, whether empowering those in need of shelter and self-sufficiency, bringing hope to others struggling to stay on their rehabilitation journey or discovering new pathways to end food allergies.
Nonprofit leaders are both cheerleaders and salespeople for their organizations. They draw on critical communication tools that will help build and nurture relationships that ultimately bring awareness and support to their causes. Here are some ways to do that.
Tell the Story
No one knows your organization or its story better than you. So, be prepared to tell it every chance you get. Have your two-minute elevator speech ready when someone asks “Can you tell me about your organization and what it does?”
Keep the conversation comfortable and appropriate to the moment yet compelling enough to motivate questions and an interest in learning more details. Share real examples of how your organization influenced a law, created a movement or changed someone’s life. After all, who doesn’t love a good story?
Know Your Audience
Consider all of your organization’s stakeholders when delivering a message. Beyond donors — current, potential and lapsed — this includes volunteers, supporters, employees, board members, program beneficiaries and the general public.
Each has a rationale or personal motivation for their involvement with your nonprofit. And this is where the tactics of corporations and nonprofits intersect: their audiences are stakeholders that need to see value to continue buying that product — or supporting that nonprofit’s work. Your audience should understand that value at every opportunity.
Tailor the Message and the Medium
Engage your stakeholders in a way that builds a relationship and establishes a bond by talking with them in their language and through their preferred channels.
For example, millennials and Gen Xers respond well to social media messaging on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram; Baby boomers are better motivated to action by email campaigns. Use your data to analyze what messaging worked or didn’t (and why!) for a particular group and adjust accordingly.
Listen With Curiosity
Input, especially from donors, is invaluable. Ask for feedback! Not only will this help your stakeholders feel like valued partners, but you will have a real-time read on their communication preferences and what topics are important to them.
Stories Behind Statistics
When you’re sharing data about your goals, it can appeal more to your readers/audience if it’s shared within a story. Instead of just reporting numbers alone, incorporate the faces behind what the numbers represent. “Sarah G. was able to find housing for her children because of your donation” or “Xavier bought a backpack and new shoes with the money you contributed.” Make it personal.
Everyone likes feeling appreciated. Whether it’s the donor whose check supported your new after-school program, the volunteer who showed up even when the weather turned bad or the board member who got the local Rotary Club to invite you to be their guest speaker, make sure your stakeholders know they are part of your organization’s success. Instead of saying “Our nonprofit planted 100 trees,” say “Your support helped us plant 100 trees. Thank you.”
Whether you share your story as a blog, a social media post, newsletter or news release, do it with heart. What do you want your audience to feel about your organization or mission? Joy? Compassion? Concern? All of the above? People connect more with a cause when they know who it’s helping or what it can change for the better.
Leaving a legacy and a positive footprint in your community — or on the world — is an ambitious goal, but one that is inspirational. And it can be achieved one word, one message, one story at a time.
The preceding blog was provided by an individual unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of NonProfit PRO.
Tita Cherrier’s love of writing, skill for storytelling and ability to emulate the voice of clients demonstrate her joy in working with words. The only rule? Use purposeful language that moves audiences to action.
At Slice Communications, Tita serves as a content manager where she executes writing components of strategic communication plans, as well as researching and scripting media pitches, thought leadership pieces, human interest stories, executive profiles and other content that achieves client goals of moving their audience from aware to advocates.