Building your nonprofit’s communications fundamentals in the right order

Jun 23, 2022

Are you looking for a deliberate, structured approach to strengthening your organization’s marketing communications? Do you need to build or rebuild your nonprofit’s communications fundamentals?

There are many reasons you might need to strengthen, improve or adjust your communications approach, including:

  • Significant changes in your organization’s leadership
  • A new strategic plan
  • Upcoming organization milestones
  • A need for a refresh after several years of the status quo
  • “Ad hoc” communications that are no longer working

How can you ensure that all of your essential elements are in place and aligned in these and other situations?

How can you build your communications fundamentals?

Over the years, I’ve shaped my core services around my take on the fundamentals — emphasizing strong content foundations — and I often get questions about where to start, and the correct sequence of steps. In this post, I’m sharing my recommended approach to building your nonprofit’s communications fundamentals.

1. Understand your current situation

HOW: Conduct a communications audit.

WHY: If you haven’t conducted a communications audit in a few years, it’s time. You need to understand your current picture if you’re going to optimize your communications function.

WHEN: It makes sense to conduct a communications audit if:

  • You’re getting ready to build a new communications plan.
  • You’re building or expanding a communications team or function.
  • It has been a while!

Your audit should include an inventory of your communications activities and a SWOT analysis that sheds light on the correct next steps. Doing this audit will allow you to leverage what’s already working, fill in the gaps, and make realistic plans based on your current capacity. The audit process will help you evaluate the strategic alignment of your current goals, audiences, and approaches — and better understand your culture, team, tools and processes.

As a result of your audit, you might discover you have all or some of the communications fundamentals listed below in good shape. However, if you determine that you have significant building or rebuilding to do, you might need to tackle all three.

Learn more about my communications audit package for nonprofit organizations.

To build your nonprofit’s communications fundamentals in the right order, start by understanding your current situation: conduct an audit. Click To Tweet

2. Clarify your core messaging

HOW: Develop your brand messaging platform.

WHY: To have a current, compelling, and actionable messaging framework to guide your content development and communications implementation.

WHEN: You might need a new or refreshed brand messaging platform if:

  • You recently launched a new strategic plan.
  • Your messages and communications are misaligned or disconnected.
  • Your organization has changed its focus or offerings.
  • Your organization has launched a significant new sub-brand, or an existing sub-brand has grown to prominence.
  • You have difficulty ensuring colleagues or suppliers stay on message.
  • You don’t have a brand messaging platform!

Once you’ve established a brand messaging platform, you’ll have a guide for content development and a framework for delivering coordinated, consistent communications about your organization’s identity, purpose, approach and impact.

Learn more about my brand messaging package for nonprofit organizations.

Your nonprofit’s brand messaging platform is a communications fundamental because it’s a framework that guides content development. Click To Tweet

3. Strengthen your website content

HOW: Develop or update your website content strategy.

WHY: Your website is your organization’s digital home base and needs strategically-aligned, strong content to serve this role effectively.

WHEN: Developing a website content strategy makes sense when you are planning a new website or overhauling your website content. It makes sense if you want to take a content-first approach and are not yet ready to talk about technology, and it’s an ideal approach if you know you’ll need to navigate conflicting website wishes and priorities.

Whether you need to update a few pages or overhaul your entire website, a website content strategy will guide your content decisions.

Learn about my website content strategy package for nonprofit organizations.

Your nonprofit’s website content is a communications fundamental because it does so much heavy lifting for your organization online. Click To Tweet

4. Align your storytelling

HOW: Develop a storytelling plan that delivers your brand narrative

WHY: A storytelling approach that is aligned with your brand and organizational strategies will deliver your key messages and help your stakeholders understand and be inspired by your organization.

WHEN: It’s time to realign your storytelling approach if your storytelling has been nonexistent or haphazard, or you need to do a better job of:

  • Sharing successes and impact.
  • Demystifying your cause or your organization’s approach.
  • Showcasing a human, relatable side of your nonprofit.

Take advantage of the many benefits of creating a solid storytelling plan.

Learn about my story planning and writing service for nonprofit organizations.

What steps do you need to take to build your nonprofit’s communications fundamentals?

Do these four steps make sense for your nonprofit organization? If you already have some of the fundamentals in place, jump in at the steps that address your organization’s current gaps.

Getting your fundamentals in order is worth the clarity and frameworks you’ll have to guide your day-to-day communications.

Follow a structured approach to strengthening your nonprofit's communications fundamentals. Click To Tweet

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