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Strategic Communication for Non-Profits

Communication is a big part of what makes us humans. Because organizations are living entities composed of human beings that work together towards achieving a common goal, they rely on communication to function and succeed. Moreover, both in life and, in business, effective communication is crucial for success. It’s through effective communication that you can achieve your goals and ensure the organization has the resources it needs. Although this might sound obvious, some organizations don’t seem to be aware of the importance of communication; while others are able to use communication intentionally and strategically, magnifying their results. The former tends to let their communication drift, communicating mostly in a disjointed and unclear way, actually slowing down their progress and damaging their brand and sustainability. 

An effective communication strategy must encompass and integrate the 4 types of organizational communication: 

  1. Marketing Communication: it’s the kind of communication that surrounds operations and activities, such as awareness campaigns, fundraising or selling products. It’s short-term and results oriented. 
  2. Institutional Communication: it’s the construction and maintenance of the organization’s image, positioning and associations inside every stakeholder’s mind. It includes public relations, media and branding strategies. It aims to maximize the results of the organization in the long run. It’s what makes an organization strong and robust. 
  3. Internal Communication: It refers to the communication that happens inside the organization and amongst its employees, volunteers, board members, etc.. It’s used in many ways, from organizing the day-to-day work to boosting employees’ motivation, productivity, and happiness. It is fundamental to non-profits, especially if they rely on volunteers whose motivation doesn’t depend on a salary.  
  4. Administrative Communication: it’s the kind of communication that involves all kinds of administrative processes, such as planning activities and documents, instructions, norms, and memos. It aims to guide, update and order the flow of functional activities. 

Although different, these types of communication are all interconnected, affecting each other. This is why the Communication Strategy must be planned in an integrated and holistic way. 

After developing an Integrated Organizational Communication Strategic Plan (IOCSP), the result is a roadmap of communication’s management actions to follow and update according to the organization’s needs throughout the year.   

And remember, whether you plan it or not, (organizational) communication is happening all around you, all the time. It is essential to avoid the potential pitfalls that come from not having a solid plan and leverage its power to achieve your goals and objectives the most effective and efficient way possible. 

By Ana Figueiredo 

Ana Figueiredo, with her M.A. and expertise of Anthropology and Communications is currently a Grant Specialist & Strategy Consultant @ TWG