9 Effective Nonprofit Communication Strategies to Follow in 2024

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Published:

March 31, 2023

Last Updated:

January 12, 2024

A nonprofit can be doing the most incredible, meaningful work in the world—but without the right communication strategies, no one will know about it. It’s up to your organization to tell its story, whether you’re shouting it from the rooftops or sharing it personally with key stakeholders.

However, nonprofit communications are broad, so it can be difficult to know where to start. And without clear communication plans for nonprofits, it can feel like you’re taking a shot in the dark.

If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. In this post, we will share everything you need to know about creating effective nonprofit communication strategies.

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What Is Nonprofit Communications?

Talking

Nonprofit communications is how your organization interacts and engages with people and the world around it.

At its core, communications comes down to how you’ll reach your target audience, including donors, volunteers, board members, and the general public—so you’ll need to tailor how you communicate to get the best results.

Here’s a great example of nonprofit communications in action from Habitat for Humanity’s LinkedIn page. By sharing this post, they not only are able communicate a powerful story with their current followers, but they also get the chance to inspire new supporters to get involved with their mission.

Habitat for Humanity storytelling


Other common types of nonprofit communications include:

  • Calls for donations
  • Thank-you letters
  • Annual reports
  • Email updates
  • And more!

Regardless of how you communicate, it’s all part of the same communications strategy to engage and involve your organization’s audience.

Importance of Communication for Nonprofits

Connection

Nonprofit communications are often overlooked. Don’t make this mistake, as effective communications are critical to securing more support and furthering your mission.

Nonprofit Communications Foster Connection

The deeper the connection you create with your donors and stakeholders, the more likely they will want to stay involved with your nonprofit. One way to foster this connection is through communicating impact.

Nonprofit Communications Foster Connection


St. Jude
does a great job of this by highlighting the children and families they support across all platforms. You can see short advertisements and longer-form videos that share all the ways your donation impacts children’s lives.

Effective nonprofit communications will help you form deep and meaningful relationships with your supporters so that they can feel personally connected to your mission.

Nonprofit Communications Help You Achieve Your Goals

Does your nonprofit have any goals for the year? Maybe you want to raise $1 million for scholarship support or are hoping to provide 100 families with meals for a year. Whatever your goal is, you’ll never be able to reach it without strategic communications.

Nonprofit communications allow you to share those goals and inspire donors, employees, and communities to help you reach them. Whether it’s through solicitations for donations across various platforms, personalized notes to donors asking for support, or sharing about your upcoming fundraising event on your website, communication is vital to getting the word out about what you hope to accomplish.

Nonprofit Communications Help You Streamline Your Fundraising Efforts

Developing a comprehensive communications plan can help you see a 360-degree view of your fundraising efforts, allowing you to identify gaps and redundancies to help optimize your campaigns.

You will save money and time when you take the time to plan your communications rather than just throwing it all out there and seeing what works. Then, you can invest those resources back into the organization without compromising on your fundraising efforts.

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7 Proven Strategies for Nonprofit Communications

Check mark

Many nonprofits don’t have the resources for a dedicated communications team, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work to enhance your efforts. Here are nine strategies to help you bring your nonprofit communications to the next level.

1. Tell a Story

Storytelling is an art. And, when it’s done right, nonprofit storytelling can be a powerful tool to help connect your donors with your organization and inspire them to give.

March of Dimes


March of Dimes
does a great job of sharing about the families that they have impacted through both visuals and words. This is a great way to engage with website visitors because not all want to learn about your organization the same way.

You can do this at your own nonprofit by sharing weekly stories on social media or hosting a video history of our organization on your website. Start by identifying what will attract and inspire donors to give, and craft your stories around that.

When you tell a story, you help audiences see themselves in the work of your organization. Stories that resonate stick with people, leading to a more engaged donor, employee, or volunteer.

2. Create a Visual Branding Guide

Visual branding is key to effective nonprofit communications.

If your nonprofit is new to visual branding, a great place to start is by creating a style guide and filling it with your organization’s colors, fonts, logos, and more. You want to create a cohesive look in all your communications so that it’s clear that the communications are from your nonprofit.

Visual Branding


The American Heart Association has a 63-page brand guideline document that covers everything from its brand identity to its typography and tone of voice. These clear instructions help create standardized communications.

Your brand standards don’t have to be as complex, but be sure to give your organization a good starting point with a style guide. No matter who is working on communications, your style guide will help everything feel cohesive.

3. Define Your Target Audience

Not all communications for nonprofits are one-size-fits-all, so spend some time defining your different audiences so that you can determine how to best communicate with them.

Don’t just limit your audience to donors, either. You should also be thoughtful about your communications with your staff and board members.

Research your audiences, so you know exactly how they like to receive communications.

Once you’ve identified and researched your different target audiences, set different strategies for each to help you engage with them most effectively.

4. Leverage Various Channels With Purpose

Nonprofits can use different channels to reach their target audiences. Direct mailers like solicitation letters, brochures, and magazines are great engagement pieces; however, they can be costly depending on the size of your audience.

Digital collateral like emails, publications, and even videos on social media are great ways to engage with your audience.

In 2014, the ALS Association launched the viral ice bucket challenge, which generated $115 million alone. Participants recorded videos of them dumping ice water over their heads, nominating others to spread like wildfire.

ALS Association Ice Bucket Challenge


Now, that’s the exception, not the rule, so don’t expect your social media campaign to generate that kind of revenue. However, that doesn’t mean it’s still not a great option to engage.

Be strategic with your choices of channel based on your specific audience and the goal. You have options, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box when considering what channels to use.

5. Benchmark Peers

If you’re feeling stuck, look around you! Benchmark what your peers or competitors are doing. That includes diving deep into how they communicate. How are they presenting themselves online and in person? How are they telling their stories? What channels are they using?

If you’re open to it, reach out to someone for inspiration on how they are connecting with their audience or calling for donations. Most organizations will be happy to share best practices as long as you’re not their direct competitor.

6. Use Metrics to Track and Improve your Performance

If you’re getting donations and reaching your goals, it can be tempting not to look at the data to see how your campaigns are doing. However, this is a missed opportunity. The raw data can tell you a lot if you know what to look for.

Using metrics to track the performance of your communications strategies will help you see if there are any gaps. Did one campaign do better than another? Are there better ways to segment? What’s the ROI on each strategy?

Looking at the metrics will help you improve your communications and help make limited resources go further.

7. Ask for Feedback

One of the most important things you can do as a nonprofit is to ask for feedback. It can be as simple as a conversation at an event as you talk to attendees or a formal survey.

Applying your audience’s feedback can help you continue to connect with them in meaningful ways. Even if you don’t like the feedback, try to make adjustments and see if there’s a change in engagement.

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Challenges Involved in Communicating Effectively

Challenges

Even if you use those 7 strategies for effective nonprofit communications, you may still run into challenges. This is common, so don’t get discouraged. Instead, we’ll help you learn how to manage through them.

Limited Resources

One of the most common issues that nonprofits face is limited resources. Most do not even have a dedicated communications team.

If you take the time to set a comprehensive communications plan and create an in-depth style guide, any member of your organization can tackle communications. Spread out the work evenly or add it as a stretch assignment to an individual. You can creatively combat limited resources.

Competing Priorities

There can be a sense of urgency at a nonprofit that every initiative is mission critical, so it can be hard to know how best to prioritize communications. However, a clear strategy and communications plan can help you focus your efforts in the right area at the right time. You’ll also be able to use your roadmap to avoid overlapping communications initiatives.

Different Stakeholder Needs

Different stakeholders want to be communicated with in different ways, and some may even have different priorities than others.

It can be hard to keep track of it all. Again, taking a moment to step back and segment your different target audiences and their communication preferences will be critical to helping you stay organized.

The Importance of Transparency and Accountability in Nonprofit Communications

Transparency

As you are thinking about how best to communicate, above all else it’s important that you are open and honest with your audiences. Communications are most effective when they are transparent, so be prepared to share information openly about your finances, programs, and impact.

Key stakeholders should have access to this information, whether you’re presenting it in a quarterly report or they are logging into a platform to access it themselves.

At the end of the day, communications for nonprofits should drive accountability. Once you share your priorities, you have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

Wrapping Up: The Next Steps

Nonprofit communications

Nonprofit communications can take many different forms, but one thing is certain: they can make or break your organization. Effective communication fosters connections with your audiences, helping you achieve your goals and advance your mission.

Now that you know the best strategies, you should be well on your way to communicating successfully and transparently with your audiences.

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