When was the last time your nonprofit updated its communications plan? While marketing and communications plans are often developed alongside a nonprofit’s strategic plan, just as the programs and activities change and evolve, so do the marketing communications needs. With year-end fast approaching, now is the time for nonprofits to dust-off their marketing communications plans and update the strategies and tactics to align with the strategic goals for the year ahead.
Modifying your message
Are your messages audience-centric? Do they clearly articulate the impact your organization has on the community? Are they succinct, easy-to-understand and, most importantly, relevant to the audiences with whom you are communicating?
We often hear from nonprofits that while their programs and services have evolved over the years, their mission and vision statements haven’t necessarily followed suit. Since messaging is the foundation of an effective communications plan, it is critical that your nonprofit’s message points are up-to-date and adopted for use across the organization.
Replicating your successes
Which strategies and tactics have yielded the greatest ROI for your nonprofit in recent years? Whether you’ve successfully used email marketing to increase donations, leveraged media relations to drive program participation or tapped into social media marketing as a volunteer engagement tool, knowing what worked well and what underperformed is key to developing a communications strategy that allows for repeated successes. In order to evaluate which strategies and tactics had the biggest impact on the bottom line, it is important to have metrics in place for evaluating the performance of each communication tactic and the channel(s) through which it was distributed.
Refining your measurement strategy
What key performance indicators (KPIs) does your nonprofit use to benchmark success? How does the measurement program for your marketing and communications campaigns align with the measurement program for your overall strategic goals? It’s important to remember that marketing and communications don’t happen in silos and that the more synergy there is between an organization’s marketing strategy and its ‘business’ strategy, the greater the likelihood of successfully achieving both sets of goals. Speaking of alignment…
Secure the buy-in of key stakeholders
For many nonprofits, there is a broad range of stakeholders responsible for reinforcing the messaging within and, ultimately, executing the communications plan. This may include staff, board members, volunteers, lobbyists, strategic partners, and community leaders, among other spokespeople and brand champions. With that in mind, it is important that these stakeholders have a voice in refining the plan and that there are agreed-upon strategies and tactics for implementing the plan. The more cohesive the plan development, approval, and implementation process, the stronger the outcomes.
Build in added flexibility
In an ever-changing and increasingly digital world, news cycles move at an alarmingly fast pace and opportunities are both circumstantial and self-generated. While maintaining a cohesive communications roadmap remains vitally important, allowing the flexibility to jump on timely media opportunities and provide relevant, high-value expert commentary when the right news breaks are also important. Effective nonprofit communications strategies position organizations as both sources and resources for media and lays the foundation for long-term relationships that yield repeat coverage.
Whether you are a small grassroots nonprofits with a hyperlocal communications program in place or a multi-affiliate national nonprofit with a robust internal communications team and an agency communications partner, an up-to-date strategic communications plan can support your nonprofit in achieving its marketing, development and strategic goals. As you put the finishing touches on this fiscal year, lay the foundation for success by refining and reinvigorating your communications plan for the year ahead.
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