The lack of a documented communications plan is something nonprofits all shapes and sizes struggle with. While small shops may lack the bandwidth to create one, larger shops often decry how hard it is to pull various departments together to create such a plan.

Whether you don’t yet see the value of creating a plan or need some ammo to convince superiors to invest the time and energy, here are three reasons why you simply can’t put off the creation of a communications plan for your nonprofit any longer:

1. Better Communications

No matter what size of nonprofit you might be, working from a plan is the most surefire way to improve any and all communications.

For the small nonprofit creating the plan provides a roadmap and literally a place to start toward proper communications. Most small charities have little or no experience in working through the various channels of communications. This is especially true if it is a one person show.

Even for a small shop here are twelve popular channels to address:

  1. Postal Mail
  2. Email
  3. Social Media
  4. Website Copy
  5. Event Signage/Programs/Invites
  6. Public Speaking
  7. Advertisements
  8. Newsletters
  9. Blog Posts
  10. Volunteer Materials
  11. Board Materials
  12. Print Literature

Just coordinating all of the above channels with proper timing and messaging is a pretty darn good plan for the small shop!

For medium and large shops the key is having the bases covered with multiple people (more on that with our next reason).

The larger shops have the experience with each communication vehicle now they just need to refine the various messages and enhance the timing and delivery

2. Better Coordination Between Departments

This is more likely a problem with medium to large nonprofits where silos of information and communication can be created and grow over time.

Those silos tend to really show up with one department is not fully aware of how, what and when another department is communicating something important. Operating in a vacuum can cause painful missteps to occur and trust to be even further diminished between those departments.

Meeting annually and updating a charity wide communication plan will cause the various factions or silos to be more fully aware of each other actions and messages. This is the best to avoid donor fatigue and public relation nightmares.

For the smaller shops the various factions may not be staff, but could be these groups who are communicating your mission and messages in one form or another to the general public and to each other:

  1. Board Members
  2. Volunteers
  3. Contractors or Consultants
  4. Vendors
  5. Major Donors

As you might guess keeping external factions on the same message can be even more difficult than doing so with internal staff. Requiring each of these outside groups to fully read and acknowledge a detailed communications plan might just save the day

3. Better Audience Segmentation

Part of the process of creating a complete nonprofit communication plan is identifying every possible audience segment to address. It is often the overlooked audience groups who prove to be the most costly.

For example how about the family of mission recipients? This group can in many cases become the foundation of outreach to other families in need of your mission related endeavors as well as potential funders on numerous levels.

It certainly is much easier to know how to communicate with a multitude of audience segments with a detailed communication plan in hand no matter what size your nonprofit is. Remember one type or style of communications may not fit with every audience segment.


Can you think of other key reasons for a your notch overall communication plan for your nonprofit? If so, please comment below!

If you need more help, check out Kivi Leroux Miller’s recent Bloomerang webinar on the basics of a stellar nonprofit communication plan. Since communications is the fulcrum for all relationships with each entity touching your charity, a detailed and usable game plan for those communications should be a “MUST DO” going forward!

Jay Love

Jay Love

Co-Founder & Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang
A 30+ veteran of the nonprofit software industry, Jay Love co-founded Bloomerang in 2012. Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth. Prior to starting eTapestry, Jay served 14 years as President and CEO of Master Software Corporation. MSC provided a widely used family of database products for the non-profit sector called Fund-Master. He currently serves on the board of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and is the past AFP Ethics Committee Chairman. Jay is also the author of Stay Together: How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty.