Kivi Leroux Miller’s latest nonprofit communications trends report confirms several industry standards and reveals unique perspectives on inter departmental cooperation. The entire report and a splendid infographic can be found here.

1. Three Top Channels No Surprise

The first takeaway makes so much sense to all of us in the nonprofit sector regarding the most utilized communication channels. Website, social media and email remain the three stalwarts of communicating for charities.

Any charity still focusing in on the printed page or press releases might want to wake up to movement away from those channels in the last decade. The immense rise of Internet connectivity and mobile is spurring this change in my opinion.

How about you fundraisers reading this: is this gap going to widen in the future?

2. Even Less Surprise in Top Social Media Sites

Whether it is in the nonprofit world or the commercial business world Facebook, Twitter and YouTube reign supreme. You just have to be posting and responding where the immense multitudes are hanging out. It is great to see the vast communities being built within those three social media platforms by nonprofits.

Of special note is the growing importance of more visual related social media sites like Flickr and Periscope. It would be prudent to check them out and perhaps do a bit of “lurking.”

3. Communication Teams Seems to be Rising in Size

In each size category the number of people devoted to communication is larger than was the case several years back. In fact, in previous years having a full-time communications person for a charity with one million or less in annual budget would be considered a luxury. Now it is commonplace, as indicated in the report.

Even as you move up in size above one million in budget the people devoted to communication roles rise nicely. The report shows 2 people in the 1-5 million group, 3.25 in the 5-10 million and 5.75 in the above 10 million section. Obviously, communications is more important to fundraising and other departments within the charity sector.

4. Goal Conflicts Exist Between Nonprofit Departments

Within three key departments of most nonprofits, communication, fundraising and executive leadership, the top goals do not align.

The fundraising and executive leadership named donor retention and donor acquisition as their top two goals while the communication area named brand awareness and community engagement as the top two.

Thankfully, each other’s goals were still listed as important just not high enough to make the top of the list. Hopefully, this will not lead to conflict in regards to time and resources being devoted.

If you are a fundraiser or an executive director reading this post have you seen these differences in goal preferences cause any conflicts within your organization?

5. Strong Alignment is Present for Community Building and Engagement

Luckily, even though the top goals were not the same among communication directors, fundraisers and executive directors, the desire to feel responsible for engaging the community of constituents as well growing that community was strong among all three.

The percentage within each group, feeling responsible, was all at the fifty percent level or higher. Not surprisingly those tasked with executive leadership felt the strongest obligation at sixty-five percent.

These five takeaways should help anyone at a nonprofit organization be more aware of and better at the important task of communications. The trends explored are key to success in so many other areas.


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.