Pivoting Your Nonprofit’s Communication Strategy for 2020

Nonprofit's Communication Strategy

While there isn’t a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is teaching (and forcing) nonprofits to pivot quickly. By that I mean that it’s forcing us to change our plans and adapt in real time. It’s hard to cope with and implement changes so quickly, but it is a good organizational muscle to exercise. 

One of the areas that is undoubtedly being forced to change for most nonprofits is their communication strategy. More than likely, if you continue to execute the plan you already developed you run the risk of it being less relevant to your audience and potentially tone deaf. Two things no nonprofit organization wants to have happen. 

Today, I want to share some advice for pivoting your nonprofit’s communication strategy in light of these ever-changing circumstances we are all navigating through.

Don’t Throw Out What You’ve Already Planned. . . At Least Not Completely

While it might be tempting to just throw out everything you’ve already planned and start over from scratch, I want to encourage you NOT to do that. There are good reasons why you planned what you planned for communications. Cull through your nonprofit’s communications strategy and divide what you had currently planned into three categories — essential must-keep communications, maybe communications, and communications to postpone. 

How do you decide which communications go into which categories? You’ll need to look at the bigger picture of your nonprofit’s plans in light of COVID-19. Your essential must-keep communications may be related to programs or service offerings, or even something like a newsletter. Communications to postpone might include content that is no longer relevant in this new landscape. 

Figure Out What Your Community Needs from Your Nonprofit

After taking inventory of what you already planned, you may find that you have gaps in your communications plan. Your next step is to start filling those gaps by figuring out what your community needs from your nonprofit. The goal of this process is to find a way to stay relevant and useful for your audience. This is a great time to ask questions, practice social listening, and gather data points about what your audience wants to hear. 

Plan for Communications that Reflect the Environment and Tone

By now you’ve probably received an email or had a social media post show up in your feed that just seems completely out of touch. It probably felt jarring to encounter content like this given everything that’s going on. You certainly won’t want this to happen to your nonprofit’s communications. Nonprofit Marketing Guide recently shared the 6 Rs of message relevance. This is a good litmus test to run your communications through during this time. 

Keep Evaluating and Stay Nimble

One of the best things we can do for our communications during this time is to keep evaluating the environment and adjust as necessary. This is not conducive to making long-term, set in stone plans. Instead, it asks us as nonprofit communicators to think short to medium term. That doesn’t mean you have to fly by the seat of your pants on a daily basis though. But it may mean that you’re taking your nonprofit’s communication strategy and planning a week at a time, and really that’s how we’re all taking life right now anyway. 

Vanessa Chase
Vanessa Chase is President of TheStorytellingNonprofit.com and co-founder of Stewardship School. Her goal is to help nonprofits connect in more meaningful ways with donors through stories and stewardship. She works with nonprofits throughout North America—including BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, Union Gospel Mission, and Cancer Care Connection—and is an internationally recognized speaker. Vanessa is also the Board Chair of Women Against Violence Against Women.
Vanessa Chase
By |2020-03-31T15:00:27-04:00April 1st, 2020|COVID-19 / Coronavirus, Donor Communications, Strategic Planning|

One Comment

  1. ofhsoupkitchen April 1, 2020 at 7:27 am - Reply

    Communication is really crucial in this time of crisis. Thanks for sharing this. It’s very essential right now.

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