external nonprofit communication

Once you and your team have worked together to fine-tune your internal nonprofit strategic communication initiatives by constructing a mission statement, vision statement, and identifying your core values, you can now start to strategize your external nonprofit communication efforts.

There are several forms of external nonprofit communication which include:

This may seem overwhelming, but having a strategy can help you feel more in control of your communications. If you want to reach more people and help promote your brand recognition while positively shaping the public’s perception of you – learning a few key strategies and skills around external nonprofit communication is vital. 

When it comes to external nonprofit communication it is important to identify several key factors:

Your What: Your Message

Your Who: Your Audience

Your Where: Your Placement

Crafting the Right Message Is Crucial

You have already done a lot of this work with the internal messaging initiatives you’ve taken. It’s important to note that one of the best forms of messaging is through storytelling. Human brains engage, absorb, and remember stories better than any other form of communication available. 

Consider which stories you have within your organization that are powerful stories of struggle and overcoming. Taking the time to craft powerful stories will go a long way in your communications. Remember, you can repurpose these stories on various platforms by making a few minor tweaks to keep them fresh while also saving you work. You really only a need a few solid stories a year. Chances are good your audience members are not hanging out on all of your available platforms, so it is likely you will be reaching fresh eyes each time. Which brings us to the next factor, the audience.

Understanding Your Audience

Knowing your audience is key if you want to be successful in strategic communication. This is a marketing truth as old as time itself. Consider which groups may connect well to the mission of your organization. Try not to be too broad here as niche marketing is far more effective then the “spray and pray” method of trying to reach everyone. Trying to catch the eye of all people means you risk being seen by none.

Without going too deep into the concepts of empathetic storytelling (a subject well worth investigation) – you need to be sure the group you focus on is the group most likely to identify with your core mission. In other words, who do you think can relate best to the work you do? Who’s lives are affected by the work you do? Who is already giving to you and why? 

Knowing these factors makes your donor drives far more effective and better aimed day to day. 

Ensure you have a clear idea of where you believe your target donor market lies by learning their demographics. Pin down who your communications target audience is and where they hang out.

  • Decide on the likely age groupings.
  • Potential locality.
  • What their interests might generally be.
  • What their pain points are.
  • Where they consume their news.
  • Where they spend their time online.

You can look to your current donor data to help provide guidance on this. 

To build upon this, once you’ve identified who you’re aiming now focus on where to reach them.

Your Placement

Again, its important to learn where your ideal consumer gets their news, spends their time. This can help you prioritize that long list of possibilities for external nonprofit communication at the beginning of this blog. While all forms are ideal, many nonprofits aren’t extra-abundant when it comes to staffing and time is limited! Do some research on what social media platforms your audience hangs out on – each age group is a little different. How is your email open rate? Around 18% is common. Does your audience respond well to direct mail? Knowing these indicators can help you decide where to put your energy.

That said, if you have the manpower for it – try to hit all the major online platforms. For example, take the American Cancer Society. They have three thousand likes on Facebook, over a million on Twitter and one-hundred and forty thousand on Instagram! They run a multidimensional social media campaign, and it works! This helps create many paths to the center of a nonprofit, which is fundamental to communication now. Social media shouldn’t be viewed as a chore for nonprofits, but as a huge opportunity and one we must embrace. If you’re not tech savvy, that’s ok. Reach out for those supporters who have the knowledge. They will help you achieve your aims. In the meantime, check out some of these nonprofit social media tips.

Nonprofit Sustainability

Madison Gonzalez

Madison Gonzalez

Advancement Director at Morning Light, Inc.
Madison Gonzalez is a National Public Speaker, Storyteller of the Year Award-Winner, Best-Selling Author of Dear Mirror, Events Manager, and Published Poet. She is also the Advancement Director at Morning Light, Inc., and Indianapolis-based nonprofit that fosters community programs in Indiana for the terminally ill, seniors, families and the home-bound. As a storytelling coach and consultant, it is her mission to empower others to share their stories for impact and income. Madison can be reached at madison@toldcoaching.com.