You do exceptional work at your nonprofit. You have a mission of helping others and making the world a better place, but to fulfill that mission, you need the support of others. You need your staff to continually push your cause forward. You need your volunteers to be engaged. And, you need your community to come out and participate in any way they can. All of this requires a solid communication plan.
Many nonprofits continue to use outdated communications plans, which creates more work and more expense. If you’re ready to reshape how you communicate in your organization, here are the steps you need to take to move into the digital era.
Do an Internal Audit
Before you can know where you need to go, you need to understand where you’re at. What tools are you using now to run your nonprofit? How are you conducting volunteer outreach or managing your full-time staff? Do you rely on email? How do you communicate with your community?
There’s a lot that you’re already doing to communicate both internally and externally. To uncover opportunities for improvement, conduct an internal audit of what’s being done right now.
Research Digital Tools
With your internal audit in place, take a look at how you’re getting your message through to your volunteers, staff, and community. What’s been effective? What needs improving? Specifically, what are you doing offline that you can put online?
These days, there’s an app or platform for nearly everything. Start researching new tools that can simplify what you’re doing now and move your communications online. For example, if you’re still sending out snail mail to your community about events, try posting on social media or harnessing email marketing.
In some cases, even if you’re using technology to do certain tasks, it might make sense to migrate to a new solution. For example, if you’re using a spreadsheet on your computer to do your scheduling, you could save a tremendous amount of man hours and improve the way you distribute your schedule by shifting to an online scheduling app.
Develop a Plan of Action
Once you’ve decided on which tools you want to use, create a plan for implementation. It’s natural for there to be an adjustment period when making any kind of change. By developing a plan of action before you get started updating your communication methods, you’ll have the best success of adoption and shortest learning curve.
Train Your Team … Repeatedly
Part of any good implementation plan is a good training program. In order for your team to adapt the new tools you’re planning to use, you needs to do a few things:
- Explain why you’re choosing to mix things up;
- Demonstrate the value in using the new tools;
- Show them how to get the most out of them.
This is particularly important when using digital tools because not everyone is well-versed in the online world. To get everyone invested in and in the habit of using the new communication tools for the digital era, you must train them. Then, you must train them again. Having several training opportunities will allow your team to ask questions as they arise and get the help they need so that they’re more invested and on board with the switch.
Is It Time for a Communications Shake Up?
The world moves quickly ahead with innovative new ways to communicate with one another. For your non-profit to be ahead of the curve, it’s important that you harness the digital direction we’re headed by continuing to do internal audits, research new tools, and implement the ones that you feel would be the best fit for your organization.
Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies in 2004 through 2007 and again in 2010, 2013 and 2014.