Most organizations hire a communications person (or team) to handle their external communications and marketing. You know, things like the website, social media, email newsletters, the annual report, and maybe some press releases. Communications is often seen as a separate function dedicated to these traditional communication channels.
The thing is that everyone who works for your organization is a communicator – whether they like it or not. Is your Executive Director giving a speech? That’s communications. Is one of your program staff meeting with a partner? That’s communications too. Is a board member talking to a friend about his involvement in your organization? Yep, that’s also communications. When anyone associated with your organization speaks to someone about the organization, they are doing communications work for your organization.
Because they are all communicating on behalf of the organization, all staff, board members, and even volunteers should be prepared and empowered to do so. This will help them be more articulate, focused, and compelling in their communications. If they aren’t prepared, then you run the risk of muddling your messages, misrepresenting your organization, and missing opportunities to garner support for your organizations.
So what can you do to empower your colleagues to be effective messengers? You can make sure they:
- Are comfortable talking about your organization
- Understand the organization’s goals and needs
- Have the tools they need to communicate successfully
- Know where to go for help with communications activities
This will ensure they are all on message, communicating clearly, and proactive when they have questions or need assistance.
ERIC B. JACOBSON has more than 10 years of experience in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. As principal and founder of Proaireton Consulting, he helps nonprofits and foundations to achieve their missions and attract support to their causes through strategic planning, smarter fundraising, and more effective messaging.