Helping Nonprofits Communicate

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Nonprofit Communications Commandment #3: Form a communications committee

Thou shalt have a communications committee.

No matter how big or small a nonprofit, there is a common thread:  you live or die by the effectiveness of your communications team.

That seems like a pretty bold statement, doesn’t it? Of course there are other areas you feel you live and die by; development and programming tend to come to mind.

However, neither of those areas are successful without a slam-dunk communications strategy. Think about it. Every single sentence that is written, every solicitation, every mailer is (should be) a communication with your donor/partnerships/community. To succeed more wholly in all other areas you need to shore up your communications strategy and make sure your team is on board. Success comes when all your team members:  board members, key volunteers and staff learn to work outside of their silos and see where all the parts overlap. All roads lead back to communication!

What does an effective communications committee look like for a small shop without paid staff? There can be more teams and additional responsibilities but this is a great (and thorough) place to begin:

Communications Committee Roles and Responsibilties

Grant writing is a necessary part of your work with a nonprofit organization, so it can’t be ignored. But, it doesn’t have to be tackled alone. Here are a few ways to break out the duties from one person to a grant committee that will lighten the load for everyone.

Who you’ll need:

  • a Type A personality. Someone who is organized and extremely detail-oriented. You’ll want this person to compile research, grant deadlines and establish benchmarks for each grant. This person can also keep tabs on the information being collected and ask other committee members for what’s missing. This person can also make sure all the grant requirements are being followed exactly. This person would make a good grant committee chair.
  • a decent writer. Someone who can take lots of great information and make sense of it for readers/grant funders who may be learning about your organization for the first time. A fancy writing degree isn’t necessary, but a person is who can write good sentences that cover all the bases of each grant, and make the changes to each grant draft as suggested by the rest of the committee.
  • a financial person. Someone with access to all the financial documents of the organization. The person who can pull the entire fiscal year budget, or break budgets out program by program. This person would be able to provide a list of other foundations/corporations/donors that have already contributed to the project for which your team is seeking funding. This person could be the treasurer of the board, or someone else who is good with numbers.
  • the executive director or development director. A must-have for each grant committee. This person will have the final say in when a grant is sufficient and finished, and must either submit the grants him/herself, or sign off on them so another team member can do so.

Communication among this team is key. Regular check-in phone calls and a shared Dropbox account with all the necessary files will make this process easier. Lean on each other, remain accountable to each other and dig in! Many hands make light work.

Still concerned? Download our free communications committee team outline to see where to start.

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