Helping Nonprofits Communicate

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Transparency Builds Trust

Say it’s time to make a statement on behalf of your nonprofit organization, and you’re tasked with writing it. Whether its how your organization is operating during COVID-19, your organization’s stance on Black Lives Matter or delivering news to your constituents about personnel changes and rumors, your words to your audience will matter.

Here’s the kicker: even if your organization doesn’t have all the answers figured out right now and you’re building the plane as you’re flying it so to speak, it’s still important to be open and transparent with your stakeholders.

Not sure yet what the best way to return to regular programming once there is herd immunity? You can tell them that.

Not sure yet when you will change from administering programming on Zoom to be back in person? It’s OK to say you’re working on that.

Not sure yet who your new executive director will be after a quick departure of your most recent one? You can say what you’re doing to find your new one: assembling a search committee, finding an interim director, making the board of directors the acting head of the organization, etc.

Fact: your audience wants to hear from you, even if you don’t yet have everything sorted out.

Simply telling them that and inviting them to share their questions or concerns will instill trust and show that your organization is a transparent, open book.

Here’s a three-step process for how to write a piece that will educate and build trust with your audience.

  1. Decide who should hear from you. Your neighbors? Your clients or those receiving services from your nonprofit? Individual donors? Foundations that granted your nonprofit money in the last year or two?
  2. Once you’ve identified your audience, decide why they will want to hear from the organization. Do they need to be notified of reduced staff, programming and hours? Do you see a current event as a way to educate your stakeholders or inform their opinions about an issue? Make sure your reason is compelling.
  3. How will your message be shared? Via an infographic on your social media platforms? An email from your founder/board director/executive director? With a news release to local media?

Information to consider including:

  • Your nonprofit’s mission and vision statements, and values that match the issue at hand.
  • Statistics that show how this issue affects those you serve.
  • Your organizations’ commitment to transparency, equity, etc. as it relates to the issue at hand.
  • Your organization’s action steps toward the desired end result.
  • Trusted resources for further reading to educate your stakeholders.
  • An invitation to open communication between your organization and your stakeholders, community, etc.

Has your organization shared a public relations piece successfully? Tell us about it.