S1 E11: Communications Tips from Award-Winning Nonprofits

This week I went to the Best Practices Session of the 2016 Advancement in Management Award. The winner and two runners-up shared so much wisdom, across many aspects of nonprofit management. I’ve assembled the communications-related tips in this special episode.

Congratulations to Higher Achievement, A-SPAN and National Children’s Alliance!

The biggest recurring theme: Keep mission at the center of everything you do!

  • Hang a big poster on the wall, listing mission and strategic goals
  • Have a “mission moment” at every meeting

Use data. Think of it as a flashlight — let it lead you down the trail of inquiry.

  • Communications-related analytics can help you see what’s working well, and what needs improvement.
  • Tune in to the Yoga of Nonprofit Communications next week, when we’ll go into more detail about communications metrics with a special guest!
  • Share metrics (not just communications, but also finance, program, etc.) across departments so people can understand how their piece fits in to the whole.

Create a Messaging Toolkit. 

  • It’s more than just an elevator pitch – it’s why you should care about the organization.
  • Agree on concise, jargon-free language to tell people what you do.
  • Document on paper. And practice saying it! A lot! Video yourself and watch it!
  • Anticipate the tough questions you’ll be asked; prepare and practice your responses.

It’s OK to to say “no” to some opportunities.

Coming back to mission, and keeping it at the center… it’s hard, when the world around us is moving so fast. You can practice a balancing pose like tree pose to get a physical sense of this!

Notes & Links

Write-ups from others who attended the Best Practices Session:

Twitter stream: https://twitter.com/hashtag/AIM16

Profiles of the winners (who were all “finalists” at the time these were written):

General information about the Advancement in Management Award for nonprofits: https://www.nonprofitadvancement.org/AIMAward

Huge thanks to the Center for Nonprofit Advancement for running the show, and to PEPCO for sponsoring it!

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