Community & Communications

Nonprofit organizations exist within a community for the benefit of a community. Those communities can be loosely defined. Some are geographic; others are not.

Nonprofit fundraising is based on appealing to a concern, interest, or care shared by a critical mass of people—a community. A nonprofit organization succeeds in raising funds from that community through conversation with it.

We can call it communications, marketing, public relations, or whatever we want, but a nonprofit that expects to successfully raise money with which to carry out its mission must speak with and listen to its communities. Support for a nonprofit grows out of a community’s belief in the mission of, knowledge and understanding of, and engagement with that nonprofit.

Articles about Community & Communications

Developing a Communications Strategy
For the Development Operation

If a nonprofit organization wants to maximize its contributed income it needs a coherent, executable development plan, and that plan must have a viable communications strategy. What we’ll be talking about here is not an organization’s overall communications strategy – how and what it does to present itself to the public at large. Rather we’re talking about an organization’s development communications strategy—how and what it does to communicate its fundraising needs and efforts to donors, prospects, and those able to influence them. Context of a Development Communications Strategy A development communications strategy starts with the organization’s overall communications plan. Whatever is done to communicate, as part of the fundraising effort, must be done in the context of how the organization has decided to present itself to the public. The need for a specialized development communications strategy does not give a development department the license to work outside the organization’s communications department. It is crucially important that the development department work with the communications department. Approval must be sought from the communications department for the development communication strategy and its major components. I cannot stress this point strongly enough. A development communications strategy crosses functional lines within an organization. It must be true to both the development and the communications departments’ guidelines, practices, and policies. Failure to work closely with the communications department in this area can result in damage to the organization, its fundraising efforts, collegial harmony, and your career. There is another thing to which any development communications strategy must also be true – the organization’s mission. No one should ever construct a development plan or the communications... read more

Designing a Communications Plan to
Enhance Your Fund-Raising Campaign

Don’t Confuse a “Communications Plan” with a “Marketing Plan” A well-conceived communications plan will be essential to the success of your campaign, especially in the case of a broad-based effort that is directed to the general public. As components of this plan, the case for support, campaign brochure, and publicity plan will create an awareness of your organization’s value to the community and the financial need that necessitates the campaign. This broad-based public awareness will assist in creating a climate conducive to giving. At the outset, let’s clear up some confusion about the respective roles of a communications plan and a marketing plan. All too often, the process designed to convince prospective donors to contribute to a non-profit organization is described as “marketing.” However, according to Webster, “Marketing is all business activity involved in the moving of goods from the producer to the consumer.” While this for-profit definition might be stretched to relate as well to the “delivery” by non-profits of food, therapy, medicine, education, cultural events, etc. to constituencies, it’s apparent that soliciting a charitable gift involves a very different transaction The sale of commercial products involves an explicit selling and buying environment which customers understand and expect. By contrast, when we seek voluntary charitable contributions, we are working in a substantially different transactional environment. Rather than selling a product to prospective donors based on its best value in the marketplace, we are presenting donors with an opportunity to realize their own, perhaps unformulated, desire to contribute to the welfare of their community and to associated causes. So, while there are some close parallels in “selling”– in the... read more