Communication as a nonprofit professional

Communication is key for almost every profession out there. And rightfully so. If you can’t communicate what you are doing to the world, your boss, your community, your family, or even yourself, then how do you know you are doing something productive?

Whole companies dedicate large amounts of staff to their communication teams to relate to the outside world. In a nonprofit, it is generally one staff member that controls the organization’s image to the community, along with the CEO, President, and Board Members.

But what about you? You have a position within a nonprofit or community organization, and chances are you have to communicate regularly with people outside of your organization. So how important is what you do on a communicative level?

Well, it is very important. On a personal level, your communication with friends and family are probably just fine – texts, Facebook, touching base once a month. However, when it comes to professional nonprofit communication – keeping your organization on the connected to those donors, community partners, officials, or program officers can be the difference between landing that donation or grant – and closing your doors.

My advice? Since most of the world’s business is now done via email, make sure you take this form of communication very seriously. If you recieve an email from someone that is reaching out to you for any reason, make sure you get back to them within the hour. No, you do not have to write a complete essay if the response will warrant it. Yet a simple “I read your email, and I will get back to you when things settle down” will do the job. Then when you can, hopefully that day, reply to your sender and give them the time and attention they deserve.

People know you check your email. How? Because we are consuming 3x the amount of information than we did in 1960, and a lot of that comes from constantly checking/replying emails. So, don’t risk putting somebody off by putting their email off until 2 days later. Its polite, its easy, and it might be the difference in how you come off as a nonprofit professional. And for the sector, we need more good vibes stemming from competent and professional people to the outside community.

4 thoughts on “Communication as a nonprofit professional

  1. Jessica Journey says:

    Great post! I love the connection you’ve made between our communication habits and our effectiveness as a sector.

    When I know I will be away from my computer for just a few hours, I set an “out-of-office” message. My colleagues have told me that they appreciate the auto-response.

    I think we do have to be sensitive to individuals’ expectations for timely responses, but we need to do so in a way that works for our own workstyle. That’s why I use “out-of-office” messages – even when I am in the office – when I am benefiting from a large time chunk for focused writing or planning!

    Keep up the good work!

    • nickdicolandrea says:

      Thanks Jessica! I’m finally getting back into the swing of things, and hopefully will be able to blog weekly again. I think there are so many little things we overlook in our attempts to save the world, and I learn new lessons everyday. See you on the Twitter!

      • kellystonebock says:

        Ohhh yes. As I’m one of 3 comm people at my nonprofit (and one of the 2 writers controlling the message), I love the all-hands-on-deck model. This translates outside of nonprofits of course. It’s the whole “every employee is a walking image of your brand” mindset, which of course is true.

        The best external communication reflects solid internal communication. Having everyone up-to-speed on what’s happening, the central messages for the year, proper wording, etc. is also key.

        Good post! 🙂

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