Industry Insights

Guest blog: Are you in a communications rut?

Non-profits often contact me when their communications efforts no longer produce satisfactory results. They can struggle to evaluate their communications investments, innovate, and improve.

Laura Graham-Prentice

Categories: Industry Insights

August 21, 2017

Non-profits often contact me when their communications efforts no longer produce satisfactory results. They can struggle to evaluate their communications investments, innovate, and improve. A quick communications audit can highlight where teams may have fallen into a communications rut, providing a fresh perspective on how to optimize resource allocations to maximize impact. We can all get stuck in a rut given our hectic schedules, removing distractions can help teams refocus on what’s important and produce significant savings.

These common concerns can trigger organizations to take a fresh look at their communications plan.

We are so deep in the details we’ve lost sight of the path.

Teams can easily become overwhelmed by the details and volume of tasks on their plate – to the point where it obscures the overall strategy. It’s proven that effective planning, clarity, and simplicity bring the best results, whether you’re an Executive Director looking to engage the board in a new direction or a marketing team with information to communicate on your website.

Is your communication plan clear, concise, and persuasive?

Would an audit of how staff spent their time and talent last quarter align with your plan’s goals and priorities? Can your entire team (staff and volunteers alike) comfortably participate in an elevator chat on what your communications priorities are and the impact that you want to achieve?

We struggle to understand which of our communications efforts are having the most impact.

If we audited your board, staff, volunteers or donors, would they report that your communications are easy to understand and tailored to how and when they want/need to receive information? It’s no longer okay to have a one-size-fits-all communications and measurement approach. The target audience and its marketing objectives should drive what channels/platforms you use.

Are you confident you have the right platforms and you’re engaging with an audience that’s in-line with your marketing objectives?

Being able to track, measure, and optimize channel performance during implementation is critical to measure which activities are making a difference.

Have you noticed your team slipping into a rut? Here’s our advice on getting them back into the communications groove:

1. Plan ahead.

Begin with the end goal in mind and never skimp on the planning stage. Have clear, realistic objectives, and measurement plans in place.

2. Hire an expert.

Consider hiring an expert do a communications audit. This can surface concerns that staff may have difficulty sharing and offer a fresh perspective on how to optimize communications efforts to ensure maximum impact.

3. Invest in the right places.

Investing in your communications strategy eliminates waste and provides clear direction for your creative team. Charts and images are a great alternative to expensive visuals and they can be a wonderful tool to convey key messages. Investing time in good design will always produce results. Think of every piece of communication as a gift – carefully selected, beautifully wrapped, and thoughtfully presented at the appropriate time to delight your audience.

4. Keep it simple.

Don’t over-complicate things. Ensure your plan is easy for everyone to understand, implement, and measure to get buy-in. Be targeted in your approach and clearly identify your audience – focus your efforts on the areas/audience segments that will drive the best results.

5. Use all available resources.

Use every resource to minimize costs and amplify exposure – don’t be afraid to try to new channels and innovate. Work across teams to identify different approaches, synergies, or partnership opportunities.

6. Over communicate.

Step into the shoes of your busy, time-starved stakeholders. Their lives don’t revolve around your communications campaigns – sending a save the date, official invitation, and using email reminders can increase event turnout. A conversation calendar will prevent conflicts or overlapping communications to the same audiences.

7. Measure results.

Use data and results to optimize what’s working and inform the research for your next plan.

8. Share everything.

Share broadly with everyone involved. Thank them for their involvement and support.

If you’re still struggling with a team that is short-staffed, lacks time, resources or key marketing knowledge, contact us – we can help.

Are you having trouble implementing your communications strategy? Try these useful suggestions.


  • Client Spotlight

    Two Million Impressions and 11K+ Website Visits in 2 Weeks

    read more
  • Thought Leadership

    How to build a purpose-driven partnership strategy

    read more
  • Thought Leadership

    How to maintain a healthy brand

    read more
  • Industry Insights

    Anti-racism: doing it right

    read more
  • Thought Leadership

    Reflection and change

    read more
  • Thought Leadership

    Non-profit leaders: we’re here for you

    read more
  • Thought Leadership

    Choosing a federated non-profit funding model

    read more
  • Industry Insights

    Social purpose organizations, a massive $50 million fund has your name on it

    read more
  • Industry Insights

    How to build a culture of trust in a federated non-profit

    read more
  • Thought Leadership

    Corporations: Here’s 3 tips to make the most of your non-profit partnerships

    read more


Book now

Get social profit inspiration

Our work takes place on the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples that is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Learn more