Photo by Seyedeh Hamideh Kazemi on Unsplash.
4 min Read
December 23, 2019

10 tips to guide your nonprofit’s approach to communications in 2020

During this hectic holiday season, take a moment to reflect on how your nonprofit approaches communications. What do you hope to achieve in 2020? Chances are there are new ways you can use communications to meet these goals and advance your organization’s mission. The solutions often lie in building strong brands, compelling campaigns, and high-functioning teams. To jumpstart your planning, here are Big Duck’s top communications tips from 2019. 

Tip #1: Bridge the gap between your communications and leadership teams.

Lila Tublin, Copywriter at Big Duck, believes with the right conversation, your leadership can be on the same page on the importance of communications. Create the space for a discussion and connect the dots to ensure that your nonprofit’s communications aren’t being overlooked. Here are some recommendations to get nonprofit leadership to value smart communications.  

Tip #2: Use positioning and personality to shape how you tell your nonprofit’s story.

A good brand strategy is key to developing the right messaging platform for your nonprofit. These tools can not only help your communications team but the rest of your staff and board as well. Use your positioning and personality as your “north star,” and set the big idea and feelings you want to stick with your participants. Watch this webinar led by our Vice President, Farra Trompeter, and the Communications Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, Chandra M. Hayslett, to review or update your nonprofit’s messaging. 

Tip #3: Find the sweet spot for your logo.

Your name and logo are often the first things participants see when engaging with your nonprofit. The key is to establish your logo as an indicator of what you do, while still creating a visually pleasing piece for your brand. Read this blog from our Design Director Sandy Zimmerman if you are contemplating redesigning your logo in the near future. 

Tip #4: Engage your staff to create a brand that sticks.

Form strategic teams from every department to create and maintain your brand. In this episode of the Smart Communications Podcast, Ambar Mentor-Truppa, Vice President of Communications at the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, discusses how engagement is the biggest key to success and the power of having your staff co-create your organization’s brand. Joined by Senior Account Manager, Sarita Joseph, and former Strategist, Gil Mejia, tune in to discover how your nonprofit can engage your staff in a branding process.

Tip #5: Prioritize the many possible tactics by defining a clear strategy.

Meghan Finn, the Chief Communications and Engagement Officer at the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, notes that your goals should be shaped based on your nonprofit’s context. Do you have a strategic plan to inform your communications? Who are the most important audiences to engage in your work and what are their needs and motivations? Watch this webinar with our Vice President Farra Trompeter and Senior Strategist Laura Fisher, and learn how to determine what success looks like for your nonprofit.

Tip #6: Look for ways to inspire, inform, and reassure your donors.

Learn how to shift your approach to communicating with major donors in our Capital Campaign Communications ebook. If your nonprofit is planning a capital or other major donor campaign in 2020, apply this framework in structuring your communications. Create a story around your campaign with a strong concept and materials to generate support for the next chapter of your nonprofit. Written by our CEO Sarah Durham and Copywriter Lila Tublin, read this ebook to inform your next campaign.

Tip #7: Rethink who you are elevating, prioritizing, and centering in your fundraising communications.

Strategist Hannah Thomas gives insight into how your capital campaign could promote a problematic message. Instead of highlighting your donors as heroes and centering them at the point of change, reframe your donor narrative to “we will all benefit from this.” Read about how to integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion into your next capital campaign.

Tip #8: Make your capital campaign unique, while staying on brand.

Our Creative Director Claire Taylor Hansen says that the key to a capital campaign is expressing it as an extension of your brand. Showcase your campaign’s goals while also reflecting on your vision, mission, and values. Read more on how you can extend your brand to donors in this blog. 

Tip #9: Hire expert communicators.

Hiring the right communications staff can bring new ideas, best practices, and subject matter savviness into your nonprofit. Make sure your colleagues and peers trust and respect  communications staff members’ ability to transform their ideas into effective messaging. In this ebook by our CEO Sarah Durham, learn how to build a communications team for your nonprofit that succeeds

Tip #10: Establish a mission for your communications team.

Need to hire a Director of Communications? Before jumping to interviews, rethink what you want in this new hire. What is the mission for your communications team, and how can this next director carry it out? Director of Strategy Ally Dommu gives insight into creating a shared vision for your next Director of Communications in this blog.  

Use these tips to elevate your communications in 2020 and beyond. We wish you luck in pursuing your mission and continued determination in the new year.