Why Everyone is in Communications

If you’ve followed my blog for awhile, you’re probably familiar with my theme that if you work for a nonprofit, you should be involved with fundraising, even if you don’t work in Development.  In my work with nonprofits for over ten years, I’ve helped to raise money online by project managing online campaigns and have worked directly with many fundraisers.  Although I’ve usually focused on technology, in my latest gig I’ve been part of a Communications group.

This week’s post by Big Duck on Embedding Communicators in Your Nonprofit explains how the role of Communications has changed as many more staff members are now speaking publicly about their organizations in blogs and in social media platforms.  So while Communications may still be considered the ‘official’ voice for channels such as the organization’s main web site, press releases, enewsletters, annual reports etc., there are many more opportunities for staff to spread the word about their nonprofit’s work. Rather than something that needs to be ‘controlled,’ this should be viewed as an opportunity to increase an organization’s outreach.

This trend also points to the importance of developing a social media policy, which I mentioned in this post earlier this year, so nonprofit staff have guidelines on how to talk about their nonprofit both online and off.

I’ve noticed that the most successful nonprofits often have environments where staff routinely collaborate, regardless of what department they work in.  This is especially important when implementing online initiatives, which require the participation of technology, communications and development staff.  It’s no surprise that this is most easily done in smaller nonprofits, such as Charity:Water, which I recently profiled, and Harlem Academy, which this week won the main prize at the New York Times Company 2011 Nonprofit Excellence Awards.   (Congrats also to City Harvest and Sanctuary for Families who were also recognized, as well as semi-finalists City Parks Foundation, Heart of Brooklyn and NYC Outward Bound.)

Recommendation – don’t think that only Development raises funds and only Communications represents your organization to the public.  It may have been that way in the past, but not today.

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