Effective communication is central to the success of an organization’s mission, goals, and activities. Internal communication is essential to motivate, inform, and counsel employees and volunteers and to set the stage for excellent external communication. External communication is necessary to attract and retain constituents and to raise public consciousness and understanding of, commitment to, and funding for the organization.
1. All organizational communications should adhere to the highest ethical and professional standards, as well as any applicable industry-specific standards, and should exhibit transparency, fairness, and honesty. These standards should be clearly stated in writing and made part of the orientation of all employees and volunteers, including board members.
2. A nonprofit should have a clearly defined, written communications plan that guides both internal and external communications and that supports the organization’s comprehensive organizational plan. It should be strategic and central to all organizational planning; it should demonstrate accountability to constituents and the public.
3. A communications plan should include goals, target audiences, key messages, strategies, tools, intended outcomes, and a means to evaluate results.
4. Internal communications should be guided by clear policies and practices, such as regularly scheduled and attended meetings, regularly printed and/or e-mailed informational updates, a forum for suggestions, reports on meetings of the board of directors and its committees, recognition, and social events.
5. The line of communication between staff and the board of directors should be clearly defined and well understood.
6. A nonprofit should encourage internal communication that welcomes alternative perspectives, invites and encourages participation at all levels, minimizes defensiveness, and builds and maintains camaraderie. Management should solicit actively, listen carefully, and respond respectfully to the views of internal staff and/or constituents.
7. External communications should be guided by clear marketing and public relations efforts. These may include a newsletter, website, an annual report, advertising, public service announcements, promotional brochures and flyers, news releases, press conferences, and feature stories.
8. A nonprofit should identify its spokesperson(s) who is/are authorized to make public statements about a given issue. All internal constituents should be aware of who is designated as the spokesperson(s).
9. A nonprofit should have a written policy and procedures for developing public statements and positions on issues. All internal constituents should be aware of them. The statements and positions should represent the full range of views of the organization’s constituencies.
10. A nonprofit should have a written plan for communicating with the public and the media at a time of crisis or emergency. This plan should include a procedure to communicate internally as well.
11. Constituents of nonprofits should be provided with appropriate, ongoing opportunities to interact with the board of directors and management regarding the organization’s activities.
12. A nonprofit should promptly and respectfully respond to grievances or complaints from constituents.
Public Policy & Advocacy ~ Information & Technology
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