Section Quicklinks

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; to raise public consciousness; and to increase understanding of, commitment to, and resources for the organization.


  • Legal Practices are legally required of all Montana nonprofits
  • Essential Practices are widely recognized as industry standards and generally expected of all nonprofits
  • Recommended Practices should be considered by all nonprofits, with implementation dependent on capacity and life stage



  1. ★ All organizational communications adhere to the highest ethical and professional standards, as well as any applicable industry-specific standards, and exhibit transparency, fairness, and honesty. These standards are clearly stated in writing and made part of the orientation of all employees and volunteers, including board members.
  2. ★ A nonprofit has a clearly defined, written communications plan that guides both internal and external communications and that supports the organization’s comprehensive organizational plan. It is strategic and central to all organizational planning; it demonstrates accountability to constituents and the public.
  3. ★ A communications plan includes goals, target audiences, key messages, strategies, tools, intended outcomes, and a means to evaluate results.

  5. ★ Internal communications are 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.
  6. ★★ The line of communication between staff and the board of directors is clearly defined and well understood.
  7. ★★ A nonprofit encourages internal communication that welcomes alternative perspectives, invites and encourages participation at all levels, minimizes defensiveness, and builds and maintains camaraderie. In addition, a nonprofit intentionally seeks out traditionally marginalized constituents, community members, and other stakeholders for their perspectives. Management solicits actively, listens carefully, and responds respectfully and with an awareness of its own biases.

  9. ★ External communications are guided by clear marketing and public relations efforts. These may include a newsletter, website, social media channels, an annual report, advertising, public service announcements, promotional brochures and flyers, news releases, press conferences, and feature stories.
  10. ★★ A nonprofit regularly reviews and updates its branding and messaging to accurately reflect and include the diversity of individuals that it currently serves and aspires to serve in the community.
  11. ★★ A nonprofit identifies its spokesperson(s) who is/are authorized to make public statements about a given issue. All internal constituents are aware of who is designated as the spokesperson(s).
  12. ★ A nonprofit has a written policy and procedures for developing public statements and positions on issues. All internal constituents are aware of them. The statements and positions represent the full range of views of the organization’s constituencies and traditionally marginalized members of the community.
  13. ★ A nonprofit has a written plan for communicating with the public and the media at a time of crisis or emergency. This plan includes a procedure to communicate internally as well.
  14. ★★ Constituents of nonprofits are provided with appropriate, ongoing opportunities to interact with the board of directors and management regarding the organization’s activities. A nonprofit provides anonymous methods, including a mailing address, for constituents to provide feedback regarding the organization’s activities.
  15. ★★ A nonprofit responds promptly and respectfully per policy to grievances or complaints from constituents. A nonprofit provides anonymous methods, including a mailing address, in which the constituent can state the grievance or complaint.