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Creating a Culture of Communication in Non-Profits


Developing a powerful communication strategy is imperative for an organisation aiming for rapid and holistic growth.

At a strategic level, communication is pivotal from the perspective of reputation building and stakeholder engagement. Organisations with well-thought out communication practices ultimately become more successful in maximising their intended social impact. An ideal communication strategy should be flexible, dynamic and engaging. Most importantly, it should be reflective of the organisational vision, values and work. However, successful implementation of the strategy necessitates building a culture of communication which is deeply ingrained in the organisation’s ethos.

Importance of Non-Profit communication

Communications is much more than PR and marketing or even just words or visuals. Strategic communication doesn’t just hold the power to inform but it also defines and engages with an organisation’s stakeholders.

While Non-Profits are creating massive on-ground change, in order to make scalability commonplace in the development sector, it is essential that Non-Profits get serious and intentional about establishing a communication culture. Effectively communicating about your organisation will advance your mission by creating supporters for your cause, raising awareness, engaging volunteers, stimulating philanthropy, creating access to institutional donors and most importantly, connecting with your stakeholders.

Developing a communication strategy

The communication landscape is constantly evolving and for a Non-Profit, the pressure to catch up may seem daunting. An advanced communication strategy can only be developed through trial and error method by understanding the best-suited communication practices for an organisation.

Establish stakeholders/ target audience:

It is crucial to establish the target audience you want to reach out to with your communications efforts. This includes stakeholders that your organisation might want to contact, influence, or impact, including: communities, donors, employees, governments, media and others. In order to further strengthen your communication strategy, you may also choose the audience that will help you most effectively meet your objective and focus your communications activities to that group.

Define positioning and key messaging: The objective of Non-Profit communication is to engage with its stakeholders by creating awareness, inspiring and motivating action. It is critical for organisations to be clear about the positioning and the message they want to convey.

Include your team to create a communication culture

Engaging your staff and support staff is essential to promoting a robust organisational culture, which can increase productivity and inspire your employees to contribute towards achieving your goals and be effective ambassadors externally

Build Partnerships: Strategic partnerships can do much more than validate each other’s reputations. A compatible partnership, developed by ensuring that the prospective partner organisation aligns with your organisation’s mission and core values can deliver the best results and amplify social impact for both parties involved.

Influence the Influencers: One of the main reasons to embrace “Influencing the influencers” is because you may have supporters in your database that could extend the reach of your campaign to hundreds or thousands of new supporters by becoming ambassadors of the program. Ambassadors’ networks are untapped spheres of influence, where ambassadors can bring awareness and more supporters.

Identifying Platforms/ Opportunities: It is very important to be seen and heard as social development organisations at various levels – at sector forums, media, community we work within, among donors and volunteers. Awards and recognition and speaker opportunities at relevant platforms give an organisation the visibility and share of voice.

Use Storytelling: Storytelling is vital to a Non-Profit’s ability to connect stakeholders with its cause and advance its mission. A good story is characterised by the “participation” that happens around itAccording to Waggener Edstrom, a Communications and PR firm, 56% of individuals that support non-profits on social media confirm that compelling storytelling is what motivates them to take action on behalf of Non-Profits.

These mantras can be integrated in your communication strategy and applied as per relevance to your organisation.

Leveraging the digital space: Charity: Water

The digital era has ushered in many opportunities for Non-Profits to enhance their reach and impact through communication. Organisations like Charity: Water, a Non-Profit that provides clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations creates compelling visual marketing content aiming at inspiring people to join their cause.

The organisation has been successful in amassing over 39 million dollars in funds and its emphasis on social media shines through. The organisation uses media to express heartfelt, character-driven stories, highlighting water scarcity and showcasing the impact of their projects. These stories accompanied by still photographs and videos are critical to their social advocacy and online fundraising success.

Because of their transparency model, which advocates presentation of every money invested, Charity: Water has gained the unmatched trust of donors. Incorporating storytelling, they have put up compelling case studies and a project map which showcases all the areas they have worked in. By building a community that is heavily engaged through the medium of social media, the same donors are celebrated.


In recent times, Obama Foundation created significant online engagement with Indian audience, as the former United States President, Barack Obama visited India in November 2017. While the Foundation intends to work with the Indian youth towards betterment of communities in India, it is interesting to notice the level of anticipation and interest the Foundation could inspire through its communication. Obama Foundation scheduled a meet in New Delhi which was telecasted digitally on social media along with a television broadcast to reach a wider audience.

In today’s world, developing a strong communication culture is imperative for organisations to further their cause. One can say that it is an exciting time for communications in the development sector with the potential to contribute to maximising social impact.

PreranaPrerana Langa is the CEO of Yes Foundation, social development arm of Yes Bank. She developed YES! i am the CHANGE, a mindset transformation project, innovatively using the medium of films to ignite the spirit of driving positive social change amongst the youth enabling them to become agents of social change.

Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.

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