Why you should value communications

Jumping through a ring of fire

If you jump through a ring of fire and no one ever knows about it, will you attract a crowd? Will you make any money? To be successful as a busker you need to be proficient in how to communicate to your audience–and your potential audience.

Over the past week, I’ve been mostly blogging about the need for organizations–especially social profits–to value communications. I’m passionate about this topic as it has become my life’s work. Too often I see examples of how placing greater value upon communications could make a huge difference.

Value communications to change the world

Quite simply, if you want to change the world, people need to know:

  • what you want to do
  • how you are doing it
  • why you want to do it
  • the results of your work

If they don’t know about your great ideas, wonderful work and the exciting impact you are making, it’s much tougher to make the kind of impact that you could be making. The kind of impact that you want to make.

Do more to live your mission and achieve your vision

I find many smaller and mid-sized organizations are so busy living their mission that they don’t do a very good job of talking about themselves and sharing their stories and those of the people they help. They realize that they need funds to do their work and that to make a buck you have to spend a buck so scarce resources are often allocated to quality fundraising efforts. Don’t get me wrong, fundraising is important and resources must be allocated to it to do it properly. But don’t make the mistake of stopping there.

Communications is about being able to do more to live your mission and achieve your vision. For example:

  • You can do more if more people know about your programs and services.
  • Advocacy work depends upon communications to gain support
  • Helping people live healthy lives (in a big picture way) requires that they know how to do so

Communications helps fundraising

I disagreed that communications is about fundraising. That post was sparked by a tweet from John Lepp. He was good enough to elaborate upon what he meant in a comment to that post:

My tweet meant that when a charity communicates – anything – it is fundraising. Communications = fundraising. Fundraising does not equal communications. Maybe I should have said “marketing = fundraising”. Think of it this way – every time I open my mouth in public – regardless of what I am saying or talking about – aren’t I potentially altering someone’s decision to work with me?

I agree that all communications efforts affect your fundraising efforts. Not all of it is directly though. But when you can do more, when you create more demand, when you have a greater impact upon lives, when you make the world a better place to live, you are able to attract gifts that otherwise wouldn’t come your way. They come because people know about your organization, what it strives to achieve and how it is making a difference. They can see your work, your advocacy, your results.

Change the world! Communicate.

Communicate your core essence

I don’t like to use lingo like branding because it is not well understood by people who don’t live it. But in this case I will. Branding is essentially what is your organization’s core essence. What does it believe? How does it live its values? Your brand comes out in every experience that everybody internal or external has with any aspect of your operation. Communicating is about sharing that experience with a larger audience or helping to deepen the understanding or the relationship with those who already know you.

Value communications in your organization

So take a moment and ask yourself if your organization values communications?

Decide if you need to take it more seriously. Decide if your communications efforts are consistently high in quality. Decide if there is more that you could do with internal resources or with outside expertise and skills to help you be the best that you can be and make the greatest impact. Then act on your decisions.

A final tip: Be sure to start with a strategy.