5 communication tools every nonprofit needs

This post is part of my series: How to create a nonprofit communications strategy

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There are five communication tools every nonprofit needs.

As part of my nonprofit communications strategy series, I’ll be writing a couple other posts on tools and tactics to consider including. But there are at least 5 that I think should be included for sure. Or at the very least, that you should consider them and if they aren’t included you should know why they aren’t.

1. Updated website

Online communications is a must and your website is the centre of your digital efforts. The days when a website was optional are over. It is expected now by the people you serve and people who are considering giving money or time to you and even potential staff.

And your website must be updated. Just landing on your website gives people perceptions about your organization. A dated website gives negative messages about your interest in communicating and whether the information is recent enough to be reliable. If your website is more than three years old, you should have a plan to replace it. If it’s more than five years old, you should be actively working on upgrading it. You don’t need the latest and greatest nor spend a bundle but you need to look reasonably current and also have a vibrant site that regularly offers fresh content.

2. Social Media

Not all social media! Not even many social media necessarily. But your organization should be using at least one form of social media. Most likely it should be Facebook since it has the greatest numbers but it may not be. Facebook itself has acknowledged that not as many teens are on as previously.But they’re still there so even if you’re trying to reach teens it may be where you want to be.

What I’m saying is that you need to figure out which social media match your goals and objectives, are where you find your audience and where you can dedicate resources.

The bottom line is that social media is not a fad. In one form or, another it is here for the long term and you need to be engaging your key audience in a conversation that is happening whether you are there or not.

Start with one form of social media and do it well. Then add more as you become more comfortable or you have greater capacity to do so.

3. An e-marketing system

As important as websites are, people must decide to come to it. Social media is great but it’s hit and miss that they’ll see what you want them to see.

The best online tool to get your key messages in directly in front of the eyeballs you value most is e-mail marketing. An e-news tool such as Constant Contact, MailChimp or MadMimi allows you to send information to people who are interested in your organization. They are giving you the opportunity to highlight the information you think they should know and how they can get involved or benefit.

Sure there’s more competition that ever before for people’s attention in their e-mail boxes including many other e-newsletters but as long as you have clients, participants, donors and other supporters and stakeholders you’ll have people interested in receiving your e-news.

The statistics on who is opening your e-news and what they are reading are invaluable in how you execute your content marketing strategy.

If your goal is to increase sales or donations, you might consider more sophisticated options. I moved to aweber to help my e-marketing.

4. A brochure

A long time staple of the nonprofit sector is a print brochure. Yes, you still need one. You need it for where you are interacting with people who don’t know you. It’s an introduction.

Avoid having a brochure for the sake of having one. Make sure it speaks to who you want to get it and delivers the messages you want them to receive. In short use your brochure strategically. Be sure to keep the text light and easy to read and look for ways that your brochure can stand out from the crowd.

5. A marketing-oriented annual report

You’re going to have an annual report of some kind. Every organization has one whether it’s an old-school recap of what has occurred over the last year or a professionally written and designed.

It’s just a question of how much time, effort and money you are going to dedicate to it. You want to have your annual report give you the biggest return possible on those investments so I recommend that your annual report be marketing-oriented and as timeless as possible. Consider also how you can make the most of your annual report content.

Want ideas for your annual report, check out my thoughts on the best practices and top 10 tips for annual reports.

Do you agree with my selections? Would you make any substitutions?

Read the other posts in my series: How to create a nonprofit communications strategy

photo credit: Robert S. Donovan via photopin cc