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Marketing + Communications
Effective marketing and communications 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 communications. External communication is necessary to attract and retain constituents and to raise public consciousness, understanding, response to, and funding of the organization.
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An article highlighting key google analytics statistics to track in order to assess website performance.
An annual report can be a valuable tool for communicating with stakeholders and showcasing outcomes. In recent years many nonprofits have been experimenting with alternatives to traditional printed annual reports. The following resources provide more information about the purpose of annual reports, sample annual reports, and tips for developing the most compelling resource for your organization.
- Nonprofit Annual Reports (National Council of Nonprofits)
- Annual Reports: Worth It? (Big Duck)
- How to Write a Nonprofit Annual Report - compilation of resources & samples (Nonprofit Marketing Guide)
- Nonprofit Annual Reports: How to Write Your Best One Yet (Firespring)
- Nonprofit Communications Trends Report (Nonprofit Marketing Guide) - some editions include data on annual report approaches
- Collection of Sample Maine Nonprofit Annual Reports (MANP, Crowdsourced)
- Sample National Annual Reports (Whole Whale)
Sumac Nonprofit Software
Make sure your organization's messages are getting seen by following these best practices for email marketing.
Free Management Library
A compilation of resources to help oraganizations develop strong internal communications policies and procedures, including those between supervisors and employees.
Adding and growing your email list is an important tool in your communications and outreach, but the laws around your marketing efforts can be unclear. These resources will help you understand the CAN-SPAM Act and what it means for your organization.
This highly regarded blog focuses on how nonprofits can use social media.
One very important role that board members can play is as mission ambassadors, generating awareness of and excitement for your organization's work, accomplishments, and goals.
These resources will help you better understand the concept of brand, and how to approach a rebranding process.
- The Role of Brand in the Nonprofit Sector (Stanford Social Innovation Review)
- Four Steps for a Brand Check-up (Big Duck)
- Brand Strategy Book (Big Duck)
- Using your brand strategy everyday in everything (Big Duck)
- The Eight Building Blocks of Strong Nonprofit Brands (NonprofitQuarterly)
- What's the board's role in branding? (Big Duck)
- How can your communications team apply inclusive branding? (Big Duck)
- How to inclusively shape your organization’s voice (Big Duck)
- A Short Guide to Thoughtful Rebranding (Big Duck)
Care2's nonprofit marketing blog - subscribe for monthly email alerts or by RSS
There are both legal and communications steps to consider when changing your organizations name. The following resources offer information and advice.
- Name Changes – How to Do it Right (CharityLawyer)
- Changing the name of an exempt organization (IRS)
- Requesting an updated determination letter (IRS)
- Maine Bureau of Corporations - Find forms including Articles of Amendment and form to register a DBA
- Getting your new name right: ensuring a successful organizational renaming process (Big Duck)
- Recorded Webinar: Is it time to change your nonprofit's name? Case studies & roll out advice. (Big Duck)
Your audiences may be expecting your organization to weigh-in on matters of racism, discrimination, and xenophobia. Many nonprofits are influencing the way diversity, inclusion, and rights are understood and negotiated. Should you be one of them? This piece offers four suggestions to help your organization communicate where it stands.
Spitfire developed the SmartScan as a free online tool to help nonprofits assess where they are poised to be communication powerhouses and where they have room to improve. Users answer a series of questions about their organization’s current practices and receive a tailored report detailing where they can focus attention to improve their communication.
While steps may be taken to prevent conflict, many relationships and organizations will encounter conflict at some stage. When handled well, conflict can be not only resolved, but channeled into creative, positive outcomes. The following resources will you help you prevent, resolve and transform conflict.
Is your nonprofit working on how it can be more inclusive? At your nonprofit, it is important to make your participants and clients feel welcome. One of the simplest ways to do this is in the words you say and use in your content, and how you address your community. Language guides can be a helpful tool to clarify your approach and train your team. This article provides suggestions and sample language guides.
A compilation of resources to help you develop a crisis communications plan including samples, strategies, checklist, and tips.
Article/Blog, Sample/Template, Video/Tutorial
A dashboard is a tool for visualizing data. Some dashboards show performance over time while others provide a snapshot of a particular aspect of a business. An effective dashboard illustrates rather than tells the audience about areas that need attention or action. There are diverse applications of and approaches to dashboards, and the following articles provide helpful tips and samples.
- Dashboards for Nonprofits (National Council of Nonprofits)
- A Nonprofit Dashboard and Signal Light for Boards (Blue Avocado)
- Beyond Dashboards: Business Intelligence Tools for Program Analysis and Reporting (Idealware)
- Show Me Your Dashboard (Beth Kanter)
- Models and Components of a Great Nonprofit Dashboard (NonprofitQuarterly)
- Dashboards Might Just Be Nonprofits New Best Friend (TechSoup)
- Free Recorded Webinar: How Dashboards Can Help Your Nonprofit Achieve Its Goals (Nonprofit Quarterly)
- Ultimate Guide to Nonprofit Dashboards (Whole Whale)
- Library of Potential Dashboard Indicators (CompassPoint)
- Minding the Gab with Dashboards (Social Impact Architects)
- Financial Health Analysis Tool (Wallace Foundation)
- Financial Dashboard Sample (Andy Robinson)
To effectively communicate, it helps to understand as much as possible about who you are talking to - what they care about, where they go for information, etc. The following resources can help your organization define your audiences so you can better craft and target your communications.
This tool provides a simple format to help everyone in your organization create their own elevator speech to promote your organization.
NTEN, M+R Strategic Services
An annually produced analysis of online messaging, fundraising, advocacy, social media and mobile metrics for nonprofit organizations.
Nonprofits employ storytelling to illustrate the impacts of their work. What are the ethics involved in telling someone's story? When does it cross a line into exploiting someone's story? The following resources prompt reflection and offer suggestions.
- What are the ethics of storytelling? (Working Narratives)
- How Can Nonprofits Move from Exploitative Storytelling to Justice-Oriented Storytelling? (bloomerang)
- Ethical Storytelling (Website + Podcast)
- Ethical Storytelling: Communication Without Exploitation (Idealist)
- Asset Framing (Trabian Shorters)
- Recorded Webinar: Ethical Storytelling for Nonprofits + Philanthropy (NonprofitQuarterly)
- Are your organization's stories dishonoring the families you serve? (Blue Avocado)
- More resources on storytelling (collected resources)
A sample of a policy outlining standards for public messaging.
The following resources will help you find and manage consultants and vendors, whether for a defined project, or ongoing support. If you need a referral for support on fundraising, strategic planning, legal issues, accounting issues, meeting facilitation, technology, or any other outside support, start here. (Many of the consultants and vendors in the MANP Business Finder offer nonprofit rates.)
- Browse the MANP Business Finder
- How to Find, Hire and Collaborate with Technology Consultants (Idealware)
- Working with Professional Fundraising Consultants and Grantmakers (National Council of Nonprofits)
- How to work effectively with an outside consultant (Candid)
- So You Want to Hire an Equity Consultant
The following resources help nonprofits and other issues advocates think and plan strategically about how to frame their messages for better public understanding and engagement.
Nonprofit Risk Management Center
Practical tips for handling grievances and resolving disputes.
An interesting five step guide to finding ways to maximize your campaign's influence through your relationships and connections.
Tina Chong, Vice President of Communications at City Year, and Colleen Flynn, former Senior Director of External Affairs at City Year Boston and now Marketing Manager at Aspen Leadership Group, share their experience in advancing DEI and how other communications teams can get started.
In a world where people are constantly bombarded with information, it is increasingly important to design visuals that tell a story that data or words couldn’t have conveyed on their own. The following resources provide guidance on how to make clear and informative "infographics."
Nonprofit Marketing Guide
Excellent blog with tips, ideas and advice in nonprofit communications, publications, marketing, PR and social media. Kivi also offers a free e-newsletter and fee webinars.
Lisa Simpson for Nonprofits: What Science Can Teach You About Fundraising, Marketing and Making Social Change
Network for Good, SeaChange Strategies
A thought-provoking and accessible publication to help you increase the impact of your fundraising and marketing efforts.
Resources and information on good practices in all areas of nonprofit management, including a section on volunteerism.
A compilation of resources on nonprofit overhead addresses topics such as "overhead ratio," fundraising vs. administrative costs, executive pay, and messaging/communications about nonprofit overhead.
- The Overhead Myth (Guidestar)
- Overhead Cost Definitions (Nonprofit Finance Fund)
- A Board Member's Guide to Nonprofit Overhead (Blue Avocado)
- (Mis)Understanding Overhead (National Council of Nonprofits)
- Breaking #BadNonprofitHabits: Unrealistic Overhead Ratios (Guidestar Blog)
- Own Your Own Costs (National Council of Nonprofits)
- A Graphic Re-visioning of Nonprofit Overhead (NonprofitQuarterly)
This guide outlines a six step process for creating effective marketing materials regardless of your budget size.
Find articles with concrete tips on a wide range of communications topics.
Learn how and when to deploy the op-ed as a strategy to get your voice heard over the din. These resources includes advice and strategies from experienced journalists and writers who know how to write and place opinion pieces in national and local outlets.
Article/Blog, Guide/Tool, Sample/Template
Building relationships with local media outlets and reporters is an important part of raising the visibility of your organization's mission to potential clients, donors, volunteers and policymakers. These articles provide tips for pitching your story, writing a press release, and getting media coverage for your nonprofit.
- Basic Press Outreach for Mission-Based Organizations (Coyote Communications)
- Press Release Format Guidelines (WebWire)
- Press Release 101: Why You Need a Good Nut Graph
- On the Hunt for Reporter Relationships (M+R)
- Pitching Nonprofit Stories (About Money)
- Top 10 Tips for Local Media Relations (About Money)
- Pitching to the Media (TSNE)
- Developing and Framing Your Message (TSNE)
- Winning Media Coverage for the Work Your Nonprofit Does (TSNE)
- Working with the Media Toolkit (Colorado Nonprofit Association)
- How to Create a Media List (M+R)
- Maine Media Directory (Maine PR Council)
- 10 Tips for Getting Your Op-Ed Placed (Nonprofit Marketing Guide)
These articles and guides provide an overview of the key terms and strategies involved in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and tips for how to make sure your website content shows up in search results.
Article/Blog, Guide/Tool, Sample/Template
A robust social media presence can help nonprofits share their message to a broad audience, but all the different channels can be overwhelming. Developing a thoughtful and thorough social media policy will help organizations manage and make the most of the medium. Your organization should also create policies for employees to cover expectations of what is an appropriate and respectful use of social media. These resources will help your organization define goals and audiences, select appropriate tools, and create social media strategies.
- Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide (Idealware)
- Nonprofit Social Media Policy Workbook (Idealware)
- Social Networks, CyberRisk and Your Nonprofit: What You Need to Know (Nonprofit Risk Management Center)
- How to Create a Social Media Marketing Schedule
- Official Facebook Guide for Causes and Nonprofits (Facebook)
- Social Media "Workouts" (M+R)
- Managing Difficult Social Media Interactions (NTEN)
- Social Media Manners Management (M+R)
- 5 Core Competencies of Effective Social Media Managers (JC Social Marketing)
A consulting firm that provides support to nonprofits in the area of social media and offers free tutorials, publications and tools on a variety of social media topics on their website.
Article/Blog, Guide/Tool, Research/Report, Video/Tutorial
Nonprofits are continually challenged to be effective storytellers to capture the attention of donors, volunteers and policymakers. The following articles and guides can help nonprofits build a storytelling culture and the capacity to craft and communicate compelling stories that raise awareness of their missions and support fundraising efforts.
- Ethical Storytelling (Compilation of Resources)
- Building a Storytelling Culture (SSIR)
- Storytelling for Nonprofits (Network for Good)
- 6 Common Gaps in Nonprofit Storytelling (MANP Blog)
- Storytelling Resources, Tools + Training (The Storytelling Non-Profit)
- Digital Storytelling (TechSoup)
- Best Practices in Audio, Digital, Social and Visual Storytelling (NPR)
- Setting Up a Story Bank (NTEN)
- The Storytelling Power of Numbers (FrameWorks Institute)
Developing a strategic communications plan is key to aligning your marketing and communications efforts with your organizational goals. A plan allows you to select the right strategies to fit your goals and budget, measure whether you're meeting your objectives, and continually improve your communication strategy.
Key strategies for ensuring your organizational communications are effective.
Virtual events are becoming increasingly common, whether as a safety measure during the COVID-19 pandemic, or just as a way to bring people together across geographic distance. The following resources provide advice for effective virtual events.
- 5 Ways to Make Your Virtual Event More Accessible (Associations Now)
- Make the Move! Tips for Migrating Your In-Person Event Online (Blue Avocado)
- The Show Must Go On: Producing a Virtual Nonprofit Event (TechSoup)
- Ensuring Virtual Events Are Accessible for All (Respectability)
- Facilitating great meetings online (Big Duck)
- Recorded Webinar: How to Bring Your Live or In-Person Events Online (TechSoup)
- How to Make Your Virtual Meetings and Events Accessible to the Disability Community (Rooted in Rights)
The following articles offer advice on developing liability waivers and media releases for working with volunteers, clients and the public.
- Consents and Waivers Samples (Stanford Mills Legal Clinic)
- Better Safe than Sorry: Nonprofits use of Waivers, Releases and Disclaimers (Charity Lawyer)
- Waivers and Young Participants (Nonprofit Risk Management Center)
- Personal Release Agreements (Stanford)
- When Do I Need a Model Release (Nonprofit Marketing Guide)
Creating or redesigning a website is a major project worthy of thorough planning. These guides will help you understand your audience and their needs, identify what your organization is trying to communicate, and evaluate how well your current site meets these goals. If you decide that a new website is the right next step, these resources provide a framework for the process, from vendor selection through design, development, testing and launch.
Putting together staff bios for your website? The following articles have some tips.
Antiracism is the act of advancing antiracist policies and ideas that lead to racial equity in society and writing can be a small piece of a broader antiracist practice. Whether or not the content of your piece is explicitly about race or racism, you can practice bringing an anitracist lens to your writing.
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