Communication efforts are vital to ensuring the reputation and credibility of your organization in relation to working partners, funding partners, the media and the general public. As an organization, it is important to intentionally define and plan both internal and external communications. While internal communications help to motivate and inform staff/volunteers, external communications enable an organization to effectively convey the organization’s mission to the public, attract supporters and raise general awareness about the cause.

Effective communications depend, to a large extent, on a comprehensive communications plan that is directly related to the organization’s mission as well as its strategic plan. In practice, good communication consists of accurate and updated information, well-written text, compelling graphic design (particularly for external use), and consistency in tone, style and content to match the organization’s mission.

For the purposes of this Toolkit, we will focus on external communication strategies, including how to develop an annual communications plan; how to manage public relations; how to make use of social media tools; how to protect our clients while making use of their stories, and how to effectively report on our activities.

On a day-to-day basis, external communication activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Writing content for online or print material (e.g. drafting client stories, messaging for online campaigns, social media, press releases).
  • Graphic design for print material (e.g. flyers, reports, annual report, postcards) and/or online content (e.g. website, e-thank yous, social media, infographics).
  • Editing and archiving photo, video, and graphic design material.
  • Tracking and analyzing web and social media traffic.
  • Collecting monthly communication materials from overseas offices.
  • Coordinating and editing quarterly e-newsletter articles with overseas offices.
  • Training staff/volunteer and communication liaisons on communication guidelines.
  • Updating contacts database and syncing database with other applications (e.g. Mailchimp for e-invitations and other email announcements).
  • Outreach with the media

To facilitate the collection of communications material, it is important to have someone on staff responsible for archiving and creating material. Office news, highlights, client stories, and other events for external publication should be recorded and saved for immediate or future use. This also applies to photographs taken at speaking events or newspaper articles written by staff/volunteers.