For nonprofits and ministries, communication is essential. Most nonprofits have a number of different stakeholders with whom they must communicate on a regular basis. To be effective, we must connect with our audience whether that is one person, one hundred or one million. It is the job of the communicator to ensure that connection with the audience is happening and the message being shared is the one that you want heard.
Unless your organization is able to connect with its audience, it will never reach its potential, succeed in the way that you desire, and its leaders will be forever frustrated. To be clear, connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them.
The messages used by your organization need to include:
A Focus on Others: We need to be really careful to ensure that our communications are focusing on the needs of others and not our specific needs. There is a fine line between making our message “all about us” and making our message about others. Keep in mind the concept that you are serving others and focus on how you can change the lives of those you are working with. What will their reality be through a relationship with you and your organization?
Finding Common Ground: People will not hear what we are saying until they know we understand their perspective. As nonprofit and ministry leaders, it is our job to find that common ground and to let those we are communicating with know we understand their perspective. We don’t have to agree with their perspective, we just need to understand it.
Make Your Connection Simple: Sometimes we try to make our messages complex with the thought that we are being professional….but multi-syllable words and complex sentences do not enable us to connect with those we are communicating with. Most often when we want our message to be clear, the more simple we can make it, the better. Our goal is to make sure our most important messages do not get lost.
Capture People’s Interest: How do we capture people’s interest? This is best done by making your message about them. Or, find a way to show them why they should care. Connect all messages to the lives of your audience using logic and or emotions.
Inspire Your Audience: Messages of inspiration bring hope to your audience. We all know our world is a challenging place, and unfortunately, we see and hear too many messages of gloom. Yes, our communications need to admit there are problems and challenges, but partner these messages with how you can bring hope….then, show them how they can be part of that hope.
Be Authentic: Have you ever noticed you can spot someone or a message that is not real or true a mile away? Think about this in your communications. Be real! We all connect with people and organizations who are real. Share the feelings your audience is feeling and acknowledge those feelings.
While all of these principles apply to all of our communications, they are especially important for nonprofits and ministries and their leaders. Sometimes nonprofits place so much emphasis on delivering their message that they forget to develop a relationship with their various audiences.
Developing a relationship, or connecting, will positively impact your nonprofit in every area of its work: program delivery, marketing, fundraising, etc.