This model for effective communication is based on attitudes, beliefs, and practices reported by hundreds of professionals across the social sector.Read more
Communication matters. Organizations that do it well are stronger, smarter, and more effective at creating change.Read more
Brand Every social change organization, no matter its size or purpose, has three key assets that shape its identity: resources, reputation and relationships.
culture Communicating organizations cultivate certain qualities that make their work compelling to others. You may not have all in equal measure, but you need a minimum supply of each to succeed.
Strategy Effective organizations are always strategic (deliberate and intentional) about their communication choices, weighing several distinct, yet related, variables before they act.
Action Communicating should never be a one-way activity. Success demands a continuous, virtuous, self-correcting cycle of sending and receiving, plus the ability to cede control.
MODEL for effective communication
Resources are what organizations invest to achieve their goals. They include dollars (grants, programs, services) and human capital (labor, research, thought leadership).
Call it brand equity, issue expertise, or reputation. It is the sum of earned and perceived credibility an organization holds around a set of issues.
Relationships are the universe of affiliations and associations that give an organization authority and the capacity to advance its agenda or shape behavior change.
Openness drives mission. Social change organizations that operate transparently build trust with their stakeholders, which helps advance their mission.
Inclusive organizations are diverse at all levels. The decisions they make incorporate a wide range of viewpoints and perspectives, which promotes responsiveness and adaptability.
Organizations that communicate effectively are respectful of divergent opinions and views. They listen actively and thoughtfully, even when they disagree with what’s being said.
A self-aware organization understands its unique strengths and capacity to effect change; it also knows its limitations and boundaries.
The first step in any strategic communication effort is clearly defining your objective. Think of it as a destination, a specific spot on the map.
Define your target audiences before deciding how to reach them. Focus on those best positioned to directly determine the success or failure of your goal.
Point of View
Every successful communication effort has an inherent point of view. Think of point of view as the tone, voice, style or personality for your communication.
Successful messaging requires clarity and consistency. Good messages should align with the interests and concerns most important to your audience.
Choosing the right messenger is a critical step in every strategic communication effort. Without it, your message is just a nice set of words.
The success of any communication depends on the channels used to disseminate it. Consider how you want your audience to receive and engage your message.
Active communication starts with listening, but involves equal parts learning and sharing. Doing all three well requires intentionality, focus, and time.
Communicating is an active three-step process. Learning follows listening, but is equally important. Both listening and learning are prerequisites for sharing.
Thinking: Opinions from the field
- Greater Influence, More Impact Rockefeller Foundation
- Big Communications for Small Nonprofits Next Generation
- New Thinking About Networks Makes the Field Better, Stronger, More Efficient Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers
- Making Ideas Catch On The Communications Network
About the project
Communication Matters is a Communications Network initiative to collect, curate and disseminate information that will help everyone in the social sector better understand the unique role strategic communication plays in advancing