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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.

Until you put a pin in your goal and identify its precise coordinates, you won’t be able to chart the right course for getting there. A goal statement should be simple and unambiguous. The more qualifiers you include, the more muddled and lost you will become when you begin the hard work of achieving it.

Your goal should also be realistic and aligned with your available capacity, resources and time. Solving world hunger might be an over reach. Delivering 100 hot meals per night to homeless veterans in your community might not. The real question you need to consider is how will your communication efforts help to substantively advance the objective.

When setting your goal think long and hard about the ultimate social change you are seeking and the specific ways that your communication activities will complement the programmatic work required to get you there.

by the numbers


Rank of "build communication capacity of nonprofits" as a goal of communication.


Rank of "build public will" as a goal of communication.


Rank of "influence policy and practice" as a goal of communication.

tips and insights

Setting your communication goal is the first strategic choice. All other choices follow from this one. Don't jump to tactics and tools. Begin by deciding what you are ultimately trying to achieve.

Organizations cannot create culture, policy, and practice change without strong communication.

Determining “how much success is necessary” is clearer for corporations whose break even point is based on bottom line costs. This question may not occur to a nonprofit with a mission based on an ongoing progressive vision. Success for nonprofits can be incremental. As such, it‘s important to gauge the level of achievement needed to ensure long-term success.