We Are Not Alone

Why communication is key for nonprofits

By Ali Zaraket

Our Co-founder and lead storyteller Ali, is presenting how nonprofit gain influence and opportunities when they build their brand. We hope you enjoy this article; we would be grateful if you tell us what you think. Please follow and share with your friends…

Busting the Myth: Doing Good is not a Lonely Business

We all cheer for a cause, a social issue, or an environmental challenge that we hold dear to our hearts. Most of the time, we think we are very few people with the same concerns or questions. Last month I was taking a walk at the park; I caught myself saying “Where are the bees in Toronto, why don’t we see them? Am I the only one who cares about this?” With a quick search online, I discovered that I am not alone thinking about Toronto’s bees; there is a big society of environmental experts and enthusiasts working on the topic. Someone is doing something, and this feels good.

We sometimes might feel lonely in our dear causes; though if we search enough, we will be able to find a group of people, organized or not, working day and night, fighting for justice for refugees, safe shores for sea turtles and a better education for our children. We need to be around those people more. We need to know about them and get inspired. These types of stories don’t typically make headlines, though they deserve to be told, and massively shared. We need inspiring trends!

People need to hear your voice

Social activists and common good enthusiasts are usually shy when it comes to publishing their stories; they usually tend to hide in the shadows of the bigger picture. It is not every day that we find a very vocal, visually-appealing and well branded nonprofit. Do we think good communication is a luxury for organizations with a mission? Let’s challenge this belief. I’m convinced that people who believe in the same values are feeling lonely and need you to talk about your work. They are waiting for you, behind their screens. They need to see someone sharing their worries and hopes. So, speak up and tell them “You are not alone, we care too”.

People need to hear your voice. Opportunities to communicate with like-minded professionals, experts and donors are out there. The trick is to find the right niche, to know where to go and what to publish. Hence, communication is key, and it plays a vital role in the success of impactful organizations.

Understanding the Challenges

Nonprofit organizations face a number of communication challenges that can hinder their ability to fulfill their missions. Some of the most common issues include:

We clearly need storytelling

Many nonprofits struggle to communicate their purpose and vision in a clear, consistent way. You know what you do, and you can live firsthand how it affects the lives of others. You can see how your work is relevant and needed; so you do not feel the need to explain it to people. You may say to yourself, it is obvious how much a reform in our educational system is needed. However, it is not that clear for everyone. And without clear messaging, it’s difficult to engage donors, supporters, and the media. Unclear messaging also limits your organization’s potential to stand out. What makes your mission special and worth supporting? Why will your initiatives succeed in changing a reality? How do you do it in an ethical way? Where are your actions taking place? And when will we notice the results?

Can you imagine if you can build a compelling narrative around these questions and share stories about your organization? How easier would it be to build enthusiasm and engage people with you! They will volunteer, mobilize, and create a network of friends that can widen your reach. People who share your values will become the first donors, even if they don’t have much to share. But most importantly they will be your marketing team, they will carry your message and promote your image in front of officials, other donors and different partners.

In the coming month, we will be writing more about messaging and storytelling, and how to reach your target audience. A well thought message can make magic happen, and shift mountains.

We need strong, consistent relationships

Building strong relationships with donors, media and supporters is important isn’t it? However, nonprofits often fall short in building these connections. Infrequent and impersonal communication alienates your donors who may not renew their support. Gaining media engagement can be invaluable for nonprofits. Pitching story ideas effectively and winning media relationships contribute to expanding an organization’s supporters’ base. Supporters like to hear from you and to know about your success stories.

Can you imagine a plan to be in contact with all the people that matter to your organization at the right time? If you do, then you’re doing it well, you have a sound communication plan. It’s all about sending your messages, news, and greetings to the right people through the right channels, in the right frequency; not too much, nor too little. It is not rocket-science, yet it can be confusing, and it requires a lot of energy and time. I think it is worth it, when you have a good relationship with your supporter’s base, your donors and media, they will be waiting for you to ask them for help. They will even seek you out and take the initiative to offer support without you having to ask!

Build an authentic relationship and you’ll be rewarded.

We need more communication resources

Nonprofits frequently lack the budget, staff, and time needed to manage communications in the way their mission and activities deserve. With so many responsibilities and limited funds, communication often falls by the wayside.

If you have to choose between allocating the funds to complete an activity or to publish or make a video about it, the choice will definitely be the first. But this is not always the case, sometimes we can do a small extra effort on the communication side and get great results. And it’s all about your mindset and nurturing the habit of telling stories; taking photos of the activities, sharing a hopeful moment with your friends list, or writing a genuine journal describing your daily actions and activities and how you’re moving towards the goal.

In all honesty, having resources matters, and it matters quite a lot. I invite you to be intentional about finding the support. There’s so much we can do however, even with limited resources. Small tweaks and actions can help you shed light on your impact and help you grow.

We will soon be publishing about strategies and practices that you can use to improve your communication effort within your organization with limited budget.

The power of storytelling!

Effective communication takes commitment but pays off tremendously. With a sound strategy, nonprofits can transform their ability to advance their mission and change lives. We believe in you and in your cause. Reach out if we can help you take your communications to the next level. The time is now!

Author Bio:

Ali Zaraket brings over 15 years of experience in nonprofit communication, documentary making and journalism to his role as Lead Communication at YAMM Services Inc..

With a background in journalism and commitment to social activism, Ali is deeply passionate about helping nonprofit organizations effectively communicate their mission and engage with key stakeholders.

Throughout his career, Ali has provided communication strategy and training to hundreds of professionals from a wide range of disciplines. When he’s not working with clients, you can find Ali volunteering for local nonprofits, or spending time outdoors with friends and family.