It’s Time! Your Nonprofit Needs a Communications Gatekeeper!

By Amanda Lydon  |  March 24, 2016  |  Messaging,Nonprofit Communications

door-gate-entrance-gateway (1)The good news is your nonprofit is growing. Your community is growing, your programs calendar is chock full of opportunities, your fundraising efforts have paid off and you have new initiatives to carry out. It’s all very exciting. And everyone on staff wants to tell EVERYONE EVERYTHING Right NOW. Take a breath (or take two). Your organization is lacking a communications gatekeeper!

Back away from your email provider and follow these steps!

1. Name the Communications Captain

Maybe you’re lucky and you have a communications team or person. If you do, they’re the communications captain. Your development director has to coordinate with the comms captain before she sends her spring appeal. Your programs director has to check with the captain before putting out a call for photos from yesterday’s great seminar. And even your executive director must talk to the comms captain before she submits her letter to the editor. Otherwise, all your community will hear is noise! Sometimes the communications captain is the ED. Maybe it’s the office manager. It doesn’t really matter who it is as long as there is only one captain!

2. Make the Calendar the Boss

Perhaps you don’t have a communications person, or your communications person is also the enrollment director and also the membership manager and also in charge of organizing staff education. You can bring in a consultant (wink, wink), but you can also make a centralized calendar the boss. Ideally, someone (the communications captain) should take the lead on managing the calendar. If your organization is small and not ready for a communications department, at least enforce a rule that everyone must put all communications on a shared calendar. It can be a shared Outlook calendar or Google calendar or something that lives on your server. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but, it must be something that everyone can see and update. If Mary wants to send a e-blast telling constituents about new funders, she has to put it on the calendar so that it’s not the same day Sasha emails subscribers inviting them to an open house.

3. Reach Across Departments

Maybe you have defined departments or maybe you have a handful of folks managing different aspects of your organization’s mission. Either way, the leadership must work together, communicate and compromise. Bix has talked before about how important it is to coordinate your communication & nonprofit efforts. This is true for programming staff as well. Listen to each other and see how your communications needs can work together. You’re not competing for your community’s attention. You are working together to carry out the same mission.

4. Set a Strategy In Stone

Whether one person executes all communications or each staff member creates and sends content, you need a plan. You must be consistent and everyone must follow the strategy. This way your community experiences consistency in messaging.

5. Well, Make Sure It’s Not Really Set in Stone

In an ideal world, your nonprofit continues to grow. Your offerings increase and you have more information to share with your community. Also, your community is growing and they don’t all need the same information. You need to adjust the communications plan. Don’t get stuck in a “that’s the way we’ve always done it” mentality. As your organization expands, your communications strategy must expand. This is a crucial time to remember your gatekeeper. Don’t let the excitement lead to chaotic communications!


These steps should set you straight as you gear up for second quarter. Read this if you are looking for social media strategy input. Read this if you don’t know how to prioritize communications when you’re busy, and read this for communications tips for non-communications staff. Still stuck?  Reach out and see how we can help!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>