Late last year, Think HQ undertook some research, surveying organisations in the not for profit space. The aim? To identify the key communications opportunities and challenges facing Australia’s not for profits.
Our research indicated that Australia’s not for profit sector is chronically understaffed, under funded and under resourced, especially when it comes to communications. As an agency well versed in the not for profit space and its typifying budget limitations, even we were surprised by the squeeze our research revealed.
But it’s not all doom and gloom – our research also showed that not for profit organisations are well aware of the value of communications, and willing to invest their time in that space. They’re just mindful that any activity they undertake has to be efficient, measurable and effective.
To that end, we at Think HQ have compiled a ‘Beginners Guide to Savvy Communications’ - a list of our top five tips to help not for profit organisations make the most of their limited communications budgets and resources.
1. KNOW WHEN TO SPEND AND SAVE
When budgets are tight, it’s important to ensure you are expending your resources in the best places. A communications strategy can be great for this, as it can help you ensure you are selecting the right messaging and tactics. There are however, some simple guidelines you should follow.
- Spend on your initial branding – a professional and attractive logo and website makes a world of difference if you’re looking to engage and convert donors. It also helps to build a sense of trust in your organisation.
- Avoid purchasing unnecessary collateral and merchandise, especially if your organisation is just starting out.
- Focus on successfully mining your owned and earned channels (such as website, social media and media relations) before you invest in purchasing publicity or advertising.
2. INVEST IN HIRING, TRAINING AND KEEPING GREAT STAFF
Your people are your biggest resource - recruit great staff and spend time developing their skills and creating pathways for them to grow and advance through your organisation.
It’s also Important to hire the staff you need, rather than the staff you may want, especially in communications. Although a flashy, exciting hire of a data analyst or social media specialist may seem like a good idea, small organisations, in particular, will usually benefit from hiring staff with a more varied set of skills.
3. HAVE A COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY AND UPDATE IT REGULARLY
Invest time in creating a strong, long-term communications strategy and update it regularly. Make sure this is supported by achievable tactical activity that supports your goals. When planning new communications projects, refer back to your overarching communications strategy to ensure the tactics and key messages fit your objectives and utilise your resources efficiently.
4. CHOOSE THE RIGHT TACTICS (NOT THE TRENDIEST ONES)
When selecting tactics and channels, it’s important to choose those that will work for you, rather than those with ‘cool’ factor. Consider the suitability of your chosen tactics for your audience.
This is especially true of advertising and other one-off, short-term promotional activity, such as billboards and television commercials. They may seem exciting, but chances are there are cheaper, more effective alternatives that will achieve the same, or better, results for your brand.
5. USE SOCIAL MEDIA (BUT BE STRATEGIC)**
A presence on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can be a great way to engage and communicate with your supporters, but it’s important to be strategic. Know who you want to communicate with, what you are trying to achieve and which platforms can best help you to achieve those goals.
Ultimately, whatever you do in communications, ensure it is a committed effort that fits with your organisation’s objectives. Despite the pressure of budget, Australia’s not for profit sector is renowned for its creative campaigns.
Thanks to all the not for profit organisations who took part in our survey - we look forward to seeing some really effective campaigns coming from the sector in 2015.