How can communications help fundraising succeed?

First, let’s define communications. Fundamentally speaking, communications is any activity that enables you to speak outwardly to your stakeholders – e.g., current and potential donors, volunteers, beneficiaries, community leaders, the media, your staff, etc. It allows you to tell a story about your organization, convey why you’re necessary, establish how you’re different from everything else out there, and identify the value you provide to your target audiences.

Communications is fundamental to fundraising. Individuals are often driven by an emotional connection to an issue. Foundations are more likely to fund (and better yet, seek out) an organization they have heard of. Corporations seek projects that enhance their brand, boost the bottom line, or raise employee morale (as with a volunteer effort). All of these things can be achieved through communications.

That’s why a communications strategy is critical. It identifies where you want to be and serves as a roadmap for how you’ll get there. Importantly, it also lays out what you want to communicate to achieve your objectives, and to whom you will communicate it.

Social networking is a perfect example of a communications function that can support fundraising efforts. This is a place where you can engage people who care about your issue and organization. But how are you doing so? Are you providing consistent opportunities to be part of your issue? Are you sharing news articles that keep people apprised of important happenings, whether or not you’re mentioned? Are you acknowledging donors – large and small? Are you responding to people who have tweeted positive messages? Are you telling the story of your organization and beneficiaries? If you aren’t, you should be. These are examples of activities that not only help to build awareness of your organization, but create an ongoing connection with past, current and potential donors.

Relationships are everything – whether they’re developed electronically, in print or in-person – and strategic communications can help you develop them. That’s why we’ve devoted a whole section of this site to the topic. Check out Marketing & Communications for more on how communications can advance your objectives.

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