Six Tips for Effective Communications

From fundraising to advocacy, communications has the potential to enhance the growth and performance of an organization (this recent article explains how). Yet, communications is a chronically underinvested area within an organization, especially with small to medium sized organizations working in the natural resource sector in Africa. Therefore, it’s not surprising that many of the organizations Maliasili Initiatives’ works with identify communications as one of their weakest areas and one where they see our support as having the potential to lead to significant change for them as an organization.

We are finalizing a module that outlines our approach to strengthening an organization’s communications, and we look forward to sharing it very soon. In the meantime, we’ve identified six tips for achieving effective communications:

  1. Being effective means committing: When work piles up, it can be tempting to push communications aside to focus on other activities. But remember that communications plays a key role in helping your organization achieve its goals. Prioritizing communications will enhance your fundraising, networking, and programmatic outcomes. If your organization has committed to strengthening its communication’s platform, then you need to prioritize it.
  2. Don’t get too bogged down in details: You certainly want to have high quality standards for your content, but don’t lose sight of your overall purpose and get caught up in trying to achieve perfection. Just like project implementation often requires tweaking, learning, and adaptation, so does communications. Sometimes it’s better to say something than nothing at all.
  3. Make wise investments: A lot of your communications work can be done in-house, but there are some activities, such as developing a website or designing an annual report, where it may be worthwhile to contract outside support.
  4. Plan for flexibility: You can’t plan out everything in advance as you simply don’t know what’s going to happen with your projects or with politics or even with the weather. But good communications is often about being responsive, so when planning give yourself space to be flexible and responsive to an always changing environment.
  5. Don’t try to do everything: Stick to your plan, adapt when needed, but don’t try to respond to every opportunity or crisis – you simply won’t have time and you will water down your other planned activities.
  6. Learn from others: Share information and best practices, ask questions, collaborate. Your peers probably face a lot of the same questions and challenges you do.

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CommunicationsJessie Davie