June Discussion Group Recap: Trends in Nonprofit Communications

Guest post by JT Cattle, Advancement and Marketing Associate (AmeriCorps VISTA) at Community Foundation of Greater Des MoinesJTCattle.jpg

The sound of people’s voices was all you could hear at West End Salvage, and appropriately so for our conversation on communication!

Our 25+ attendees were able to work together to start chipping away at discussion questions such as:

  • What is something new you’ve tried with your communications efforts in the last few months? How has it worked?
  • What communications platform is most effective for connecting with your supporters? Donors? Volunteers? Clients? Etc.
  • What social media platforms do you prefer and why?
  • Are Facebook ads a worthy investment?
  • Are e-newsletters all the rage?


In my small group, we talked about how social media is a hot-topic, and yet unfortunately it seems to be under-utilized due to the lack of capacity in our organizations. Whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, all are great ways to communicate to our audiences, but we must take the time to track the effectiveness of our material to know if we should continue to pursue those vehicles. When on the topic of e-newsletters, we found they are widely used among organizations to send out relevant content to donors, clients, volunteers, etc., but short, sweet and to the point seems to have the best effect for higher open/click-through rates.

There are many resources out there which could be helpful to nonprofits, and most of the time if you look hard enough you can find someone willing to help at little to no cost (pending on the parameters of the project of course). Some attendees referenced the AIGA “Design Assign” program, which pairs professional graphic designers with charities once a year for pro-bono work.

Google for Nonprofits is a great program that gives nonprofits the tools they need to help increase their impact.

Many colleges and universities with marketing or graphic design programs have service learning courses and capstones full of students who NEED and WANT experience, so call them up and see if you can get some volunteers, and if you throw the word “internship” in there, you can provide a benefit to students.

Whether it be a tweet, postcard, email or an old-fashioned hand written letter, communication is the mandatory field that will help you spread your mission. Know your audience. Know what works. Know that you can make a difference.


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