Nonprofit Communications: The Importance of Knowing Your Audiences

Volunteers. Media. Event Sponsors. Key Funders. Strategic Partners. Staff. Board Members. Each plays a critical yet unique role in the success of nonprofit organizations. As unique as these roles, are the communication preferences of these audiences. Each quantifies success differently and each requires different information to effectively fulfill their role. How does one effectively address these varied needs across multiple communication platforms? By knowing their audiences.

Clearly defining the value proposition

Whether talking to key funders or volunteers, it is important to quantify the organization’s impact and succinctly convey the value proposition. While an organization’s mission statement is a good starting point, additional ‘value(s)’ will need to be defined relative to the target audience. For example, if the state is one of your organization’s key funders, the value they find in your nonprofit may be cost savings. For a strategic partner, this value may be complementary services that benefit their clients. Clearly defining these unique values is the foundation of building effective messaging, whether it is for a newsletter or a Facebook post.

Consider the tone

Asking a foundation to furnish a grant to support your nonprofit’s most critical program is very different from asking your friend to borrow a pencil. When communicating with your organization’s various target audiences, consider what tone is most appropriate. Appeal letters, for example, may require a stronger and more motivational tone whereas thanking a volunteer may have a more personal tone.

Supporting the ask

There are a limitless number of nonprofits competing for the same grants, donations and volunteers. Quantifying your organization’s impact and success can be a key differentiator. When formatting the ask, regardless of the medium across which it is being delivered, have supporting points ready to show why your cause is worthy of the donor or grantor’s funds.

Finding their motivation

Why are volunteers, event sponsors, strategic partners, board members and key funders involved with your organization? What motivates them to remain committed to your cause? Understanding what motivates key audiences is paramount to effectively communicating with them. Consider these motivating factors when identifying unique ways that target audiences can engage with your organization. For example, an entrepreneur who builds birdhouses from recycled materials, is a great person to donate their time to run a ‘green’ birdhouse activity with an eco-conscious nonprofit’s youth group.

While some nonprofit communications will be targeted to a combination of the above groups, identifying the key selling points for each audience allows nonprofits to distribute targeted communications that speak directly to their unique audiences. When refining your nonprofit’s communications strategy for the coming months and years, focus on finding ways to target communications to each of your unique audiences to further engage your community.