By Adrienne Harvitz | Market Research Specialist for Firefly Strategies Global
When it comes to the world of communications, strategies must reflect the overarching trends of the time and those specific to the sector of the client or audience to which the messaging caters. In this short piece, we will take a look at the overall communications climate in the nonprofit sector at the dawn of 2021.
As you may be aware, 2020 was a year that deeply impacted the whole field of communications, particularly in the arenas of social justice and equity-based language. It became critical for companies, organizations, and individuals to communicate through very intentional vocabulary choices while simultaneously understanding a rapidly evolving lexicon. The act of allyship became a priority, especially for those of us working in social justice-based work. It became critical to demonstrate solidarity with marginalized populations, including communities of color, LGBTQ+ communities, communities of disability, economically disadvantaged communities, and rural communities.
It even became commonplace for companies and organizations to embrace equity and anti-racism based trainings for their staff and leadership teams, not only to learn the right language to use in their work, but to more deeply understand the reason for and meaning of such actions and to take action toward the greater good on a deeper level than just words.
The work of equity and allyship is not simply hosting a one-time training or drafting an anti-racism policy; it is an ongoing commitment to awareness, learning, and communicating in response to a changing landscape. Staying in step with voices representing diversity within your organization and network--and listening to leaders who represent marginalized communities--is critical.
Several engagement approaches can be quickly incorporated into any organization’s communications strategy. Surveys or “email us now” buttons at the end of emails and newsletters--among other techniques--can be employed to maintain consistent opportunities for two-way communication with your audience. These methods allow your organization to practice receptivity with colleagues, staff members, clients, grantees, and community members. Consistent engagement that demonstrates etiquette, inclusion, and respectful discourse on sensitive subjects on your organization’s social media accounts is equally vital. Hosting virtual events that have a Q&A, open discussion, or town hall component can be a great way to invite, hear, and share perspectives and showcase your reflective listening and community-centered values.
It is greatly beneficial to communications professionals to follow voices of commentary on this field; more specifically, to follow a collection of writers on nonprofit practices that represent diverse populations’ perspectives. By following these writers, communications professionals can align the organization’s communications with the messaging from these authors and make their content echo voices directly from the communities they support and serve.
See below for a list of the nonprofit writers and bloggers we recommend communications pros follow to keep a finger on the pulse of trends and hot topics in the nonprofit world.
Beyond the social justice and equity piece, business as usual was flipped on its head in many other ways in 2020. Communications strategies overall had to be revised as teams worked from home. Entire methods of interfacing with colleagues and clients were erased.
Here are some takeaways from the year we’ve had to help nonprofits excel (from the 2020 Nonprofit Marketing Guide Trends Report):
Nonprofit culture and content creators or bloggers we recommend following: