Tips to make the case for internal comms at your not-for-profit

browningyork Charity, Communication lessons, Public sector, Voluntary sector

Effective communicationI spend a lot of my time thinking, listening, talking and pondering about internal communication*. I believe strongly that a key success factor for any organisation is connecting employees, volunteers, members and whoever else counts as internal for you. I even describe wanting to inspire organisations to plan effective internal comms as my mission in life.

(*If your reaction to this sentence is that I need to get out more, this article may not be for you – feel free to walk away, no hard feelings.)

Two experiences in recent days have struck a particular chord with me. Firstly, on Saturday I attended The Big Yak unconference– an event for 150+ internal communicators to come together and share, learn and laugh. Secondly, I sat down to read the CharityComms Communications Benchmark 2017 report, which shares the findings from their research into comms teams, activities and beliefs at charities.

It’s fair to say that both these experiences provoked an emotional reaction in me.

Two perspectives
One of the many joys of attending The Big Yak is being in a room full of people who ‘get’ internal communication. Attendees came from a huge range of organisations, from utility and logistics companies, to universities and charities, to financial companies and healthcare providers. We all shared a belief in the positive difference we can make in contributing to business goals, strategies and employee engagement. I came away with a spring in my step, buzzing with ideas and proud to be part of a profession that is increasingly understood and valued.

Sadly, the CharityComms report paints a different picture for internal communication within our sector, with only 57% of respondents saying that internal comms is essential or important.
CharityComms benchmark report

Make the case for internal communication
In the 15+ years that I have been working in internal comms in the not-for-profit sector things have come on in leaps and bounds. But this research indicates there is still a long way to go. So if you are making a case for recognition, support and/or investment in internal communication, here are some key messages to get across:

  • Improved two-way communication across an organisation leads to increased confidence in leadership, including decisions that are made and direction that is set. This is because everyone has a better understanding of why decisions are taken and of the bigger picture context.
  • Better internal demonstration of impact can lead to a corresponding improvement in sustainable fundraising. When everyone within your organisation understands the difference you are making to your beneficiaries and can articulate that impact in a clear, consistent way, you can tell your story more clearly to funders at every opportunity. I wrote an article for CharityComms about the way that The Advocacy Project have been improving their internal communication as a way of improving funding.
  • When people understand other teams and their work better, they can more easily identify ways to work together and achieve more. Reducing silos is one of the key benefits of improving internal communication.
  • Effective internal communication leads to improved motivation and productivity. When people understand the why of your organisation, as well as the what, and have a clearer view of what that means for them, their motivation will increase and productivity will improve. For tips on how to communicate in this way, see my list of tips for increading motivation and productivity.
  • There are other benefits to improved internal communication, of course, and the messages you choose for your organisation should be influenced by your overall charity strategy and direction.

    If it is time for internal comms to make its voice heard at your organisation and you would like my help to make the case, please get in touch.

    Until next time
    Sarah