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Report Finds Most Effective Nonprofit Communications Come from a Supportive Team

Report Finds Most Effective Nonprofit Communications Come from a Supportive Team

Marketing News Staff

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Nonprofits rank their overall communications effectiveness as 3.3 out of 5, according to the ninth edition of the “Nonprofit Communications Trends Report” from the Nonprofit Marketing Guide.

The report found the top three priority goals for nonprofit communicators in 2018 were engaging the community, brand-building and reputation management and raising awareness of the issues.


“The conventional wisdom is that fewer goals and strategies lead to more effectiveness,” says Kivi Leroux Miller, founder and CEO of Nonprofit Marketing Guide. “But the practical reality is that nonprofit communicators have many goals and strategies. What sets apart the most effective organizations are team member expertise and a supportive culture that sees marketing and communications as a strategic function, rather than a long list of tactical to-dos.”

The survey found the greatest barrier to effective nonprofit communications is a lack of support from the rest of the organization.

“For example, do your coworkers cooperate in the creation of an editorial calendar, follow established content creation and review processes and meet deadlines?” Miller says. “The most effective organizations say ‘yes’ more often to those questions and the less effective ones say ‘no.’”

Miller says that the most successful nonprofits are working on three communications areas:

  • Building staff expertise to mastery level on specific marketing strategies and skills.
  • Implementing clear communications processes and procedures (e.g., editorial calendars and standard workflows).
  • Creating an organizational culture that values strategic communications work, including excellent working relationships between communications staff and executives.

Nonprofit Marketing Guide asked nonprofits to rank their overall communications effectiveness on a 5-star scale, from 1 star (not at all effective) to 5 stars (extremely effective). The average was 3.3 stars, or between somewhat and very effective. This is the same overall ranking as the last two years.

38% of nonprofits ranked their communications as very or extremely effective, up from 36% last year. 53% said they were somewhat effective. 8% said they were only slightly or not at all effective.

For five years, survey participants were asked to rate their confidence in their overall job skills. These ratings have remained fairly consistent from year to year.

About 10% say they have a lot to learn. This year, slightly more people identified themselves as very capable and confident, with the remaining saying they are comfortable, but want to keep getting better.