Breaking Down Barriers: The Importance of Communication in Nonprofit Organizations

The Keela Team • Mar 28, 2023
Communication in Nonprofit Organizations blog header showing a person holding an envelope.

Communication is a critical component of any successful organization, and this is especially true for nonprofit organizations. Effective communication helps to build strong relationships with donors, volunteers, and other stakeholders, which is essential for achieving your organization’s mission. However, communicating in a nonprofit setting can be challenging due to a range of factors such as limited resources, diverse audiences, varying internal communication styles, and complex issues.

In this blog, we will explore the importance of good communication in nonprofit organizations, both internally and externally. We will discuss best practices for effective communication, the challenges that organizations may face, and how to overcome them. By breaking down communication barriers, nonprofit organizations can better connect with their audiences, build trust, and ultimately achieve their goals.

How does Nonprofit Communication Differ from Corporate Communication?

Nonprofit communications and corporate communications differ in several key ways, despite sharing some similarities. One significant difference is the focus of the messaging. A nonprofit communication strategy tends to be centered around the organization’s mission and the social impact it aims to achieve, whereas corporate communications tend to focus on the products, services, and profits of the company.

Another key difference is the audience. Nonprofits typically communicate with a diverse range of stakeholders, including donors, volunteers, recurring donors, beneficiaries, and community members. The communication needs of these audiences vary greatly, and nonprofit organizations must tailor their messaging to reach each group effectively. In contrast, corporate communications are often targeted at shareholders, customers, and employees.

The tone and style of messaging also tend to differ between nonprofit and corporate communications. Nonprofit organizations often aim to evoke emotion and inspire action through their messaging. They may use storytelling, personal anecdotes, and imagery to connect with their audiences on a more personal level. In contrast, corporate communications tend to be more formal and professional, focusing on facts and data to support the company’s message.

Another difference is the channels used to communicate. Nonprofit organizations often rely on social media, email campaigns, and direct mail to communicate with their audiences. These channels allow nonprofits to reach a broader audience, connect with supporters in real-time, and track the success of their campaigns. In contrast, corporate communications tend to utilize a wider range of channels, including press releases, investor relations, and media relations.

How to Make Your Communications More Effective

Internal communication ensures that everyone within the organization is informed, engaged, and working towards the same goals, while external communication enables you to reach your stakeholders and engage them with your mission.

By utilizing best practices for internal communication, you can foster a positive work environment and ensure that everyone is aligned with the mission of the organization. By implementing effective external communication strategies, you can build trust with your audiences, increase engagement, and ultimately advance your organization’s mission.

Best Practices for Improving Internal Nonprofit Communication

As a nonprofit organization, your internal communications are just as important as your external communications. Effective internal communication helps to ensure that everyone within your organization is on the same page and eager to contribute to the organization’s success. Here are some best practices to make your internal communications more effective:

Learn to improve internal communication within your team.

With this FREE guide, you will learn how to tailor your communications to start creating better, more effective relationships with members of your organization.

Develop a Clear Internal Communication Plan

First, establish a clear internal communication plan. Determine the channels you will use to communicate with your team, the frequency of communication, and the purpose of each communication. This will help to ensure that everyone is informed and aligned with the mission of the organization.

Communicate Through a Variety of Channels

Secondly, use a variety of communication channels. Different team members may prefer different communication channels, so it’s important to offer a variety of options. Consider using email, instant messaging, video calls, and in-person meetings to ensure that everyone can access and engage with the information they need.

Make it a Two-Way Street

It’s important to ensure that communication is two-way between leadership and the employees at your organization. Encourage team members to ask questions, provide feedback, and share ideas. This will help to foster a culture of open communication and ensure that everyone feels valued and heard.

Keep Everyone in the Loop

Keep team members informed of organizational updates and changes. Changes can be disruptive, and it’s important to keep your team informed of any changes, including changes in strategy, personnel, or policy. Keeping your team informed will help to ensure that everyone is prepared and able to adapt to the changes.

Create Opportunities for Bonding

Finally, encourage team-building activities. Team-building activities can help to strengthen relationships between team members, improve communication, and foster a positive work environment. Consider hosting team-building events such as virtual happy hours, team lunches, or team-building exercises.

Best Practices for Improving External Nonprofit Communication

Improving your external communications is essential for nonprofit organizations to build trust, engage your audiences, and achieve your goals. Here are four best practices that you can use to make your external communications more effective:

Develop a clear and concise message

Your organization’s message should be clear, concise, and focused on the social impact you aim to achieve. It’s important to have a consistent message that reflects your organization’s mission and values across all communication channels, including social media, email, and website copy.

Know your audience

Understanding your audience is crucial for effective external communication. Consider the needs, interests, and preferences of your audiences, and tailor your messaging to each group. By doing so, you can ensure that your messaging resonates with your target audiences and inspires them to take action.

Utilize a variety of communication channels

Different audiences may prefer different communication channels, so it’s important to offer a variety of options. Consider using social media, email campaigns, direct mail, and in-person events to reach your audiences where they are. The more they see your brand and communications on their channels, the more likely they are to make a donation.

Measure and track the success of your communication efforts

Use analytics to understand how your audiences are engaging with your messaging and adjust your approach accordingly. This will help you to refine your messaging, reach your audiences more effectively, and achieve your organizational goals. A good place to start is to look at the open and click-through rates of your emails and compare against industry standard, analyze the impressions on your social media posts, and the responses to the talk-tracks that you’re using on phone calls.

When considering how you will communicate with your board members and external stakeholders, it’s important to choose a CRM that includes an email marketing platform, such as Keela. It’s also important to keep in mind email compliance rules so that your nonprofit is honoring the preferences of your stakeholders.

Looking to improve your nonprofit’s email marketing strategy?

Use this guide to gain an understanding of five key email marketing metrics, and how they work together to help you craft meaningful email content that converts.

How Do You Create Nonprofit Communications Strategies?

Tips for an Effective Fundraising Communications Strategy for Nonprofits

An effective fundraising communication strategy is crucial for nonprofit organizations to raise funds, engage donors, and advance their mission. Here are three tips to help you build a successful communication strategy for your nonprofit:

Develop a strong case for support

To effectively communicate with and engage donors, it’s important to develop a strong case for support with key messages that clearly articulate the need for funding and the impact of donor support. This should include a clear statement of your organization’s mission and how donor support will help you achieve your goals. Be sure to highlight the benefits of donor support, such as the impact of their donation on local community and the tax benefits of giving.

Utilize a variety of communication channels

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, to reach a wider audience and engage donors effectively, it’s important to utilize a variety of communication channels and tailor your messaging to each communication channel and target audience, and track the success of your campaigns to refine your communication style and approach.

Show the impact of donor support

Donors want to know that their financial support is making a difference. Be sure to communicate the impact of donor support and the outcomes of your programs and services. Share success stories, testimonials, and data to show the impact of your work and the importance of donor support. This will help to build trust with your donors, increase engagement, and ultimately raise more funds for your organization.

Cross-Cultural Communication Strategies

Improving cross-cultural communication is crucial for nonprofit organizations to effectively engage with diverse audiences and advance their mission. Here are three strategies to help you improve cross-cultural communication in your nonprofit:

Invest in cultural competence training

Cultural competence training is essential for nonprofit organizations to effectively engage with diverse audiences. This type of training can help your team members understand different cultural norms, values, and communication styles. It can also help your team members avoid cultural misunderstandings and miscommunications.

Develop a multicultural team

Building a multicultural team can help your nonprofit effectively engage with diverse audiences. Consider hiring team members from diverse backgrounds and experiences, and ensure that your team members feel valued and heard. By doing so, you can create a more inclusive work environment and better serve the communities you work with.

Use plain language and avoid jargon

Plain language and avoiding jargon can help your nonprofit effectively communicate with diverse audiences. Be sure to use language that is clear, concise, and easily understood. Avoid technical terms or acronyms that may not be familiar to all audiences. This will help to ensure that your message is accessible and understood by everyone.

To ensure that your mission is accessible to your external stakeholders, it’s important to offer your communications in multiple languages. Keela offers multilingual donation forms to ensure that your donors’ language preferences are respected.

Crisis Communication Strategies

Effective crisis communications for nonprofits are crucial to protect your reputation and ensure that stakeholders are informed and engaged during times of crisis. Here are three strategies to help you develop an effective crisis communications plan for nonprofits:

Develop a crisis communications plan

Your crisis communications plan should outline the roles and responsibilities of your team members, the communication channels you will use to reach your stakeholders, and the messaging you will use to address the crisis. Be sure to regularly review and update your crisis communications plan to ensure that it is effective and up-to-date.

Be transparent and honest

Transparency and honesty are key when communicating during a crisis. Be sure to provide accurate and timely information to your stakeholders, including the cause of the crisis, the actions your organization is taking to address the crisis, and the impact of the crisis on your organization and stakeholders.

Keela’s tools offer real-time updates along with messaging tools to help you communicate accurate information to your stakeholders in a timely way. With Keela, you can ensure that you’re not withholding information or providing misleading information, as this can damage your organization’s reputation and trust with stakeholders.

Send effective internal and external communications with Keela.

Learn how to connect the right message with the right person at the right time with Keela’s suite of marketing and communication tools.

What is Nonprofit Storytelling and Why is it Important?

A key aspect of nonprofit communications is storytelling. Nonprofit storytelling is a powerful tool for organizations to connect with their audiences and communicate their mission, values, and impact. It involves telling compelling stories that engage people emotionally and inspire them to take action. Whether it’s through personal anecdotes, success stories, or testimonials, nonprofit storytelling can help to build trust, increase engagement, and create a lasting impression.

Effective nonprofit storytelling is important for your nonprofit for several reasons. First, it can help to inspire donors, volunteers, and other stakeholders to get involved with your organization’s work. By sharing stories that convey the impact of your work, you can inspire others to join your cause, make a difference, and create positive change in the world.

Second, storytelling can help to build trust and credibility with your audience. By sharing authentic stories and experiences, you can show that your organization is transparent, accountable, and committed to its mission.

Finally, storytelling can help to differentiate your organization from others and create a lasting impression. By telling stories that convey the unique qualities and impact of your organization, you can create a strong brand identity and inspire loyalty and support from your audiences.

Communicate your impact with this FREE Storytelling Toolkit.

Use this toolkit to discover the key elements of a good impact story and learn how to create yours. Plus, you will get access to a template so you can get a head start.


Effective communication in organizations is essential to achieve goals and make a positive impact in the world. By implementing best practices for internal communication, such as goal-setting, communication planning, and encouraging two-way communication, your nonprofit can create a positive work environment, ensure that everyone is aligned with your mission, and work towards common goals.

By implementing effective external and donor communications best practices, such as developing clear messages, knowing your audience, utilizing a variety of communication channels, and measuring the success of your communication efforts, your nonprofit can build trust with your audiences, increase engagement, and advance your mission.

Keela is a donor management and fundraising platform that has all of the tools you need to send effective internal and external communications to your stakeholders. From email marketing to automation features, Keela ensures that your organization is able to send the right message at the right time to increase revenue.

Headshot of Meredith Gray

About the author:

Meredith Gray
Head of Marketing, Keela

Meredith has always had a passion for work that makes an impact. Having spent over 7 years working in fundraising, she has gained extensive knowledge in marketing, peer-to-peer, events, and sponsorship and firmly believes that all successful fundraising strategies start with your data.

Having experienced it first-hand, she understands the challenges nonprofits face when building a fundraising strategy and loves connecting with other like-minded fundraisers to brainstorm new and creative ways to leverage data to increase revenue. When not working, Meredith can be found trying out one of Toronto’s diverse restaurants, breaking a sweat in a spin class, or researching her next travel destination.