Our Work

3 Key Tips to Better Communication

Whether you’re talking agency-to-client or department to department at a nonprofit, good communication is essential for success.

Try these three simple (but often ignored) tips to make you a better communicator, and subsequently, a better fundraiser…

Respond, dammit!

This has always been a personal pet peeve… When a client or colleague emails, leaves a voicemail or a text… Respond!

Even if you can’t answer their question just yet. Take a moment to pick up the phone or shoot them an email saying, “I’m on this and will get back to you as soon as I know more…” Your response tells them you are listening and aware of their needs. It lets them know they are a priority and, hands down, beats a no reply at all.

Put yourself in their shoes

As you know, many in the nonprofit industry wear multiple hats and have lots on their plate. Their direct response and multi-channel fundraising campaigns may not be at the top of their priority list. So in the beginning of a partnership, I try to get to know our new client inside and out. How much of their time is dedicated to this part of their program? How much time do they need for approvals? What are their specific concerns and pet peeves?

The more I know about their situation, the better I can “customize” our relationship to meet their needs. Some clients are more hands on… some have no time and want us to do just about everything and then just have them sign off on the work. Their top priority might be following a concise mail schedule. Others might be more finicky about getting their content just right – and be less concerned with exact mail or deploy date. Likewise, departments inside a nonprofit that need to collaborate should have a sense of what else their colleagues are juggling, how much time they need, etc.

Be active and engaged in the Mission

To be an effective communicator, you have to be in the know. At New River, we keep up on things in a few ways. One essential step: set up Google Alerts to let you know of any press reports that mention the organization you work for (or at.) Follow the org on social media. Visit their website at least once a week. Become a donor to all of your clients. There’s no better way to see how donors are being communicated with and engaged. There are times – here’s where the “many hats” comes into play again – that you are not fully aware of what and how donors are being talked to by marketing, development, leadership, etc. This is a great way to stay on top of all that is going on. In short, get involved in the org’s mission every way you can. And, yes, this tip also applies to people who work at a nonprofit. When there’s a lot happening, it’s easy to be in the dark about at least some things – even at your own workplace!

Hope these tips help you to better communication practices. Better communication means fewer misunderstandings, more trust and better work relationships. Let me know of any other tips you’d offer – I’m a student of good communication and would love to hear your thoughts!

All the best,

Christa Chappel, VP Client Services

3 Key Tips to Better Communication