Topic: The Role of Verbal and Written Communication in Seeking Funding for Nonprofit Organizations.
Communication is at the core of all positive human relationships. Therefore, groups cannot operate effectively without the ability to communicate and share information. Effective communication is necessary to maintain human relationships as well as to improve performance in organizational settings (Spaho, 2013, p. 103). Communication supports effective decision-making and enables organizational members to resolve conflicts, which are common when people come together to pursue common objectives. Every organization facilitates communication in various ways, depending on the intention of the communicator and whether the process occurs in a formal or informal setting. Regardless of nature, communication always has an objective for the individual or an organization. Among the firms that value communication includes nonprofit organizations because of the need to appeal to stakeholders, such as donors. Although various forms of communication occur in nonprofit organizations, verbal and written communication plays a significant role in seeking funding from the public, individuals, and other organizations.
Various researchers have defined the concept to match their context of use. However, the general meaning of communication is the transfer of a message from the source to the recipient. However, communication occurs when the recipient receives the message and offers feedback, suggesting that he or she understands the message. Communication is the art of sending and receiving a message through words and symbols (Spaho, 2013, p. 103). From this perspective, organizational communication is critical to support transfer of messages and information from one source to a receiver internally or externally. Communication allows communicators to generate meaning from the content through verbal or nonverbal processes. Whenever people communicate, they infer meaning to understand and act on the information, such as using it for decision-making purposes. Communication occurs in different forms in each organization. Furthermore, the process occurs in diverse directions, including downward, upward, horizontal, and diagonal. However, these models of communication are conventional to all internal communications in organizations. In essence, they serve specific functions depending on the nature of setting and the message being delivered.
Downward communication entails the movement of information from management to workers. The process is common in organizations characterized by an authoritative management style. The mode of communication might occur when the leadership wants to pass down decisions or policies for implementation by the employees. Consequently, only leaders at the top of the hierarchy send information to the workers. In this approach of communication, an organization discourages communication in any other direction.
Upward communication is the opposite of a downward approach and occurs from employees to top managers. They communicate to inform the management regarding work or share information about situations at the lower levels of the organization. The method allows the top management to assess the quality of communication in the organization.
Horizontal communication is the flow of information between employees. Information moves from one department to another on the same organizational level. The communication ensures integration and coordination of activities in units that work independently.
Diagonal communication is the flow of information between people. The communication occurs in different organizational levels and between individuals who might not be in the same organizational hierarchy. However, this type is not popular in organizations. The communication could be used in labor unions at the grassroots level to organize direct meetings. The approach might occur between the representatives and top management, ignoring other levels.
Communication in nonprofit organizations might assume the same model as in business organizations but depend on the stakeholders involved in the process. For example, it might include communication between organizational leaders and employees or volunteers, communication among employees and volunteers, or between the organization and external stakeholders, such as donors. However, the patterns of communication still pass the information or message from one level to another (Spaho, 2013, p. 103). Since the study explores the role of communication in nonprofit environments when seeking donations for operations, it is essential to define such organizations and their processes. Besides, the mode of nonprofit communication might differ from communication in business settings.
Before commencing the discussion, it is essential to define nonprofit organizations and their basic structure because they affect nonprofit communication. Nonprofit organizations play a significant role in the community and do not operate to make any profits. Hence, they enjoy tax-exempt from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which enhances their operations. Most of the organizations run through donor funding, which is typically tax-deductible to those who donate, individuals, and other groups. They emerge for a social cause and provide public benefits within the communities where they operate. The organizations have an essential role in the response of social problems in their target communities. Platforms such as Facebook support public engagement in the operations of nonprofit organizations (Cho, Schweickart, & Haase, 2014, p. 565). However, their role might depend on the size and nature of the organization because each develops to pursue a particular cause. However, some of them are ill-equipped and under-resourced to achieve their social goals (Holloway, 2012, p. 9). Therefore, they depend on donations from the public to continue operating. Consequently, communication plays a vital role in their ability to appeal to their audience to receive adequate finances to continue with their projects.
Nonprofit organizations operate in various areas of society, and their role depends on their designation and the mission. They further religious, charitable, scientific, literary, public safety education, or cruelty-prevention objectives in society depending on identified problems. For instance, foundations, hospitals, universities, churches can be regarded as not-for-profit organizations. They all serve the public in their unique ways, such as by providing some goods or services to meet specific needs. They can also serve to collect income from various sources and distribute them to charities (Byers, Anagnostopoulos & Brooke-Holmes, 2015, p. 135). Most of the organizations receive funding from the public and other donors to achieve their objectives. Consequently, they are required to avail their performance information to the public to inform donors regarding the use of their contributions (Kenton, 2019, para 3). The accountability is critical for ethical performance and to attract more funding. Effective communication is a precondition for organizations to receive adequate funding from donors. They can only acquire funding if they send the right message to the public and available performance data to their stakeholders.
Nonprofit communication emerges as a critical concept to define the type of interaction that occurs within specific settings. It helps organizations to pursue their vision and achieve their goals. The concept is hard to define and implement in real-life. Regardless, leaders in such organizations require a nonprofit communication strategy to achieve their objectives. They should have a communication plan depending on the target audience and the needs of the organization. They should understand how the approach will help them to continue operating in the highly competitive nonprofit environment. A communication plan enables companies to create beneficial relationships (Cuadros, 2016, para. 1). Communication experts create the need for cation to prevent conflicts and destroy beneficial relationships for the organization. Proper communication is at the core of effective operations and social efforts. It is the only way to receive the important message across to the necessary constituents to create the desired reaction, such as to generate more finances for the operations. These organizations will have new and returning supporters if they use non-profit verbal and written communication effectively.
Nonprofit organizations operate in a highly complex and competitive environment. They are under pressure to perform exceptionally to achieve their objectives and provide the services they are created for. However, since they are many, they have to compete for funding sources, clients, and qualified staff (Holloway, 2012, p. 9). As a result, they have to be proactive in seeking donor funding and corporate sponsorships to bolster their operations. Thus, to achieve their goals of attracting more funding to support their activities, nonprofit organizations should develop effective communication strategies to appeal to their audiences. Communication is critical in the organizational setting because it helps the sharing of information between them and their stakeholders, especially funding sources. They should create campaigns that communicate their goals, which are attractive to their audiences. They should understand the fact that they are competing with others for the same donors. Therefore, their effectiveness in sending the message determines whether they receive more funding than their competitors.
Sharing information is critical for non-profit organizations to achieve their goals and objectives. Just like in other national and local government agencies, non-profit organizations collect and record open data accessible to all internal and external stakeholders. The information is more critical for the external audience who would wish to see the performance data to make decisions regarding future funding. Nonprofit organizations collect data in the form of facts, observations, and statistics that they make available for interested users in the public domain (Erete, Ryou, Smith, Fassett, & Duda, 2016, p. 1273). Research reveals that the recorded data is critical for organizations to achieve their objectives. Regardless of their limited resources, non-government organizations use the data to make essential decisions that support their work. They also rely on the information to attract resources, hence acquire more funds to continue their operations because donors also use the information to make funding decisions.
Donors desire to discover their contribution to the nonprofit organization. They need to know that they are making an impact on the organization as it works to meet the needs of its target people or communities. The leadership should also appreciate them once they have made their contribution towards the organizational cause (Cuadros, 2016, para. 2). Therefore, non-profit communication should be ongoing using diverse channels to reach to the donor community. For example, the organizations can use the radio or TV to send an appreciation message to the donor community. They can publish a similar message in the newspaper or a magazine. They can use social media posts to communicate to a broad audience. They should have internal publications, including reports and statements to inform their stakeholders about their ongoing performance as they work to meet social needs or address community problems. Basically, they should use whichever communication modes available to achieve their communication goals.
Nonprofit Communication Strategies
Nonprofit organizations are currently experiencing various challenges because of poor communication to attract more funds from real and potential donors. As a result, some organizations continue to operate amid limited resources that derail their ability to achieve goals and objectives. However, research proposes some effective means through which they can communicate effectively with their audience to convince them to make financing decisions. With the advent of technology, both verbal and non-verbal communication channels have improved. Hence, organizations can use technology to appeal to like-minded individuals to provide the necessary funding for the organizations to continue operating effectively. They can share information and message to support fund-raising locally, internationally, and even globally (Best Nonprofit Communication Strategies, n.d. para 1). Regardless of the increase in competition, organizations can capitalize on the power of modern communication to fulfill their vision of providing critical services to meet social needs and address diverse problems in their target communities.
To reach their audience successfully, nonprofit organizations should use some basic communication strategies that promote information flow and link them to the right stakeholders. The first strategy in the communication process is to determine the goals of communication, whether verbal or written. A communication strategy for most nonprofit organizations includes benchmark goals to enable them to track their effectiveness in reaching and appealing to their audience. They can easily track their successes and/or failures and determine necessary future changes to improve the process (Best Nonprofit Communication Strategies, n.d. para 2). The strategy further allows them to plan and optimize communication for future campaigns to raise funds for their activities. The communication strategy should have some of the following objectives: establish the branding and message that the organization intends to send, create awareness of the cause, engage with stakeholders (especially donors), and increase or sustain support from volunteers, fundraisers, and donors. The achievement of such goals informs the success of a communication campaign.
Communication experts suggest the importance of focusing on the audience, especially when communicating with donors. It is crucial to formulate a message in such a way that the donor community feels heroic. Nonprofit supporters are generally generous and compassionate, making people sacrifice their resources for the good of the community. Therefore, the communicator should ensure that they feel appreciated and honored for their support. After all, these are the individuals and groups that sustain the organization’s mission (Brumberg, 2018, para 4). Therefore, they should receive the main share of attention and praise in the communication plan. They should also feel that they are welcome to continue giving towards the cause that they believe in and value. Furthermore, the organization should keep the communication going because it should send the message regularly to have the desired impact. Therefore, they should focus on writing and communicating effectively that the donor community can relate and support.
The second strategy is to establish the target audience to determine the type of communication message to send. Media studies reveal the role of audience metrics in determining the channel of communication. Journalists have a close relationship with the “people formerly known as the audience” (Tandoc Jr, 2015, p. 782). Just like understanding the audience in the media is essential, so it is when dealing with audience in other communication settings, such as in nonprofit organizations seeking funding from various sources. They should establish the target audience to determine the role verbal and written communication will play in reaching and appealing to them for funding. They should identify a person’s interest in the organization. Other metrics they should use include people’s wishes and the desire to be part of their organizational objectives (Best Nonprofit Communication Strategies, n.d. para. 3). Identification of the audience accomplishes various goals, such as the type of message to send, the channel to use, and the way to measure the impact of the communication campaign.
Another effective strategy for nonprofit communication is story-telling. Nonprofit organizations use verbal and written communication to tell their story to the target audience and instigate an appropriate response. A good story can appeal to people of all ages and cultures. It can attract, inspire, and communicate something significant to diverse stakeholders. Stories should be significant to particular groups of people and be meaningful to have the desired impact. For example, a nonprofit organization that addresses the issue of poverty in a developing country should tell the story of a hungry family to create the desired impact on potential donors. People should feel sympathy for the affected so that they motivated to help to overcome the problem. A memorable story has unique characters and an issue or problem that the audience can emotionally relate with (Best Nonprofit Communication Strategies, n.d. para. 7). A successful communication strategy should apply diverse communication channels to tell the story as much as possible until it acquires the desired effect. Nonprofit organizations benefit from connecting with audience through verbal and written stories.
Story-telling approaches to help nonprofit organizations to pursue their objectives can assume various strategies and channels to reach the audience. They use the media in different ways to attract the relevant audience and achieve the communication objectives. Notably, successful stories should attract the attention of the audience and create something of value to them. Stories in nonprofit organizations are communicated through the conventional media (such as TV, radio, and Newspaper) or through the new media (Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube) to reach the desired audience and create the required appeal. The organization should have something to offer to connect to the passions of the target audience. They should also ensure that their story aligns with the organizational mission, purpose, and objectives. The audience will relate to stories that are meaningful to them and their connection to nonprofit organizations.
Case Studies of Nonprofit Communication
Various case studies are available to show the role of communication among nonprofit organizations in appealing for funding from local, national, and international sources. Verbal and written communication using technology has facilitated the delivery of information about the mission, goals, and objectives of the organization. For example, some organizations are using social media to link up with the audience and other stakeholders. They use multiple social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, to communicate with a broad national and international audience. The channels widen the scope of the audience (Best Nonprofit Communication Strategies, n.d. para 4). Depending on the target audience, the organization can take advantage of the power of social media in an integrated communication strategy to increase the size of the audience. Using a single channel might hinder the effectiveness of social media communication from appealing to donors for funding.
The American Red Cross is an example of an organization that has remained effective in communicating with its audience to source for donations and other support through multiple social media channels. With such strategies, the communications team uses verbal (such as YouTube) and written (tweets and posts) methods to appeal to a wide audience. For example, American Red Cross has more than 1.8 million followers on Twitter and almost 700,000 Facebook followers (Best Nonprofit Communication Strategies, n.d. para. 5). As a result, the non-profit organization can reach a significant audience and communicate whenever it needs to connect with them. The organization provides useful information to its audience, such as heroic stories from people who engage in emergency rescue missions. Such stories and other information that reveal the effectiveness of the organization help various stakeholders to make decisions that are beneficial to the American Red Cross, such as to increase funding to support its activities.
UNICEF is another case of a nonprofit organization that uses new communication channels to appeal to a wide audience. The global nonprofit organization has created new opportunities to encourage countries to invest in education. It uses social media to communicate powerful messages and images that millions of followers around the world can view and follow (Best Nonprofit Communication Strategies, n.d. para 5). The power of the tools emerges from the fact that the audience can also respond to and provide feedback regarding the communicated message. Multiple networks promote the use of verbal and non-verbal communication tools to inspire the masses to support the organization’s cause. The information is shared among online communities across the world who can provide whatever support is necessary to achieve goals and objectives. Nonprofit organizations achieve their goals by publishing relevant and vital content to communicate their mission to relevant stakeholders, including donors and volunteers. Although each organization might have a unique communication approach, the end goal is the same, to send an appropriate message to the audience.
Research provides support for the effectiveness of nonprofit communication in mobilizing the public to support fundraising goals. They depend on public support to operate efficiently. Effective communication is at the core of the successful completion of the “Relay For Life” fundraising event meant to provide support to cancer patients. The American Cancer Society created the signature fundraiser to help communities in fighting the disease. The message for the project was to rally together in the fight against the illness through inspirational and fun events. McKeever (2013) used the situational theory of publics and the theory of reasoned action to understand the importance of participation and communication in the success of such initiatives (p. 307). The study revealed the importance of delivering the message to the right audience through relevant communication channels in rallying support for such initiatives. It proves that effective communication is at the core of success in nonprofit organizations.
Communication is proven necessary and effective in nonprofit settings, such as faith-based organizations. The environments are firmly founded on social construction viewpoint, which creates the need for information sharing. From this perspective, communication is a process by which people share values, thoughts, and beliefs with others (Molloy & Heath, 2014, p. 387). Communication models support the production and reproduction of these aspects. It also encourages them to make meaning and understand the information sharing content and context. The process also depends on the organizational ideology, which must be passed from one person or group to another. For example, a faith-based organization is founded on a religious ideal of providing charity to orphaned children. Therefore, they communicate to relevant stakeholders sharing the ideology to gain support for their charitable work. Success depends on the channels used to communicate and the strategy applied in sharing the ideology.
Overall, nonprofit communication is one of the most critical elements of success in leading such organizations. Usually, the organization operates on charity and donations from donors, volunteers, and well-wishers because they function in a non-profit making environment. Therefore, communication is critical in ensuring that they achieve their objectives by appealing to the donor community to provide funds towards their operations. Their leaders should master effective communication channels and strategies to send the relevant message to the audience. Both verbal and written communication, in the conventional and new media environment, plays a vital role in delivering the information depending on the desired effect on the audience. Many organizations, such as the Red Cross, UNICEF, and the American Cancer Society, have launched campaigns successfully using the power of nonprofit communication to appeal to the audience to support their causes. Therefore, leaders and communication experts in the organizations should master the art of effective communication to send the correct message to the right audience and achieve the desired objectives.
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