Operations

Charity Communication: Tools to Connect and Engage with Staff

| Updated September 18, 2018

Charity staff communication

Originally published on: September 2017

Just as external communication with your audience is vital, so too is internal communication within your nonprofit. Whether you're a large nonprofit or a small one, internal communication helps ensure that your messaging is consistent and that everyone is aligned with your organization's strategic goals.

If you're a large nonprofit, you may have an intranet that keeps staff informed of news, events and updates. Medium to small charities, however, must rely on other methods of internal communication, such as ad hoc emails, a weekly internal newsletter or scheduled face-to-face meetings. You can also take advantage of digital tools and platforms to engage with your colleagues, volunteers and even trustees — all from your phone or desktop.

Where to start

Of course, there's no single magic tool that'll work for everyone since people (and organizations) are complex. Before you decide which platform or tool to use for internal communication, consider what you want to achieve and whether you need an internal communications strategy to help you get there. Also, take time to match your audience to your digital channels. After all, there's no point investing time in a platform or channel that no one uses.

Keeping it simple

If an intranet or password-protected area of your website for internal communication is out of scope, consider cheaper and simpler internal communication methods. For example:

Digital newsletters

A weekly, bi-monthly or monthly electronic newsletter or newsbrief is one way to distill important news to staff. This method works well — as long as staff open the email, that is.

Research suggests that the average open rate of internal emails across organizations around the world and in multiple industries is 66 percent. With regard to click rates, the U.K. averages at 10 percent and the U.S. at just 6 percent — which leaves a large number of staff who may miss important information. So, while newsletters are important, don't rely on them solely to get the word out.

Stand-ups

If you're a small charity with all staff working in the same office, then a weekly stand-up (usually first thing on a Monday) can work well. Essentially everyone takes turns to say what they're working on that week and whether they need anything from colleagues (for example, extra resources) to help achieve their aims.

Staff meetings

Many organizations prefer structured team or department meetings on a weekly basis and organization-wide meetings monthly or quarterly. In an all-staff meeting, representatives from each department give an update on what they've been working on and what's coming up. You might ask team members to contribute to the agenda — and set specific time limits for each agenda item.

Messaging apps

Messaging apps can reduce email traffic while promoting collaboration, such as brainstorming or brain dumping — even sharing photos and insights from events or conferences that not everyone can attend. Free examples include Slack and WhatsApp.

Slack allows you to create specific groups (or channels) where you can communicate in real time with colleagues (or even external suppliers or consultants). You can upload images and files and even have private conversations. WhatsApp works similarly, although with less functionality. However, the advantage of already being in wide use may make uptake for work more likely.

Workplace by Facebook

Workplace by Facebook is free for nonprofits. It's just like the Facebook you already know, but designed specifically for work colleagues — allowing you to create groups, broadcast via Facebook Live and see what your colleagues are working on through your newsfeed. There's also a multi-company functionality that allows people from different organizations to work together collaboratively. For example, if your charity were undertaking a rebrand, you might use Workplace by Facebook to chat with the agency and any suppliers working with you on the new brand.

MissionBox editorial content is offered as guidance only, and is not meant, nor should it be construed as, a replacement for certified, professional expertise.

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Communications professional and accredited trainer with a special interest in social media, copywriting and digital marketing