IF YOU ARE A SOCIAL IMPACT COMMUNICATIONS LEADER, recent nonprofit trends reports all point to one overriding conclusion. Ensuring your organization survives and thrives at this time requires new approaches and creativity.
How can nonprofit communicators do that while grappling with the limits of remote working?
By joining an affinity group.
Looking beyond internal staff and tapping a wider brain trust of peers for new inputs can reap big benefits. Leaders who explore the collective experiences of a diverse group of colleagues are likely to better navigate the twists and turns of their work.
That’s why I recently established the Good Communicators Exchange, a free affinity Meet-up group of experienced public relations, advocacy and marketing professionals who lead communications at social impact organizations. Members participate in a facilitated online discussion once a month to explore fresh solutions to their most pressing issues. They also network and find support through partnerships and new professional relationships.
What is the urgency for joining a peer roundtable like the Good Communicators Exchange right now?
I believe anyone who looks through some of the nonprofit trends reports published in the past year will be gobsmacked, as I was, by the heavy burden the findings place on communicators.
Let’s start with the 2021 (fourth edition) Nonprofit Trends Report by Salesforce. In its list of the greatest concerns for global nonprofit employees it includes:
Adapting to remote/virtual programs
Hosting in-person events
Implementing new technology tools and solutions
Hosting, creating content, and promoting virtual/online events
All four issues fall under communications, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Salesforce survey also notes that today’s “digital first” strategy is rapidly expanding the responsibilities of nonprofit communicators. For example, building supporter journeys through connected social media experiences and satisfying donor demands for easy access to program information like real-time key impact performance metrics. Managing both of those tasks successfully is a significant undertaking.
While social impact communicators grapple with their growing responsibilities, the 2021 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report from the Nonprofit Marketing Guide examines another problem, the many stresses exacerbated by remote working. They include:
Cascading impacts of moving in-person events to online
Digital divides among program participants, supporters and staff
Increases to an already unsustainable workload
Higher walls around their organization’s internal silos that further distance communications staff from program teams
Increased hesitancy to take risks (at a time when remote work calls for greater innovation and creativity to engage target audiences)
Both reports cite creativity and new approaches as solutions, and that’s just what the right affinity group can offer. According to Forbes, “Leaders who are part of a high-functioning peer group identify as both happy and successful.” In peer groups, we can realize “we’re not alone in the challenges, doubts and fears we’re confronting.”
People who share their challenges within an affinity group build trust, learn from their peers and find support. Participation is bound to broaden your perspective and provide an outlet to bounce ideas off others in your field.
Joining a peer group is the best medicine for dealing with the challenges nonprofit communicators face today.