I was sitting down to write about one of my biggest frustrations with nonprofit communications over the past several years – the fear of trying new approaches. It has taken a very long time – too long for sure – for many Jewish organizations to get comfortable using the new (well, now it’s not so new) digital media. Happily, more organizations are now jumping in with both feet, blogging, using FaceBook and Twitter and even posting videos on YouTube. In fact, many organizations seem to be scrambling to try everything at once and that approach can lead to its own set of problems. Rather than frantically try all the toys in the store at once, smart organizations are taking time to examine and understand which approaches best match their goals, resources and appetite for risk.
In a period when resources – both financial and human – have been dramatically reduced plot out your communications strategy so it creates space and time to undertake new approaches that support your priorities by eliminating or moving online those traditional tactics that are eating up precious resources.
As we begin the New Year, and before we get fully immersed in all the work waiting for us, commit to try some new approaches that can be measured, take one or two untried approaches knowing that risk is good for your organization, and let go of at least one old tactic that is not fully delivering and costing you the opportunity to do something that will.
Here is a sample list of how to start 5770 off with better communications.
- Create a listening post and find out what and how people are talking about your organization online. Learn what they say, what they are responding to, what they like and dislike and report out your findings to your leadership to help everyone learn how to improve performance and enhance reputation.
- Create a new online communications blog/e-newsletter/twitter feed using the voice of a) a new young supporter; b) a young staffer; c) a child of a supporter; d) an outside observer. Allow them to comment freely within set parameters for 6 months. Monitor and report on what happens.
- Create a dialogue between your organization and an Israeli community on a topic of concern to you both and put that dialogue live, online. Promote the conversation widely.
- Stop producing printed invitations for at least one new division of your organization for at least 3 months – it must be for one that has a constituency older than your average base. Track and report results.
- Print 50% less of your annual report – or better yet, stop printing it and send postcards telling people where to go to read it or download it.
- Make a plan using some or none of the above and commit to follow it even when everyone is pulling you to do something else that you know is not the most useful.
- Do something fun and funny with your communications this year. And watch what happens – really, watch and measure impact. Here is one that I just received from Chabad, New York that reminded me how much fun communicating can and should be.
May your fast be easy and your communications be filled with much reward.
Gail Hyman is a marketing and communications professional, with deep experience in both the public and private sectors. She currently focuses her practice, Gail Hyman Consulting, on assisting Jewish nonprofit organizations increase their ranks of supporters and better leverage their communications in the Web 2.0 environment. Gail is a regular contributor to eJewish Philanthropy.