Strategic Communications for Nonprofit Organization. Seven Steps to Creating a Successful Plan. 2nd Edition

  • ID: 2216936
  • Book
  • 274 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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Strategic Communications for Nonprofit Organizations

Seven Steps to Creating a Successful Plan, Second Edition

"Ms. Patterson has constructed a model for organizational planning and communications that is both deceptively simple and marvelously helpful. I applaud her and am appreciative of so useful a volume of well–researched and practical knowledge."
Louise Howell, PhD, Executive Director Kentucky River Community Care, Inc.

"Once trained in the Radiant model, we constantly ask ourselves who are we trying to reach, what do we want them to do, what messages/actions will move them to act in our favor, and how will we know if we have succeeded. Once internalized, the model constantly guides me and our staff to channel our collective energy both more efficiently and very effectively to win in the public policy arena."
Buddy Gill, Chief Advocacy Officer Texas Credit Union League

Your nonprofit′s strategic communications plans are active, organic documents that don′t belong on a shelf

Written by renowned nonprofit communication specialists, Strategic Communications for Nonprofit Organizations, Second Edition authoritatively reveals how your organization can project a positive image, focus public attention, strengthen community partnerships, and maximize scarce organizational resources to achieve social change.

Organized to follow the flow of the strategic communications process, the new edition of this step–by–step guide helps your organization answer essential questions, including:

  • What are we trying to achieve?
  • Who are we trying to reach?
  • What do we want supporters to do?
  • How do we encourage them to do it?
  • How will we know if we′ve succeeded?

With an accompanying Web site filled with worksheets, forms, surveys, and self–assessment tools, Strategic Communications for Nonprofit Organizations, Second Edition can be used in its entirety or to specifically focus on a particular challenge. Enthusiastic and readable, this much–needed volume succinctly outlines the basic principles and approach necessary to improve the effectiveness of your nonprofit′s communications and outreach efforts in fulfilling its mission and promoting lasting social change.

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About the Author.


Chapter 1 Getting the Most Out of This Book.

Intended Audiences.

Strategic Communications Plan Framework.

Structure of the Workbook.

How to Use This Workbook.

How to Use the Web Site.

Readiness for Strategic Communications Planning.

Chapter 2 Strategic Communications Planning Process.

Why Strategic Communications Matters.

Benefits of Strategic Communications Planning.

Roles and Responsibilities in Strategic Communications Planning.

Communications Action Team.

Communications Audit Team.

Crisis Communications Planning.

Crisis Communications Team.

Crisis Control Team.

Take the Time, Make the Time.

Chapter 3 Step One: Preparing to Plan: Essential Building Blocks.

Strategic Communications Is Grounded in the Mission.

Task One: Review the Organization s Mission Statement.

Task Two: Review the Organization s Program Goals, Objectives, and Financial Priorities.

Communications Audit.

Purpose of the Communications Audit.

Components of a Communications Audit.

Conducting the Communications Audit: Methodology.

Task One: Plan the Audit.

Task Two: Conduct Interviews.

Task Three: Inventory and Analysis.

Task Four: Present Findings.

Task Five: Conduct Additional Research (Optional).

Chapter 4 Step Two: Foundation of the Plan: The Situation Analysis.

Internal Analysis.

Organizational Culture.



Human Resources.



External Analysis.

Demographic Forces.

Economic Forces.

Political Forces.

Technological Forces.

Social Forces.

SWOT Analysis.

Critical Community Partners and Stakeholders.

Chapter 5 Step Three: Focusing the Plan: Target Audiences.

Understand Your Audience.

Demographic Information.

Geographic Information.

Psychographic Information.

Leadership Potential.

Profile Each Priority Audience.

Research Your Audience.

Media Review.

Readership Surveys or Membership Questionnaires.

Piggyback Surveys.

Exit Interviews or Evaluation Surveys.

Informal Discussions.

Focus Group.

Chapter 6 Step Four: Fostering Audience Support: Communications Objectives.

The SMART Test.

Cycle of the Communications Process.

Create the Communications Objectives.

Communications Objectives: Some Examples Using the Cycle of Communications.

Chapter 7 Step Five: Promoting the Nonprofit Organization: Issue Frames and Message Development.

Define the Key Themes.

Message Frames.

Media Role in Framing.

Episodic and Thematic Frames.

Conducting a Framing Analysis.


Reframing: Underage Drinking.

Message Development.

First Impressions.

Organization Descriptions.

Messages that Resonate.

Building a Message Platform for the Organization.

Chapter 8 Step Six: Advancing the Plan: Vehicles and Dissemination Strategies.

Criteria for Selecting Strategies.

Audience Responsiveness.

The Organization s Relationship to the Audience.

How the Strategy or Vehicle Will Influence the Audience s Perceptions.

Controlling the Message.

Effort to Implement.

Budget Issues.

Potential Uses with Other Audiences.

Evaluating Existing and Potential Strategies for Meeting Communications Objectives.

Case Study: Future Generations.

Case Study: Planet 3000.

Strategies and Vehicles to Meet Communications Objectives.

Face–to–Face Meetings.


Electronic Communications.

Audio Vehicles.


Web Sites.

Strategic Use of Communications Vehicles.

Alternative Media.

Building a Comprehensive Portfolio of Communications Vehicles to Support the Communications Objectives.

Chapter 9 Step Seven: Ensuring that the Plan Succeeds: Measurement and Evaluation.

Performance Evaluation.

Steps in the Evaluation Process.

Concepts that Have Driven the Strategic Communications Process.

Measuring Success in Achieving Communications Objectives.

Tracking Communications Activities.

Measuring Communications Impact.

Evaluation Tools.

Monitoring the Progress on Communications Objectives.

Finalize the Report.

Chapter 10 Pulling It All Together: Creating the Plan.

Building the Communications Plan.

Putting It All Together.

Creating Organizational Ownership.

Messages to Support the Communications Plan.

Tips for Building Support.

Building the Case for Sustainable Capacity.

Money: If It Is a Good Idea, You Can Sell It.

Income–Producing Possibilities.

In–Kind Contributions.

Strategic Communications Plan Template.

Appendix 1 Planet 3000 Strategic Communications Worksheets.

Appendix 2 Essential Communications Tools.

Appendix 3 Elements of a Style Manual.

Appendix 4 Expanding the Organization s Coalitions and Partnerships.

List of Worksheets.

Suggested Resources.


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SALLY J. PATTERSON is the President of Radiant Communications, Inc., a strategic communications firm that counsels nonprofit leaders on organizational issues including communications planning, executive coaching, and leadership transitions. Based in Washington, D.C., she has more than thirty years of strategic communications and public policy expertise including ten years with public opinion research firms. She has provided strategic communications consultation and training to more than 700 nonprofit organizations.

JANEL M. RADTKE considered a pioneer in open–access communications among nonprofits brought home to many the importance of the person in the technology equation. She was the founder and president of Radiant Communications, Inc., until her death in 1999. Before that, she garnered twenty years of experience helping nonprofits and educational institutions shape communication strategies and navigate a rapidly changing technological environment.

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