So a nonprofit has hired you as its communications consultant, or maybe even its Director of Communications. But what do they really want from you?
Do they want you to help them raise funds? To promote their programs? Or to engage the broader community?
It’s vital that you find out.
Raising Funds, or Building Community?
Author Kivi Leroux Miller says whether you’re a fundraising communicator or a brand-builder/community-builder affects everything you do.
If you’re a fundraising communicator, then most likely:
- You work for a smaller organization that can’t afford separate staff for both development and communications.
- You focus on people ages 55+, because they give more money.
- You use print and email marketing, and you send out direct mail appeals.
- You also use phone banks and events.
- You may “be on” social media but you’re cautious about it and see it as a lower priority.
But if you’re a brand builder or community builder, then probably:
- You work for a larger organization (at least a $1 million budget), and your organization has a written marketing plan.
- You focus on people under age 55, for the life-long value of the relationship.
- You see volunteering (including advocacy and fundraising with friends) as equally important with immediate donations.
- You do more content marketing than asking. You tell more often than you sell.
- You use social media regularly, and you aim to engage your community–not just do outreach.
Why It Matters
You need to know which kind of communicator you are, so you know how to direct your effort. And the client or the employer needs to know too–so they can define what counts as success.
But what if you’re asked to do both? According to Kivi’s estimate, about half of us are asked to do both. She says:
These communicators are the ones I worry most about, because their jobs are much more likely to be poorly defined, and therefore they are much more likely to burn out and hate their jobs. We need all the creative, dedicated people we can get in this work, so I don’t want this to happen!
What kind of communicator are you? Have you been in an organization that didn’t make your role clear? How did you cope?