One of the best ways to make sure your organization can weather any storm is to make sure your team is strong.
And the strength of your team hinges on the quality of your internal communications.
What Are Internal Communications?
Internal communications are the messages that get traded within your organization. They're anything from leadership directives to staff feedback and what gets shared at meetings.
To some degree, it includes all that water cooler chat, too.
So what counts as internal communication? Well, everything. Our mission and vision, organizational goals and initiatives, programs, fundraising campaigns, and more.
When people work together, they exchange many messages. This can be a valuable thing, or it can create a roadblock that inhibits your organization’s ability to succeed.
What Team Should Own a Nonprofit’s Internal Communications Strategy?
When we think about internal communications, we generally think about top-down dynamics. We picture leadership communicating with staff and providing limited updates. This kind of initiative usually sits with the human resources department, if there is one.
But there’s another way. You can approach your internal communications using the same principles you’d use for external communications.
In this, your marketing team will be most helpful. After all, they know best how to talk about your organization in a way that gets people excited!
Your marketing team can also identify any disconnect between the vision you're projecting externally and what's going on in-house. They can help to identify gaps in employee understanding and devise better ways to get everyone on the same page.
When your marketing team has a front-row seat to all the great stuff your frontline staff is doing, they can better communicate that to important external stakeholders such as donors and funders!
Internal Communications Tools for Your Nonprofit
Many tools are designed to help teams communicate, whether in-person or online. Take the unique needs and culture of your organization into account as you review your options.
Project management tools provide a central location for staff to collaborate. Employees can log in and see the status of all aspects of a project, from timelines to task lists.
Examples of project management tools include Asana, Trello, and Basecamp. Your team can track progress, communicate with one another, and assign to-do’s as needed.
Your email inbox can quickly become overcrowded and overwhelming if it’s used as a tool for too much conversation.
Chat and messaging tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Facebook Workplace are great home bases for teams that like to ask and answer questions throughout the day without picking up the phone or knocking on someone’s office door!
Shared Content Libraries
Having shared access to files and information is a crucial part of keeping internal communications on track. A shared content library can be a hub for everything from employee handbooks to grant proposals.
Some larger organizations choose to have a server for digital storage, with all files on a closed drive accessible only to networked devices. More modern solutions are cloud-based, like Google Docs, Dropbox, and Microsoft OneDrive.
Who says we can’t have internal newsletters??
In fact, a newsletter format can be a great way to share updates and keep the board, staff, and volunteers on the same page. This is a great place to start if you have a small team. A newsletter is a low-cost, reliable, and effective way to communicate casual information.
A regular newsletter schedule can keep internal communication efforts systematized, structured, and easy. Tools like MailChimp or Flodesk can help you produce a newsletter in a snap!
With more people working from home than ever before, video conferencing has come a long way.
Tools like Google Hangouts, Zoom, and GoToMeeting have paid and free options to suit a variety of needs and budgets.
Choose the Internal Communications Tools That Work for Your Nonprofit
Starting a new initiative for your organization can feel scary, especially if you’re starting from scratch with limited time and resources.
Choose tools and strategies that can work for you and your organization right now. Then add to them when you can!