Megan Matthews Carnahan: 4 steps every nonprofit should take before creating its strategic communications plan (eBook)

When it comes to nonprofit communications, a lack of proper preparation can mean lack of impact. It almost guarantees it. How do you ensure that you start off on the right foot? It’s easy. The answer is planning.

When I started my career more than 20 years ago, I had the privilege of being on the front lines of an extraordinary company that would change the face of technology, and I was mentored by many of the best PR and marketing pros in the business. My experiences crossed the tech, entertainment, sports, financial, CSR, fashion, consumer and B2B worlds, and I received hands-on experience in almost every communications and marketing practice.

While I made the shift into the philanthropic world almost eight years ago, I find my experiences in years past remain relevant and instructive. Communications and marketing disciplines have done a 180-degree shift in the last five years, forcing all of us to think beyond what we thought we knew about strategic communications. But there is still one constant. That constant is asking WHY.

The reality is that you must ask WHY before you ever get to WHAT and HOW. You must understand exactly the outcomes you want, the business objectives you’re trying to support, and who your relevant stakeholders and target audiences are. In the absence of understanding these fundamentals and the environment in which the nonprofit is operating, your organization’s communications efforts will be a waste of time and money. And that’s where we come to planning for nonprofit communicators – collecting and understanding key information before pen is put to paper or fingers to keyboard to develop a strategic communications plan.

The reality is that you must ask WHY before you ever get to WHAT and HOW.

Why is it important? Because attaining this understanding contributes to defining and building the brand, and it preps nonprofits for how to create brand ambassadors and neutralize the brand assassins.

According to a survey by, 70% of nonprofits best describe their strategic communications plan in one way or another as non-existent. Regardless of the communications channel du jour, this e-book will get nonprofit communicators going and provide a methodology for ensuring that communications efforts constitute a full-on business strategy.

This methodology constitutes four steps, each of which has multiple lessons for nonprofits hoping to increase their reach and impact, including:

  1. The importance of asking WHY before you jump to HOW
  2. Cultivating brand ambassadors and neutralizing brand assassins
  3. How to map and prioritize your different stakeholder groups
  4. How to organize and execute a proper SWOT analysis

Powerful messages begin with careful planning and deep understanding , and this guide outlines the steps you need to take to build that foundation. Download it here for free, and start making your messages and mission as effective as they deserve to be.