How to reflect good stewardship

5 ways impactful nonprofit communications can reflect good stewardship

Nonprofit communications play a crucial role in conveying the organization’s mission, values and impact to various stakeholders, including donors, volunteers, beneficiaries and the wider community. Demonstrating good stewardship through these communications is essential to build trust and maintain strong relationships. 

Here are five ways nonprofit communications can reflect good stewardship:

  1. Transparency and accountability: Be open and honest in your communications. Clearly communicate how the organization uses its resources, including financial donations and volunteer efforts. Provide regular updates on projects and initiatives, as well as outcomes and impact achieved. If programs have fallen short of their objectives, use that as an opportunity to demonstrate how your organization is looking at the data and prepared to make adjustments. This might also be an opportunity to demonstrate the need for added resources in those programs. Transparency helps donors and supporters feel confident that their contributions are being used effectively and efficiently.
  2. Personalized and grateful communication: Tailor your communication to each stakeholder and make them feel valued and appreciated. Use personalized messages to acknowledge individual contributions, whether it’s a financial donation, volunteering or advocating for the cause. Showing gratitude and recognizing their efforts will strengthen the bond between the organization and its supporters. No matter how big or small your organization is, it’s important to make this connection with the people who are helping you fulfill your mission.
  3. Storytelling with impact: Share compelling stories that highlight the real-world impact of your nonprofit’s work. It’s important to offer a range of perspectives from within and outside the organization. For example, a story about an employee could highlight the fulfilling work they do and their commitment to the mission. Stories about beneficiaries provide the opportunity to focus on specific services and outcomes. The idea is to emphasize stories that showcase people’s lives and the positive changes brought about by the organization’s efforts. Storytelling creates an emotional connection between donors and the cause, motivating them to continue supporting your mission.

    Beautiful photography and video footage are an important part of any communication design, but not all organizations can have the budget for commercial production. When considering images, keep in mind that there’s often an economy of scale in this type of production. Choose your stories, subjects and locations to consolidate your photoshoot in a single day or two. When you consider that a library of images can be used in multiple channels and throughout the year, there can be significant value and return on investment. If hiring a commercial studio is out of the question, remember that there are more independent, talented photographers than ever before, eager to build a portfolio, who might be able to work within your budget. A last resort is to simply take images yourself. Current camera technology in portable devices meet reproduction quality standards. Just use natural light and clean backgrounds. The idea is to use images of real people. When it comes to images, quality is important, but authenticity is key.

    When it comes to the overall design and production of your nonprofit communications, here are a few best practices that should be followed:

    Content-informed design: this is design that follows a clear hierarchy by way of clean, organized layouts that offer an inviting user experience. Break up stories so that they’re digestible, by using larger sized intros, pull-quotes and subheads. 

    Consider the accessibility needs of your audience, by selecting fonts, colors and sizes that meet accessibility guidelines, if appropriate. On digital platforms, be aware of the devices most often used by your audience and design with them in mind.

    Design with impact, but beware of coming off too flashy. For printed pieces, glossy paper stock is often the default choice, but consider using uncoated paper stock. This choice can add softness and sophistication while making your pieces feel less institutional or spendy. Digital pieces should be designed with usability in mind. Use animation intentionally, to reveal part of the story or to pull users through the message. Avoid over-using motion “just to get noticed”. Meaningful content meeting people where they are is what works best. 

    Design with consistency so that your audience recognizes communications as part of your brand.

    When it comes to graphics, patterns and other design elements, avoid being creative for creativity sake. Communication teams often get so caught up in clever themes (especially when it comes to nonprofit event communications) that they create pieces that are far-removed from the brand. Sometimes the intent is to create a fun night out for potential donors, but there’s almost always a way to do this within, or closely alongside the organization’s brand. Prospective donors care about your mission and the impact of your organization, so whenever possible find a way to connect themes to purposeful ideas and narratives.
  4. Consistent and timely communication: Maintain regular and consistent communication with your stakeholders. This can be achieved through newsletters, social media updates, emails and annual reports. Avoid overwhelming your audience with constant messages, but do keep them informed about important milestones, achievements and upcoming events. Create a calendar and select channels that make sense for your audience. Wherever possible, connect these channels with content and calls-to-action to “pull” your audience through your communications. It’s always a good idea to end each piece with some kind of next step or link. 

    Timely communication shows that the organization is actively engaged and committed to keeping supporters informed. By doing this, you’re creating awareness and driving the conversation about your organization, its mission or current issues in the community.
  5. Engage in two-way communication: Foster a culture of open communication where stakeholders feel comfortable providing feedback, asking questions and sharing their concerns. Actively engage with your audience through social media, community forums and events. Respond promptly to inquiries and demonstrate that you listen and act on feedback. This approach shows that your nonprofit values its supporters’ opinions and wants to continuously improve its efforts.

By incorporating these practices into your nonprofit communications strategy, you can demonstrate good stewardship, operational excellence and thought leadership — all while building trust and creating a loyal and supportive community around your organization’s brand and mission.

See how Magnetize has applied some of these best practices for our nonprofit clients.