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Get CALM: A New Mantra for Nonprofit Communications Directors

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Published October 15, 2015 Reading Time: 2 minutes

Kivi Leroux Miller is president of Nonprofit Marketing Guide, which helps nonprofit communications directors learn their jobs AND love their jobs. Nonprofit Marketing Guide offers a daily blog, training, mentoring programs, and private coaching.

If you are a nonprofit communications director, odds are you feel like you “might be doing it wrong” at least once a week. At Nonprofit Marketing Guide, we hear from communications directors all the time who are secretly wondering the same thing. And they think it’s just them.

  • Are they the only nonprofit that’s hired a communications director for the first time, but doesn’t seem to have any consensus about what that person’s job is?
  • Are they the only nonprofit with infighting about who should really get to decide what goes on the homepage or in the newsletter?
  • Are they the only nonprofit that can’t seem to plan their communications out more than a few days at a time, and even when they do, somebody busts it up with a new batch of “But This is Urgent!” hysteria?

When we reassure them that no, in fact, many nonprofit organizations are struggling with the same kind of chaotic communications, we hear these big sighs of relief. Phew! Sometimes it’s good to know you aren’t alone in your dysfunction.

Let’s face it. This is a relatively new profession, especially in its current form. Everyone—even those nonprofits that really seem to have their acts together—is making this up as we go.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t very specific things that nonprofit communications directors can do to lead their organizations to more thoughtful, strategic, and manageable communications: In other words, to a place of CALM.

C is for Collaborative

Help others in your organization see the big picture and how their parts fit into it. Create a clear process for working together that is easy and efficient. Build listening into your ongoing routine.

A is for Agile

Expect the unexpected. Create content that is agile too. Internally, have clear lines of authority, delegation, and communication.

L is for Logical

Integrate marketing and communications goals with programmatic and fundraising goals. Ground everything in a quick and dirty marketing plan. Follow best practices and experiment.

M is for Methodical

Use an editorial calendar. Set up systems and embrace tools that others can use and follow, with or without you. Find a personal productivity system that works for you. Focus on these ideas, and you won’t go wrong. Want more detail? Read more about commons problems and how being CALM can help you overcome them in this series of posts.

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