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Inspire Good Blog: Nonprofit Communications in Tough Economic Times

It seems Scrooge and not Santa is more popular this holiday season. Nonprofits, large and small, are feeling the financial pinch due to the tough economic climate.

With steep budget cuts at the state and county levels, a drop in individual donations, fewer foundation grants, and limited corporate contributions available in many regions, the competition for funding and charitable dollars is fierce.

According to the eighth annual nonprofit economic survey by GuideStar, the proportion of charitable organizations reporting decreased contributions rose for the second consecutive year but remained comparable to results for late 2008 and early 2009.

The tough environment is forcing many nonprofits to make hard decisions – whether it is scaling back programs, reducing staff or delaying initiatives. But now, while the economy is still struggling, presents an opportunity to revisit the role of communications and how it can actually help transform gray skies into blue.

It may not seem like it, but now is the best time to position your nonprofit for the future. Is your nonprofit truly connecting with donors and are you cultivating relationships with those key entities that provide funding streams? Is your nonprofit forgotten, or are you fighting to stay in the public eye?

While many nonprofits are pulling the plug on outreach efforts, others are getting creative – employing new strategies and tactics to overcome the recession. Several timely and effective strategies for your organization may include:

• Forging new corporate partnerships • Focusing on measurable outcomes • Storytelling to share success • Refining the brand • Reevaluating messaging • Revisiting the website • Adjusting services to ensure they meet current needs • Engaging in social media to increase awareness, engage audiences, inspire action, increase online donations and attract volunteers

Nonprofits with vision will not attempt to simply wait out the financial storm. Instead, they will ensure that strategic communications is at the heart of any effort to build long-term sustainability and strength.


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