All faith-based organizations need to be able to communicate with their congregants and those they serve effectively. Keeping these individuals up-to-date on important issues is essential to the function and success of the organization. Below are some tips to help you maintain an effective faith-based communication plan for your organization.
One of the best ways to make sure you are able to reach people with an interest in your organization is to communicate using multiple channels. For example, you may communicate by automated phone message, text message, email, and social media platforms. You can also post communications on your organization’s website or mailing out a newsletter. When you have important information to disseminate, be sure to send it out using all of the channels on which your organization is active. Not everyone uses the same method to stay in touch, so diversity of methods is critical.
Using multiple channels to communicate with your congregation or community won’t be effective if the public doesn’t know how to connect. Be sure to promote all of the different options available for connecting with your organization, as well as clear instructions. It is also a good idea to link different methods of communication together. For example, consider posting links to your social media accounts on your organization’s website. Likewise, you can include a form on your website that users can fill out to sign up for text messages or emails. However, often the best way to get the word out is at the actual events your supporters attend. Be sure to mention the different options in person and often. Of course, always honor communication preferences and privacy.
Every organization will face an emergency at some point, whether it be closings due to inclement weather or some other type of crisis. In these situations, you need to be able to disseminate information quickly and efficiently to all the people who are affected by the event. Draft a detailed emergency communication plan that you will implement if such an incident occurs. If possible, do a test run of the plan before you face an actual emergency.
Sensitivity is especially crucial in communication when something unexpected comes up. In the case of a national crisis or a local tragedy, include provisions in your plan to stop any automated communication. Sending out that cheery email or tweet as a grave situation is unfolding is likely to alienate your audience.
In many cases, you will have information that needs to be communicated only to a select group of people. Instead of sending this information to everyone who has connected with your organization, send it only to those who need to know. The easiest way to accomplish this is to create lists of communication recipients grouped according to their role in the organization. For example, you may have a list of board members only, another list of officers on the board and a third list of every congregant registered with the organization.
In some cases, you may need to communicate about sensitive or controversial issues. In these situations, be careful about how you word your communications. Avoid inflammatory or politically-charged statements as much as possible, especially when communicating with the community at large. A good rule of thumb is “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” In other words, most of your communication should be good news or information about your work. Save the commentary for personal communications.
Good communication is a key component of every successful organization. These are just a few of the ways you can improve communication. By covering these bases, you can make sure everyone interested in your organization has the information they need.
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