2016 Nonprofit Communications Trends

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We recently read the results of an online survey regarding nonprofit communications trends that was done by NonprofitMarketingGuide.com.  The survey was sent out during November 2015 and a total of 1,613 nonprofits across the U.S. and the District of Columbia completed the survey.  Furthermore, participants in the survey represented the diverse areas of the nonprofit sector. A total of 25% are in Human Services, Housing, Food and Jobs; 14% are in Education; 10% in Health, Disease and Medical Research and 9% are in Environment and Animals.

Listed below are some highlights from the nonprofit communications trends survey:

Communication Goals and Responsibilities

  • Communications Directors are apt to lean towards Community Engagement and Brand Awareness
  • Development Directors lean more towards Donor Acquisition and Retention
  • Executive Directors are still focused on Donor Retention

 The Six Primary Communications Channels Used by Nonprofits

The six main communications channels used by nonprofits are:

  • Websites
  • Email
  • Traditional Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
  • In-person events
  • Print marketing
  • Media relations/PR
  • In addition, there will be more emphasis on visual content and using platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest and You Tube.
  • Staff with responsibility for fundraising have a stronger preference for phone calls/phone banks, mobile apps/texting, in-person events and print marketing.
  • Staff with responsibility for community building and engagement have a stronger preference for media relations/PR.

Direct Mail Appeals and Email Newsletters
  • About a third of nonprofits will send direct mail appeals at least quarterly. In addition, a third will send appeals twice a year and 13% will not send direct mail appeals at all.
  • In 2016, one quarter of nonprofits surveyed will send 4 email appeals a year.
  • The majority of nonprofits send an email newsletter monthly.

Top Social Media Sites for Community Engagement
  • Facebook, Twitter and You Tube are the top social media sites that nonprofits use.  Facebook is the most used site for community engagement.
  • At least 50% of nonprofits post to Facebook at least a couple of times a day.
  • Instagram continues its steady rise in importance to nonprofits and nonprofits are most likely to experiment with Flickr and Periscope.
  • Since nonprofits want more visibility on Facebook, more than half of them will pay for Facebook advertising.
What Gets in the Way of Getting Your Work Done?
  • Too many competing priorities
  • Urgent tasks take precedence over important tasks
  • Too many interruptions during the work day
  • Lack of coordination of co-workers
  • Lack of clear processes and procedures
What is Needed for Success

Here is how nonprofits completed the following sentence: “Our communications/marketing would be more successful if we had …..”

  • More staff dedicated just to communications.
  • A bigger budget.
  • Cooperated more internally.
  • A more focused strategy and clear plan.
  • A stronger brand and messaging.

What Worries You About your Work in 2016?
  • Not having enough staff
  • Not enough money in the budget to put towards specific projects
  • Time constraints
  • Competing priorities
  • Lack of a strategy or a plan
What Excites You about Your Work in 2016?
  • Engaging the community and making a difference
  • The opportunity to try new things and expand how we tell our story
  • Raising more money!
  • Chance to build new website/community platform
  • Being creative in our storytelling and messaging
  • Incorporating millennials into our donor base

Most of all, you can use the summary of nonprofit communications trends to start conversations about how to improve communications.  What excites you about your work this year?  How are you planning on telling your story to raise awareness, bring in new donors and have an impact on your community?  Let us know!