Cut Out Your Nonprofit’s Communication Clutter

Sometimes a post comes along that makes you smile and shake your head in agreement. That’s exactly what happened when I read this post by Kristina Leroux about ‘reply all’ emails.

Ah, the loathed and sometimes loved reply all button. Sometimes reply all isn’t the necessary action, even if you’re convinced it is. Seriously. I’m begging you to reevaluate. What’s the big deal? In a world of email clutter, you might be adding to the mix.

Kristina drew on a Gawker article that outlined some great rules if you’re unsure about whether or not to hit send. For example, take a minute to evaluate whether or not every single person needs to read your response. Probably 99 percent of the time, they don’t. We’re talking about necessity here.

When everybody doesn’t need to be involved, it’s a time suck. But it goes beyond that; effective communication is vital at your nonprofit organization. And if you have clutter getting in the way of your real message, it’s detrimental to the cause.

That got me thinking about all of the other communication faux pas we’re guilty of as nonprofits. Let’s talk about a few simple things your organization can do today to cut out the communication clutter.

  • Only involve people who need to be involved in communication. While it’s good to keep everybody in the know, sometimes you should further develop a plan before involving everybody. While that does apply to email communication, it could also apply to in-person meetings. Don’t waste valuable time that people could be contributing elsewhere.
  • Prioritize your inbox. If you’re using Gmail, there are options to separate your inbox so that the most important emails go to the top. Have a few set times throughout the day where you can reply to things that need to be answered quickly, and have a folder for things you’ll get to later. Just don’t forget to go back and reply to those emails.
  • Set a time limit on meetings. Meetings can be a time-suck if you let them, but you could have a 10-minute meeting, or a five-minute meeting. The short meeting time will force departments to share only what is vital. Brevity can be a beautiful thing, after all.
  • Have check-in points. This can be especially vital for staff-to-board communication (and vice versa). Maybe it’s a certain time every month or every week. However you want to make this happen, set goals and communicate the progress of them. You should also have a system in place to communicate important information that needs to be relayed quickly. 

What communication hacks have your nonprofit implemented?


Lyndsey Hrabik

Lyndsey is a former editor for Nonprofit Hub and Nonprofit Hub Magazine. She now serves as a guest contributor, writing on topics such as social media, technology, marketing and starting a nonprofit.

October 29, 2015

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