Non-profit Communication in a Post-COVID world…

COVID-19 has had a considerable impact on the non-profit landscape, and those impacts will ripple well into the future. It has changed how many organizations deliver programming, impacted how organizations fundraise, and has increased the necessity for organizations to communicate consistently through digital channels. Research conducted by Imagine Canada in July 2020, revealed that 54% of charities transitioned their in-person programs online since the beginning of the pandemic. Considering lockdown restrictions are still in place in much of the country, the number has undoubtedly increased.

In many ways, it could be argued that the transition to online delivery of programming, and a work from homeculture was inevitable. With access to internet having been declared a human right in Canada, organizations could have been far more proactive in developing strategies for remote program delivery. For that reason, I would suggest that COVID-19 simply exposed the weaknesses that were already present within organizations, and increased the urgency to respond. 

The mission of Trotman Communications is to help nonprofits to build healthier, thriving communities–we believe that effective communications is a cornerstone of that goal. In that spirit, here are three tips for non-profit organizations operating in a post-covid world, to help you communicate more effectively with your clients, funders, and other key stakeholders:

1. Create a plan

Man writing a planning document
A man that does not plan far ahead will find trouble at his door – Confuscious
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that there is no substitute for a well thought out plan.  And, regardless of the circumstances, a good plan contains a few key elements.


What is the result that you’re looking to achieve?
A goal is meant to be somewhat aspirational. It will describe the end that you are trying to achieve, and serve as a guiding star for all of the actions that you intend to take. Think big.


How will you track your progress towards that result?

Whereas your goal is the end that you’re trying to meet, effective measures allow you to evaluate your progress along the way. These should be specific, measurable, action oriented, relevant, and timely. Effective objectives will allow you to take a big, audacious goal (like managing a pandemic response), and break it into smaller, more manageable pieces.


What actions are you taking to achieve your goal?

Your tactics could be any number of tools, strategies or techniques that you are using to achieve your goal. From a communications perspective, this could include social media campaigns, media relations, ad buys, or events. 

Timelines / Milestones

How long are you giving yourself to achieve that result?

Timelines provide a roadmap, for when you will implement your tactics, and milestone describe major events that will influence the plan. This could include launch dates, end dates, or any days that are relevant to your organization (e.g. awareness days).


Who do you need to be in contact with to achieve that result?
You’re not in this alone!  There are a variety of stakeholders that will influence the development of your communications plan. This could include staff members, clients, government officials, or the media. Develop a list of stakeholders that are relevant to your project–this may even support the creation of new tactics that you can apply.
These are only a few elements to consider, but even a basic communications plan is better than no plan at all.

2. Know your audience and where they “live”


Mobile Phone


For some organizations it makes sense to be on every social media channel, and for others, even having just a LinkedIn page for potential applicants may suffice. Organizations need to know where their audience “live”–this includes clients, employees, partner organizations, and other relevant stakeholders. 

Knowing where your audience lives means that you can speak to them when the time is right, but also allows you to listen in on the conversation. Both speaking and listening are key to being a proactive organization.

3. Find points of collaboration

Puzzle pieces

COVID-19 has fundamentally shifted how some organizations deliver programming.

By bringing programming online, it has in some ways eliminated the geographic borders that once dictated who an organization delivered programming to. Individuals that may not have had the opportunity to attend programs in the past, may no longer have that barrier! 

This has also opened the opportunity for diversifying programming through cross-collaboration. Similar organizations with complementary clients can share content online, and amplify the benefit. 

Have you considered allowing a partner organization to share your content?

It’s unclear when these COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted, and what life will look like afterwards. However, it’s pretty safe to say that we’ve entered a new age, and it’s unlikely that we’ll ever be able to completely return to the “normal” way of doing things. 

In this age where in-person interactions are limited, people are online more than ever, and habits have fundamentally shifted, organizations need to get comfortable with communicating their value, and potentially introducing themselves to a whole new group of people.