Communicating is much more than just sending a message: we define who we are. And doing this well is a challenge that may turn into a strength that can help organisations in their battle for a social and cultural change.
There is a growing number of non-profit organisations and associations that are making greater efforts in communicating more and better, and this is very good news, for the non-profit organisations but also for all of us working in the field of communication. Now, you may think I’m saying this for my own benefit, and I won’t deny that working in the field of communication in the non-profit sector is a huge satisfaction for me. However, it is also true that nobody is indispensable and that, for there to be good communication it is not necessary to make big investments or have large infrastructures.
We all know the number of activities, people, and the amount of resources –both intangible and economic– that are mobilised in non-profit organisations; in Catalonia alone, this is huge. In neighbourhoods, in the territory, many initiatives are promoted but then go unnoticed due to a lack of time or proper planning.
Communication has always been there: a poster, an ad in the paper, sending a letter to members, a monthly newsletter. And with new technologies and access to the Internet, people and organisations have a large number of tools available to make ourselves visible, to get people talking about us and to disseminate our actions and put our messages across without eating away at half of our organisation’s budget. And yet, why is it that we don’t always get the outreach we would like?
Channels have changed, and messages too –immediacy, brevity, interaction– but there continue to be some basic points. Before communicating we must take some time to think carefully and look at who we are and where we are aiming, so that we can then construct a discourse that places us on the map, in our ecosystem, conveying our values and the goals we want to achieve. It is important to decide what say and how we do this, to mark our path. We also need goals that help us to pause, look back, and improve. And we must remind ourselves that we mustn’t give up, because repercussion is not immediate, it needs to be constructed.
The portal xarxanet.org is an example of a tool that not only shows, presents and gives information; it also values the task of non-profit organisations and associations from around the territory. However, there are many other tools: handbooks, courses, platforms and, more importantly, we mustn’t forget we belong to a very large associative fabric that can help us to make ourselves known. When you come to look at it carefully we are not competing with one another, rather we can all work collectively for the common good. Come together, support each other and act as loudspeakers of one another.
Communication in non-profit organisations must be seen as a vital action, a fundamental tool that will help us to better articulate our work and to change and shake-up the reality surrounding us. If we are able to explain and disseminate the actions, the struggles, the alternatives and the innovative proposals that emerge every day in our territory, we will make it possible for these to be replicated and encouraging for others. We have the channels to do this, but “the revolution will not be televised”.