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Communication is the Heartbeat of Parish Life

We explore parish communications, challenges, and solutions.

Communication is the Heartbeat of Parish Life

Communication is the Heartbeat of Parish Life

“We are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what they believe. Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe, and not alone is part of what inspires them to inspire us.” – Simon Sinek. 

This quote from the leadership and management teacher, Simon Sinek, points out four important things communications should accomplish within any organization – even churches, schools, and nonprofits! 

Our communications should make us feel like we belong. Second, our communications should make the receiver feel special. Third, the communications should help the receiver feel safe. Finally, our communications should help us think that we are not alone – that we are connected to a community more significant than ourselves to which we belong.

Charities growing their mission and their income to achieve that mission are charities that understand the power of personal connection. There is an excellent debate in the fund-raising community about whether Gen X and Gen Y are givers in the same way that The Greatest Generation or the Baby Boomers have been. Big fundraisers like the United Way have struggled to reach their goals recently. The research shows that Gen X and Gen Y are, indeed, generations that give – however, they do not like to give to charities with which they have no personal connection! They are more likely to give to more local charities that specialize in an issue they believe to be essential or that are a part of their own personal community network. Increasingly, personal connection drives a sense of belonging, and communications are the means for engagement and funding in your mission as a church, school, or community nonprofit.

The point is that your communications are the heartbeat that will drive the circulation of involvement, engagement, and giving among your membership. Similarly, your communication will grow your membership and level of engagement by these individuals in your mission. For these reasons, the type and quality of your communications are a primary key to your success!

We have already examined why electronic communications, including emails, texting, and social media, are on the ascent while more traditional means of Communication, like printed bulletins, are declining. We want to turn to our communication’s quality, voice, and tone. What we communicate and how we shape the message makes the difference in whether our audience feels like they belong, feel special, feel safe, and are connected and not alone. Let’s look at what’s needed to make our communications more effective.

Keys to more effective communications

Another quote from Simon Sinek summarizes the key to effective Communication: 

“Communication is not about saying what we think. Communication is about ensuring others hear what we mean.”

First, to ensure that others hear what we mean, it is essential to remember the following points. Know your audience! Who are you communicating with? Who is the message for? Is it a general public audience? Your group of top donors? Your volunteers? Young people? A particular language or ethnic group within your broader community? People who already belong to your community, or people who don’t yet belong to your community? The point is to be clear about who the message is for.

Secondly, messages should be clear and brief, only overly detailed if necessary. A company called Axios is one of the most influential and sought-after news distributors on the web. If you receive their news summaries, you will see how clear, brief, and to the point they are! So many things require people’s attention these days that brevity is a virtue in great demand.

Third, and related to the above, communicate economically and cleanly. That is, don’t overload your communications with many points. Say what you need to say, say it, and send it! It may be better to send short messages to separate groups than one long message with many points to everyone. It’s too easy for the targeted audience to miss a particular announcement when mixed with many other messages. One of the essential things about GC Smart Tools is that the tools allow you to segment your messaging lists easily. If you want to learn more about how to do that, reach out to the Implementation Team at implementation@givecentral.org

Fourth, try to maintain a friendly tone in your communications. Messages that sound like commands or demands must be better received, especially among nonprofit volunteers or donors. Try to avoid the command form in your communications. Think about how your words will sound in the mind of your listener. An invitational form is more effective.

Fifth, have someone else review your message before you send it so that you get helpful feedback. We need to avoid unintended double messages in our communications. We all have laughed at the bulletin bloopers circulating among church bulletin creators, like “The weight loss group will meet in the room with the double wide doors; if you want to join the group of losers, contact the pastor first,” etc. It’s communication, for sure! But it’s not the one we intended to convey! Try to get feedback before you hit the send button!

Gratitude is the attitude

Finally, shape your message with gratitude, appreciation, and a spirit of welcome. People love to be appreciated, and we enjoy our members, donors, volunteers, and the general public. Sometimes, we need more time to be energized and satisfied with our mission. However, we need to be careful about the tone of our messaging. If our messaging sounds crabby or complaining, our listeners will feel unsafe with us or our organization. Please check your words not only for the clarity of the message but also for its tone!

If you want to be more effective in your communications and messaging, if you want your members, donors, and volunteers to feel valued, wanted, and safe, and if you’re going to welcome new members who can help grow your mission, then communicate in the ways that will reach them, inform them, and never bore them.

Contact us at GiveCentral

GiveCentral is here to help. We want your mission to succeed. We have experienced fundraisers, support personnel, communications experts, and pastorally experienced team members ready to stand by you! Just give us a call or email the Implementation Team at implementation@givecentral.org

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