A Fun Idea to Get Your Nonprofit Thinking About Communications


“How do we make sure that the great work we’re doing is shared with the public?” This is a question I often hear, in one form or another, from our clients. Invariably, I use the opportunity to talk about storytelling as a means of framing nonprofit work in a way that is easily communicated to constituents.

Storytelling creates an emotional connection between people, helps us understand and care about other people’s circumstances, and plants a seed in people’s minds that they carry with them for years.

There’s no better way than storytelling to build lasting relationships with people who care about and support your mission.

A Fun Exercise

Recently, when this question came up, the team designed a unique solution to get everyone thinking about how to talk about the amazing work they do.

We broke up into teams of two, and each team had to tell a relevant story about a recent event or win for the organization in three different formats: a 6-second Vine video, a 140-character Twitter tweet, and a brief paragraph that could be used in an email or newsletter.

If the very short format of the three media wasn’t challenging enough, we had only 40 minutes to complete the task!

Everyone quickly set to work on the assignment and, judging from the laughter and energy in the room, had a great time doing so.

The Results

Watching and reading everyone’s videos and posts was a load of fun! Not everyone finished each piece or successfully told their entire story, but there was no shortage of ideas to build from for future communications.

Aside from being an excellent team-building and cross-departmental education activity, the group learned a number of things from the experience:

  • The short format forced teams to consider new ways of thinking and talking about their work.
  • Teams learned that, with a little creativity, there’s no topic that they can’t talk about in a fun and compelling way.
  • People who normally claim no comfort with technology or formal communications had a chance to safely explore both while sharing their passion.
  • Individuals considered for the first time how to include storytelling in their day-to-day routines.
  • The exercise prompted further discussion about how best to support the Communications Team in spreading the word about their work.

Next Steps

How the staff continues to incorporate and account for communications in their daily routines as well as how they are reminded to actively contribute to the communications function is a core focus of the work that I’m currently doing with them.

Over the next several weeks we will begin to explore new systems and processes to help them adopt a more thoughtful approach to their work.

What types of exercises have been successful for your team in bridging the gap between communications and the rest of the organization? Let me know in the comments.


Image Credit: Austronesian Expeditions