Guiding Your Faith-Led Nonprofit with Faith-Based Communication
At Fervor, we’re passionate about helping faith-based nonprofits communicate in ways that reflect their faith-infomed values. When it comes to teams inside and ideal advocates outside of an organization, faith-based communication strategies require thoughtful consideration and intentional planning to reach the desired results. Where does our faith-informed communication start? With faith-based values.
Faith-based Communication Starts with Values
Faith-based nonprofits do things a specific way — a faith-led, faith-informed way. And it all starts with clearly defined values, rooted and grounded in biblical principles. These ideals are bred into the foundations of our faith-based organizations, guiding not only the beliefs we hold close and that won’t change, but also the decisions we make. If we’re authentic in our communication approaches, it’s a matter of intentionality.
Intentional, faith-based communication can often look like:
- Keeping our teams informed with open communication
- Being transparent about goals and progress through regular, quarterly meetings
- Conducting meetings and business in a God-honoring way
- Holding ourselves accountable to our values
- Genuinely caring for our employees and clients — in word and action
Bottom line: Faith-based organizations want to live the Gospel in practical ways — in real, tangible ways — that personify and exemplify the biblical principles and godly characteristics we value.
Guiding Communication Strategies with Faith
When organizations determine to be faith-based, it means they’ve determined biblical traits like integrity, compassion, empathy, and humility will be demonstrated in how they speak to and work with all people, especially their ideal advocates: the teams, vendors, partners and those they serve. It means they apply their biblical worldview in practical ways to how they lead and run their organizations.
Faith-based communication means leaders are accessible — to those they serve, their teams, donors, and volunteers. Rather than be separated, they choose to be present, relatable, and available at all levels of leadership from the executive suite to managers and volunteer leaders.
No matter the size of the nonprofit or business, their faith-based values ground them. They’re never too “big” to take a call from a client or have a conversation with an employee. They can admit when they’re wrong and are willing to make adjustments for the good of the whole. They care about what those within the organization say — whether a go-to manager or a new employee they’ve never met has a thought or idea.
We find out more about a principled, faith-based communications approach when the chips are down. Tough situations have a tendency to separate good leaders from great ones; it’s an opportunity for them to shine. The question is, will they take advantage of it? Will they lead from a place of authenticity when their backs are against the wall? Will their faith-led values shine through in words and actions? “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:20). For us to truly let faith guide our communications, we have to put real, tangible action to what we believe to be true.
For example, how do faith-based values guide a leader’s communication when they’re $2 million down in donations?
- Do they recognize the shortcoming? Do they take responsibility and invite others in to help solve the problem? Or do they try to handle it on their own?
- Do they adjust any poor communication habits or expectations that contributed to the downturn? Or make excuses for them?
- Do they approach others in words and actions through humility and transparency, keeping themselves and others accountable? Or does accountability remain unclear?
Another example is sharing success stories when things are going well. Humility can be one of the hardest things to wrap our heads around. It’s not so much about avoiding talking about ourselves. It’s more focused on talking about the work we accomplish with others, recognizing none of us succeed in anything alone. This is the difference between boasting and humility. Authentic, faith-based leadership always gives glory to God for the skills He gave them to do the work, and celebrates those who contributed — even in the smallest of ways.
Mistakes to Avoid in Faith-Based Communication
Communication Mistake 1: “Out-of-control” times can seem to pressure our communications practices most. Mike Farag recalls the onset of COVID-19 and how CEOs went off script in desperate fashion, not following strategy, but instead sending weekly emails to multiple segments of their idea advocates. It became overwhelming — to their teams and to those receiving communication. And if they were honest with themselves — they were overwhelmed, too.
Solution 1: Refuse the pressure and stress. Choose to let your faith-based values guide your communication strategies especially when they feel out of your control. Contend to keep your mind at peace and you’ll make clearer communications decisions that keep others at peace also.
Communication Mistake 2: We’ve also seen faith-based nonprofits overask when it comes to donor engagement. Communications can’t be one-sided. Value is meant to be shared in both directions. If we don’t know what’s going on in the lives of our large donors and we don’t have more than 10 minutes for them, it doesn’t make sense relationally to ask them for millions of dollars in donations. It also means we probably don’t know them well enough to know if they’re the right fit for us.
Solution 2: Be intentional about the value you bring to each of your ideal advocate groups. Showing your genuine care for them as people and interest in their lives goes a long way to building healthy, two-sided relationships. Also, don’t assume you know everything about your ideal advocates. When you don’t know their preferences, ask questions to get to know them better.
Communication Mistake 3: Don’t let ideal advocates go too long without hearing from you. And, don’t always use the same method of communication. Ultimately, relationships are built around interactions over time. The effects of our engagements are increased when we present opportunities in multiple ways that our ideal advocates enjoy and look forward to.
Solution 3: Sending a personal, handwritten note to your large donors will create meaningful and memorable interaction. Stretch yourself and your team to reach out in new ways — not just through email or expecting them to find all they need through your social news feed. Call them. Not just because you need something, but because you genuinely care.
Finding Wise, Godly Counsel You Can Trust for Communication Strategies
One thing is certain: when you allow wise, godly counsel you can trust into your faith-based organization, it will change the trajectory of your team and vision forever. These voices offer course-correcting advice that can catapult your organizational development in the right direction, enabling you to accomplish The Most Good Possible. We encourage you to expand your circle. Look for these voices in everything from financial to legal, marketing and human resources.
These are just a few of the reasons Fervor is a faith-based marketing and communications company. If you’re looking for organizational development coaching, marketing consulting to guide your faith-based communication strategies, or another voice to add to your faith-filled circle, reach out to us.