1. Make the commitment to focus time and resources on communications. There is a reason every successful corporation has a dedicated communications department and healthy budget to support it – because they know good communications is essential to their profitability and sustainability.
  2. Take the time to assess and evaluate your current communications before you move forward. Identify the right metrics and establish a baseline for measuring the success of your efforts. How will you know how far you’ve come if you don’t know where you started?
  3. Know your audiences and continuously seek their feedback. Frame and tailor your messages to ensure they are memorable and relevant to your audiences. Test your materials and messages before you unveil them publicly.
  4. Know your peer institutions as well as your know your own organization. Build your brand by distinguishing your organization from others. Then, reinforce your unique brand identity by linking materials visually and using consistent messages.
  5. Develop a strategic communications plan with specific, measureable and realistic goals. Plan ahead for potential crises so that negative impact is minimized.
  6. Your organizational identity is a key component of your brand. Develop it strategically and protect it vigorously.
  7. Practice authentic storytelling and use it as a technique to inspire your audiences and personalize your organization’s message. This is especially important when attracting and retaining donors.
  8. Partner with like-minded organizations to maximize the effectiveness of your communications and expand your reach.
  9. Show your board members the return they’ll receive from investing in communications, whether increasing revenues, advancing mission or building reputation. Then go one step further and engage your board members as ambassadors for your cause.
  10. Set milestones and build in checkpoints to evaluate the effectiveness of your communications on an ongoing basis. Adjust your strategy based on what you’re learning and the results you’re seeing.