You have two missions—a cause mission to change society and a corporate mission to sustain your organization. It’s important to keep clear about these two missions, the tension between them, and the communications resources required for both.
Too often, the bulk of nonprofit communications resources are channeled into supporting corporate mission—raising money. That’s understandable, especially in times of funding scarcity, but it’s also a little short-sighted.
Your cause mission is the raison d’etre for your organization. How well you accomplish it is probably the single most important factor in your long-term fund raising success. If you can’t continuously report impact and progress related to your cause, donors will soon find a nonprofit that can.
Nonprofit communications is not just about marketing your organization to funders, donors, and volunteers. Communications can also powerfully advance your cause mission by helping you shift public opinion, coalesce networks, and build social movements. You’re going to need to think more deeply and creatively about how to do that as you start planning. (For starters, read some of the recent posts on Beth Kanter’s blog about using social media to build social movements.)
You may believe that your cause mission depends on the success of your corporate mission (“we can’t do any programs if we don’t have money”); I believe it’s the other way around (“we won’t raise money if we can’t show program impact”). Realistically, it’s a little of both. Consider that when you’re allocating communications resources next year.