Nonprofit Summer Exercise 13: Spruce It Up


Nonprofit Summer has been full of exercises to help you reflect, recentre and refocus. How are you feeling so far?

Exercise 13: Spruce It Up

Likely, you’ve heard of the term “Communications Audit” — it’s the large (and sometimes daunting!) task of combing through your organisation’s communications pieces and making them better. Communications audits are really important and valuable. After all, the better we communicate, the better our results!

But sometimes we need to pull the trigger. And working through a long and potentially arduous process simply isn’t possible. We need to be agile in our ability to get better – and see results – now!


If you were to pick three communications pieces that were your organisation’s most important, what would they be? Some ideas might be your thank you letters (show those donors some love!), a key newsletter for members, or even your blog posts.

Why are they important? What role does each piece play? If someone came into your office tomorrow and told you that you could no longer produce these pieces, how would you defend their existence?

For each, can you think of three things that would make these pieces better? Maybe it’s making your newsletter a better vehicle for storytelling. Or taking those thank you letters and making them even more donor-centric. Whatever it may be, make your list of nine changes.

Now pick just one. The easiest. The lowest hanging fruit. And don’t tell me there’s no such thing as low hanging fruit – there always is. It’s probably been on a sticky note on your desk since last October.

And pull the trigger.

How easy is it to pull the trigger? Are there a billion hoops to jump through? Or could you just make that simple change for the better?

My hope is that this exercise gives you three things:

1) we can ALWAYS do more to make our communications better… which is a whole giant can of worms, isn’t it?

2) there are ALWAYS simple things we can do to make things better… which sometimes get lost is the distraction of other stuff.

3) we need to become agile in our approach to change… which is sometimes the greatest barrier of all.

By our nature, those of us in this sector are rabble-rousing do-gooders who are all too often undone by the barriers placed on even the simplest of tasks we need to do to perform our jobs.

Sometimes even the small victories of being able to pluck the rip-est of low hanging fruit need to be celebrated, lest it rot away on the vine.