What is the Role of Communications in the Today’s Nonprofit World?

Last month I read a fascinating article on eJewish Philanthropy entitled “Prodding the Jewish Organizational World into Third Space”, by Gary Wexler (http://ejewishphilanthropy.com/prodding-the-jewish-organizational-world-into-third-space/comment-page-1/#comment-175520). The premise of the article is that “it isn’t all about hashtags”. As a person who has never used a hashtag before, I was happy to hear that! πŸ™‚ Wexler asserts that the job of Communications is to make certain that organizations reach their bottom-line goals. However, in order to do so, the leaders and decision makers must “be educated in this new technology-driven era as to how Communications is now absolutely central to reaching organizational results” … or they have to trust that their Communications professional(s) knows what s/he is doing!!
According to Wexler, “in today’s world, what department within an organization can function with excellence without a new-era relevant Communications strategy and the ideas it generates? Nonprofits today need a culture shift and Communications is that generator.”
Wexler goes on to say that in “most Jewish organizations, when they interact with Communications, think it’s about a hashtag, a website, a social marketing campaign, an ad, a brochure, and branding, branding, branding.” And according to Wexler, these are a “manifestation of the kind of Jewish communal and organizational thinking that just keeps us scrambling and running in circles. Jewish organizations in this case are not thinking cultural or adaptive change. They’re not thinking risk. They’re not thinking creativity. They’re not thinking big. They’re thinking little. They’re thinking fearful. They’re thinking of technical fixes, for example, hashtags, because that’s really comfortable.”
So what’s Wexler’s solution? I love this: “If the Jewish organizational world is to succeed in a new era … this requires that Jewish leaders, particularly lay leaders, admit they don’t know how to do this”. (Is he reading my mind? πŸ™‚ ) “It’s about the Jewish organizational world moving away from risk-adverse strategic planning at its core, and moving into risk-taking creativity as its culture.”
Wow, Wexler has said a lot! Time to hear what I have to say! πŸ™‚ Let me start by saying that I am not a Communications professional. My expertise lies more in grant writing, donor relations, and event planning. However, I have been known to dabble in Communications: writing articles for magazines, appeal letters, marketing materials, speeches on behalf of someone else, etc. However, Communications is much more than that, and in my opinion, organizations need a true Communications professional running the team and implementing a strategic vision. It seems that many organizations just hire someone right out of college and tell them to “handle the social media”. In my opinion, that doesn’t seem very effective.
I also love how Wexler says that Jewish organizations are not “thinking risk. They’re not thinking creativity. They’re not thinking big. They’re thinking little. They’re thinking fearful. They’re thinking of technical fixes, for example, hashtags, because that’s really comfortable.” Why is this? In my opinion, the employees are not given enough freedom from management/lay leaders. This is a problem in the nonprofit world in general. It can be assumed that a person is hired for a position because s/he has expertise in this role. This person should be given the freedom to exercise his/her expertise, and not be held back by a lay leader who most likely got their position by making large donations (no disrespect! πŸ˜‰ ). As in all aspects of nonprofit life, LET THE EMPLOYEES DO THEIR JOBS!! πŸ™‚
OK, this post is getting long, so I will stop here. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for listening to me! πŸ™‚ I would like to end by saying that, I am excited to announce that last week I began an online university-accredited course entitled: “Marketing via Social Media”. I still have no desire to use a hashtag though πŸ˜‰
What do you think?
Chava
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