Creating Consensus During Times of Change

4 min read

The right communications process can go a long way in building consensus during times of change at your nonprofit. We’ve experienced this firsthand in cases where nonprofits are making changes to leadership, shifting focus to better meet participant needs or merging with another organization. These are instances where nonprofits are simultaneously re-evaluating their vision, mission and brand messaging platforms, a name change, or a new visual identity. While these outcomes are important to the future communications of your organization, the process for reaching them can be just as important and should be approached strategically.

Determine Who Should Be Involved at the Outset

Some people are inherently more open to change than others. However, for some of your internal stakeholders, there’s nothing worse for people than feeling powerless to that change. This is especially true of board members, staff and key funders. Therefore, it’s critical to create opportunities for everyone to have a voice –– note, this is different than everyone having a vote.

It’s critical to create opportunities for every internal #stakeholder to have a voice during a #nonprofit rebranding process. Click To Tweet

When we work with nonprofits going through change, we often conduct interviews and surveys with internal stakeholders to gather perspectives on the organization today and where it’s headed. We encourage the people we speak with to describe the organization in one sentence or to talk about what they think it will look like 20 years from now. We also host workshops with leadership teams designed to spark conversations about the organization. With these techniques, our goal is to identify both differing and aligning perspectives. We then focus our attention on the areas where everyone agrees and use them as a foundation for our process to spur consensus.

Once you open these conversations with your stakeholders, be prepared to let them know what the rest of the process will look like, who will be involved and when and how decisions will be made.

Glean Outside Perspective

Internal perspectives are important, but as a favorite quote of mine goes, “You can’t read the label from inside the jar.” Not only do you need to understand the ingredients of your organization today, but you also need to understand what it really tastes like from the outside by asking external stakeholders things like:

  • What is the role our organization should have in shaping the conversations that impact our space?
  • Where is there opportunity for us to gain mindshare among funders and influencers?
  • How can we continue to reach those we serve to achieve greater impact?

Bring this outside context to the table as you’re exploring what’s next at your nonprofit. It can be used to affirm what you heard from your stakeholders or it can enlighten you to new ideas and opportunities you should be exploring.

Glean outside perspective as you’re exploring what’s next at your #nonprofit. Click To Tweet

Make the findings of your internal and external research available to the stakeholders who you’ve determined need to be involved in the process. At Prosper, we like to do this by sharing unattributed quotes and key research themes. We also use these elements to craft a positioning statement that serves as the guide for the rest of the process.

Trust the Process

While change can come with communications challenges, creating a transparent process that includes opportunities for input from the appropriate stakeholders can help. Involve the appropriate individuals early and often. Support what you’re learning internally with outside perspective and aim to build consensus. These steps will ensure everyone is driving toward the same goal and should make decisions about how you communicate your vision, mission and overall brand easier.

A transparent process ensures everyone is driving toward the same goal about how you communicate your vision, mission and overall #brand easier. Click To Tweet

 

How do modern organizations create consensus during this new age of nonprofit marketing?

Today’s most innovative nonprofits are moving to a new nonprofit branding paradigm that recognizes brand as a tool for driving internal cohesion and capacity, mission advancement and social impact. Download our whitepaper on understanding the new nonprofit brand paradigm to learn what nonprofits like The Y and Opportunity International are doing to move toward the new nonprofit brand paradigm. 

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