Tools like email and social media have made it more difficult, perhaps, to make sure communications are truthful, accurate, and fair. As the pace of technology quickens, so must your ability to communicate. That makes the process of planning your outreach to supporters even more important than in the past.

Start with a plan
With fast-moving channels like Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media, it pays to plan. Use a tool like Idealware’s Nonprofit Social Media Policy Workbook to establish guidelines for your specific organization.

Work through issues surrounding who will post on social media, when, and on what topics before you jump into a channel. For instance, if your organization is a 501(c)(3), where will you draw the line to avoid advocacy activities online that could put your status at risk? Also address copyright issues for content and images, who is authorized to speak with the media, and how to respond to negative comments or press.

If you hope to receive foundation funding, establishing best practices when it comes to communications and marketing now will position your organization for the future. See the Nonprofit Communications Blog by Kivi Leroux Miller for a short and sweet summary of what this means for your group.

Putting policies and limitations in place first will eliminate much of the “work” involved in maintaining a high level of ethics in your communications. Technology will continue to evolve, bringing both opportunity and risk for your organization. Heading into the fray with a plan of action is one way to safeguard your small nonprofit’s reputation and relationship with supporters.