Charity budgets can suffer intense pressure from all directions. Faced with measurement tools that fail to show the real value of their work, communications teams are often among the first asked to give up precious resources.

This introduction will help you to make a strong case for what you do and ensure that comms becomes and remains a vital part of your organisation’s strategy.


This may be an obvious one but the more you can help people understand what you do, the better. Don’t assume other departments and the senior team know or understand what communications involves. Be proactive – organise training sessions for staff and invite people to ask questions.

Shout about your successes

Regular, positive internal communications will demonstrate your worth over time. It doesn’t have to be a flashy report or a paper full of complicated statistics; a quick update on results, links to media coverage and even new case studies can all build a better picture of the output and value of your team.

Organise regular meetings

Regular cross-departmental meetings or briefing sessions will generate understanding and encourage a two-way flow of information. They can help to manage expectations, as well as provide you with more information and a better picture of the organisation as a whole – very useful for identifying potential comms considerations and opportunities.

Build networks with other comms professionals

An external support system, with contacts in similar roles, will give you a chance to learn from others facing similar challenges and provide a platform for sharing ideas and experiences. It’s a good idea to use other organisations’ examples to make the case for more resources or greater commitment from other teams – show them what’s possible with more people, more money or more senior support! The CharityComms group and CIPR’s Not-for-Profit group both offer a range of events and networking opportunities to help you gain skills, confidence and contacts.

Be open and honest about failure

It’s OK if you run a campaign and it doesn’t work as well as you had hoped, as long as you can show what you (and the organisation) have gained from it. You may find out, for example, that regional media campaigns don’t work for your organisation or that you need a stronger case study library – it all means you can come at it with more knowledge and experience next time. Be open and honest about what has happened, and the senior management team will respect it.

Talk in terms of risk

If your senior management team or trustees are proving particularly difficult to persuade, you may need to change the terms of reference. Perhaps they haven’t thought about comms in the right context?

There can be no doubt that a lack of investment in comms puts the organisation at risk. Communications is what creates partnerships, drives service take-up, supports funding bids and fundraising efforts, ensures influence and motivates change in line with your organisational objectives. These things are the ultimate responsibility of SMTs and boards.

You need to help them think about comms in those terms. It’s also worth pointing out that anything could happen at any time to compromise, intimidate or pressure the organisation and a robust and integrated communications function is the first line of defence.

Make sure you make the most of the outcomes, as well as the outputs – where your work was behind the start of an important new relationship or partnership, make sure people know about it.

Making the case for communications

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