It is important to always be aware that no matter the means of communication you are the voice of your organisation.

How often have you dealt with a business and been surprised with how lacklustre they were – their manner offhand, the way they answered phone or in any other dealing you may have had with them?

The truth be known community organisations -nonprofits, are no different, but where the big difference is that you are appealing to your community for support and therefore your communication has to be impeccable.

It’s time organisations changed the way they communicate, many need to be more timely in responding to calls, emails etc, they need – whether run by volunteers or paid staff to have a communications policy, something that everyone in the organisation will be able to see how, when  and by whom any form of communication is to be managed.

It is important for organisations to have a communications policy, that includes not only traditional means (phone, letter) but internet and email also.

One area that really needs covering is the use of email for ‘personal use’. And that staff are aware that when they send what they perceive as being an ‘innocent’ email to friends and family from the work computer they need to understand that there is a high likelihood of it being seen by others. They need to understand that they have to watch what they are sharing!

How often have you received an email that has been sent to multiple recipients (with their names visible), opened it and seen something that you felt was ‘inappropriate’?

What would the potential impact be if just one of the recipients forwarded it?  From what started as an innocent email, reputation damage could ensue, anyone seeing the email could see it coming from the organisation not from the employee.

The impact can be even greater, worse, if social media isn’t managed well. Sure everyone using social media should be showing their true personality, but they should be mindful that when ‘representing’ their organisation they need to be aware of what could happen if they say, or post something that doesn’t truly reflect or is likely to cause offence.

Like email, social media posts have the potential to spread far and wide – a tweet posted from your account could have potential to reach many hundreds if not thousands of people.

Policies aside, people are only human and will wander off the path from time to time, breaking rules, it has to come down to common sense, maturity and an understanding by all of ’cause and effect’.

People in organisations are often told they are ‘ambassadors’ and that they represent their organization 24/7, when out and about they’ll undoubtedly talk about their job, the organization they work for, there’s no getting around it, often they are aware of how they behave when out in public, but when it comes to online activity they can forget.

If you’re representing your organisation online, offline think before hitting send, clicking post or saying something that could be misconstrued – one slip of the tongue, or in this case – slip of the finger could cost your organisation not only reputation but support in the community.

Like a pebble dropped into a pond the ripple effect of an inappropriate, unplanned, non thought out post could travel far and wide – is what you’re saying/posting appropriate – take a minute before taking that next step of sending or posting to make sure it’s something you really want to be seen as coming from your organisation.

Previously published on 101Fundraising – Crowdblog on Fundraising

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