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How to Strengthen Employee Communication at Your Nonprofit | Foundant Technologies

As a nonprofit leader, you spend a lot of time thinking about your donor communication strategy and brainstorming ways to forge strong connections with them.  

But how often do you reflect on or try to improve your communication with your employees

Since your work is mission-based, it’s normal to be outward-focused most of the time, but how well your internal team works together directly influences its effectiveness in delivering services and changing your beneficiaries’ lives for the better. 

To help you strengthen your operation from the inside out, let’s explore a few ways you can improve employee communication at your organization and build meaningful relationships with the members of your team.

7 Eye-Opening Statistics About Employee Communication 

Before we dive into specific best practices, here are some fast facts that emphasize the importance of employee communication: 


  • 72% of organizational leaders say that effective communication boosts employee productivity. (Grammarly)
  • Organizations with effective internal communication strategies are 50% more likely to have lower turnover rates. (Clear Company)
  • 65% of employees want more feedback on their performance at work. (Zippia
  • 80% of employees want to know more about how organizational decisions are made, and 87% of job seekers say they want a more transparent environment in their future workplace. (Slack
  • Socializing between team members can improve communication in your organization by 50%. (
  • When employers act on employee feedback, employees' trust in organizational leadership increases by 75%. (Achievers)
  • Email is the most popular workplace communication tool, followed by video calls and direct messages. (Forbes)

The Big Takeaway

In the day-to-day, the meetings you hold or the emails you send may not feel like they have a lot of impact. But, the statistics above paint a clear picture: How you communicate with your employees (and how they communicate with each other) plays a significant role in their broader experience at your organization. 


In other words, if you want to retain your employees, engage them in their work, create a community of coworkers who are invested in each others’ success, and increase loyalty to your cause, having a strategic approach to employee communication is key.   


Now, let’s look at a few best practices you can implement to improve your own strategy:

1. Review your organization’s communication tools and channels.

Begin by making a list of the communication tools and channels your employees use every day. These might include: 

  • Email 
  • Video meeting platforms (like Zoom or Microsoft Teams)
  • Team meetings 
  • Employee recognition systems 
  • HR management systems (like Bamboo HR or Gusto) 
  • Bulletin boards
  • Instant messaging platforms
  • Project management software (like Asana, Monday, or Trello)
  • Document sharing and collaboration tools (like Google Drive) 

Gather data from these tools and channels to understand how your team members are using them and how effective they are. Do this by using the reporting features in the tools themselves and potentially by surveying your employees. Pay attention to trends and responses that let you know what is being used the most and what is the most effective. You may also note or hear from employees that there are gaps in your communication technology stack. This may indicate that you need to invest in new technology

Once you have conducted this audit of your current communication tools and how well they are serving your work, you can leverage them more intentionally. Here are some examples of how this might play out: 

  • You come up with a system for making internal emailing more efficient by asking employees to mark subject lines with AR (action requested) or FR (for reference) so team members are clear on what is being asked of them. 
  • You create a policy that requires employees to go through your HR management system to request time off instead of doing so via email or in conversation. 
  • You find out you’re paying for a communication platform that employees don’t use on a regular basis, so you’re able to cut it out of your tech stack and save money on the subscription. 


Taking actions like these allows you to make your communications more efficient and helps establish useful “paper trails” for all internal goings-on at your organization. 

2. Train your team in communication skills. 

Even with the right set of tools, your team will also need the right skill set to be effective communicators. Here are some skills you should train them in: 


  • Active listening. This is a skill that helps build trust and avoid misunderstandings. Employees should learn how to concentrate on who they’re talking to, fully understand their message, ask questions and provide feedback as needed, and remember what they learned from the interaction. 
  • Writing skills. Being clear, concise, and professional in written communication is key for getting messages across quickly and effectively. Teach employees how to do this in emails, direct messages, and more. 
  • Nonverbal communication. This can include understanding and using body language, eye contact, facial expressions, and tone of voice effectively in one-on-one conversations, in meetings, or during presentations. 
  • Conflict resolution. Your employees aren’t always going to agree, so they should be able to handle conflicts constructively. Train them to understand underlying issues, communicate without placing blame, and work toward compromises. 


Whether employees are collaborating to plan a fundraising event or strategizing ways to improve your recurring giving program, having the communication skills necessary to be clear, confident, and efficient will go a long way in helping them perform their jobs to the best of their abilities. 

3. Establish feedback mechanisms. 

Feedback empowers you to recognize employees’ performance and give them constructive suggestions for improvement. To ensure employees receive feedback on a regular basis, establish the following feedback mechanisms: 

  • One-on-one meetings: These are regular, informal meetings between a supervisor and their direct reports. Supervisors should be providing regular positive and constructive feedback in these meetings. 
  • Performance reviews. This is a more formal feedback mechanism. An effective performance review often involves a self assessment and feedback from supervisors, peers, and subordinates. Together, employees and their supervisors will review past performance and establish goals and areas for improvement for the future. 

To make these mechanisms effective, supervisors or managers should be trained in how to give feedback, and employees should learn to receive and incorporate that feedback.

Additionally, remember that the practice of giving feedback is not just a one-way street. Employees should also have the opportunity to give feedback to you. An effective way to set this up is by sending out regular surveys where employees can offer insights into their experience at your organization and provide suggestions for making the workplace better. 

4. Foster a culture of openness and transparency. 

Trust is a crucial element of a healthy workplace, and how you communicate with your employees affects how much trust they have in you, your nonprofit, and each other. 


Create a culture of openness and transparency by regularly communicating with employees about: 

  • The organization’s decision-making process, including who is involved and what criteria are used to make strategic decisions
  • Major organizational changes, like leadership and staffing changes, policy shifts, and strategic direction updates
  • Success and achievements, like the results of your latest campaign or the completion of a major project 
  • Challenges and setbacks, like spikes in donor attrition or compliance issues, as well as what you plan to do about those challenges

Go further in demonstrating your commitment to openness by establishing an “open door policy” through which you encourage employees to come to you with their questions, concerns, and suggestions. This will help everyone feel like they’re part of your team and make them more invested in seeing your larger mission succeed. 

5. Practice team building. 

Think about the people you communicate best with. They’re likely the people you know well and spend a lot of time with, like friends, family, or even colleagues you work with closely. 

It’s no secret that having strong relationships is critical for having better communication. Make sure you’re giving your internal team plenty of opportunities to practice team building and get to know each other. 

Here are a few ideas for doing so: 

  • Get everyone together on a regular basis. In the day-to-day, it’s easy for people to just interact with co-workers in their departments. Erase the borders between teams by scheduling regular get-togethers inside and outside of work. These might be catered luncheons, annual field days, or happy hours. Whatever form they take, these occasions will allow employees to chat with each other and learn about each other outside of normal work contexts. 
  • Encourage different departments to collaborate and learn from each other. Maybe your volunteer manager and your major gifts officer rarely get the chance to work together, or your graphic designer doesn’t know your executive director very well. Identify projects where different departments can work together. This will help your employees share their expertise with each other, build new relationships, and approach your work in new and interesting ways. 
  • Recognize each other’s accomplishments. Recognition is an important type of communication that reinforces all the good work your employees do to make a difference for your mission. Set up top-down systems where leaders and supervisors can recognize those who work under them, but also create a system where peers can recognize peers. This will help everyone feel seen, valued, and supported in their roles. 

As your employees form relationships with each other, you’ll see that how they communicate shifts in a positive way. They’ll feel more comfortable with each other and be more invested in seeing each other succeed. 

Great employee communication is important for any workplace, but especially for nonprofits. As you incorporate the strategies explored in this guide, you’ll find that you not only improve the employee experience but that your staff members’ capacity to serve your beneficiaries increases. In other words, prioritizing great employee communication is a win-win for everyone involved! 

About the Author

As a founder of RealHR Solutions, Susan’s commitment to our clients begins with her career-long mission to blend legal and regulatory rigor with common sense and fairness in real workplace settings. With experience practicing employment law as well as leading human resources departments, Susan has held roles in the non-profit, government and corporate sectors. Prior to founding RealHR Solutions, Susan was the Director of Human Resources at the Medical and Health Research Association of New York City, now named Public Health Solutions, and served in legal and Human Resources leadership roles at the New York Clearing House Association. She began her legal career at the New York City Commission on Human Rights. Susan holds a B.A. in History from Georgetown University and a J.D. degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington D.C. Susan is a member of the NYS Bar Association and Georgetown’s Women’s Law Forum.

Profile Photo of Susan Kreeger