This is the twelfth in a series of posts that will examine ten insights Community Wealth Partners has uncovered through our research of and experience with initiatives that have created transformational social change.
Scott Case, the former CEO of Malaria No More—an organization that is part of the fight to end deaths from malaria in Africa by 2015—said it best: “Raising awareness about the cause, your initiative, and how individuals can support it is a fundamental aspect of the work and as important as anything else. We looked it as a programmatic function rather than just a support function.”
When we talk about communications, we’re referring to it in its broadest sense. It’s not limited to marketing or fundraising. After mulling over a couple dictionary definitions of the word, I’d propose we define communications as the act or process of giving or interchanging thoughts, feelings, information or the like, by writing, speaking, etc.
Now that we know what it is, why is it so important? Communications is the means to engage critical stakeholders. And, as I discussed in my previous post , to solve any social problem, there often is a need to engage a highly disparate group of stakeholders, including those from the elite and the grassroots; representatives from the public, private and government sectors; those who affect the problem and those affected by it; and those we do and do not know.
Our parent organization, Share Our Strength, which is focused on ending childhood hunger in America, has aimed to be a model of this tenant. Recognizing that childhood hunger hasn’t been a major topic of conversation for many politicians this campaign season, the Share Our Strength team and its celebrity spokesperson, Jeff Bridges, headed to both political conventions in Tampa and Charlotte. They were able to have numerous productive meetings with key political leaders as well as talk about the issue of childhood hunger on CNN, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and Politico as well as about half a dozen other national media platforms.
So, the next time you engage in a discussion about strategy, don’t forget to ask, “What is our approach to communications?” And, remember, don’t forget to dedicate the resources to make it happen.