Aristotle taught that rhetoric is the art of using language well in order to influence, persuade and convince one’s hearers. By means of figures of speech, rhetoric allows listeners to understand a speaker clearly and to internalize that person’s message. Rhetoric reaches minds, using eloquence and exchange to convey information, ideas and knowledge. In other words, rhetoric is effective communication.
Beyond verbal and non verbal communication
In an act of communication, a speaker can reach, enchant, enlighten, inform, influence, persuade and convince the audience. There is verbal communication, or speaking. There is also non‑verbal communication, or body language, that is, all the visible bodily signals a person produces. A speaker’s posture and gestures can help listeners to receive the information being conveyed and, most importantly, to integrate it effectively.
As well, there is virtual communication, or interpersonal interaction using electronic platforms and interfaces including social media. Lastly, there is written and visual communication, which relies on the composition of letters, emails and articles and the creation of graphics and illustrations. These means allow individuals to communicate without ever meeting in person.
The COVID‑19 pandemic has intensified the use of technology, making the world a more digital-dependent place. Increasingly, people rely on virtual, written and visual communication, making less use of verbal and non‑verbal communication. In the business and non‑profit sectors, teleworking and teamwork platforms have made virtual, written and visual communication even more indispensable. Developing good communication, then, is essential for organizations, because today communication is their window on the world.
Why should your organization pay attention to managing and developing communication?
Philanthropy is defined as love toward humankind, benevolence toward the whole human family, or the desire and readiness to do good to all persons. Through collected donations and generous sharing, the philanthropic sector offers help to others, and endeavours to make the world a better place. It also plays a role in raising public awareness. Donations can be financial or in‑kind, or can take the form of volunteering. Philanthropy relies on creating and maintaining stable, lasting and honest relationships.
In the philanthropic sector, communication is absolutely vital. Communication allows organizations to create relationships, which in turn make it possible:
- to raise funds,
- to maintain and expand the donor list,
- to boost visibility, and
- to attract more people to become involved in philanthropy.
What does consistent and effective communication do for your organization?
Communication allows your organization to connect with its audience, by:
- providing information to all stakeholders including client groups, donors, sponsors, suppliers, employees, volunteers, managers, directors, officers, community representatives, governments and partners,
- making the organization known in its geographical service area,
- raising the organization’s profile and enhancing its brand image,
- showcasing the value of the organization’s mission and highlighting the importance of its work,and
- creating relationships with all stakeholders.
The way communication is managed conveys a good (or a bad) impression of an organization. It also provides a teaching opportunity about the organization’s cause and the people who care about it.
How does an organization's communication create and maintain relationships with client groups and donors?
All four of these endeavours, and particularly raising funds, depend to a large extent on the quality of an organization’s relationship with its client groups and its donors.
What should this relationship look like? At best, it will be:
As well, creating a relationship calls for straightforward information, upfront connectedness, active listening, and fidelity to ethical values.
Also of importance are an organization’s relationships with internal stakeholders including employees, volunteers, managers, officers and directors, and with external partners including community representatives, governments, potential supporters, and even competitors.
Non‑profit organizations really need to think about managing communication; otherwise they forfeit opportunities to become well‑known, to maintain and enhance their reputation, and thus to expand their range and raise funds.
Tips for more effective communication
- Listen to your listeners: communication is a two‑way street.
- Think about the message you want to convey and the tone you will need to use.
- Maintain consistency with your organization’s image.
- Maximize advance planning of your communication.
- Keep the faith with your organization’s values and principles.
- Be clear and transparent in announcing developments, changes or crises.
- Be consistent in the way you share information.
- Thank individuals who care about your cause enough to get involved personally, professionally or financially.
- Make internal stakeholders aware of their role as ambassadors and representatives in developing your organization’s brand image.
- Offer more gatherings and encounters that will bring your teams together.
- Give feedback that is constructive and timely.