Mission Impact

Most organizations reported that communications plays a role in achieving impact. Some partly attributed mission-related accomplishments to participation in communications training.

The nonprofit organizations interviewed varied in the type and scope of their missions, reflecting a training (and interview) selection process that sought representation across Hewlett Foundation program areas.

Almost all reported that communications plays a significant role in achieving key mission-related milestones, while a small few considered communications as a function apart from mission and programming.

Some said communications training influenced their ability to achieve impact; others did not. Those who attributed increased impact to participation in communications training believed that by improving the communications skills of individuals, they increased their organization’s capability in the area of communications, which enabled greater effectiveness and, therefore, impact. Some highlighted specific mission-related successes—e.g., an important external campaign, a moment of organizational growth—where they believed training was especially influential. In these cases, it appears that training occurred at an opportune time: right before or in the midst of an important transition.


Communications in support of mission

Communications plays a really big part of the perception of our quality and that we’re worthwhile to work with.

[Communications] definitely did [play a role in achieving a mission-related objective]. Sometimes on the defense. We’re working to explain what’s going on and what’s at stake, and we’re reframing the issue.

[Communications] played a very significant role in getting the information out, in getting information published, and in our program work.

Training influence

I would say [training has affected our impact]. It certainly has given us strategy and tools. It helped us become more effective… keeping messages simple, being visual, questioning cognitive biases, developing communications based on research.

Yes, [training has affected our impact]. The smarter we can get at being strategic with all communications opportunities, the more effective we can be. We’re a campaigning organization. Communication plays the lead … in educating our members about what we’re campaigning on and in recruiting new members.

[Training helped] us understand that we need to talk about our impact, [which] led us to do research and efforts to quantify that. [Now] it’s part of our strategy… communications is integral to it all.

Definitely. [Training] inspired and restructured a value in how communications can lead to support of our work—how it’s critical. (executive leader)

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