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Communications Assessment for a Large Regional Nonprofit Organization

How do you help a struggling large church understand its internal barriers to change?

The Organizational Challenge

In October 2012, the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta consecrated a new bishop, the Right Rev. Robert C. Wright, the first Black bishop the diocese ever had.

Bishop Wright was the new leader of this then-106-year-old, 56,000-member church with 109 worshipping communities and multiple ministries in Middle and North Georgia. His immediate aim was to “to draw the circle wider”—or to make closer—this ninth largest of the 110 dioceses of the Episcopal Church. He saw corporate communications—particularly digital communications—to make more people comfortable in the Episcopal Church.

But, because of limited financial and staff resources coupled with senior staff and stakeholders struggling with the transition from paper to digital media, digital communications were faltering. Opportunities to engage new audiences, especially younger ones, were getting lost as older, longer-term members held tightly to traditional communications methods.

Bishop Wright hired me to conduct a communications assessment that would become the basis of a new strategic communications plan focused on making the digital transformation.

The Approach

I first determined what the long-range objectives were for the diocese. Then, I learned what resources the institution had available for me to measure its effectiveness with its current strategies and determine the what kept it struggling to move entirely into the digital age.

Early, I determined surveys and interviews with key stakeholders, those who significantly influenced the institution's communications strategies, were essential. Without access to focus groups, enterprise level measurement tools and analytics and other resources that might be available to large corporate clients, I used what was available to conduct the assessment. That included a standard survey tool available within email marketing services, a hand-drafted questionnaire sent by email, and telephone interviews.

When I completed the report for the communications assessment, I cited those limitations as evidence of the organization's inhibited digital communications effectiveness.

The Outcome

Despite the limitations, I produced a 35-page report that gave the diocese a clear direction to take to create a robust digital communications strategic plan. The best way to describe my success is with the client's words:

“Dahna came into our organization and conducted a communications audit that was robust, comprehensive and complete. We had been struggling with how best to proceed with a brand revision and with gaining insight on how well we were communicating with our numerous stakeholders across one of Georgia's largest institutions. She was able to manage and incorporate the different issues and perspectives–from the Bishop's to the lay advisory board–effectively into a document that provided a roadmap to our new, formal communications plan and clear direction on how to implement our new branding across digital media and even offline. We're grateful to her for her help.”Nan Ross, Communications Director, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Working With Me

Today, I only offer corporate communications assessments to wealth management firms or private client services units at banks that don't experience similar resource limitations.

To conduct higher level communications assessments, it's essential institutions can commit financial resources to competitive, market-rate consultant compensation. It’s also important they can invest in a robust suite of tools and tactics, like focus groups, formal surveys, extensive interviews, and digital analytics.

If that describes your institution, please learn more about my expertise, then contact me about your needs. 

I offer a complimentary 30-minute introductory phone call to discuss your needs. Learn about that by reviewing my “Work Process” here.

(c) 2022-2023. Dahna M. Chandler for The Financial Communicator, Inc., a division of Thrive Media Collaborative, Inc. All rights reserved. This case story may not be reproduced or reposted in whole or in part or used for AI applications without express written permission from the author.