Creating a communications plan

How to identify your target audience, your goals, key messages and channels, and then make a plan.
Team planning on butcher's paper

It's important for not-for-profits to have an online communications plan. Taking some time at the start to map out your efforts will help you know what you’re trying to achieve, provide enough to maintain your presence and measure its effectiveness. This template will help you target your communications to specific audiences and also tie your activities back to your organisation’s goals. It’s a useful way to map out your tasks and actions as well as seeing how they relate back to the final result.

Target Audiences

First, we need to identify who we’re communicating with. For most organisations, they key audiences will be:

  • existing clients
  • potential new clients
  • government bodies
  • staff.

You can also take it further by specifying demographics or types of clients. 

For each of your target audiences, it’s important to understand what you’re trying to communicate to them. One way to do this is to identify:

  • what your goals are for each audience (e.g. improved communication, higher retention for existing clients and increasing the intake of new clients)
  • what their needs are and how you will meet them
  • your key messages relating to each goal.

Here’s an example of a disability service that offers a LEGO Club for children under 14. Their group recreation service offers one hour sessions for up to six children with one staff member, and one of their main audiences will be the parents of the children. They may also have other audiences such as corporate sponsors, donors or other potential partners. For each of these audiences, a new row could be added. These would then be included in the communications plan below.


Our goals

What we offer them that they want

Key message

Parents of children

Have a full roster of children

Quality, small group play under NDIS

We understand your needs and your child's love of LEGO

Communications Plan

Once you have defined your audiences and your goals for them, it’s time to start planning how you’re going to achieve those goals. You can do this by using a framework with:

  • Goals – identified in the previous step, your overarching campaign goals.
  • Objectives – these are measurable milestones that you need to achieve to reach your goal.
  • Strategies – identifying different components needed to hit those milestones (objectives).
  • Tactics – specific tasks that could also be allocated to team members that need completion.

Creating SMART objectives

Measurement is important. It means that you’ll be able to refine and adapt your efforts and know if you’re on par with where you need to be. One common way of doing this is by using the “SMART” system which stands for “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely”.

It’s important that your objectives are clear (specific), able to be measured, that you have the skills and time to achieve them, that they’re relevant to your goals and that you have a time by which you want to achieve them.

An example may be: “A 30% increase in new clients from surrounding suburbs within 3 months.”

Strategies and tactics

Your strategies are the different components needed to achieve your objective. When it comes to communication, you could also look at strategies as the communications channel you are going to use (e.g. blog, newsletter, social media etc).

From our example, we’ll look at one target audience and show how we map out our objectives, strategies and tactics. We’ll also include a due date for our tactics to help us understand what needs to be done.

Pulling it all together

Here’s an example of how your goals, objectives, strategies and tactics can be planned out to support your online communications.

Target Audience: Parents of children under 14 interested in LEGO





Add 100 new weekly clients to LEGO Club sessions

Have 300 requests for more information (new clients)

Provide fliers to community groups

Print fliers for parent groups

Contact local community groups and drop off fliers

Create referral program for friends of current clients

Create landing page on website for referral program

Send email to current clients

Create five case studies from current clients

Publish case studies online

Publish case studies in hard-copy

Share LEGO related stories on Facebook once per week

Source Facebook links

Schedule Facebook links

Share photos of creations on Facebook once per week

Take photos during sessions

Get permissions from parents if needed

Schedule photos on Facebook

Have 100 families complete the online registration form for  weekly sessions online

Review website with focus on sign up registrations

Work with designer to update website

Review website for search engine optimisation

Work with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) agency to update SEO

Highlight benefits of weekly sessions online

Create blog post on weekly benefits

Promote blog post on social media

Offer discount for choosing weekly sessions

Update pricing on website with new deal

Offer special deal to families who are not currently signed on as weekly attendees.

Email families

Contact via phone


This process would then be repeated for every target audience until a full communications plan is laid out. Tasks could also be assigned dates and allocated to team members to perform. Depending on how your team is managing the whole project or campaign, the tasks and due dates could be entered into a separate project management tool for collaboration.

What’s next?

Now that you have created your communications plan, it’s time to put it into action! If you haven’t already created your website, it’s a good place to start. If you already have a website, it’s a chance to review how you’re using it and to make any changes you need so you can achieve your goals.

Learn more

Watch a webinar recording on how to be found online and attract your community.

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