Communication, marketing and technology for community organisations

Find information on the benefits of communication and developing a communication strategy, how to market your community organisation and use social media.

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Good communication with your committee, members and stakeholders is critical to your organisation's long-term success.

Effective communication:

  • ensures everyone is clear about what is going on in your organisation
  • gives clarity around how to get help and who to go to
  • promotes an inclusive organisational culture
  • ensures consistency in messaging and reduces confusion
  • fosters trust and openness
  • provides people with information about how they can help/volunteer/provide support.

Communication strategy

A communication strategy or plan is a document for communicating with your target audience.

If your organisation doesn't currently have a communication strategy, it is highly recommended that you develop one.

If you do have one, make sure it is reviewed annually to make sure it reflects your current operations and future goals.

A well-rounded communication strategy can help your organisation to:

  • grow the size of your audience 
  • attract new participants
  • build your relationship with your members and stakeholders
  • expand your reach and engage the local community
  • achieve your goals and objectives
  • delegate tasks to spread the workload.

Your communication strategy should:

  • clarify your purpose and activities
  • reflect your long term and short term goals 
  • convey what you are wanting to achieve
  • cover all aspects of your operations - committee management, activity delivery, training, education, events
  • identify who your customers and stakeholders are and the type of communication they require (including method and frequency of communication) and who'll deliver it.

For effective communication, your organisation should have a communication sub-committee or group responsible for writing and implementing your communication strategy, marketing and promotion, web management, social media and communication coordination across channels.

Writing a communication strategy

  1. Before you start writing a communication strategy, consider the following.
    1. How does your organisation currently promote itself?
    2. Is it easy to find out about your organisation, what it offers and how to get involved?
    3. Does your organisation have a good relationship with the local community, including schools, community groups and media?
    4. Is your organisation clear about what it is trying to achieve?
    5. Who are you targeting with your current communication tools? Who do you need to target?
  2. Think also about the types of communication you need to deliver (operational, requests for assistance, relationship building).
  3. What messages are you wanting to communicate and what are you wanting to achieve through your communication?
  4. Who is your audience? Is it your members, local community, or key stakeholders or a combination of same?
  5. What information do your members and/or stakeholders need or want and when and how do they want it?
  6. Determine the best communication methods to reach your target audience/s. This may include one or more of the following - website, social media, signage and banners, noticeboards, information stands, traditional media and word of mouth.

    Understanding which tools are most suitable for each form of communication and how they can be best used can save your organisation time, improve your communication effectiveness and improve your member/participant experience.

Monitor and review your communication strategy

Monitor your communication strategy and keep track of how effective each area is, making sure you also consider value for money. Build in evaluation measures to help assess your actions.

Review your communication strategy annually to ensure it meets your organisation's current and future requirements. Use insights to identify changes to improve your future outcomes.

Communication policy

A communication policy details your organisation's expectations for communication and information sharing inside and outside your organisation.

You should have a communication policy that details:

  • the types of permitted communication
  • expectations around privacy and protecting your organisation's reputation
  • who is responsible for approving content for publication on your organisation's channels (website, social media)
  • non-compliance.

All of your members (including the parents of members who are under 18 years of age) should sign off on your communication policy to confirm they've read the policy and agree to abide by it.

Visit the Play by the Rules website for more information and a communication policy template.

Your website

Your organisation's website is one of your key communication tools.

Your website:

  • is a great way to keep your current members and stakeholders up to date about your purpose, activities and services and provide relevant external links to related information
  • allows you to showcase your organisation to potential new participants or supporters.

In addition to being an effective communication tool, it can also:

  • save your volunteers time and effort
  • display key documents such as policies and codes of conduct
  • be used to reward and recognise volunteers, participants and stakeholders
  • generate income through the sale of merchandise
  • showcase local community contributions
  • offer sponsors additional benefits.

Keep your website content up to date to engage members, build a relationship with readers and foster support for your organisation.

Appoint someone skilled in web development and content production to act as your organisations website coordinator to ensure you have an effective online presence.

Developing a website

Setting up a website for your organisation can be costly. There are several options available for not-for-profit organisations. 

  1. Web Hosts Australia provides a community-focused program offering free website hosting for any Australian registered not-for-profit or charitable organisation. It includes unlimited emails but there are limits for storage and transfer capacity. You must display their banner on your site and link it back to their website.
  2. Weebly offers free and low-cost options to build and host your organisation's website. It provides themes and tools to create a simple web solution.
  3. WordPress provides a cost-effective platform to build and host your organisation's website. Your website coordinator will need some basic web building skills and experience. The base level is free and allows you to have your own domain name and features such as donations buttons. You can opt in to low cost options to provide additional storage space and functionality, including the ability to update your site with mobile or desktop apps.
  4. SiteFresh offers affordable web design packages and hosting, including ongoing support, easy-to-use content management and design editing features.

Social media

'Social media' is the term used to describe web-based apps or tools that allow users to create and circulate information in virtual communities and networks.

Social media is a powerful communication and marketing tool and a quick, easy and inexpensive way of communicating. It can:

  • promote and raise awareness of your organisation
  • positively influence your organisation's reputation
  • expand your reach, foster connection and help you organisation become part of a wider community
  • reduce volunteer time and effort
  • share your organisation's news and stories
  • allow users to participate in online conversations and share events
  • be configured to sell tickets and merchandise.

Social media is based on the idea of engendering loyalty among your audiences, and translating that loyalty into action.

You can use social media to post announcements, event notifications, results and outcomes, participant arrangements and cancellations, requests for help, support and volunteer acknowledgements, and rich media (photos, videos).

Social media tools

Commonly used social media tools include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr and WordPress. You can set up accounts on multiple social media channels.

  • Twitter is great for short and simply updates and to share a link to more information for readers. It can be used for announcements such as changes to training dates and/or times or to remind participants of activity times.
  • Facebook is effective to create a closed group for members and to promote your organisation. It has functionality to allow you to send event invitations.
  • Instagram is handy for sharing photos and videos from activities and events. Create a hashtag and encourage members to use it to increase visibility of your organisation.

Social media tools such as Facebook and Instagram can also be used to sell merchandise by setting up a store.

The use of a social media scheduling tool can help you share updates, as well as provide analytics to help you monitor engagement and follower counts.

Using social media 

When using social media tools:

  • use the best tool to communicate your message and reach your target audience/s
  • choose tools that can be linked
  • review your online presence, including who your organisation is 'following'
  • abide by your organisation's social media policy.

Make use of free online resources to help you better use social media channels.

Be aware that as well as offering many benefits to your organisation, incorrect or poor social media use can impact your organisation's reputation and pose privacy/security issues. Be aware of the risks and how to manage them. Train committee members, volunteers, staff and members on acceptable use of social media.

Review your insurance cover to ensure it is appropriate for your organisation's social media activities.

Social media coordinator

To effectively manage your organisation's social media, you should:

  • appoint someone, or a group of people, with the right skills and experience to be responsible for coordinating your social media activities. They may need to update/maintain content and respond to social media posts and messages outside of business hours
  • have a social media policy with guidelines for responsible social media use and which details consequences for non-compliance

Consider setting up an alert to notify you of posts about your organisation.

Social media policy

Create a social media policy and procedures to govern social media use, including rights and responsibilities of members when using social media and the consequences for incorrect use/breach.

When creating your social media policy:

  • communicate with your peak body (if you have one) to see if there are existing social media policies
  • consider how any other existing policies will impact your organisation's social media use (e.g. privacy policy, taking images).

Review your organisation's other policies and reference your social media policy where required.


Marketing activities aim to increase positive awareness of your organisation - your mission, what you do, what you stand for and the valuable programs/services you offer the community.

All your communication and marketing activities should aim to:

  • improve your organisation's relationship with your existing members
  • invite new supporters
  • create a consistent and positive sentiment around your organisation.

Marketing tools/opportunities include:

  • World Wide Web and your organisation's website - enables you to market your organisation cheaply with the ability to update your content as needed
  • publicity, media coverage and promotion - helps you communication to a wide audience
  • newsletters and publications - best used for regular information sharing to stay connected
  • speeches or presentations - inform the community and encourage support
  • word of mouth communication - free and effective
  • logos, uniforms and stationary - support consistent messaging
  • your organisation's culture 
  • activities you deliver and projects you work on.

Advertising is normally just one component of a marketing plan.

Marketing plan

A well-prepared, cost-efficient, targeted and effective marketing plan is crucial to your organisation's success.

Research phase

This table includes information on considerations for the development of a marketing plan for your community organisation.
ProductWhat are you marketing? What are your organisation's unique attributes?
PriceWhat is the cost to join and participate in your organisation?
PeopleWho do you want to market to (i.e. who is your target audience)? What are their characteristics? 
PromotionHow will you market your product? What are the most effective ways to reach your target audience?
PlaceHow are where will you market your organisation?
PositioningWhat is your position within the current market? How do you compare to your competitors? What are people's perceptions about your organisation verses others?

Next steps

Once you've completed the research phase, you should:

  • assess your current situation
  • analyse your strengths and weaknesses, as well as any opportunities or threats
  • determine the issues or messages you want to focus you marketing plan around
  • create strategies and action plans to achieve your goals and objectives.

Your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (e.g. we will attract 50 new members within the next five months).

Each action plan should detail what will be done, when, who is responsible, cost, projected measurable outcome/s and how progress will be monitored.

There are many useful online tools and resources to help you develop a marketing plan for your organisation. Visit the Our Community website or the Australian Government's Business website for more information, helpful templates and guides on developing marketing plans.


Improve your community organisation's efficiency and effectiveness by making the best use of technology.

Technology is a way you can enhance your services and delivery. It can be highly beneficial for managing finances, payments and contracts, member engagement, web site development and volunteer management. It also reduces the likelihood of errors, fraud and volunteer time spent on activities that can be automated.


Use an email account for your organisation

Set up and use an email account for your organisation. Do not use private accounts. 

An email account for your organisation is important as it enables smooth transitioning when committee members change.

Use strong passwords

Use strong passwords for access to systems. Change your passwords regularly and only share passwords with people authorised to access and use each system.

Back up your data

Make sure you back up data regularly to reduce the risk of loss of data.

Resources and support

Related links

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