We’ve been telling nonprofit communicators for a long time to visually map out their workflows. A visual map of the steps and processes of your work can really help others understand what it is you do and what it is you need them to do.  It can also communicate norms for numbers of drafts, review times, deadlines, and other potential bottlenecks that could be making you silently scream every day slowing you down at work.

Here are a few benefits of visually mapping out your workflows.

It makes all your marketing jargon easier to comprehend. We have a lot of jargon in our nonprofit marketing world. Visuals are easier for folks who don’t know all your lingo to understand. That means they are more likely to embrace what you need them to do and why it is important.

You’ll find ways to streamline. If you are feeling overworked, mapping out all the things you are doing can help you see redundancies or opportunities to streamline processes. That means you can do the same amount of work in less time, often with even better results.

Visual workflows help you find the gaps in your work. It’s like laying down a path for people to follow. As you put each metaphorical stone down, you may just find that you are asking people to make really big leaps from one stone to another. You might need to fill in those gaps to make it easier for people to help you.

Giving people a map means you can delegate. If all comms work comes to a screeching halt when you are away or if you are adding new team members, giving people a path to follow allows others to help out and for you to delegate with less worry.

Reveal opportunities for automation. As your marketing software stack gets more sophisticated, you’ll have more opportunities to automate parts of your work. Workflows can help you spot where you might want an autoresponder email series, for example.

Where might you need a visual workflow?

  • How drafts of anything get created, reviewed, approved, and published.
  • Any series of communications, including an event marketing campaign, a re-engagement email campaign, or a welcome series.
  • How and when different parts of your organization collaborate, such as how to communicate, plan, and execute your communications work
  • When hitting milestones is essential to reaching a final product or deadline on time
  • To show how dependent you are on the timely cooperation of others to meet the organization’s communication, marketing, or fundraising goals
  • As criteria for decision making about communications priorities. The workflow becomes a decision tree.
  • To show staff how to respond in different kinds of scenarios, including crisis communications.

To help you get started with creating these workflows, we here at Nonprofit Marketing Guide are planning to build some starter templates in our favorite visual collaboration tool, Mural. We’ll let you know as we release new templates.