Spitfire Strategies

Spitfire’s SmartScan™: A New Communication Tool for Nonprofits and Foundations

Beth Kanter

By Beth Kanter
Chief Strategy Officer

At Spitfire, we know how to help organizations boost their communication to advance their social change goals.

With generous support from the Ford Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Spitfire developed the SmartScan. This free, online tool helps assess where an organization is poised to be a communication powerhouse and where it has room to improve.

Users answer a series of questions about their organization’s current practices and receive a tailored report detailing where they can focus attention to improve their communication.

The SmartScan features four modules. An organization can take them all at once to get an overarching assessment of its communication assets and needs, or focus on one area at a time. The modules include:

  • Identity: An organization with a strong brand understands and lives its identity – who it is and what it stands for – and knows how to communicate that brand to others and embed it in everything it does. This module assesses a nonprofit’s brand strength and integration.
  • Planning: Too often, organizations focus on bright and shiny tactics – press outreach, events, social media, etc. – before putting a strategy in place. Here, nonprofits find out if they have a strong plan, clear audiences and compelling messages – all the basics needed for strong communication efforts.
  • Best Practices: To communicate effectively, organizations must integrate effective communication into their daily operations. This module assesses how an organization is doing when it comes to implementing best practices in critical communication areas (e.g., media relations, storytelling, digital strategy, etc.). It also notes whether the nonprofit is a learning organization and how well it stays up-to-date on new communication best practices.
  • Results: Above all, an organization’s communication activities must lead to progress. This module offers a way to determine whether an organization has the right systems in place for tracking results and the discipline to act on what they discover.

The SmartScan also gives foundations a clear view of their grantees’ materials and systems, and a way to engage with them in the process. The payoff is a clear understanding of what they are doing well and should keep doing – and where more communication capacity or resources will enable them to create a bigger impact.

Do you want to make sure your organization has what it takes to communicate effectively? Or are you considering how to help your grantees integrate communication best practices? Check out the SmartScan at http://spitfiresmartscan.org/ or contact Spitfire to schedule a private online demo of the tool.

“This has been a tremendous eye opener. It shows us how to pull the aspects of communications skills, from the message, to the audience. It forced us to identify our strengths and our weaknesses in an effort to become more strategic in how we prepare our messages and communicate them.”

- Training Participant

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