3 Digital Media Principles for NGOs

October 15, 2014

For the past three years, we’ve worked with a number of regional and local RMNCH organisations, particularly in India and Nigeria, supporting  in their everyday work using digital tools for improved advocacy and organisational collaboration.

Reflecting on the digital communications and channels requirements of today’s RMNCH NGO, here are several topics to consider in your organisation’s next digital media project!


In digital media, we serve a multitude of audiences by default – even a reproductive health NGO is most likely communicating to numerous stakeholders beyond health professionals. This creates complexity and style variations to consider.

Therefore, you as a digital communicators should

  • Learn to ask what is the most important thing your community needs to know at this moment, and make that the centrepiece of your content.
  • We don’t know when, where and how our community consumes the content we create: They might be skimming your update on a mobile device during commute. They might interact with it as second-hand content when a person from their network has shared it with them, or reach out to the information you provide at a stressful moment in time in their lives. 
  • Aim to make your content self-contained, avoid too technical terms and limit the themes in a single entry.  We create content first and foremost to meet users’ needs.



In digital media, information packaging needs to be accessible and most of all, engaging. Thus, we continue to see a surge of visual and other multimedia based communication forms used for both  advocacy and research dissemination.

  • Use online or mobile tools to incorporate more multimedia content in your digital media channels. Actively benchmark inspiring ways of message distribution – from other health NGOs as well as from organisations in different fields.
  • Unconventional message dissemination and bold content strategy ideally reach new audiences and target groups, leading to desired actions, e.g. behaviour change or increased awareness.
  • Can expert organisations engage in multimedia content? Yes! Having worked with many professional RH research NGOs, we can assure that technical data like health messaging or research dissemination can be made into engaging content in a way that both fits its digital distribution platform as well as preserves the accuracy and evidence base of the content item.



A well-thought digital strategy, actionable objectives and a clear style guide are some of the building blocks that support you in managing your organisation’s communication across digital media.

Editorial calendar and communications planning are especially useful in creating a consistent digital presence that both supports wider organizational goals and is useful for your community. Digital media tools can be helpful in organizing and even automizing communication.

Our biggest learning comes from understanding that digital media use, like any other overarching organisational objective, is a team effort: Communications Officers or IT Officers working with digital media platforms require support, issue expertise, and collaboration from colleagues.

In addition, organisations greatly benefit from including the community in the process, in co-creating content, participating in a discussion and validating the use of digital media in an NGO context.

Photos are from M4ID’s March 2014 workshop in New Delhi with some of our partner NGOs