About This Tool

If nonprofits are going to succeed, they have to be strategic about how they use communication. They need to have a clear sense of who they are and why their mission matters and how to successfully convey that to their audiences. They need to embed effective communication throughout the organization and have the systems and discipline to measure the results.

Spitfire developed the SmartScan™ as a free online tool to help nonprofits assess where they are poised to be communication powerhouses and where they have 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.

This is not a pop quiz. For optimum results, participants will need to take a hard look at organizational materials and systems and engage their colleagues in the process. The payoff is a clearer understanding of what the organization is doing well and should keep doing and where more communication capacity or resources will enable it to create a bigger impact.

The SmartScan was created by Spitfire with generous support from the Ford Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. A special thanks to Eric Brown, Andy Goodman, Alfred Ironside, Minna Jung and Alexis Sanford for their insights and inspiration.

How this Works

The Spitfire 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.

  • 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.
  • Planning Too often, nonprofits 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 be a truly communicating organization, a nonprofit must integrate effective communication into its daily operations. The SmartScan assesses how an organization is doing when it comes to implementing best practices in critical communication areas (i.e. media relations, storytelling, digital strategy and delivering an engaging elevator speech). It also notes whether the nonprofit is a learning organization and how well it stays up on new communication best practices.
  • Results Above all, nonprofit communication activities must lead to progress. The tool offers a way to know whether an organization has the right systems in place for tracking results and the discipline to act on what they discover.

About Spitfire

Spitfire is a communication and campaign planning firm that specializes in helping nonprofits and foundations raise their voices to make change happen. We bring our clients’ ideas to life with smart communication, innovative campaigns and tailored learning opportunities to help them win big.

We love making positive change happen, and we know how to help organizations put this change in motion. Whether engaging stakeholders in global campaigns, inspiring new behaviors through targeted outreach or reaching out to hundreds of thousands through social media, Spitfire gives nonprofits and foundations what they need to achieve their goals.

We're committed. Not only will we move heaven and earth for our clients, we stay active throughout the nonprofit and foundation communities as board members and volunteers.

We know your world, and you can trust us to make great things happen in it.

Experience that Delivers Insight: Having served in policy, nonprofit and foundation leadership roles before joining our team, Spitfire’s senior staff has walked a good deal in our clients’ shoes. They bring their experiences to the active roles they play in every client engagement.

Only Spitfire works exclusively with foundations and nonprofits, enabling us to truly grasp the challenges our clients face each day. We provide smart counsel from day one—no learning curve required.

A Hands-On Approach that Delivers Value: The Spitfire approach is simple: Find out where our clients need to go, then work with them to get there. We assign a tailored team to every project, developing and implementing strategies that draw from more than a decade of lessons from the field. 

Collaboration that Delivers Results: With Spitfire, the door is always open. We consider our clients partners and engage them every step of the way. We recalibrate and readjust our plans as necessary, and we don't suggest a project or strategy unless we know it will be an appropriate and successful one for you.

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