Last Saturday afternoon in Chicago, staff and board members from 13 non-profits each sat with experienced communications professionals and described their communication goals and challenges. For two hours, these communication experts worked one-on-one with their agency to develop communication strategies and ideas specific to the agency’s needs.United Way of Metropolitan Chicago partnered with the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) to provide this free consultation for non-profits serving communities across the region. The program, called the “Gift of Communication,” engaged IABC members from around the world a day before the association’s World Conference in Chicago. They volunteered their time to help non-profits with critical communication issues, including website design, donor engagement, marketing and branding, community outreach, and overall communication strategies. Each table provided a two-minute report on their conversation.Niki Chibucos, the Director of Development and Public Relations at Aging Care Connections, remarked, “It was an afternoon very well-spent! Not only did we profit from the excellent feedback provided by Lori Nolin, but the reports given by each organization gave us multiple suggestions to incorporate into our communications. This program is invaluable for non-profits. Because our budgets are so minimal, the chance to meet with consultants from the ‘for-profit’ sector is very much appreciated.”In addition to the benefit for the non-profits, it was exciting to see that the IABC members themselves clearly enjoyed the experience. Michael Zimet, who co-chaired the “Gift of Communication” with Jan Graves, is hoping to expand this program across IABC chapters: “Our members are excited about this opportunity to give back to their communities, and we look forward to making Gift of Communication a truly global effort.”And the impact of the day goes even further. When these non-profits take the invaluable ideas they learned into their communities and begin to implement their plans, the real impact will be found in their strengthened ability to fulfill their agencies’ missions. United Way is proud to have been involved in Saturday’s program, bringing the energy and skills of IABC’s professionals into the Chicagoland community.Post submitted on behalf of Shira Saliman, Project Manager, Southland Capacity-Building Project, United Way of Metropolitan Chicago.