The Road Ahead

Our analysis of the major opportunities and challenges facing the voluntary sector in 2024. Learn more

Planning your closure communications

This page is free to all

Once the decision has been made to close, you’ll need to decide who to inform and how to inform them.

Closing any organisation can create uncertainty for those affected by its work. By keeping people affected by your closure informed of relevant and accessible information, you can reduce their concerns and avoid any misunderstandings.

This can also provide an opportunity for you to involve them in the closure and seek additional support or assistance.

It’s helpful to have a plan for your communications. You should consider the following.

Who needs to be informed

Consider the main audiences you need to keep informed.

This might include:

  • service users
  • members of the public
  • funders
  • likeminded or partner organisations
  • organisations which refer people to you
  • any relevant statutory bodies.

When do they need to be informed

News of closure may travel fast and no one will want to hear second hand.

Carefully prepare and schedule your communications. Make sure those most affected by the closure hear the news first. For example, volunteers and service users.

Your key messages

Explain the key reasons for the closure. Try and keep it to a few short, simple statements which explain why you're closing and the next steps in the process.

You need to communicate why you're closing as well as what the closure process will look like.

How you’ll inform people

While you may want to tailor what you say to different groups, there should be commonality between what all groups are told.

For those most invested in your organisation, make face to face or direct contact the main communication channel.

What tone to take

Be empathetic and give people the chance to reflect on the impact your organisation has had.

Be honest about the implications of closure for your cause or the people you serve and explain what you’ll do to ease the impact of closure. While additional details and context may be useful, try to avoid being defensive or regretful.

Be clear about the finality of the decision. Share details of when and how your board made the decision.

How people can get involved

Think about what roles people can play in closing the organisation.

For example, can people’s memories of the organisation be compiled as part of any closure event or process? Will you be seeking volunteers to assist with the closure?

When updates will be available

If you can, give timescales and details of how people can be kept informed.

Responding to people’s reactions to closure can be a time-consuming task. Every situation will be different, but after the news is announced it’s important to monitor and engage with people’s responses.

Try to understand their perspectives and needs. Talk openly with them about the decision. Develop appropriate answers to common questions and evolve your initial communication and key messages.

You should bear in mind:

  • some may be shocked and worried. Prepare information on likely timelines, next steps and how the organisation can refer or signpost them to another organisation. If decisions on this haven’t yet been made, give a likely timeline for when this will be provided
  • some may be hostile to the decision. Where possible, focus on the common ground you all share and explain why trustees or members have made the decision
  • some may try to 'save' the organisation. Consider how to balance being open to new suggestions with the limited capacity you have to engage in further developments. Hold face-to-face discussions with trustees early to avoid any future conflict.

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 07 July 2023

Back to top

Sign up for emails

Get regular updates on NCVO's help, support and services