By far, the biggest concern I hear from my nonprofit clients is this:
“How do we keep our messaging consistent when we’re communicating with so many different audiences?”
And it’s true—most nonprofits are communicating with a lot of people:
- Program participants
- Event attendees
- Board members
It’s no wonder some organizations go into full-blown communication paralysis.
And yet, all audiences want to know the same thing—how’s it going with your mission?
Don’t focus on different audiences. Focus on your organization and expertly articulate who you are, what you do, and why you do it.
Lately, I’ve been helping organizations create a master messaging document—one file, shared across the organization, that contains approved, marketing-friendly copy–and the results have been incredible!
- An enormous amount of time spent wrangling and editing is saved
- Work is easier to create because a lot of it’s already done
- Communication is clear and consistent across audiences
- Communication is easier because you’re not starting from scratch
- People are relieved to have a guide and a way to move forward
5 STEPS TO MESSAGING TODAY
Less, but better, is so much more. Pull everything that you have together (web copy, grant proposals, annual reports, board presentations, emails, print pieces, etc.) and give yourself half a day to pull your communication’s act together (not to mention make you a hero).
1. Create a text document
Create a document and populate the following list with the best, and most relevant copy that you can find.
- Quick pitch
- Key messages
2. Quick pitch
I’m not using the word mission statement here. I want you to get this done quickly. You can use your mission statement as a starting point. The quick pitch should inspire people and make them want to support you.
World Wildlife Fund: We work to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth.
Doctors without Borders: We are Doctors Without Borders. We help people worldwide where the need is greatest, delivering emergency medical aid to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters, or exclusion from health care.
If your mission statement is a bit ho-hum and you need some help, check out my e-book, Mission Mastermind: Mission Mad Libs for Busy Superheroes, your guide to writing clear, concise, and powerful mission statements. It’s yours, free, when you subscribe to The Superhero Action Network.
3. Key Messages
What are your organization’s top 4-5 key messages? Write one clear and compelling paragraph about each. Give them a headline that you can use as a callout in web and printed materials along with a powerful photograph.
World Wildlife Fund focuses on six threats to the diversity of life on Earth: Forests, Oceans, Fresh Water, Wildlife, Food, and Climate. These are their key messages.
Key message: Oceans
Headline: Safeguard healthy oceans and marine livelihoods.
Description: WWF’s oceans work focuses on healthy and resilient marine ecosystems that support abundant biodiversity, sustainable livelihoods, and thriving economies.
4. About Us
Find a few paragraphs of your best copy to describe who your organization is, what it does, and why it does it. Then, turn it into marketing copy–copy that is written to get attention and inspire action.
Talk directly to your audience. Break up paragraphs to make your text more conversational. Remove boring words. Add bullet points. Tell your great story.
World Wildlife Fund:
It’s a big job. And no one person or organization can do it alone.
But together we can.
Together, we can achieve WWF’s mission to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth.
Together, in partnership with foundations, governments, businesses, communities, individuals and our more than six million members, we can conserve many of the world’s most ecologically important regions.
Together, we can
Protect and restore species and their habitats
Strengthen local communities' ability to conserve the natural resources they depend upon
Transform markets and policies to reduce the impact of the production and consumption of commodities
Ensure that the value of nature is reflected in decisions made by individuals, communities, governments and businesses
Mobilize hundreds of millions of people to support conservation
Together, we can protect life on our planet—including our own.
Because together, anything is possible.
5. Edit & Distribute
Once you’re happy with your draft show it to a few good writers, edit based on their feedback, share it with your team, and make this the beginning of your master messaging—the first step to establishing clear and consistent communication across all audiences. Use it everywhere you're talking:
- Annual report
- End-of-year appeal
- Grant proposal
Over time, you will expand this content. Shocking amounts of time will be saved. People will be happy. And, you’ll be a hero.
Communicating badly is a big drag. But it’s not a permanent condition.
You rock. Let it be known.
Susan K. Hughes
Superhero Brand Strategist
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