Crafting your Nonprofit Message
How to create a powerful message worth talking about
As a nonprofit, you have the opportunity to tell an amazing story. But you also have the responsibility to tell that story in a concise, accurate and powerful way. It’s a tough thing to do — but once you find your message, you’re able to do so much.
Here are some of the best ways to craft your nonprofit message. Start by taking a meaningful look at your organization and the work that you do. Ask yourself some of these questions:
- As an organization, what difference do you make?
- With considerable detail, how do you make an impact?
- What would your community look like if you weren’t there?
- Specifically, how can people support you?
By no means is this an exhaustive list, but it will get you started in the right direction.
Let’s start at the beginning.
What difference do you make?
This question is a big one — and it can be answered in a few different ways, depending on who you ask. For example, if you ask someone on the front lines, they might say that the organization is changing lives. If you ask someone from a finance background, they might talk about the importance of investing in the community.
Part of your role here is to find the common denominator that really drives home all of those different points. At the end of the day, your organization does one thing really well, and it contributes to all of these perspectives. So, what’s your thing? Be clear and to the point.
For example: “We focus on helping people facing homelessness in the region.”
How do you make an impact?
This sounds very similar to the first question — but it’s actually pretty different. Now, you should be thinking about how you are able to make the difference you described earlier. What programs do you run? What initiatives do you have? What opportunities for community involvement exist?
It’s important to be detailed at this point. You don’t want to be ambiguous about your work. The more detail you can give, the better. The last thing you want is for potential donors to make wrong conclusions about your work.
For example, a detailed message could be: “By focusing on community research initiatives, we are learning more about poverty in the region and can help to effectively alleviate homelessness.”
What would your community look like if you weren’t there?
In a bit of a thought experiment, you can start to imagine what your community would look like if your work was suddenly gone. Would it be worse off? How? Take some time to discuss these questions with your team and even with some stakeholders. These thoughts can become large parts of your messaging moving forward.
By positioning your organization as a vital part of the community, you are able to stir up some very powerful messages. And this all contributes to a compelling nonprofit message.
An example of this type of message would be: “Last year, our services helped 10,000 people. What would those 10,000 people do without your support?”
How can people support you?
Boldly asking for support is often glossed over when it comes to nonprofit messaging. It shouldn’t be an uncomfortable thing to do — in fact, it’s a major part of the job! So, just as there should never be any ambiguity about what you do, there should never be ambiguity about how people can support you.
Where can people donate? Can people sign up to volunteer? Would promoting your services be helpful or harmful?
When you make this part of your nonprofit message, you can weave in messages of community, such as: “Together, we can help” or “When we volunteer as a community, we can make a difference”
After this mini exercise, you will have a better understanding of your nonprofit’s message — answered from many different perspectives. So, you can pull from these buckets strategically, and craft a truly powerful message, catered to your audience at the time.
But the formula is simple:
Your message = What do you do? + How do you do it? + Why is it important? + How can people help?
At Keela, our message is simple: We help nonprofits work better by providing powerfully simple tools that help them manage donations, contacts, email campaigns, and projects — all in one spot. Want to give it a try?