by Amy Plotch | Oct 24, 2019

Coming up with effective messages is a challenge for most nonprofit organizations. 

  • How do you explain your complex organization in a way that people can understand? 
  • How do you get them to feel the excitement you feel for your vision and mission? 
  • How do you avoid getting stuck in the details and not conveying the big picture? 
  • How do you avoid drowning your message, in jargon, data and unintended stereotypes?

The most effective messages convey that the nonprofit organization is greater than the sum of its programs. They put into words what people already think and feel so they are authentic and easy to use. Most importantly, they activate the listeners’ commitment to contribute in their own way to the organization’s success.

I’ve helped organizations of all sizes address these challenges to develop messages that make an impact. Just like building a sandcastle, building messages is most successful (and most fun) when it involves a crowd. If you want to appeal to others, don’t go it alone. Here are a few tips to get started. Contact me if you would like help building your organization’s message and brand.

Messages need to accomplish three things

Define your organization or issue

Explain why it matters

Tell people what they can do to contribute

Know your audience. Who are they? What motivates them? What are their trusted sources of information? Why would they care about your mission?

Identify your ambassadors. Who will carry your messages? What resonates for them? Why are they committed to helping?

Put your mission into one clear, easy-to-follow sentence. Explain why you matter.Watch out for jargon. Focus on impact not process. Test with members of your target audience. Revise and test again.

Write down what you do to actualize your mission. Keep it short—no more than one sentence. Emphasize impact. Test and test again.

Identify an anecdote and/or data point to illustrate your points. This supporting evidence will reinforce your messages.

Don’t shy away from emotion. Let your passion shine through. It will inspire your audiences. 

Use facts and figures judiciously. They are important in bolstering your credibility, but too many numbers will blur in people’s minds.

Use your messages again and again and again.  Repetition breeds familiarity. You need to make your point twenty times if you want your audience to remember it.