Now take a look at some of your communication materials – fundraising letters, thank you letters, website etc. Are your messages consistent in all your materials?
Inconsistent messages are fairly common among nonprofits, but don’t worry, it’s something you can fix.
Create a message platform
Putting together a set of clear, consistent messages, also known as a message platform, is a good project for you to do this summer.
Now whenever you create a fundraising letter or content for your website, you can draw material from this set of messages.
Having a consistent set of messages is essential when you have more than one person writing for your organization and as new staff or volunteers come on board. All your materials need continuity and a single voice.
Everyone in your organization – staff, board, volunteers – is a message ambassador, and needs to be involved. Although, that doesn’t mean they should be involved in every step of the process. Your best bet is to have a small group – marketing staff and board members with marketing experience – put together the message platform.
You may want to get some initial input from staff and board. Ask everyone a few key questions, such as:
- Who is your target audience? You may need to cater different messages to different audiences.
- What is important to them?
As you create your positioning statement and talking points, ask:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- How do you do it?
- Why is it important?
- What makes your organization unique?
- How are you making a difference for the people you serve and in the community?
- What do you want to achieve?
Keep it simple
This may sound obvious, but your goal is to make sure your reader understands your messages. Your messages should be clear and specific. Sometimes they’ll include a call to action. Write in a conversational style and steer clear of jargon. Create a Jargon-Free Zone Most people respond better to a human interest story than a lot of statistics.
Your messages should not say something like – We make a difference for at-risk students. Instead, say Our volunteer tutors help students boost their reading and math skills so they’ll have a better chance of getting into college.
Use language your donors will understand
Have someone outside your organization, a friend or family member, look at your messages. Something that’s clear to you may be confusing to others.
Stay consistent with a style guide
Continuing on the theme of consistency, I strongly recommend putting together a style guide. Create a Style Guide for Your Organization
Get everyone on the same page
When you’ve finished putting together your message platform, introduce it to the rest of your organization. Check in periodically to make sure everyone stays on the same page.
Here is some more information to help to you create a message platform.
Photo by David Dugdale – http://www.learningvideo.com