Yes, you read the title right. But, you say – fundraising is everything! Development plans are everything! Fulfilling our mission is everything! Community impact is everything. I still stand: Messaging is everything.
Every day we are communicating with each other whether in person, online, handwritten notes, texts or imagery. There is not a single day that goes by in your nonprofit’s world where you are not communicating with someone. Can you do fulfill your mission without funding? No. Can you budget without funding? No. Can you increase your donor base or grants without a solid development plan? No. However, can you do any of the above without communicating your need for funding, your mission, and your impact as an organization? NO. At the end of the day, messaging reigns supreme.
We find many of our clients unintentionally communicate conflicting messages. The message on their website doesn’t match up with the message they are sharing with their donors. The data in their funding proposals doesn’t match up with the focus of their mission. The impact of their organization in the community is absent from most of their communications and/or what most people see is the cry for money versus the story behind why donating would be so incredible. Often times it is because all of those on your team are so close to the cause they see the why as a no-brainer. Part of being a great communicator means stepping outside of what you know and stepping into what your audience knows.
Last fall we attended the PPA Summit where most attendees were parents of premature infants. Lori’s daughters are both micro-preemies which is why prematurity is a cause near and dear to NMS hearts. We all spoke the same language, used the same acronyms and understood the terms… that is except Betsy. Betsy is childless and hasn’t had anyone closer in her life have a preemie. As we sat down with organizations to discuss their messaging we often had to go back to the basics of what a NICU parent’s experience is like so Betsy could understand why having certain programs in place would make a difference. We had to educate Betsy on the why before she could understand the how. Are you taking the time to find your why? Are you breaking your messaging down to the basics where anyone off the street could understand the why? Once they understand they why they get very passionate about the how.
In August we will be focusing on how to troubleshoot your messaging, find the holes, and encourage your team to spread the why. If you have any questions you’d like answered about messaging let us know and we’ll integrate it in our posts.