Thou shalt be consistent in your communications.
Good messaging is everything.
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? Again, 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.
I 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 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.
Strive for consistency in messaging and design, and make sure all communications can be linked directly with an organization’s mission.
Speak to your lowest common denominator, that person who might not understand all your fancy industry-specific lingo but believes whole-heartedly in your cause. Help them understand the is and outs of why your cause is so important.
Still not convinced? Check out every writer’s go-to: On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction (30th Anniversary Edition) by William Zinsser. See Chapter 16: Business Writing: Writing in Your Job. Here, Zinsser cautions against writing like an institution. Our advice: write like yourself, and find your audience and then cater to them. It’s so important. If your audience is primarily families in transitional housing, how should your voice sound? Friendly? Approachable? Comforting? Perhaps. Corporate? Overinflated? Stuffy? Not so much.
If your organization isn’t sure of its consistent voice, it’s worth a conversation with your key stakeholders. Think about how you want to be known, who and where your audience is, and create verbiage that speaks to that.
Once you know who you are as an organization and how your communicative voice should sound, turn your efforts to the consistency of posting content on a regular schedule on your website and social media platforms. Need to get organized on that? Contact us for our content calendar.