Blogger – Tana M. Schiewer

Ditch the 30-second Commercial. Build a Messaging Platform.

ditch the 30-second commercial 1

Nonprofit leaders and key stakeholders will spend days, weeks, even months discussing the precise wording to capture the mission and vision of an organization. They then place the mission statement carefully on the website, annual report, and other key documents.

But it often stops there.

Just making the mission statement available is not enough. To truly communicate your purpose, goals, and story to your audience, it is important to thoughtfully and purposefully create a messaging platform that inspires others to get involved. A messaging platform is a document that provides a solid foundation for how all staff, volunteers, and other key stakeholders of an organization will communicate with the public. It includes specific word choices, themes, and other guidelines for how to create messages in any circumstance. Think of it like a style guide for words.

“Well,” you might be thinking. “I have a 30-second commercial. That’ll do, right?”

To put it bluntly: no.

Thirty-second commercials are useful to a certain degree, but they often have two primary drawbacks:

They are too generic.

Not everyone thinks the same way  or is inspired by the same messages.

They sound too rehearsed.

This becomes painfully obvious if the commercial-giver stumbles to explain anything off-the-cuff.

Why Should I Care?

To discuss your nonprofit in a way that is compelling, it is important to tailor your message to your target audience while also having a number of talking points to call on in conversation. Developing a messaging platform connects your (often jargon-y) mission statement to regular interactions you have with potential donors, volunteers, or the people you serve. It also provides your key stakeholders with consistent messaging to use whatever the circumstance.

So, what should be in a messaging platform?

  • The name (or nickname) of your organization as consistently used across platforms
  • Names and descriptions of programs/efforts
  • Target audience analysis
  • Mission statement
  • Vision statement
  • Tagline
  • An organizational lexicon (agreed-upon terms, such as calling those you serve “clients” or “customers”)
  • List of positive impacts

Taking the time to create a messaging platform is well worth the effort. The result is consistent messaging that you can build upon to create case statements, grant proposals, fundraising campaigns, and yes—even talking points for those networking conversations.

To learn more from Tana, join us for her upcoming workshop on April 12, 2018 titled ” Compelling Messages for Nonprofits.”

Click here to learn more and register.

Tana M. Schiewer, PhD, is the CEO/President of Schiewer Consulting LLC, a consulting firm that specializes in helping nonprofit organizations and small businesses establish operations, fundraising plans, and communications that lead to success.