By Kelsey Boudin
President and Founder, Southern Tier Communications Strategies, LLC
We’re professional storytellers here at Southern Tier Communications Strategies, LLC. From content creation and website development to grant writing and donor outreach, we absolutely love strategizing, building and launching mechanisms for communicating a nonprofit mission effectively.
It’s astounding how communications are vital to success at every step for nonprofit organizations big and small. Without public relations and marketing, no one will know of your nonprofit’s community programs. Without donor outreach, you’ll never woo and nurture new and repeat givers. Without strong grant writing, you’ll never rake in the huge chunks of funding to support and sustain your activities.
The list goes on.
All of these have one thing in common that’s needed for success: conveying your mission. Anyone and everyone who can support or benefit from your organization must believe in that mission. Your mission is at the heart of everything you do. It’s what drives your work, inspires your team, and attracts donors and supporters to your cause. But how do you effectively communicate your nonprofit mission to your audience?
Here are some tips and tricks to get started.
1. Develop a Clear & Concise Mission Statement
First thing’s first. Your mission statement should be a brief and compelling summary of your nonprofit’s purpose and values. It should be easy to understand and articulate, and communicate your aims for impact.
A clear and concise mission statement is critical for communicating your nonprofit’s purpose and values. It’s the foundation upon which all other messaging and branding efforts are built. Here are a few tips for developing a mission statement that communicates s nonprofit mission:
- Use simple, direct language
- Focus on impact
- Be authentic
- Engage stakeholders
It doesn’t need to be overly flowery or explanatory. It’s nuts and bolts. And after you’ve finished, always review and revise with your team. (Here are some awesome mission statement examples.)
2. Use Storytelling to Illustrate Your Impact
People connect with stories, so use real-life examples and testimonials to illustrate your nonprofit’s impact. Show how your work is making a difference in people’s lives, and highlight the success stories of the people you serve. Stories help to humanize the work that you do and make it relatable. By sharing real-life examples and testimonials, you can illustrate impact.
Focus on the people your nonprofit serves. (Helpful hint: Your nonprofit is NOT the story. The people it serves are the story.) Let them tell their stories themselves – or help them to tell their stories through you. This could be through personal anecdotes, case studies or testimonials from individuals who have directly benefited from your programs or services.
In addition to highlighting success stories, it’s also important to be transparent about the challenges your nonprofit faces. Share stories about the obstacles overcome and lessons learned along the way. This can help to build trust and credibility, and demonstrate your commitment to transparency and accountability.
3. Visualize Your Message
It’s the 21st century. Words alone don’t cut it anymore. People are more likely to remember information when it’s presented in a visual format, so use images and videos to illustrate your mission and impact. Use a variety of storytelling techniques to keep your content fresh and engaging. This can include multimedia content of your team, your programs in action, and the people you serve in an immersive way. It could also include infographics, reels, charts and graphs.
Visuals are an effective way to grab people’s attention and communicate your nonprofit’s mission. They help to make your content more engaging and memorable, which can help you to reach a wider audience.
Use your visual content on your website, social media channels, email blasts, newsletters and other nonprofit marketing materials to bring your nonprofit’s work to life. (And don’t overlook the power of audio content like podcasts and voiceovers to augment your visual messaging.)
4. Leverage Social Media to Amplify Your Message
Notice I didn’t say “use”? Social media is a powerful tool for nonprofit communication, and can help you reach a wider audience with your message. It can’t simply be used. A nonprofit’s social media activity must be strategized and launched to experience maximum advantage.
Share your mission and impact on the appropriate social media platforms. But what’s appropriate? That depends on your target audience(s). If your nonprofit focuses on environmental issues, platforms like Instagram, Twitter and even TikTok might be more effective at reaching a younger, more socially conscious audience. If you work with businesses or primarily professional audiences, LinkedIn might be a better fit.
Create a social media strategy that aligns with your overall mission and message. To get organized and keep the content flowing, you’ll want to create a content calendar. Using hashtags and tagging other relevant accounts increases the visibility of posts and reaches new audiences. For example, if you’re hosting an event, you can use hashtags related to the event and tag the speakers or partners involved.
You must also use social media to engage with your audience and build relationships. Responding to comments and messages promptly, asking for feedback and input, and sharing user-generated content builds community around your nonprofit mission.
5. Engage Your Community
Your supporters are your best advocates, so engage them in your mission and ask them to help spread the word. Encourage them to share your message with their friends and family, and ask them to become ambassadors for your nonprofit. They can help you reach a wider audience and increase your impact.
Some easy ways to engage your community include:
- Creating a volunteer program
- Hosting community events
- Using email marketing/outreach
- Fostering an online community
Do this to build a network of dedicated supporters who are passionate about your mission and willing to give and volunteer to help achieve your nonprofit goals. Cultivate these relationships and make sure your supporters feel valued and appreciated for their contributions.
6. Be Consistent
Make sure your mission and messaging are consistent across all your communication channels, from your website to your social media accounts to your email newsletters. Consistency helps build trust and credibility with your audience, and reinforces your nonprofit’s values and purpose. Make it as easy as possible for people to understand what you stand for and how you’re making a difference in the world.
Create a style guide that outlines your nonprofit’s voice, tone and visual identity. This can include guidelines for things like the use of branded fonts, colors and images, as well as guidelines for the tone and style of your written communication.
Finally, establish a system for reviewing and approving all your communication materials. This can involve creating a multi-layered review process including board members, staff and even volunteers most experienced with your mission.
7. Emphasize Your Nonprofit’s Unique Value Proposition
What sets your nonprofit apart? Emphasize your unique value proposition, whether it’s your approach to service delivery, the people you serve or your impact metrics. Highlighting what makes you different can help attract donors, grant funders and other supporters seeking a nonprofit that aligns with their values and interests.
Your value proposition helps your organization to stand out in a crowded nonprofit landscape. It’s important to communicate not just what your nonprofit does, but how you do it differently from others in your field.
Begin by analyzing your organization’s distinct strengths and core competencies. Maybe you have an innovative service delivery approach or you work with particularly underserved or marginalized populations. Perhaps you have a unique fundraising model that allows you to have a greater impact with less overhead. Highlight specific examples of how this value proposition has led to tangible results.
Emphasize this in your messaging and outreach efforts. Incorporate it into your mission statement and communicate it clearly across all your communication channels including your website, social media, fundraising materials and grant proposals.
Ready to Launch These Strategies for Communicating a Nonprofit Mission?
Communicating a nonprofit mission effectively is key to building a strong, engaged community of supporters who share your vision and values. By using these tips and tricks, you can help ensure that your message is clear, compelling and resonates with your audience – for whatever purpose from outreach to fundraising.
Finally, always measure the impact of your communications efforts. Without measurement, there can be no feedback. Without feedback, there can be no growth. This can include metrics like engagement, reach and click-through rates, as well as anecdotal feedback from your audience.
If you’re having difficulty crafting your nonprofit story, don’t hesitate to hire an experienced communications consultant to hone your messaging.