The number of nonprofits has more than doubled since 2002. When you take into account the stagnant giving and impact of the 2017 tax law, we find ourselves in an increasingly crowded pool of charitable organizations. Not only do donors receive twice as many requests from nonprofits, but between social media and the constant bombardment of advertisements and commercials, donors face an increasing amount of excess noise.
So how do you set yourself apart? How can you cut through the noise and ensure donors are hearing and fully grasping your message?
Clarify your message.
I think one of my biggest mistakes as a development officer was continually trying to put a different spin on my message. I looked for creative ways to say the same thing. I didn’t want donors to get bored hearing the “same old thing.” In my efforts to be creative, I think I often confused the message and confused donors.
Being creative does not have to compromise the heart of what you do. Your work is not boring. Your impact is not boring. Your message is not boring. In fact, those are the things to amplify. Keep telling donors the work you are doing, the impact you are having, and how they are a part. You do not need to be heard by everyone; you need to be heard by the right people. Clarifying your message will help you connect with those whose hearts are aligned with your work.
Here are a few elements to consider as you clarify your message:
1. Clarify your Pitch
Each message and medium will have a different pitch that captures the attention of your audience. This ranges from an enticing subject line, blog title, catchphrase, or elevator pitch. The pitch is the first impression audiences have of your message and your opportunity to connect through values, emotions, or life moments. Make your pitch clear, concise, and captivating. The goal is to get your audience to engage, whether that is reading your blog, watching a video, or listening to your message. An easy way to clarify your pitch is to state it in the form of a question. Spark audience interest by asking a question directed at them. When writing your pitch, you should be asking the question, ‘How does your message impact your audience?’
2. Clarify your Conflict
What problem are you solving? When sharing a message, you are telling your organization’s story, and conflict is essential. Conflict shows the need – the problem your organization is working to solve – and the need connects with a pain point for a donor. When communicating the conflict, answer these two questions: ‘Why is the solution to this conflict so vital? Why should your audience care?’ Add weight to conflict by including statistics to further illustrate what’s at stake.
3. Clarify your Solution
Your solution should answer the question, ‘How does your organization work together with donors to resolve the conflict? Provide specific actions your organization is taking to solve the problem at hand. Try to keep this portion of your communication to three sentences or less. If you are communicating online, you can add a link at the end of this section that directs your audience to learn more. If done well, clarifying your resolution can set up your call to action.
4. Clarify your Call to Action (CTA)
What specific action do you want your audience to take? Invite donors to join the story. Provide one or two clear actions for donors to take to join your work. You should include a primary and a secondary CTA. Your primary CTA is the preferred action. This can be to donate, make a pledge, sign up to volunteer, etc. Your secondary action should require less commitment. It may be a newsletter sign up, a call to follow you on social media, or even the opportunity to schedule a meeting. Secondary CTAs keep an audience engaged if they aren’t ready to donate, etc. It provides an opportunity to stay in the communication loop.
Your message should focus on answering your audience’s unspoken questions. How does your work affect them? What is the problem at hand, and why must it be solved? What will happen if your organization is not around to address the issue? How can your audience partner with you? Clarifying your message answers these questions and helps donors understand.
Donors want to support great causes and ministries. Make it easier for them. Craft a clear message.