Most of us know how frustrating it is to miss an opportunity to hook someone on our organization. If you’ve ever felt like you haven’t communicated clearly about the nonprofit you love when you had the chance, this post is for you.
Being prepared to make a strong connection with would-be supporters means having powerful key messages memorized and ready to roll off your tongue. At Mission Minded, we think of messaging as a practice of prioritization. You don’t always know how much time you’ll have to talk about your work when you get the chance, so you better make sure you’re ready to say the most important things first. From there, if you’ve piqued interest and are granted more time, you can continue by sharing more about why your work matters and the impact it has.
That’s why we developed the Minute Message Model: So you and everyone in your organization can prepare and practice messages that will make a connection every time, whether you have one minute or ten minutes to tell your story. Take a look at the structure of the Minute Message Model:
Over the next several weeks, we’ll be publishing a series of blog posts about the purpose of each of these message types, and giving you tips on how to craft them for your organization.
Let’s start with the Belief Message, which is the most important message your organization can have. Most of our clients even use their Belief Message in places where they previously used their mission statement – it’s that compelling.
You’ve probably heard the term “elevator pitch.” It’s the message you would share if you only had an elevator ride’s duration to convince someone to love your idea. That’s what a Belief Message gives your nonprofit: A fast, easy way to capture the attention and interest of would-be supporters.
So how do you craft your Belief Message? First, it should be created with your brand strategy in mind. (Get started thinking about your brand strategy here.) Then, based on your brand strategy, your Belief Message should:
- Define simply
- Give high-level information
- Share your vision
- Build comprehension
- Suggest the problem you solve
And it has to do all of this in just a few short sentences. Tall order, right?
With our clients, we like to get started with a simple fill-in-the blank formula inspired by Mad Libs.
(Your organization’s name), believes (deeply held value). Every day we (verb)(object) for (constituents). Because (problem statement or opportunity statement).
It may not seem very inspiring at first read, but, with some time and consideration, input from those who know your organization best, and some careful editing, your completed Belief Message can really pack a punch.
The first part of the Belief Message is intended to share your high-level vision and give a glimpse of your organization’s values. The second part explains what you do. And the final part—the “Because” statement—tells the listener why they should care.
Take a look at the elements of Youth Outside’s Belief Message:
Here are some more Mission Minded client examples:
Eden Housing is a non-profit with more than 50 years of experience in tackling affordable housing from all angles.
We believe that home is where your start is.
Every day, we create the housing needed to make sure all of our
neighbors have a place to call home.
Because safe and affordable housing helps families stay secure, allows
communities to thrive, and solves many of our cities’ most pressing
Napa Community Foundation
Napa Valley Community Foundation works side-by-side with local donors
and nonprofits to tackle the most important challenges our Valley faces.
We believe that a prosperous community rises from a strong foundation.
Every day we gather generous hearts and bright minds to solve the
problems that lie beneath the surface of this beautiful place we call home.
Because when we harness the power of our collective generosity, we become a
force for good – making life better for everyone in the Valley.
Wu Yee Children’s Services believes nothing is more essential than excellent
child care and education for all our children, right from the start.
Every day we partner with parents, as well as countless individuals and
organizations across San Francisco, to provide a network that strengthens
and connects a diverse, resilient community around our children.
Because when we stand up for children, we stand up for one another.
At Curtis School, each lesson, exploration, and experience begins with the child;
what do they need to feel a true and lasting connection to their learning?
Because when every stage of childhood is deeply understood and honored in
the education of minds, bodies, and hearts, learning is forever joyful.
Each of these messages introduces, inspires, and intrigues, and your Belief Message should, too. Armed with a sure way to clearly communicate the big vision of your organization, you’ll never again be faced with that crippling feeling of not knowing what to say when someone asks what you do. As a result, you’ll play an important part in influencing your organization’s brand (or reputation) and ensuring that your listener has a clear idea of why your organization matters.
Stay tuned for the next installment in the series when we’ll talk about Problem Messages. Their job is to hook people into understanding the problem your nonprofit exists to solve.