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Your Organization’s Story: What You Believe

Posted by on April 26th, 2016
Posted in Blog, Nonprofit Branding, Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Messaging    Tags: , , , ,

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 organization 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 with more specific messages.

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, arguably, 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 Mad Lib 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.

Vesper Society
Vesper Society believes in a simple idea: a just society begins when everyone is well, and respected as a human being. Every day, we link arms with leaders of overlooked communities that want to create a healthy future, and help them devise ways to do it. With long-term solutions in view, we are one step closer to realizing the potential for healthy communities to thrive and prosper.

Performing Arts Workshop
At Performing Arts Workshop, we believe that arts education teaches critical thinking skills that are vital in a 21st century economy. Every day, we teach art in schools for kids—especially kids from low-income communities—because without it, they’ll be unprepared for work and life.

Marin Horizon School
Marin Horizon School believes that every child can grow up to make a difference in the world. Every day, our faculty enthusiastically delivers a top-notch education to children from preschool through middle school in joyful classrooms where academics and integrity are of equal importance. We do this because the world doesn’t just need smart people. The world needs smart people with the courage to be kind and to stand up for what’s right.

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.


Jennie Winton is a Founding Partner of Mission Minded, a 25-year marketing veteran sought for her expertise in branding nonprofit organizations, and a one-on-one leadership coach.

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