When you look back at your communications over the last year, were the messages consistent? Were those messages powerful and on point? Or do you find yourself wondering how it all ended up so scattered?
To be honest, most non-profits find themselves in the “scattered” school. Yet, messaging is a foundational piece of the storytelling, marketing, communications, and fundraising puzzle. The more consistent you can be, the better. In today’s post, we are going to explore the basics of messaging and how it can help your storytelling efforts.
What is Messaging
Messaging is a term used to describe a high-level point that you want to convey. Usually, it is a specific idea that you want someone to remember.
In the non-profit context, some examples of a message include:
- Your organization’s mission or vision statement
- Why supporting your funding priorities is vital
- What a donor’s impact is
- Your theory of change
Those are just a few of examples of what a message might convey. Depending on the complexity of your fundraising program, you may have multiple messages that rotate over the course of the year.
I also appreciate what Dan Gunderman at Big Duck shared in his post, What exactly are key messages, anyway:
“The purpose of developing key messages is to identify the elements that any description of your organization must include, to use these elements to build a structure for your story, and to offer sample language for telling that story.”
Why Does Messaging Matter
Messaging might seem like a trivial thing or it might seem like a daunting task — depends on what your comfort level is with communication. Regardless of where you are on that scale, I can assure you of one thing: messaging matters!
Without a strategic, intentional message, it is very easy for your nonprofit to get side- tracked. When that happens, the external perception of your organization may become inconsistent. Often, you give people more information than they can remember or even contradictory messages. This is a problem that prevents your organization from having a strong voice and position.
The other benefit of messaging is that the more you strategically undertake messaging, the easier it will be to write about your organization. You will know what point you need to make; no more starting from scratch each time. In the future, you will be able to remain consistent and focused.
Messaging and Storytelling = A Perfect Match
“You’re not telling a story for the sake of telling a story.” I say this all the time when teaching others about storytelling. It is absolutely true — stories are a type of content, and that content needs consistently fit with a bigger picture. Furthermore, stories are an opportunity to help people remember your message.
When you are thinking about what stories you want to share with your donor audience this year, start with your messages. Each story should reflect the message that you want to convey to your donors. Use your message as a compass to help you determine what stories to tell.
Looking for examples of messaging in action? Check out this case study about MAMA.