As a nonprofit, it is so important to be clear with your message.
Your organization needs to talk to potential supporters, volunteers, program participants, staff members, board members, and more. Your messaging is competing with so many reputable and worthy alternatives simultaneously.
If you confuse your audience, you will lose them.
Think about it: a nonprofit's marketing collateral often competes for attention with dozens, if not hundreds, of other options to pay attention to on any given day in your audience's daily life. To stand out and make a meaningful impression, you must communicate your mission and message quickly and efficiently. If you confuse your audience, you will lose them.
In today’s world, you can use clarity to your advantage.
As a nonprofit leader, you know the importance of marketing your organization well.
After all, if people don't know about your excellent work, they can't support you. And while you may not have a large budget to spend on marketing, there are some simple things you can do to get the word out there. You know the saying, "a picture is worth a thousand words?" Well, sometimes you don't need a picture or a thousand words. All you need is a set of well-chosen words or phrases to make that first and lasting impact.
Here's a Test: Does your entire leadership team know how to succinctly and compellingly share what your organization is all about?
A.R.T. of Engagement
When I am helping a nonprofit organization to build a marketing engine that works, we use a content marketing framework called the A.R.T. of Engagement to create raving fans for their mission.
This signature framework does three things:
- Establishes your Authority
- Demonstrates Relevance
- Builds Trust with your audience
When you accomplish these three things, you start to experience engagement by your target audience and can nurture raving fans consistently. So, where do you start? One of the first things we need to do is quickly define the topics for which we are claiming authority.
The First Two Tools in Your Toolbox
You must first tackle two items if you want to target, engage, and attract raving fans for your mission.
- A Tagline
- A One-Liner
A tagline and one-liner are both devices of your communications toolbox that frame the authority of your organization and programs.
Spending time now to create the perfect tagline and one-liner is the first step to getting everyone on the same page and helping them champion your nonprofit to everyone they meet.
Both these two communication pieces are similar but different. Your tagline is a distillation of your organization's purpose. It should be short, clear, and easy to remember. It's not about emotion; it's about logic. On the other hand, your one-liner empathetically connects your target audience to your cause, so they are more likely to take action when you present a call to action. Think of this as a micro elevator pitch.
Now that you know the difference, let's look at an example:
Nonprofit Tagline Example
Usually, you can construct a tagline by following the template: We [Do This] For [Whom]
World Impact's Tagline reads: “We help train and equip [church leaders and workers] to [serve the urban poor.]”
In this example, you see a template variation being used: We Help [Whom] To [Do This].
Here are some other templates you can use to build a compelling tagline for your nonprofit:
- [What] for [Whom]
- [Does This] to/and [Get This Benefit]
- [What] [With What Benefit]
- [Get This Benefit] [By Doing This]
- Because Every [Who] Needs [Benefit]
- Let's End [Problem] for [Whom] Right Now
- Let's Ensure Every [Whom] [Gets This Benefit] Today
- [Action] for tomorrow's [Whom]
Nonprofit One-Liner Example
For a one-liner, we use a 3-part formula: [Problem] + [Solution] = [Success/Result].
World Impact's One-Liner reads: “[Many leaders struggle to sustain ministry impact and growth in urban neighborhoods because they don’t have the training they need.] [Our five core programs help leaders] [build healthy churches and help individuals, families, and neighborhoods flourish.]”
As you can see, the one-liner should read as a three-part micro story, roping in the audience in a way that shares what your organization is about.
Just a warning, one common objection by nonprofit leaders is that "we do so many things."
Sometimes it isn't about being comprehensive all upfront. It is about priority and sequence. Just think, in any given relationship, you don't go in sharing your entire resume, life story, blood type, and more on the first interaction, do you? Suppose you think of this as a budding relationship with someone who will become an ambassador, supporter, or high-capacity participant. In that case, it becomes easier to sharpen that tip of the sword you can use to tell the first micro story of your fantastic organization.
A Question to Find Your Frame
When the perfect fit "stranger" first encounters your organization, what specific aspect of your organization would interest them the most, so that it would propel them to learn more?
This is the key to finding the best frame for your one-liner.
As with most "elevator pitches," the goal is to create something concise, accurate, and articulate.
As with most "elevator pitches," the goal is to create something concise, accurate, and articulate. Otherwise, you'll miss the real opportunity in front of your perfect audience if you leave it up to ad-hoc, on-your-feet thinking. Those moments are too precious for that.
Two Ways to Write These Statements
When you sit down to write down your tagline and one-liner, you might encounter a common question/decision opportunity that many cause-driven organizations face with this activity.
The tagline and one-liner can be written for the donor audience or for the communities an organization serves. Each can be quite different. Usually, one version only works for one audience. Which audience you write it for is up to you. However, there is value in writing both versions so that you have appropriate contextualized ways to communicate with each audience. After all, you will most likely create campaigns and communication projects intended for each sub-audience separately – where the other sub-audience wouldn't usually be exposed to it at the same time.
Time invested now thinking through the message for both audiences will save you time later.
Solving these two pieces is the first step to experiencing the benefits of applying the A.R.T. of Engagement. The best part is that you can utilize your tagline and one-liner anywhere and everywhere you communicate, internally and externally.
Now it's your turn: What's your tagline and one-liner?
Kenny Jahng leads Big Click Syndicate, a content marketing agency helping ministries nurture raving fans for their mission - including American Bible Society, Biblica, California Baptist University, CDF Capital, FiveTwo Network, Leadership Pathway, Living On The Edge, and World Impact. He earned his Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, MBA from Columbia Business School, and B.A. from Duke University. Kenny is also editor-in-chief of ChurchTechToday.com. You can connect with him on BigClickSyndicate.com, Instagram @KennyJahng, or LinkedIn.