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Getting out the right messages about your nonprofit

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Hannah Brazee Gregory

Hannah Brazee Gregory

Hannah Brazee Gregory

When it comes to communicating through storytelling, nonprofit organizations have a huge advantage over corporations and businesses. Corporations wish they had the stories you have. But, what they do have at their disposal in most cases in a bigger budget and more resources.

However, the best storytelling does not necessarily involve the biggest budget. What is the secret? Tell your organization’s effectively.

Unfortunately, nonprofits too often miss the opportunity to get out the right messages about their cause. How can nonprofits overcome their obstacles and take advantage of what they have that corporations don’t? Avoid the four most common mistakes. (This is the first in a series unveiling the four most common mistakes, with specific tips on how to avoid these messaging pitfalls).

Mistake #1: Nonprofits look at their organizations from their point of view rather than the view of the audience they are trying to connect with. (You do not want to just “reach” your audience – you want to connect with them.)

There are several ways this happens. How can this be avoided?

  • Don’t talk about the organization, talk about the people.
  • Think from the perspective of your audience. And remember, something “new” to you or the organization is not necessarily “news” to someone else.
  • Don’t use jargon or institutional sounding language and try to avoid the use of acronyms (don’t fall into the “alphabet soup” mentality).
  • Ask yourself the tough question… “How is what I am trying to communicate relevant to what is currently happening in the community, in the world?”
  • Make it simple – the first step is to get their attention, especially with new audiences. Think of it like a first date. Would you tell your life story on a first date?
  • Shift your messaging mindset. Are you guilty of “megaphone mission” marketing? Are you talking about how great you are rather than trying to empower your audience?

With these guidelines, you can shift your organization’s messaging mindset and help further your mission.


Hannah Brazee Gregory is a nonprofit marketing communications expert and founder/managing director of Shoestring Creative Group. Hannah can be reached at contactus@shoestringgroup.com or 888.835.6236.

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