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What Happens When Your Nonprofit Organization Doesn’t Have Key Messaging?

crowd of people - non profit marketing

What Happens When Your Nonprofit Organization Doesn’t Have Key Messaging?

Fundamentals in Nonprofit Marketing

According to a survey of more than 1,500 fundraisers and nonprofit communicators conducted by marketing consultant Nancy E. Schwartz in 2012, just 24% of respondents said their messages connect with their target audiences. That means that more than 70% of nonprofits believe that their messaging isn’t meaningful to the people with whom they most want to communicate.

messaging pie chart - donor development

We all know that key messaging is important in establishing the credibility of your organization. But what’s the negative effects when you don’t?

Well here’s what happens when you DON’T have key messaging in place…

  • You send your women’s shelter director to speak to the Golden Ager’s Sunday school class at the First Baptist Church. They only learn about the women’s program.
  • You send your program director to speak to the local chapter of the American Nurses Association. They only learn about your long-term resident recovery program.
  • You send your long-time, most committed board member to speak at the Rotary Club. When he gets there, he finds out he can’t ask for money during his talk. This put him all out of sorts, so he ends up talking about why he is a board member. It’s very moving. They learn all about him and only a few things about your Mission.

Wait, you may be saying.

These all sound positive! I want people from my community to learn more about my organization’s services and programs, and how others are involved!

Yes, of course – it’s great that people know more about you and your work.

But without a unified key messaging strategy, your community is getting a very limited and fragmented idea about your organization. When your staff or board members only talk about the pieces they know, they may be leaving out the very pieces that separate your organization from others locally and make you different.

In short, what makes you different is what often makes a person choose to support your organization!

Developing key messaging isn’t just simple branding. It’s a strategy that summarizes who you are in a concise, clear and consistent way to communicate your organization’s identity and build your credibility in the community. Your credibility leads to contributions as you stand out in the crowd of hundreds of other nonprofits in your area.

Want to learn more about effectively getting your key messaging across and improving your organization’s credibility? Read our recent  article on how to get your key messaging across!


-Shellie Speer
Executive VP/Client Strategic Development

Shellie has been working side-by-side with Rescue Mission clients for over 30 years. She is the spearhead for Brewer Boost, which offers wraparound services like key messaging development and community engagement strategies. Her vision for an integrated donor communications model has empowered clients to set in motion successful development plans that strengthen their Missions’ financial foundations and partnerships in the community.