This week MarketingModo is kicking off a three part series on marketing for nonprofit organizations. First, we will look at how nonprofits can turn their mission statements from flab to fab and into effective marketing tools. Part 2 will look at how to use marketing for fundraising success and Part 3 will look at how nonprofits can use the latest digital marketing techniques to expand their reach.
Your nonprofit’s cause can be the most important one in the world. It can be feeding starving people in developing countries or saving wildlife and their habitats. It can be a slew of things, but people won’t be interested in joining you in your crusade unless you can make a meaningful connection with them. What you need to do is find a compelling and inspiring way to describe what you do and how your organization makes a difference in the world. One great way of doing this is with your mission/purpose statement. Most nonprofits have formally stated mission objectives on their webpages, but unfortunately, many don’t use these statements to help them do their marketing. To many it is nothing more than a bunch of sentences that came out of the legal department and we know what poets they are in there. The stakeholders in your cause or mission will judge every move you make when you present your nonprofit as a solution to a cause. Because of this, marketers pay very close attention to how they portray themselves to the world at large. Absolutely nothing is left to chance because they know having a clear vision about where they are taking their organization can enhance the impact of their marketing.
Your mission statement also determines how you will measure success in the long run. The metrics or KPIs on how you track your progress are not really what you think they are. They are not how much money you raise, how many volunteers you recruit, or even what kind of campaigns you develop. Yes, these are important but they are not THE most important thing that you can be watching. The most important thing is how well your organization brings about sustainable change that accomplishes the mission that you have set out to conquer. All the other aspects of your organization are important and necessary, but, if you are not careful, they can quickly become too focused on them and drain your ability to accomplish your goal. Many nonprofits have worked their way into failure without realizing it by doing this. At MarketingModo, we have never encountered a nonprofit that couldn’t use a little more cash on hand. Truth be told that applies to people as much as nonprofits. But in nonprofit marketing, money is not the primary motive, or at least it shouldn’t be. Impact should be the focus. Your “profit” is to have the most impact on your mission with the resources you have. A good question to ask yourself is this – do you know what profits or helps your mission, or what hurts your organization’s desired outcome?
Your Greatest Marketing Weapon is Your Mission Statement
Come on, time to be honest; If you are like many organizations, you have a mission statement that sounds academic or one that sounds as though it was created by a robot. To mobilize people and really get them into a cause, you have to capture their hearts and their imagination. Furthermore, you have to make them believe you can deliver on your promises. No one will help you save the rainforest if they don’t think you can save a scrub in your front yard. Your everyday, run of the mill mission statements don’t do that very well. In fact, most don’t it all all. Our goal here is to help you turn your current mission statement into a marketing tool. It can help you very clearly focus your current mission statement in ways that will also get the attention of the people you want to reach.
Marketers know that every point of contact your organization has with people is marketing. Plain and simple. If it is customer facing- it is marketing. I know the sales folks are probably flipping as they read this but it is the truth. Your mission statement touches everything you do and is seen by everyone that you connect with online and off. With something that vitally important, it makes a world of sense to look at it with a marketing mindset. Your mission statement should be written with no less thought than the most expenseive advertising campaign you are doing receives. It is that important. You wouldn’t expect a Super Bowl ad to be written by a bunch of lawyers, would you? Neither should your mission statement. Restating your purpose with a marketing mindset can help your organization better connect with people. A good question to ask yourself is this; if your mission statement came up in an internet search (which by the way WILL happen) would you want to click on it? Another good question to ask is what keywords would you want people to find you with?
So now you know how important your mission statement is and the beginning of what you need to do. Now we will should you how to take it to the next level. The top three things that you should consider when writing your mission statement are:
1.) Your number one passion. When people write what they are passionate about, it comes through the writing.
2.) What you are best at. What one thing do you do your best work on?
3.) A clear sense of what the bottom-line impact you are trying to make. What are you trying to accomplish.
Sit down and go through all of the information that you have; write down everything you know about what your organization does into just three and only three sentences and no we don’t mean three sentences that take up a paragraph. Put too much information in your sentences and your audience’s attention will start to plummet like a barrel over the Niagara. Imagine you are going to use this as your “elevator pitch.” Suppose you have just gotten on an elevator and as soon as the doors close, another person, imagine he/she is the richest person in the world and is crazy about causes similar to yours, and they ask you to tell them about your organization. Its go time. You have 30 seconds. If you can’t do this in 30 seconds, you may be too complicated to become the subject of people’s conversations. If that is the case, you may have bigger problems than marketing. Just remember, yes you want this person to write a large check for your cause but that shouldn’t be what you focus your mission statement on. Follow the guidelines above and the funding will come.