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Episode 36: 3 Things People Should Know About Your Nonprofit


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Let me ask you a question – do people know what your nonprofit does? 

This might sound like a silly question – your first reaction might be, “Of course people know what we do!” 

But do they really?

This is an all too common problem that nonprofits encounter. People might be aware that your organization exists, but what else do they know about you? 

Do they know what your mission is, how you help people, and what services you actually provide?

Maybe they just know you have something to do with helping the homeless, or teenage girls, or are a charity of some kind. The real facts are foggy to them.

Meanwhile, day in and day out, you go to work and do all you can to keep things rolling along.  But how often do you take a step back and ask yourself, “Are we clearly telling people who we are and what we do?”

Do your Facebook and Instagram posts, your emails, your blog – all your channels of communication to the outside world plainly tell people who your organization is and what you do?

What do you want people to know about your nonprofit? That’s what we’re talking about in this episode. I’m going to help you decide what are the most important things to share about your organization and how to get laser focused in your marketing so that people will never wonder again what your nonprofit does.

As an added bonus, in this episode, there is a quick but oh-so-helpful worksheet to guide you to the most important things you do. Download it here so you can work on it while you’re reading through these show notes. 

The problem we all have is that we’re very close to our organizations. 

You spend hours of your day thinking about it. You know all the ins and outs. You’re familiar with everything your nonprofit does.

When you’re so close to your organization, it’s wonderful because you bring so much heart, knowledge and experience to the table, but it can be tricky to remember that to the outside world, your organization is a mystery. 

There are two ways people learn about your nonprofit:

  • What you tell them
  • What they assume

If you don’t tell people clearly about your nonprofit, they will make assumptions. If you don’t tell them specific things, they will never know what’s accurate. Your organization will just exist in a fog for the people you want to serve, donors and supporters.

What you tell them in your Facebook and Instagram posts, your email newsletter, your blog posts, your radio ads, your Google ads – in everything – needs to be so clear and so specific – “snackable facts” as I like to call it. 

Giving a “snackable fact” is when you give someone one piece of information about your nonprofit. 

Use one snackable fact for one Facebook and Instagram post. One snackable fact for an email to your donors. One snackable fact for a blog post. Use one piece of information, one fact, and make that the focus of your communication.

For example, let’s say your nonprofit is a community center – a snackable fact would be that your community center has a great room with a dance floor. That’s just one fact! It tells the audience clearly about one thing the community center has to offer.

If your audience has a need to rent a venue or an interest in attending community events, do you know what they’re going to do next? Find out more. It’s just like with crackers or pretzels or Cheez-its – you are never going to eat JUST ONE. If you like it, if it interests you, you’re going back for more. It works the same way with your audience.

The community center has a great room with a dance floor. 

The community center has a great room with a dance floor. 

The community center has a great room with a dance floor. 

What does the community center have? The community center has a great room with a dance floor. 

I know it’s tempting to give more detail than that – but that’s what your website is for. That’s what your phone number is for. If people want more information, you can tell them what to do to get more information with a call to action. 

You might be tempted to think, why not tell them all the information about your facility up front? Why not post on Facebook in one big post that the community center has… 

“A great room that is big enough to host a concert with a dance floor, plus we have meeting rooms, plus we offer classes about cooking on Tuesdays, fly-tying Fridays, memoir writing every other Sunday, sewing and early childhood development on alternate Mondays, plus we have a kitchen for catering events such as weddings and high school graduation parties, plus we just redid the taxidermy in our mezzanine, plus, plus, plus…” 

What happens to the message? If your audience remembers any of it, what they did retain probably isn’t going to be accurate. 

It’s like playing the game of telephone where you pass on a message from one person to another and then they pass it on to the next person and so on. The longer the message, the more distorted it gets. 

Do you remember that first snackable fact I gave you a minute ago? 

Yes! You do! The community center has a great room with a dance floor. 

And how many times did I repeat it? A lot. I know. 

It worked, didn’t it? 

You remembered that the community center has a great room with a dance floor.

At the pregnancy care center where my mom is the executive director, she says she gets questions like, “how long do the girls live there?” or “do they come here to deliver their babies?” Actually, the center provides free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling and help getting a doctor. People know it has something to do with pregnancy, but to the outside world, it can be foggy. That’s why being clear and specific in your posts, emails and ALL communication is important – AND so is repeating your message again and again.

There is so much noise vying for attention in a million different ways, people are going to have a hard time remembering everything about your nonprofit. That’s why it’s so important to give out those snackable facts – and repeat them over and over.

Here’s an easy exercise you’ll love: 

Write down three things – three snackable facts that you want people to know about your organization.

Maybe it’s the services you offer

that they’re free, and 

that you’re open on the weekends. 

Or you can highlight your biggest, most popular service as a stand-alone item.

For a pregnancy care center, an example would be:

  1. You offer pregnancy tests, limited ultrasounds, and help getting a doctor.
  2. All your services are free of charge and confidential.
  3. Your trained counselors are here to provide resources for pregnancy.

Ok, now it’s time to get out that worksheet. You can download the worksheet right here.

Let’s work through this quick worksheet together.

There are four squares: 

In the first square, make a list of three products or services that your organization offers. If you have more than three, awesome, but I want you to put a star next to the three most important or popular ones. 

Then, in the second square, answer the question, what problem are you solving for the people you serve? You might have more than one answer for this, but it’s important for you to answer this question because it will help you determine what are the most important things that you do.

In the third square, write two examples of calls to action that tell people what to do next.

If “call to action” sends chills down your spine and makes you cringe, understand that giving a call to action is NOT “SALESY” or slimy or bossy in any way. 

You have to tell people where they can learn more, or where they can sign up, or where they can make an appointment. If you don’t tell people what’s the next step, how are they supposed to move forward if they are interested or need your service? 

Your audience needs to know what to do next. Tell them.

In our example about the community center, people were given a snackable fact: The community center has a great room with a dance floor.

The follow up call to action would be this:

The community center has a great room with a dance floor. Reserve it now at communitycenter.org.

Finally, in the fourth square, after you’ve answered the questions in squares one, two and three, you’ll write down three things you want people to know about your nonprofit.

You’ve gone through the entire thought process on the worksheet.  You’ve identified what your nonprofit’s biggest assets are, what problem you solve for people and how to tell them where they can learn more. 

Now, it should be easier to think of three things you want people to know about your nonprofit. 

For example, we can go back to those three things the pregnancy care center wanted people to know about its nonprofit organization:

  1. It offers pregnancy tests, limited ultrasounds, and help getting a doctor.
  2. All the services are free of charge and confidential.
  3. Trained counselors are there to provide resources.

Once you’ve determined those three things that you want people to know about your nonprofit, repeat them over and over in your posts, emails, blogs - everything. You might feel like it’s annoying, but I’ll let you in on a little secret – by the time it starts to feel annoying to you, it’s JUST STARTING to make a dent in your audience’s minds. 

If you’re annoyed with hearing your own radio commercial, or you feel like you’ve posted the same thing on Facebook or Instagram over and over – you’re doing it right.

You can freshen up the way the message comes across. You can change pictures, you can change the way you say things, but don’t change the point.

Know clearly what you do; say clearly what you do, then the people you serve will learn and know what you do.

One last thing – I think this is a great idea, my mom does this at her nonprofit – write down one or two of the products or services your nonprofit offers – “your mission” and why you offer them - “your vision statement.” Then, print it out on slips of paper, and hand them out to your team. Read and repeat this statement every single day. Make it a part of your morning ritual when everyone gets to work. This will help you and your team know clearly who your organization is and what you do. It all starts with you and your team knowing. 

It’s super important to fill this out today or tomorrow so people can learn what your nonprofit offers. Get clear on those snackable facts and what you want people to know about your nonprofit. 

This is going to be SO helpful to you and make a huge difference for your organization, so download the worksheet today or tomorrow and fill it out while this is fresh in your mind. If you haven’t downloaded the worksheet from this episode yet, grab it now 

If you have any questions – I’m right here for you! Ask away! Send me a message on Facebook or Instagram or send me an email through NonprofitPotential.com and I’ll happily write you back with an answer!

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