As a nonprofit, you want your mission to remain at the forefront of everything you do. Supporters’ role is exactly that — to support your causes and amplify the positive impact.
But sometimes, big donors, like corporations, take center stage and move the spotlight away from you. This may be due to their internal agenda or a misalignment between the organization and your nonprofit’s focus.
Whatever the case, here’s how you can prevent that from happening to keep control of your nonprofit’s voice and present a unified front regardless of who’s supporting your cause.
How to keep your nonprofit’s mission at the forefront
Craft a messaging strategy
It’s not uncommon for big corporations to back nonprofit organizations — and be vocal about it. Ideally, this support is mutually beneficial as you’ll get much-needed funds while the corporation fulfills its social responsibility.
However, as the one executing, your nonprofit must remain in control of the narrative. So, the first step is to be able to articulate exactly what your mission is, why it matters, and how you’re having (or plan to have) an impact.
This messaging will also get you buy-in and much-needed support for your nonprofit. A clear messaging strategy is essential to drive action because those supporting you understand what your nonprofit is about and let its mission be the driver.
Educate your supporters
With nonprofit communication, not only do you want to ensure that your mission remains at the core of your supporters’ activities, you also want them to have the tools to spread your message correctly.
In other words, you don’t want them to spread self-serving messages, and you certainly don’t want to risk them spreading inaccurate information about your cause. This would reflect poorly on your organization.
One way to educate your donors is to create resources they can consume and easily distribute — like pamphlets, brochures, and videos. This helps ensure that any public-facing communication is accurate and laser-focused.
Understand (and apply) the principles of nonprofit marketing
When you think of marketing, you may think about selling a product. But nonprofit marketing is slightly different. Instead of selling a product, its role is to:
- Increase awareness
- Educate about the cause
- Show why you need funds
- Attract supporters
- Earn people’s trust
A marketing strategy focused on educating, increasing awareness, and reaching an audience that resonates with your message is essential.
Take Toms for example. As a maker, they donate shoes for every pair purchased. And as a business, they support grassroots organizations. Their marketing clearly states the causes they support — mental health, ending gun violence, and increasing access to opportunities. This makes it easy for you as a consumer to choose whether to engage with them. Your nonprofit’s marketing should do the same.
Define your goals
Whether you’re after a grant or a donor, you want to set a target for the money you’re expecting to receive. In fact, most donors, especially large ones, will want a breakdown of what you plan to do with the funds.
Use this as an opportunity to tie your funds to a purpose — and align the purpose with the donor’s mission. For example, if you’re receiving a donation from a tech startup, it makes sense to use the funds for technological advancement, whether that means training your staff or expanding a community program.
There won’t always be a direct link like the example above, but if possible, it’s worth establishing it. This increases the chances of getting the funds. It also helps align your vision and theirs and makes your messaging more effective.
Be strategic about your partnerships
Of course, you don’t want to turn down donors. But you want to ensure that the people supporting you align with your principles and stand by your vision. Otherwise, there will be a dissonance between your nonprofit’s actions and its words.
This alignment also allows your mission to remain the focal point. You want a company that feels as passionately as you do about your cause. It’s not about them earning brownie points but actually having an impact on the causes that align with their organizational values.
Beware of funding that only allows your organization to limit your messages or directs you to specific activities that seem to direct your constituents to the products or services of the funder. Remember the purpose of supporting nonprofits is to help further their mission not increase sales or profits for the funder.
At the end of the day, it all goes back to how clearly you can articulate your mission
If you’re able to say what you do, whom you help, and how in a sentence or two, you’ll be able to keep it at the forefront. In marketing, this is called an elevator pitch. Here’s how you can craft one to easily share with organizations — and for them to share, too:
At nonprofit’s name, we’ve worked to achieve this change for the past time. We started working in field when trigger. We’ve always been passionate about your cause and learning about the main issue was the catalyst that propelled us to take action.
Here’s a fictional example:
At The Mental Health Foundation, we’ve worked to increase mental health awareness and access to care for the past five years. We started working in this space when we learned that 1 in X teenagers struggle with depression. We’ve always been passionate about mental health advocacy and learning about the incidence of suicidal thoughts in teenagers was the catalyst that propelled us to create a fund to support local mental healthcare providers.
The most important part of any nonprofit is the work they’re committed to doing. Everything you do and everyone you partner with should drive back to your mission. If you’re struggling to achieve this alignment, book a consultation now and together, we’ll create a strategy.