The Six Keys to Great Messaging

Good branding matters whether you work for a company or a nonprofit. Whether you're selling a product or you're selling an idea. And good branding requires great messaging.

Before I started Transformational Impact LLC, I worked with my friend Ben Case at Case Consulting Services, Inc. Ben is reputedly one of the best major gift fundraisers in the world, having helped nonprofits raise more than $4.3 billion in his 40 years of fundraising.

In 2016, I helped Ben write a series on the Six Keys to Great Messaging. Here is a summary of those six keys.


Identify Your Brand

Your brand is the sum total of your target audience’s impressions, attitudes, and experiences regarding your organization. It is a set of expectations in the minds of your donors based on the spoken or unspoken promise made by your organization. A distinct brand identity is extremely important to your donors. It connects them to the heart and soul of your nonprofit. Once a brand is established, the nonprofit should guard ­­against coming out of alignment with it. You must have a clear brand.


Convey the Opportunity

For your nonprofit to attract significant contributions, it needs to describe a compelling and exciting opportunity that is worthy of support. A substantial opportunity must be expressed in both rational and emotional terms. Promote the success of your nonprofit to build trust, build support, and engender excitement.


Communicate Regularly and Consistently

Regular communication refers to the timing between your messages. For readers to be mindful of your nonprofit, informed about your mission, involved as co-laborers, and invested in your work, communications should be sent in a scheduled manner. Consistent communication refers to the timely delivery of your messaging, i.e., your branding. Donors feel a closer connection when they know what to expect in your communications and how you will deliver on that expectation.


Vary the Messengers and Means

Messengers are people you can count on to deliver your inspiring words to help you raise more money—the CEO and CDO, key Board members, faculty/fellows/staff and volunteers. Messengers must be credible. Means are the tools at your disposal to spread your message. Different donors will be moved by different communications. Know the preferred means of communication for your major donors. Test and track different media. Tell your story in a way that draws and engages your donors in authentic and genuine ways through every possible means.


Differentiate Your Organization

Establish your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) based on your nonprofit’s vision. After defining your preferred future, look at what your donors want to do through your organization, what you are really able to accomplish, and what other nonprofits are doing. Focus on that combination of what you do well, what your donors want done, and what other nonprofits are not doing. By focusing on this intersection, you stand out in your donors’ minds. Ultimately, you want your donors to think—and feel—that only your organization can best solve the problem your donors want solved.


Personalize Your Message

Great messaging requires that we keep the target audience in mind. Who are your donors, demographically and as individuals; what makes them tick? What’s important to them? Why have they gravitated to you and stayed connected? This is not one-size fits all. Connection requires creativity. What information about your organization will resonate with them?  What news will be of interest?  Educate them so they know how to engage in your organization’s mission. Help them see the big picture. Demonstrate how their involvement will have an impact. Draw in your donors. Make them part of the team.


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