A recent survey of over 1,500 nonprofit leaders reveals that their organizations failed to engage donors and grantees. Respondents included organization members from program staff to board members, with the majority in marketing or fundraising roles; organizations of various sizes, causes and locations were represented.
Nancy Schwartz, president of Nancy Schwartz & Company and blogger at Getting Attention explains that using descriptive and lengthy “messages generate a ‘so what, who cares’ rather than an ‘aha.’” Schwartz adds:
“The way nonprofits talk about their work, results and ultimate impact is a core competency critical to every organization’s success. The bad news is that most nonprofits admittedly are doing a poor job, despite their effort. The good news is that fixing the problem is highly do-able and promises vastly greater success in advancing their missions than they are experiencing now.”
Schwartz advises executive directors, boards and key marketing and fundraising leaders within organizations to make messages relevant.
Key survey findings include:
Seventy-six percent of the 1,566 nonprofit leaders who completed the survey this month said their messages connect with their target audiences only somewhat or not at all. This figure represents a 12% increase in the number of organizations whose messages do connect with their audiences, compared to the last Nonprofit Messages Survey in 2009.
84% of nonprofits suggest their messages are difficult to remember, reporting that their messages lack inspiration (70% generate a ‘so what’) and poor audience targeting (70% spur a ‘who cares’), while 26% of nonprofits suggest their messages are generally confusing.
Only 16% of organizations characterize their messages as powerful.
Survey participants’ shared some of the following comments about messaging:
- “Always about us, not about the people we’re communicating with.”
- “Too long and filled with jargon.”
- “Superficially inspiring. People respond strongly the first time they hear them, but not over time.”
- “Lack clarity, because we have too many cooks in the message kitchen.”
- “Good for each program, but weak or nonexistent for the organization as a whole.”
Full survey results with graphs and non-profit recommendations can be found: here