Creating clarity and consistency in your organization’s communications assists your audiences in better understanding your mission, strategies and activities. In previous posts, I discussed elements to include when developing your brand guidelines, and items to provide in your organization’s visual identity toolkit. To round out the resources you offer to colleagues (as well as partners and vendors when appropriate), consider establishing an easily accessible set of documents that make up an effective messaging toolkit:

 

Key messages

There are likely some aspects of your organization’s work that you (and your staff and volunteers) talk about regularly, and having well thought-out key points and preferred phrasing within easy reach can be a big help when you sit down to draft items such as a presentation or an article. To start creating key messages, determine the focal point(s) you want to address and develop the key message(s) you want to convey. Key messages (aim for 3-5 max) should be clear, concise and easily understood. Keep in mind that it may be necessary to create specific key messages for each of your audiences in order to reach them effectively. Your key messages may also benefit from being supported by sub-messages and proof points.

 

Tagline

A well crafted tagline allows your organization to succinctly convey what you’re all about: capturing your brand promise and personality in a few well chosen words. Synthesizing your organization (or an event) down to a single, catchy tagline can be challenging but well worth the effort. Keep it focused, describing the benefits your organization or event offers to the community, and capturing the tone in 8 words or less.

 

Boilerplate

A brief description of your organization that can be included in items such as media releases is an invaluable tool. A boilerplate provides a consistent description that can be utilized as a standard paragraph for colleagues who need to describe who you are, what you do, and why you do it. In the world of boilerplates, keep things short and sweet: aim for 100-150 words.

 

Facts / Stats

A one-stop shop for your most-requested facts and statistics will be well-used in your organization. They can be put to effective use in annual reports, infographics and videos, to name only a few examples. Include info such as membership and usage stats, success statistics, in addition to key information about your organization such as when it was founded, number of programs and locations, etc.

 

Media release

When the time comes for media to be contacted, your organization’s message needs to be expressed clearly, concisely and in the correct format. Provide a template with logo and desired header information described, headline placement, text placement (what should be included in each paragraph), an indication the content has ended, your organization’s boilerplate, and where to include the primary contact related to the release.

 

Elevator pitch

Quick – how do you respond when someone asks what your organization does? What do your colleagues say? To increase consistency and help people spread the message about the great work you do, create an “elevator pitch” template. This should be an easy-to-remember, accurate and concise description of what your organization does and the benefits you create for your community, which can be (comfortably) delivered in 30 seconds or less.

 

Email signature

So much correspondence is conducted via email today, and each message sent is an opportunity to reinforce your brand identity. Include contact information, but also consider adding links to social media, a current campaign, or your organization’s mission/tagline. Consistency across your entire staff team will present a coordinated image.

 

Providing tools and templates to assist in conveying your nonprofit organization’s brand in all messaging opportunities will increase consistency and the comfort level of your staff and volunteers. Whenever they need to describe or communicate on behalf of the organization they’ll have all the info they need at their fingertips.

 

Angela de Burger

Angela de Burger

Manager, Communications at YMCA Canada
Angela de Burger is the Manager, Communications at YMCA Canada, a charity dedicated to improving the health and well-being of Canadians in body, mind and spirit. She is passionately curious about the way individuals and organizations express themselves.
Angela de Burger