Author’s note: This blog was originally written in 2014 and was updated in 2020 to reflect current information and practices.

Creating clarity and consistency in your organization’s communications assists your audiences to better understand 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 staff team members (as well as partners and vendors when appropriate) consider establishing an easily accessible set of documents that make up an effective messaging toolkit:

To help staff deliver your brand messaging, provide an easily accessible messaging toolkit that includes these 7 tools #NPMC Click To Tweet

Key messages

There are likely some aspects of your organization’s work that you (and your staff and volunteers) talk about regularly. Having well thought-out key points and preferred phrasing within easy reach can be a big help when you sit down to develop 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 a maximum of 3-5) 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 high level and focused, describing the benefits your organization offers to the community 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, usage stats, success outcomes, 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 information 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

Much of our correspondence is conducted electronically today and each message is an opportunity to reinforce brand identity. Include contact information but also consider adding links to social media, a current campaign hyperlink, 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.

7 tools to include in your nonprofit’s messaging toolkit #NPMC Click To Tweet
Angela de Burger

Angela de Burger

Angela de Burger is a communications professional who is passionately curious about the way individuals and organizations express themselves and connect to each other.