Nonprofit Communications Strategy: Determine your key messages

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Taking into consideration your goals and objectives and your desired audiences, it is now time to identify the essential idea or more likely the set of key ideas you want to communicate. These are messages that you decide are important enough to be featured across the tools and tactics of your nonprofit communications strategy. Therefore these messages are for the big picture of your strategy and not for a specific tool or tactic–though naturally one or more of them is likely to be prominent in these specific ways.

Developing key messages in a communications strategy

Develop the message or messages you want your target audience to hear. Write down each message in a simple, specific statement.

You may have different key messages or sets of key messages for different target audiences.

A clear description of the benefits to your audiences will help ensure that your message is received, understood and acted upon.

You do not need to always use the messages word for word. The idea is more important than repeating the exact wording. In some cases, you might even share a specific message without using the exact words but by elaborating on the idea and giving examples. The test is whether your key message is clearly understood.

Sample key messages

Here is a sample set of key messages that might be used by a charity helping people living with a disease and working towards a cure or how to prevent new cases.

  • We are making great progress in helping people with [disease] live longer, happier and productive lives.
  • Your participation can help us raise the funds we need to find a cure.
  • We have step by step instructions on how you can identify you may be dealing with [disease].

Tailor your messages to your audience

A post on KnowHow NonProfit on developing a communications strategy has an important reminder:

Remember that your messages should be relevant and appropriate to the audience. You might want to speak to your supporters and donors in much more forthright language than you would use for local authorities or other funders. But it is very important that there is a continuity across the messages. It is important that all of your stakeholders understand what kind of organisation you are, so your messaging needs always to link back to your key organisational objectives and values

Do you have any advice or questions about developing key messages?

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