In our work with not-for-profit leaders who create strategic plans, we counsel them to adopt a memorable mission - something easy to remember that conveys what your organization’s purpose is. We suggest they use their “no more than 10 words” mission statement as a tag line in their e-mail signatures, on all their written materials, on every page of their website. In this article, we offer suggestions on how to use your networks to get your message and your mission out there ('there' being where you want it - to government, to the media, to the public, to your own members, or your stakeholders).
Networking begins at home. Engage your staff by having all of them use your key message in their signature tag lines. Provide incentives for them to deliver a valuable opportunity for your organization.
Use your members as ambassadors. Our members have families, staff, friends, clients and connections. Encourage them to pass along your key message. Require your key volunteers to spread your word, and ask them for feedback and evaluation of their experiences with this task.
Let prospective members pass your message along. In addition to asking prospective members to join, ask them to tell their colleagues about you and your key message.
Make yourself interesting to the media. Sending boring press releases is not a good idea; in fact it can hurt your reputation. Invest in professional assistance to frame your message in a way that can intrigue the media so that they will tell their audiences about your organization and your key message.
Governments talk to each other. Federal government department officials talk to each other about their positive (and negative) experiences. So do provincial, regional and municipal government counterparts. If they understand and value your message, they can talk about it to a large audience. Make it so.
Interest common-interest groups. Most organizations share common interests with other groups. Invest the time to talk to folks who have an interest in your organization and your key message. Notice we didn’t say e-mail them; we suggest you talk to them. Human dialogue is the new black.
Tell the world. Ask your international counterparts to publish information about your organization and your key message. You just never know where new opportunities are in our global society.
Take advantage of the Internet. Strategically position your key message on your website; get professional advice about how to be a magnet to search engines. Write articles for e-resources (just as we have done here with CharityVillage) so that your information can be Googled.
And finally, engage your website visitors. Ask them to spread your word. As they say in sales training, “you have to ask for the order”.
We hope these ideas have been helpful. Our key message is please visit our website to learn how we can be of assistance to your not-for-profit organization. That’s our business.
Paulette in president of Solution Studio Inc., a consulting practice that serves the nonprofit association community. Paulette co-authored two manuscripts on risk management and not-for-profit organizations and regularly conducts risk management, strategic planning and board development workshops. She can be reached at 1-877-787-7714 or Paulette@solutionstudioinc.com.