Published by Amy Sample Ward on 26 Jan 2010 at 11:35 am
Amy Sample Ward is the Global Community Development Manager for NetSquared. This piece was originally published on Amy’s Blog: Amy Sample Ward’s Version of NPTech. Here she shares a recent report on the failure of nonprofits to effectively communicate their message.
Nancy Schwartz, president of Nancy Schwartz & Company and blogger at Getting Attention, has just finished analyzing data from a nonprofit marketing survey of more than 900 nonprofit leaders, revealing that they are doing a poor job connecting with their audience and community.
“Nonprofit marketers say their key messages are failing to connect with the people who need to hear them and that is a serious problem. The way nonprofits talk about themselves to the public is a core competency critical to any organization’s success. The bad news is that most nonprofits admittedly are doing a very poor job, despite a great deal of effort. The good news is that fixing the problem is highly do-able and promises vastly greater success than they are experiencing now.”
The survey results included:
Most Nonprofit Messages Don’t Connect Strongly with Key Audiences:
Eighty-four percent of 915 nonprofit leaders who completed the survey last month said their messages connect with their target audiences only somewhat or not at all. Respondents represented organizations of all size, issue focus and geographical location.
Behind the Disconnect—86% of Nonprofits Characterize Their Messages as Difficult to Remember:
Most nonprofits report that their messaging suffers from lack of inspiration (73%) and poor targeting to audience wants and needs (70%), and is difficult to remember (86%). Few communicators laud their messaging for its strengths: Only 13% of organizations characterize messaging as cogent while 8% describe their messaging as potent.
Here are some comments from survey participants explaining why their messages fail to connect:
- “Our messages need to be more succinct to communicate how effective we really are.”
- “We don’t move our base to action.”
- “We have individual elements that are OK solo, but no unified path.”
- “Our messages aren’t hard-hitting or targeted enough. So they fall flat.”
- “We need to shape messages that are simple enough for staff to remember and feel comfortable in repeating it to others.”
- “Too much jargon. I can’t even understand what we’re saying.”
Inconsistency Reigns, Leaving Confusion and Annoyance in Its Path:
Less than 50% of nonprofits report consistent use of their positioning (organizational tagline, positioning statement and talking points). That means that even though most organizations have taken the effort to craft messages, those messages aren’t used consistently across channels (website, direct mail, email), audiences or programs.
More information and complete survey results, plus specific recommendations on how nonprofits can start to immediately improve key messaging, are available at:
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