Nonprofit Marketing Crisis: Survey Shows Messaging Fails to Connect With Key Audiences

Our recent survey of more than 900 nonprofit leaders reveals a major crisis among charitable organizations: Many are doing an inadequate job of connecting with their key audiences and characterize their primary messages – intended to motivate donors, volunteers and advocacy – as poorly targeted, difficult to remember and uninspiring.

Key findings include:

  • Most nonprofit messages don’t connect strongly with key audiences.
  • Behind the disconnect—86% of nonprofits characterize their messages as difficult to remember.
  • Inconsistency reigns, leaving confusion and annoyance in its path.

I suspect that none of this is news to you. But the way many nonprofits talk about themselves to the public is a core competency critical to any organization’s success. The bad news is that most organizations 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 in engaging their networks than they are experiencing now.

Messaging is the first step in effective marketing communications; there’s no point in designing strategic campaigns if the messaging
doesn’t connect. It’s incumbent upon executive directors, their boards and key marketing and communication leaders within organizations, to repair these critical marketing and communication problems. When they do, putting focus and intent to work, it will make a huge difference in communications impact!

I’ll be doing what I can to help fix this problem (and it’s definitely fixable), with a 2010 focus on messaging in blog posts, e-update articles and special programs for nonprofit communicators. More immediately, complete survey results, plus specific recommendations on how nonprofits can start to immediately improve key messaging, are available here. You can review the press release here.

P.S. More effective messaging is a priority for all organizations. Learn how to craft the most essential message — your tagline. Download the free 2009 Nonprofit Tagline Report, filled with must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 2,500+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz on January 26, 2010 in Branding and Messages, Nonprofit Communications, Surveys | 1 comment
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  • Disgruntled writer

    It doesn’t matter how much advice you give, if you’re giving it to people who aren’t pros at writing. A professional writer will know what you’re talking about when you offer tips; most people, even if they’re literate, simply will not get it.
    Evidence? Look at the newsletters you get from your local charity. The most poorly written mail I get is from people who want my money.

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