Rambling or Relevant?

Blank stares.

That was the response to most of the one-sentence organizational summary intros (a.k.a. mini-elevator pitches) from co-attendees of a workshop I participated in last week. Let me share some examples with you:


  • Provide after school programs for children.
  • Are in lower Fairfield county, CT, and provide emergency assistance to help keep people in their homes.
  • House homeless individuals, veterans and others with special needs.
  • Are ORG NAME, a multidisciplinary arts organization and home of LEADING PROGRAM.
  • Are a community development org in Trenton, and foster self-reliant families in sustainable communities.
  • Pair biz experts with public schools to increase individual achievement.
  • Are a touring, international dance company plus a dance education center in Brooklyn.
  • Are a NYC-based social services agency.

I think you see what I mean.

Most of these one-liners didn’t generate a nod, flicker of interest or aha. And I understand why—it’s hard to capsulize your nonprofit in a sentence or two. But so, so important to be able to do s0 quickly, succinctly and memorably.

But one of these folks did a fantastic job in briefly and memorably introducing her organization. Can you identify which response that is?

The intern at PENCIL dazzled me with her clear and compelling intro, “We pair business experts with public schools to increase individual achievement.”

In a flash, she conveyed two of PENCIL’s differentiating characteristics—Its method (pairing business experts with public schools) and its impact (increase individual achivement) in a way that left me eager to learn more. I’m awed.

I promise you that you get here too,  if you’re not already. I’m going to follow up with the team at PENCIL to craft a case study of how they developed these strong messages (they just finished this process) and their approach to asking, training and supporting their people as strong messengers. Keep posted!

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Nancy Schwartz in Branding and Messages | 2 comments

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