The Secret To Brand Messaging Is Value-Based Decision Making


Is social good baked straight into your nonprofit, but you have no idea where to start communicating this to funders, supporters and those not in the know? In this episode of the Strategic Nonprofit Podcast, host Trista sits down with Ashlee Sang, Brand Messaging Strategist and Consultant at Ashlee Sang Consulting LLC. Join them as they discuss the ins and outs of brand messaging for nonprofits, alongside why keeping your mission at the heart of your message all starts with value-based decision making.

Also read:

What is Value-Based Decision Making?

In technical terms, value-based decision making is a method for making informed organizational decisions before the influence of budget, time restraints, and outside forces. Without this method, nonprofits run the risk of not delivering value to supporters and funders while missing opportunities for creating awareness around their mission.

In practical terms, it’s approaching every problem or opportunity within the organization with your values as the lens. This method of decision making allows your leadership teams and your staff to live out the organization’s purpose.

How are decisions usually made in a non profit organization?

Reaching decisions as a non-profit board comes in a variety of formats. Most organizations use a consensus or majority vote as a popular choice when a decision needs to be expedited. Unfortunately, these methods don’t always reveal the best solution for the board or the organization and can cause frustration among members.

Also read: Consensus Decision Making For Your Board

Using value-based decision making to inform your messaging

Humans are able to connect to what you’re trying to accomplish when there is a story to follow.

Ashlee Sang

Nonprofit organizations are typically not full of funding opportunities, making it harder to reserve a marketing budget. Marketing is very often the first thing that gets cut or never even makes it onto the budget. A critically missed opportunity – because you can only impact if people know what you’re doing, you can not be the best kept secret and have the type of transformation you’re after. That’s why in terms of marketing decisions, you should be committed to aligning those with your values. Below, Ashlee continues to explain how value-based decision making informs brand messaging for nonprofits:

Reaching funders & beneficiaries

Nonprofits always have at least two core audiences: Funders, who keep the lights on and keep the mission alive, and beneficiaries, the people who are going through your programs and receiving your services. When it comes down to communicating with them, nonprofits need to think about their needs and preferences regarding the content they’re creating. For example, funders may need some data mixed into the inspirational and emotional because they usually write funding checks based on the facts and figures. At the same time, program beneficiaries might need some education around available resources – or even the fact that change is even possible. They may not even seek out your services or bother filling out your intake form because they are yet to realise their life could be better.

Writing your elevator script

Every organization needs an elevator pitch, even if you might think of them as a networking or corporate tool – nonprofits need an elevator pitch. However, the trouble with most nonprofits’ elevator pitches is that they don’t resonate with the listener because they usually don’t articulate your values. That’s why Ashlee suggests you want to make your pitch quick, pack a punch and be easily digestible by hitting on those values that your core audience and beneficiaries relate to. If you’re stuck, consider: why do donors primarily give you funding?

Brand storytelling

Storytelling truly is the bridge that connects people to ideas. We all know that nonprofits are notorious for putting too many hats on a single person’s head and asking too much, so make it easy! As Ashlee suggests, you should always bring your messaging back to those stories of real impact in people’s lives as a way to connect your staff back to the organization’s values and mission. It’s also an excellent way for your team to start connecting with your various audiences, partners, funders and program participants.

About Ashlee Sang

Ashlee Sang is based in Central Illinois, with a background in anthropology and a penchant for travel. Through Ashlee Sang Consulting, she uses the power of words to help purpose-driven founders discover and share their message so they can grow their impact and their organization. Before brand messaging strategy and consulting, she worked with various nonprofit organizations, including a human rights education NGO in Senegal and a local branch of Habitat for Humanity.

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