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Break Through the Noise: 5 Strategies for Setting Your Nonprofit Apart

Guest Column By Maria Bryan

No nonprofit ever wants to be the best kept secret in town. Thanks to Maria Bryan for this guest column to help nonprofits get their name, mission, and message heard.

The Tallahassee nonprofit sector is bent on making a positive impact and creating change in our communities. But with so many organizations out there, it can take a lot of work to stand out and get noticed. That’s where positioning comes in. Let’s talk about why positioning matters for nonprofits and five successful strategies to set your nonprofit apart.

Why Positioning Your Nonprofit Matters

Nonprofit positioning is figuring out what sets your organization apart and communicating that to the world. It’s about coming out from the weeds and understanding why your organization is uniquely and innovatively solving big problems. It’s finding your voice, telling your story, and connecting with the people who care about what you do.

When you understand your organization’s positioning, you’ll get laser-focused on your messaging, start to get noticed and remembered, and attract donors and partners who will be rabid fans of your vision.

Here are five strategies to get you started.

1. Understand Your Audience

You need to understand your target audience’s needs to effectively differentiate your nonprofit from others in the industry. Targeting the right audience can lead to better use of much-needed resources.

What do you know about your audience’s demographics, interests, and behaviors? You can use surveys, interviews, and focus groups to gather insights about your target audience. Once you understand your audience, you can tailor your marketing and communication strategies to their specific needs and preferences.

2. Know What Makes You Different

Get to the bottom of what sets your nonprofit apart from others in the industry. Get your core team together, and answer and reflect on these questions.

  • What is your nonprofit most known for?
  • What makes your organization’s view and solution to this problem different from all the others in your industry?
  • What qualifies your organization to have empathy and understanding for the people you’re trying to help?
  • What more significant impact do you want to have in your community, industry, and the world?
  • What are your most daring goals?

From there, it’s worth conducting stakeholder research to understand how others perceive your brand. Review your brand assets to determine what things are memorable and most prominent.

Get feedback from others to know what they think your brand is. Brainstorm from there.

You can communicate your unique value proposition to your target audience by understanding what sets your nonprofit apart.

3. Share Your Achievements

Once you can articulate that you are the go-to for your cause, prove it!

Put together proof points, which are your program outcomes and inspiring stories of impact. Your proof points build trust and credibility with your audience, build your brand’s reputation, and inspire others to support your cause.

4. Develop Your Brand Voice

Think of your brand voice as the human manifestation of your communications and marketing.

Your brand voice should include your nonprofit’s unique personality, tone, and identity that connects with your audience. It should be authentic and consistent with your organization’s mission and values.

When developing your brand voice, consider the following questions:

  • What are my nonprofit’s core values, and how do I want my audience to perceive them?
  • How do I want my tone and style to resonate with my target audience?
  • What emotion am I trying to portray to my audience?
  • What language and vocabulary are appropriate for my nonprofit’s overall mission?
  • What social and non-social platforms do I want to use, and how should my message adapt differently to each platform?

5. Create Valuable Content

If your communications consist of program update after program update, it’s time to consider adding different kinds of valuable content. When you go beyond updates and provide value for your audience, they stick around.

Consider content that will make your organization the go-to authority in your industry. That may be stories of impact, thought leadership, credible news, how-to surrounding the problems you solve, and insight behind the why of your mission.

These strategies are doable, right? They will be well worth your time and serve as a lighthouse for all your communications, fundraising, and marketing. So, get out there and make your nonprofit stand out!

Maria Bryan is a nonprofit messaging strategist and trainer. You can learn more about her at Notes on Nonprofits is produced by Alyce Lee Stansbury, CFRE, President of Stansbury Consulting. Send your questions and feedback to [email protected].

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