Apr 11, 2011

Telling the World What Your Nonprofit Does

Has anyone else noticed that NPR has started interspersing little self-marketing spots amidst its regular programming? Like this morning, I heard one describing what its foreign correspondents do when there's not much going on in their area -- no immediate conflict or other pressing news. "Trekking in Asia" is all I remember, but it was fun to reflect, for a moment, on what's going on behind the scenes in order to bring me NPR programming.

radio_microphone_medium.jpgSo what took NPR so long to use its airwaves for its own marketing purposes? The network has long been announcing taglines of its supporter foundations, as described in this 2009 article from L.A. Philanthropy Watch. Maybe NPR finally wised up and realized its own listeners could use some reminders of what it's all about, too.

And that's a lesson that a number of nonprofits could probably learn. Even your most devoted supporters may be a little vague on the details of what your group does. Some have a pretty good idea, but have ceased to be inspired by it. And then there are the new supporters, who are still getting a sense of your group's identity and personality.

So, finding ways to get your group's message across (most likely without the benefit of airwaves) can be crucial. To this day, I sometimes go to nonprofit websites where the home page doesn't even make clear what the group does, much less why or how. To this end, a "tagline" can be helpful.

For advice on developing a good one, see Nancy Schwartz's recent blog post: "How to Create a Tagline that Connects and Motivates."