Tell Those Words to Chill Out

May 17, 2013

Picture1It’s kind of like a contest.

The challenge: with shorter attention spans and thousands of daily messages from every direction, how can you break through and urge your supporters to love your nonprofit more than any other?

If you take a tour of nonprofit profiles in The Giving Partner, you will see lots of words. Words that take time to read, a few jargony things, some acronyms here and there. Brevity is often not the first consideration.

Now put yourself in the shoes of prospective donors. Would you have time and interest to scroll through lots of heavy text that doesn’t get right to the heart of your messages and impact?

We’re forced to play with the idea of giving enough of the right information and stories about our organizations without overwhelming our readers. I don’t think it’s easy. But it is a good exercise.

Read about the Twitter campaign against Obamacare and the response from Obamacare supporters.  For the purposes of this blog, it’s not about the politics; it is about the vehicle and the message design. Each side is articulating the “why’s” in 3 words or less.

I love the concept.

Twitter is forcing all of us to be better writers.

Standford Social Innovation recently explored the 8-word mission statement—another jewel to read and digest.

(Remember when Maggie Osborne joined the Community Foundation of Sarasota County for the program outcomes workshop in the Fall and shared this 8-word concept with us? It was good stuff—some mentioned that it moved their organizations to redesign their mission statement.)

So here’s the action item for you: visit your nonprofit’s profile in The Giving Partner.  How would you whittle down the narrative portions to the essentials with concise and compelling stories, sprinkled with enough good facts?

Now check out that mission statement. Is it a looooong sentence? More than one sentence? More than one paragraph? Yikes! How in the world does your board and staff remember it?  Let’s see if you can take another look.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

“Be sincere, Be brief, Be seated.”  ― Franklin D. Roosevelt



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