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Is Anyone Paying Attention to Your Messages?

By August 9, 2017December 7th, 2022Communication

Are nonprofit messages different than other marketing messages? Yes and no.

Your nonprofit has a Facebook page, an Instagram account and maybe someone on your staff regularly writes blog posts with mission moment impact stories.

You’re doing all the work to get noticed, right?

But are your nonprofit messages breaking through the noise?

“With 5.3 trillion display ads shown online each year, 400 million tweets sent daily, 144,000 hours of YouTube video uploaded daily, and 4.75 billion pieces of content shared on Facebook every day, posting a few blasé blogs on the corporate website just isn’t going to cut it. You’re going to need something that cuts through the clutter.” [source HBR]

Research tells us messages that contain emotional content are always more effective than those based solely on facts.

This doesn’t mean the emotional content has to be sad or cause us to feel sorry for someone.

FIRST: Identify the emotions that best serve your mission, your brand, and your vision for the community.
















Did your communication cause people to feel any of these emotions today? If not, what’s the point?

SECOND: Focus on a tiny moment.

Share that time when you heard a story or a quote from an insider, a parent of a client, the caregiver, or even the client themselves.

THIRD:The key is to cause others to SHARE your messages with others.

Get others to share your nonprofit message

If your message is going to cut through the noise it MUST cause the reader or listener to connect to something deep inside.

I’m a huge fan of Made to Stick the book by Chip and Dan Heath. Here are their successful principles of marketing:

  1. Simple
  2. Unexpected
  3. Concrete
  4. Credible
  5. Emotional
  6. Stories

Here’s an example of a short email message that uses some of these principles. This message was sent to registered guests of an upcoming fundraising event.

Scurry, hurry, rush, rush, rush. We don’t want to miss the bus, bus, bus. Lions and tigers and bears OH MY!! This is why we’re on the fly!

Nonprofit Messages that Move

That’s what the kids were screaming last Thursday morning as they were waiting for the Head Start bus to pick them up. The bus normally arrives around 8:20am, but the kids were ready and waiting at the front door by 8:00am sharp! They didn’t want to miss the field trip to the zoo! For Zoe, age 6, this was her first trip to a zoo.

It was awe-inspiring to hear stories afterward of the animals Zoe saw, creatures she touched, and the butterfly that landed on her at the butterfly tent.

This is how life should be for a child. Whether they have a home or not.

There are 3,000 children in Minnesota without a home tonight. Your attendance at our event will help more unhoused children like Zoe get to act like a child.


Your supporters are waiting to feel something about why they’ve given their time and money to your organization.

Don’t waste your time on ho hum posts or stories.

You have plenty of choices about where to share nonprofit messages. Choices for where to include emotion: fundraising campaigns, email messages, newsletters, on the website, one-on-one meetings, and anywhere you are sharing communication about your organization.

Keep these questions in mind to shift your communication to include more emotion that will raise more money:

  • Have we included emotional examples that honor our clients?
  • Have we included emotional language or examples and still engaged our more linear thinkers who want some facts or statistics?
  • Are we offering emotional connections that are positive, hopeful, and funny in addition to the somber emotions our mission might evoke?


  • Feeling informed, grateful, and hopeful, thank you! -Volunteers wanted to help identify my share of ho-hum noise I have on my site to delete before I add better quality content. Please feel welcome. Have a nice day all. Peace well.

    • Lauren, I encourage you to invite your community to visit your site and comment on your social media or print materials. Ask them: what, if anything, inspires you? What doesn’t inspire you?

      Encourage candid feedback to deepen your engagement with others AND their passion for your work.

      So glad you are feeling hopeful! Thank you for the work you do…seen and unseen.

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