Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What's Your Public Image?

Do you really understand your organization?

Are you, your staff, and your board all on the same page when it comes to the image of your organization that you want the public to see? Do you feel confident that everyone in your organization is able to convey that image to the public?

Donors need to experience a connection to or relationship with your organization before they will even consider making a donation. But before this relationship can begin, donors first need to have a clear picture of your organization and what it does.

This is where an internal case statement can help.

An internal case statement conveys the role that your organization plays in your community through client success stories and facts/figures. An internal case statement gets everyone in your organization literally “on the same page” regarding your organization’s image and how to communicate it.

An internal case statement is the go-to document when someone asks, “Why should I give?”

An internal case statement is the anchor for the team requesting donations – both staff and board members.

How are people already talking about your organization?

When you’re creating an internal case statement, a good place to start is by finding out what people are already saying about your organization. You can do this by conducting interviews with clients who have had great benefits because of your organization. Write down their most moving success stories and quotes in your internal case statement. Then, when you’re trying to inspire someone to give to your organization, you can share real stories and quotes from people whose lives have been transformed because of donor gifts.

Another way to find out what people are already saying about your organization is to conduct surveys or focus groups. You can hold multiple focus groups with the different categories of people that your organization interacts with, such as your clients, vendors, and current donors. Through focus groups, you can learn the words and phrases that the community already uses to describe your organization. You can learn what makes your organization unique. You can learn what inspires people to give to your organization. Record what you learn in your internal case statement and use it when you talk about your organization with the public.

Andrea can help you conduct interviews and focus groups – contact her today to learn more!

What else should an internal case statement include?

According to communications expert Tom Ahern, an internal case statement should answer these 5 key questions:

1. Why you? What's so special about your organization that makes it worthy of donations?

2. Why now? Why do you need donations right now?

3. Why you, the donor, might care? Why you, the donor, are so important?

4. What is your organization's history? (This is mostly for donor "reassurance.")

5. Do you have any additional bright ideas? Include them here - and see how they play out.

While it can be time-consuming to create an internal case statement, having one is a tremendous tool for creating, refining, and communicating your organization’s image with the public.

Once you have an internal case statement, the next step is to make sure that your staff and board become very familiar with it so that they can pull from it whenever they are interacting with your public or are inviting prospective donors to give. After all, if your public can't get a clear picture of your organization, why would they give?

Andrea has worked with many non-profits on their internal case statements - both in creating the document and in training board and staff members on how to use it. Contact Andrea today to learn how she can help you develop and convey a clear public image. 

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