Messaging on a Mission has one purpose: spotlight the crucial role a solid messaging strategy has on the success of a mission-driven organization. We will talk to the leaders of not-for-profits, social enterprises, associations, any group who exists to make positive contributions to our world. We’ll hear about their journeys, challenges, and what they have to teach us about messaging. Plus, we’ll throw in some fun banter and a little history along the way.
Food for Life
Some ideas are easy to communicate. Others are not as easily embraced. Our guest for this episode of Messaging on a Mission is Paul Rodney Turner, founder of Food for Life Global, the world’s largest vegan food relief with 211 projects in 60 countries serving up to 2 million meals daily. We hear about his journey from monk to the leader of a global nonprofit (as well as billiards champion). Plus, we learn his views on the energetic connection between all living things—and how that connection can help us end world hunger.
Episode Guest(s): As the founder of Food for Life Global, Paul Rodney Turner is a vegan social entrepreneur trying to make the world a better place. He has more than 35 years of experience in Food Security, Food & Nutrition, World Hunger, and the Nonprofit Sector. Other credits include writing books, spending time as a former monk, winning billiards championships, and running animal sanctuaries.
Food For Life Global is the world’s largest vegan food relief with 211 projects in 60 countries serving up to 2 million meals daily. In fact, Food for Life Global has served over 7.9 billion meals to date and on average can feed someone a completely freshly cooked meal for around 50 cents. They are the most cost-effective hunger-relief organization in the world, which just happens to be vegan.
Key Takeaways: There's plenty of food in the world. In fact, the world can produce, the world can feed something like two to three times the population, but they didn't ask the big question of why is there. I felt like we did have the answer. The reason is that we don't see ourselves as a global family.
The solution is that if we see ourselves as a global family, then problems like world hunger will disappear. Maybe not overnight, but very fast. That is the solution to all the problems in the world.
To help someone see your point of view, treat them as if there were a friend you are encouraging them to see things from a different perspective.
Use other topics to illustrate your own.
Factory farming or animal agriculture is the biggest contributor to global warming to environmental degradation.
Live your own life, not someone else’s.
Useful Links: Food for Life Global
The YOGA of POOL: Secrets to Becoming a Champion in Billiards and in Life
A Conversation on Copywriting
This episode of Messaging on a Mission, is a conversation on copywriting! Spencer Brenneman Lead Copywriter Anthon Greer sits down with Douglas Spencer to talk about why he loves copywriting, what it can do, and how to start, even when you have a block.
Episode Guest(s): Anthony Greer specializes in content writing and brand messaging development. By listening to what you’re saying (and not saying), he creates content worth remembering and tells stories worth repeating. By creating engaging, optimized, on-brand content, Anthony helps you captivate your audience and convey the awesome work that you do.
Anthony has a background in journalism and started his own business, AG Creative Publishing, in 2014. He's a published author, a board game lover, and a coffee addict. He earned a Bachelor's in Business Management.
Key Takeaways: Hiring a copywriter. Before hiring a copywriter, get crystal clear on why you need one. What do you want them to deliver?
Writer’s Block. First, either switch to working or something different. If that’s not an option, just start writing. Even if you never use it, it’s important to create momentum.
DYI Copywriting. Start with why it’s important to say what it is you have to say. Then think about your audience. Consider creating personas, imagined details about an audience member’s life, such as what they do, how old they are, what they do in their spare time, etc. Then write to that person.
Know who you are. Make certain that whatever you write is in line with who you are as an organization. At every opportunity reinforce what it is you do exactly, why you do it, and how you do it differently than everyone else.
Stay consistent. From the tone of your writing to the language you use to describe your world, stay consistent. Don’t have a serious tone in one piece, and a completely frivolous one in the next. Don’t call the people you serve clients and patients. Pick one, etc.,
Always have a call to action. Make it clear what you want people to do with the information you’re sharing, even if it’s to reach out and ask questions.
Less is more. I cannot overstate that enough. Stay focused on “the one thing” your writing sets out to accomplish. No one has an attention span anymore and not having a focus is a sure way to get people to hit delete, or whatever the equivalent is.
Useful Links: Anthony Greer
Check out this project Anthony worked on with Spencer Brenneman:
How to Tell If Your Message is Failing You
We’re doing something a bit different this week! No guest, just host Douglas Spencer talking about some of the most common ways that messages fail the organizations they’re created to support. You’ll hear about specific actions you can take to see if your message is up to the task of supporting your important work.
Episode Guest(s): Douglas Spencer is president of Spencer Brenneman, LLC, which helps lo mission-driven organizations reframe their focus and remaster their messages to thrive in any environment. In 2021, Douglas launched the podcast, Messaging on a Mission. In it, he talks to leaders of nonprofits, social enterprises, and associations about their journeys and the messages they’re using to thrive. He is also the author of Do They Care? The one question all brands should ask themselves, continually, a book that shows leaders how they can create meaningful connections with everyone important to their organization's success.
Key Takeaways: Four ways your message can fail you: It is out of date, too jargony, too broad, or doesn’t have a clear purpose.
Messages must reflect the personality of the organization, make sense to everyone, differentiate your work and connect to a high purpose.
In fundraising and business development, try:
For talent management, try:
Useful Links: email@example.com
Data and Your Message
The relationship between data and your message is an important one. If your message cannot reach the right people, what good is it? And how do mission-driven organizations ensure that their message is reaching the right audience? By carefully managing the data behind the people most important to your success. In this episode of Messaging on a Mission, we talk to Isaac Shalev about the kind of technology considerations nonprofits need to keep top of mind when developing both their messaging and their technology strategies.
Episode Guest(s): Isaac Shalev is the founder and President of Sage70, Inc., a boutique consultancy devoted to making data work for nonprofits. Isaac has over twenty years of experience in the nonprofit sector, where he has developed a reputation for helping organizations get clarity on their thorniest problems in data and technology. Sage70's past clients include the US Golf Association, The LA Phil, Mount Holyoke College, UJA-Federation of NY, The Trust for Public Land, and IEEE.
Key Takeaways: Email marketing platforms must connect that back to donor databases in order to segment correctly and create the best messages for the best person at the right time. (Some platforms do both.)
Consider all the other places integrations are needed, such as where the money comes into the organization (e.g., website forms).
Not all nonprofit organizations have the same needs. It's different by sector and there are bespoke tools and different vendors serving those different markets. It is a good idea to see what similar organizations are using.
When budgeting for your CRM, keep in mind how people’s jobs may change as a result.
Consider reporting needs when selecting a system. Do the canned reports ask the questions you need to have answered? If not, is the customization or extra staff time worth it?
People want to be spoken to in a way that feels authentic to them. That's a big ask of a database. It's an even bigger ask at a policy level. What are our policies? You can't have database and database structures that have any consistency or do the job you want them to do without policy. To define that, to say, what are we trying to achieve?
One of the places from which organizations can start is by asking themselves about their process for updating biographical information.
Taxonomies of your crucial attributes are an important step in managing your contact data effectively.
The 80/20 rule for your work. What are those small number of attributes or data points or behaviors that are important to us to track because they explain 80% of why a person wants to support your organization?
“If you take an inefficient process and you automate it, you will magnify its inefficiency. If you take an efficient process and automate it, then you will get a lot more scale,” paraphrased from Bill Gates.
State laws apply to the residents of the state, not necessarily the sender’s state.
Organizations must have a data breach policy in place.
It's not a great idea to collect a lot of data and have no clear way to use it. It's not a good idea from a data management perspective, but it's also not clear from a data privacy perspective that you'd want that.
Useful Links: Isaac Shalev
According to Forbes (https://www.forbes.com/lists/top-charities/?sh=1b5c50295f50), the top two charities in the United States are United Way Worldwide and Feeding America. The United Way started slowly over time as more and more “federated giving” organizations came together. Feeding America had a faster, but still slower start as one man’s volunteerism took on a life of its own.
Not all organizations start slowly. Many are borne out of a specific need. Such is the case with The Kindness Project, which we’ll hear about today. Grassroots organizations, in my mind, demonstrate the best in humanity: people stepping up to the plate to help others in the moment. However, with everyone and everything happening sometimes in split seconds, the message could easily get distorted.
Episode Guest(s): Alex Bromberg founded the original group that became the Kindness Collaborative in March of 2020. Long before that, he'd been involved in activism dating back to 2000. In 2009 he formed "The Liberty Project" which focused on shedding divisive labels and teaching people to work together toward key/shared concepts of individual liberty and social equality. After witnessing the amazing organic action of all the regular people throughout the community who had stepped up to help one another in the original group, Alex teamed up first with Darcie Nuttall, and then the other founders, to establish the Kindness Collaborative. Their goal of creating a way to channel all the kindness and compassion of the community and organizing it into a major force of good has been realized in the movement it has created.
Useful Links: The Kindness Collaborative
Inclusion Decisions from Inclusive Conversations
Inclusion decisions are made when everyone those decisions impact are included in the process. Today’s episode focuses on inclusive decision-making and—perhaps just as importantly—the conversations that enable it.
Episode Guest(s): Mer (pronounced “mair”) Joyce is the Founder and Principal of Do Big Good, a Seattle-based firm that trains and facilitates inclusive decisions. Mer has committed her life to social change innovation. She was New Media Operations Manager on President Obama’s 2008 campaign, led the creation of the 2010 book, and managed a first-of-its-kind activism data set as a fellow of the National Science Foundation. Mer has collaborated with nonprofits, foundations, think tanks, and firms in North America, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East, including the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, the Open Government Partnership, Microsoft, and Google. Her graduate studies in Public Policy and Communication and undergraduate studies in History and Africana Studies were at the Harvard Kennedy School, the University of Washington, Vassar, and the University of Ghana. Having also lived in Morocco, Chile, and India, Mer now lives in Seattle, where she enjoys biking and intentional communities.
Inclusivity is about voices, not faces. Just because someone has a face that matches an excluded community doesn’t mean you are hearing their voice.
An absence of trust from people who are brought into a room for the first time is an obstacle to inclusion because they may not share their true opinions.
It's very important to make certain that you are transparent with your motivation.
Think of inclusive decision making through the lens of “trust dials.”
Types of decisions needed include: Fixed: Already created and cannot be altered by stakeholders; Flexible: Already created, but can still be altered according to stakeholder input; and Formable: Not yet created and need to be created with stakeholders.
When seeking feedback and input, remember to close that communication loop and say, “thank you for coming to this session. This is how we integrated your suggestions into our [fill in the blank].”
Structure the decision-making process in a way that gives power over the outcome or over the agreement, such that the outcome could look different because of what people say.
Inclusive decision-making starts well ahead of the decisions. It starts with building relationships.
Useful Links: Mer Joyce, firstname.lastname@example.org
Do Big Good Website
Do Big Good YouTube Channel
Do Big Good on Facebook
So excited for this series to grow…much needed content that seems to be missing from the overcrowded marketing strategy advice shows. Short. Simple to follow. Quick hit takeaways. And a little humor makes it easy